This past weekend we spent a day brewing up a few beers to give to friends, family and colleagues during the forthcoming holiday season. Coming around full circle, we set into motion the two beers we kicked 2010 off with: our Nut Brown Ale and our Red Ale. Given the knowledge we’ve amassed over the past 9 ½ months as well as our improvements to our gear, it will be interesting to see how these two compare to our first two attempts, especially the red which had an undiagnosed, although appreciated, flaw. Additionally, a week or so prior to our most recent brew day we also started a batch of spiced cider. So with all said and told, we’ll hopefully have 5 different beverages to give away this holiday season.
As part of our most recent brew day we uncapped the first few bottles of our pumpkin beer, Linus’s Revenge Pumpkin Ale, which we brewed on Labor Day. Pouring a deep golden yellow, our ale has a sweet aroma of pumpkin, cinnamon and vanilla. Despite the quantity of spices introduced during the brewing of this beer, they ended up taking a complementary role in the overall taste with a combination of the brown sugar and vanilla being the most prominent to me. In comparison to the four pumpkin beers I tried this season (Dogfish Head Craft Brewery’s Punkin Ale, Four + Brewing Company’s Punk’n Ale, Shipyard Brewing Company’s Pumpkinhead Ale and Lakefront Brewery’s Pumpkin Lager), our offering is most comparable to Punkin Ale and Punk’n Ale. Primarily because I found them to be much more balanced and not overpowered by spice or pumpkin flavors for that matter. I think it’s very easy to get carried away with seasonal beers and overload them with spices and other adjuncts and flavors associated with the seasons, especially those designed for consumption during fall or the holiday season. While I’m all for experimentation when it comes to brewing beer, I find my preference to fall in line with beers that don’t have one aspect overwhelming the entirety of the beer. I think we’ve done a good job at accomplishing that with this beer and of what we’ve brewed this year, this ranks up there as one of my favorites. Perhaps more importantly we’ve achieved a bit more clarity in our beer as well as a welcomed reduction in the yeast and ester tastes and aromas that we’re noticeable in our last few attempts. As always, there is room for improvement, but I’m quite happy with the direction we’re heading.