Taking Stock: A Homebrewer’s Moving Day

Homebrewing isn’t all fun and games. As someone who moves around quite a bit, the equipment and bottles, both empty and full, are responsible for a good chunk of moving day labour. And in the case of my current move-in-progress, my stock had to be just about liquidated.

I’m temporarily relocating to Melbourne, Australia and therefore had to get rid of most of what I own. Airlines are less accommodating than ever, so it necessary to bring only the bare necessities. Almost everything else was sold, trashed, or drunk, except for some of my musical instruments/equipment and a selection of ageable homebrews.

The forced separation is a good thing, because there’s no way I’d have the willpower to let 30-odd bottles of beer age for almost a year. Before leaving my apartment at the beginning of July, I finished off the last of my Chocolate Stout, Honey Ale, and Ginger IPA, while drinking all but four bottles each of my Braggot, Sour Ale, and 1877 Pale, which should all be well suited to sitting in a cellar for 9 months.

The Beers

Interesting enough, two of those three beers were accidental. The Sour Ale has already been kicking around for a long time, because it was meant to be an American Brown and got bugged up in a scratched fermenter. But it’s still drinkable, refreshing actually, so I want to see if, given the proper time to age, I might have gotten lucky and caught some nice bugs.

Braggot Tasting Notes: My first attempt at a Honey Ale, but I grossly miscalculated the amount of honey and ended up will something closer to mead than beer, and in the area of 10%. Both beers were very nice (it didn’t take me long to get through the refreshing Honey Ale, for which I used the same recipe with the honey and base malt contents halved) but the Braggot was much more memorable.

It poured a coppery red, super clear with big excited bubbles and no head retention. The nose was almost all honey, with only a hint of beeriness. It went down thick and syrupy, very sweet but with enough of a beery edge to keep it from being cloying. Close to an amber mead, but because of the beer and carb it’s not at all winey. Next time: slightly cut the honey and add a touch more bittering hops.

The 1877 Pale, on the other hand, was everything it was meant to be and, in my opinion, is the best beer I’ve ever made. The full story is here. As for the other two beers I finished off entirely, the Ginger IPA was well past its prime, a beer so hop-forward that the longer it sat the worse it got as the hops broke down and muddied up.

Chocolate Stout Tasting Notes: Still fairly fresh and still quite good. It poured a deep dark brown, with little carbonation and a thin wispy head. The nose was very rich and roasty, with chocolate, smokiness, caramel and vanilla all making an appearance – all-in-all excellent, and my favourite thing about this beer. The mouthfeel unfortunately was thin and watery, and the flavour was of an unpleasantly bitter chocolate. Still highly drinkable, light and fruity for the style, but the chocolate is just this side of harsh. Pales in comparison to the Breakfast Stout. Next time: less hops, throw some lactose in there, carbonate a little higher.

12 pints of beer, 4 each of Braggot, Sour, and 1877, are awaiting for my return to Canada in May, and a week before I left, my partner and I brewed our first Barleywine, which will remain more or less untouched until May as well. We did a parti-gyle mash, using the first runnings for the Barleywine and the second to make a Bitter. The full story and recipe is here.

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