Thursday, August 5, 2010

Audrey's Belgian Amber (Brown) Tasting

For her birthday Audrey wanted to brew a slightly strong amber Belgian beer, but it ended up more brown than amber.  Even though the beer has the color/strength/bitterness of a Belgian Dubbel we avoided using dark candi syrup and caramel malt, so it doesn't have the distinct dark fruit character most examples have.  Just about all of the color came from 4 oz of English chocolate malt, so to get a lighter color next time I'll just have to dial it back a little bit.  The closest commercial beer I can compare it to is Ommegang Ommegang, but we didn't use spices or aromatic malt. 

Belgian it is, amber it is not...Audrey's Belgian Amber (Brown)

Appearance – The dark brown color makes it look almost like an English porter. Medium-light tan head with moderate retention (I was expecting better from the flaked barley). Hopefully the flavor is more summery than the appearance.

Smell – Lots of spice (clove, cinnamon, vanilla, and white pepper) in addition to a general yeasty character. There is some non-banana Belgian fruitiness. The malt is subdued, but it is slightly toasty.

Taste – The dark malt is much more prominent in the flavor than it was in the aroma, as is the fruit. The beer isn't quite roasty, but it is almost there, closer to the over-cooked edge of a chocolate muffin/cupcake. In some ways it reminds me of the mix of brown malt and funk I get in my Courage Russian Imperial Stout clone. Not much alcohol character, but I'm drinking it a bit colder than I probably should be.

Mouthfeel – Medium-thin body with prickly carbonation. The body and carbonation really help to add to the overall "Belgian" character.

Drinkability & Notes – Despite the color and moderate-high alcohol, it is dry enough to be drinkable on a cool summer day. I should check in on the Brett B spiked portion to see how it is doing soon.

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