Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Aged beer

Beer can be aged too. :p At almost a year old, it's still not very old, but it at least has had the ability to age since the yeast is still in the bottle. The beer is the porter I brewed last winter, and wrote tasting notes for last March. Most beer sites (and beer labels) say to age beer at a cellar temp of 55F, but this one has been at room temp most of the time.

It was served at room temperature in a glass mug. Very slow pouring creates about a finger sized head (all the mug would fit). I will upload the pic tomorrow.
Since last March, I have noticed this beer change a couple times. a couple months after it was bottled, the maltiness was so strong that it was syrupy sweet. The chocolate flavors started becoming a bit more distinct, but still not as strong. At that point, I didn't really care to drink it because of the overwhelming sweetness of it.

Since then, the syrupy sweetness has mellowed a lot. It still has a good amount of maltiness, but it's in good balance with the bitterness. Dark chocolate is now more distinct, and now even has a bit of alcohol present in the taste. I didn't think it was that high gravity of a beer to begin with, but it now reminds me of Russian imperial stouts. If there is any flavor left by the hops, it's either well hidden or gone. Also, the fruity esters I noticed the first time have disappeared.

I'm rather surprised by what it aged into. I didn't expect much after it became a syrupy mess, but I guess that yeast still can eat away at the excess sweetness if given enough time. I'm going to hold onto a few of them to age longer, and will blog once they come out of the cellar again.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

'05 Haiwan "remote mountain"

Soon after getting this tea, I started to fall behind on blogging, and eventually stopped posting tasting notes for new teas. For a while, I didn't think I would ever post tasting notes for this one. That changed when I received a few tea samples from John Grebe (John Grebe's Tea Reviews
), and one of them was this particular tea. We did a small tea trade just to try new teas, and he threw this one in without knowing that I already had this tea. Realizing that this sample went through drier storage than my somewhat wet stored beeng, I pulled out two gaiwans to compare the two.

Even though where I live isn't normally humid enough to create wet storage conditions, I have found ways to increase the humidity for my puerh stash. At times, it got humid enough that the cakes got damp, and the heat in my room probably helped speed things along. If it has sped up aging, it would be noticeable compared to the sample. By the way, both teas were purchased from puerhshop.com, so they both went through the same storage before being purchased.

A: "wet storage" (Left) B: dry sample (Right)

7g in 10 cl gaiwans. Rinse, 15s, 5s, 5s, caffeine overdose.
Since I don't have matching gaiwans, I used the two 10cl ones I have. Both are similar enough that I don't think they would brew any different than the other.

Dry leaf A: Looks a touch darker than sample B. It hasn't been in wet enough storage that it doesn't reduce to dust when crushed, but some dampness makes it a bit flexible.
Dry leaf B: A little more green, and some yellow leaves. Breaks into dust without any problems.

First infusion:
A: It's not as noticeable in the picture as it actually is, but it's darker than the other one. It's slightly harsh, but still smooth and sweet. More smoke and wood, but still has a touch of vegetal sweetness. Unlike the dry sample, this has a stronger, lingering aftertaste.

B: Lighter and more fragrant. Smoke is replaced by a sweeter fruity, or grapey, or berry like taste (I can't tell exactly what it is, but it's one of those). Not much of an aftertaste is left.

Second Infusion:
A: Still the darker of the two. Aroma is still basically the same. Surpringly, it's the sweeter of the two.

B: Still the more fragrant of the two. Smoke is stronger, but the vegetal and fruity sweetness is still present in the aroma. Basically the same as before, just stronger, slightly harsh, and leaves a stronger aftertaste.

Third infusion: The color of sample B started to become about as dark as sample A. Other than that, I didn't notice anything different enough to write down.

I would have kept going, but I started getting a caffeine overdose after the third infusion. I didn't think about the caffeine when doing a comparison with 10cl gaiwans, and 7g of leaves in each one.

A is the top picture, and B is the bottom. These are both the same tea, but the leaves look so much different. A is more buds, and B is mostly larger darker leaves. Maybe the leaves spread throughout the beeng isn't very consistent?

From the stronger taste, and the lack of the fresh vegetal taste, I think my beeng has indeed aged faster than the sample. Also, while B tasted better in earlier infusions, I think A became the more pleasant of the two after the second infusion.

Since this was a comparison, and I was only able to get three infusions, I will try them again, and post updates if I find anything different.