Monday, June 30, 2014

Biere de Nord: Tasting Notes

These are the tasting notes for Biere de Nord, the biere de garde that I brewed and is partly inspired by Hill Farmstead Biere de Norma, and also by the historical biere de garde information mentioned in Phil Markowski's amazing Farmhouse Ales.  The beer utilized mostly French Pilsner malt, adding in a few other malts to add complexity and depth.  I like the bready character provided by amber malt, and the toasty, faint nuttiness provided by aromatic and brown malt.  Finally, a bit of CaraMunich for caramel and sweetness.  The hops were kept to a minimum in order to let the malt and, more importantly, the yeast, shine.

Appearance: I let a bit too much sediment get into the bottles at bottling, which requires leaving a good half inch in the bottom of the bottle, but perhaps that allowed the beer to develop faster.  Leaving the dregs behind, beer pours a fairly-clear deep amber with a nice head that has a slight reddish hue.

Nose: The first whiff is fresh strawberry coupled with pungent raspberry jam.  A bit of vinous grape in the background.  A touch of bread and sweet malt, but mostly quite fruity.  Hints of leather as it warms.

Flavor: Also focused on the jam aspect with just a touch of warming alcohol through the finish.  The oak from the red wine-soaked oak cubes is felt just a touch here as well.  A bit more of the Brett L leather than in the nose.

Mouthfeel: Medium body with low, but acceptable, carbonation, which is what I was aiming for at 2.4 volumes, mimicking beers like the aforementioned Hill Farmstead Biere de Norma and BFM Abbaye de Saint Bon-Chien. A bit of residual sweetness, but overall fairly dry.

Overall: I'm really pleased with this beer, especially being my first attempt at the style.  This was before I really got into pH and water chemistry (only using 5.2 buffer here), though I don't know that I would change much, other than matching the Alexandria, Virginia water profile used to brew the beer as opposed to the Chicago (Lake Michigan) water that I use now.  I would also maybe add a bit more of the oak cubes to impart slightly more red wine character, or age it a bit longer on the cubes.

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