Some of you may not be familiar with the brew Happy Amber Anniversary. There is a very easy explanation to that: I brewed it! My regular readers can tell you that I started doing my own homebrewing a little over a month ago, and I decided to start with the kit that I received with the homebrewing starter kit my parents got me. I figured if I screwed it up, I at least hadn’t spent any money on it. I definitely made some mistakes during the brewing, but everything seemed to be working fine throughout the fermenting stages. Well the beer is finally ready, and I can honestly admit it is already almost halfway gone as well. You should know the name of my first brew commemorates the first year of this very blog. I wasn’t going to do a review of my own homebrew, but John (a previous reviewer here as well) stated he should do a review of it. Happy to give up the writing responsibilities for the day, I gladly handed him the reigns. Below you’ll find his review of my very first attempt at homebrew. He may be slightly too kind on some notes, but it is encouraging going into my second batch.
Happy Amber Anniversary
If you care about beer, you need to homebrew. All you need is a kitchen and a tolerant spouse and you can become your own beer meister. Maybe you’ve drank some of the best beers in the world, but there is a flavor that you can only get when you homebrew – Mine. Mine is a flavor that tastes like a high-five from Sean Connery. It is worth the expense of buying the kit and having to clean wort off your floor for months.
There are only 4 necessary ingredients in beer: Water, Grain, Hops, and Yeast. It sounds simple but there are hundreds of kinds of grains, hops, and yeast strands that will all drastically affect the flavor of the beer. Even changing the PH of the water can change the overall tone of the beer. As a homebrewer, you can change every single aspect of the beer to your liking and thus become your own beer god. You can let your creation evolve in the bottle or drink it as soon as it is carbonated. You can be reckless and add a pound bacon to the brew or restrained and add a teaspoon of coriander. Beer gods don’t have to follow rules. We are creators, visionaries, forerunners, and pioneers.
Gary recently joined the ranks of the blessed beer ones and created his Anniversary Amber Ale. And he saw that it was good.
Sacrilege aside, the beer is an Autumn Amber from a kit by midwestsupplies.com. Amber ale doesn’t seem to get much love from the craft beer world because the focus of an amber ale is on balance and not on blowing your mind. They are typically low-alcohol, sessional, and defined by what the aren’t (not too hoppy, not too malty, not too fruity). Of course there are a number of mind blowing amber ales, but at some point they become some other kind of beer with an amber hue. What we have here is a true, balanced, easy drinking, smooth and true amber ale.
Appearance – Not too much of a surprise here. There is a nice amber and ruby color with exceptionally good clarity. There’s light head unless you do a hard pour, but as the bottle ages it will get frothier.
Smell – The smell is nicely balanced with caramel and malt in the front and some bitterness and pine from the hops. There is a smell that accompanies a fresh homebrew that is difficult to describe if you’ve never smelled the base malt, unboiled hops, and yeast. I’m told the smell is “amateur” and we should try to work it out with aging and changing recipes, but I think it’s fantastic and a sign of individual craftsmanship.
Taste – I first drank this beer after 5 days in the bottle. For the non-homebrewers out there, a beer needs at least 2 weeks before it’s drinkable (preferably a month). The only reason we drink the beer after a week in the bottle, or before we ferment it, or even before we hop it is because we want to experience the evolution of the beer. I’ll be honest, when I tasted this beer after 5 days I didn’t know if it was going to work out. There were some off flavors, particularly a sweetness that I didn’t think the yeast would be able to settle.
I was wrong. This beer turned out great. The mouthfeel is light due to the low alcohol (around 4.5%) and pleasant carbonation. However, the flavor isn’t compromised. There is a light malt sweetness balanced with hops. The balance is the star here. The malt flavor doesn’t take you too low and the hop flavor doesn’t take you too high. There is a nice finish and lingering notes of hop citrus.
As good as this beer is, I can only imagine how insulted Gary is that his beer is balanced and drinkable. I’ve been drinking with Gary for a while and he has never sought out a beer that is balanced and drinkable. The first tasting we ever did had a 100+ IBU Pale Ale brewed with horse parts. He drinks high alcohol, huge flavor, scary ingredient beers, which makes me extremely excited to see what he brews next.
Get your hands on an Anniversary Amber Ale. Also, he needs a brewery name, so get on that blogosphere!
I know no teacher grade!