adventures in craft beer and real food

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Ankle Breaker Ale, part 2 of 2

While it may be rather assuming to review one's own homebrewed beer, rest assured that I do not review beers, I merely provide tasting notes. Maybe at some point I'll explain why I think reviewing anything as subjective as a beverage is bunk the way most reviewers do it. I, on the other hand, merely want to convey to my readers what's inside the bottle since the smellavision and tasteavision haven't yet been invented (despite Emeril's best efforts).

My first homebrew is West Washington ESB, otherwise known as West Washington Ankle Breaker Ale. It is so nick-named because I fell down some stairs when I was loading the (former?) West Washington Brewery in the back of my car. My ankle wasn't really broken, but I did have to go to the e-room (not the Escoffier kind!) and get the kind of assistance that only Röntgen can provide. But enough about me...

The bottle I sampled burst open with a hiss of cascade aroma that was unexpectedly slightly sweet and somewhat malty. The color can best be described as a orange-yellow, and the beer has fairly good clarity despite exhibiting significant chill-haze (no finings or cold conditioning). It raised a nice head of about 3 cm that sustains itself nicely. As a result of ample carbonation that is perhaps beyond traditional British style, the head remained a fluffy beige color covering the entire surface of the beer and that resulted in excellent lacing. There was some sediment in the glass as a result of bottle-conditioning. Some of the sediment was actually suspended by the carbonation, resulting in an interesting spectacle. I imagine this would only become more interesting as the number of Ankle Breakers consumed within the last day increases.

The taste opens with a hint of malt and Kent goldings hops. A bitter sensation follows that seemed to move sideways across my tongue in waves. The strong malty backbone comes close behind, which balances out the bitterness. The maltiness is similar to whole wheat bread crust. There are also some cascade notes, which brings pine, resin, lemon, and orange flavors into the mix. As the beer warmed up, some licorice notes were detected. Although being unexpectedly light, the beer has a very ale-ish character that isn't too clean. There are flavors contributed by the yeast, but they are subtle. This was accomplished by not straining the yeast (pitching plenty of yeast cells and maintaining a normal fermentation temperature). The aftertaste is very similar to sourdough.

Ankle Breaker is very easy to drink, and feels smooth on the tongue despite the carbonation. This might contribute to the sense of lightness noted above. The hop-flavors seem a little out of focus, which may have been caused by using bottled water from Mishicot, Wisconsin where the limestone rock surely contributes alkalinity to the water. Some pH adjustment may have been beneficial.

I am happy with my first homebrew, and hope to continue brewing as a collaborative partner at the new M233 Brewery (tentative name).

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