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PostNatal and Cherry Sparkles Final Verdicts

I have had a few bottles each of the PostNatal IPA-Style Beer and the Cherry Sparkles Cherry Wheat. Here's what I like and don't like, and what I'll do differently next time.

PostNatal IPA-Style Beer is a bit too dark for an IPA. It is more like an Indian Brown Ale (DFH-style, but half the ABV). The body and bitterness are good. It came together well in conditioning. Next time, I'll use much lighter crystal malts, shooting for like 6SRM. I think this was 11 SRM with some pretty dark (60L?) crystal in there. It tastes it. That will mellow and sweeten with time, but the hops will also fade with time. I am happy with the bitterness, though I might boost it from 45 IBU to 60 IBU next time, with perhaps a bittering 60 minute addition to the boil, instead of just FWH and 30 minute (and later) additions. I would also increase the late additions to provide a lot more hop aroma and flavor. Like an extra ounce or two spread across the last 20 minutes of the boil.

Cherry Sparkles is good. I wouldn't change a thing. Maybe a little more cherry flavor and a little less food coloring. I also wish it had more carbonation, though I used 5 oz. priming sugar. I wouldn't add more than that. Maybe the food coloring is suppressing the yeast or something... But it's fine the way it is. The base beer is Stonington Memorial Summer Ale, which I've made before. This time I spread the hops all throughout the boil, and I like the fullness of hop character it provides to the base beer. I also used US-05 instead of a liquid American Wheat ale strain of yeast. The American Wheat provided a tartness but no banana or clove, which is good. It isn't a Wit, after all. The US-05 doesn't have tartness, but the wheat still provides a soft tart bready flavor. But there's that weird estery phenolic peachy thing that I've been getting in my light colored beers with the US-05. I am planning on fermenting warmer (65F instead of 62F) in the future to try to reduce or eliminate that. FWIW, the cherry hides that undesirable aspect quite well.


Cherry Sparkles Bottled

I did end up bottling Cherry Sparkles on the 26th, just a day after PostNatal IPA. I added a bit of cherry flavoring, which was more like black cherry than maraschino cherry. And I used almost a whole tube of red food coloring shooting for a pink color. I think I might have overshot, and I may be more red than pink, but we'll see how it looks once it's conditioned.

The taste was nice. The base beer is my latest incarnation of Stonington Memorial Summer Ale. That's a half malted wheat, half pale ale malt grist with Tettnanger hops. In the past, it was a 60 minute addition and a flameout addition, but I changed it up a little, with additions as first wort hops (added to the kettle as runoff begins), along with 60, 45, 30, 15, and flameout additions. It all amounted to about 20 IBU, which was a little higher than I wanted, but my volume was low, so there you go. This gives the beer a noticable but mild bitterness and all-around hop character, which was nice for the base beer. I packaged about a gallon of this un-pinked. The pink beer ended up being just slightly cherry, almost more from the nose, inferring a flavor. The food coloring is mostly high fructose corn syrup, and that showed in the flavor of the pink beer. I hope that isn't too fermentable, or my bottles might blow up. Time will tell.

They're nearly conditioned already, but I'll give them a few more days before I pop one open and test it. I don't need to drink a flat one, thank you. I already tried that anyway.


PostNatal IPA Bottled

I almost bottled PostNatal and Cherry Sparkles on Friday, just a week after brewing them, but I just couldn't do it. Even though both were done fermenting, I felt like it was too early to bottle them, even for me.

But now it's in this any-day-now mode with my wife's pregnancy, and eeking out a few hours to bottle one batch, let alone two, is a politically and practically delicate matter. You just sort of never know when I'll be needed.

But since PostNatal is for use after giving birth, I thought it would be nice if it were ready at that time. I know I'd want to crack a cold one pretty soon after giving birth, but maybe I'm projecting.

Fortunately, my wife is one of the most understanding on earth, and was agreeable to me bottling today. It turned out it was really only reasonable for me to bottle one of the batches today, but that's fine. Cherry Sparkles can wait a little bit more. Maybe tomorrow ;)

PostNatal started at 1.032 and the FG was 1.006. That makes it 3.4% ABV, which is a little higher than I wanted, but still hopefully low enough. The body is pretty thin and watery. I think that will improve with some fizz in there, and perhaps a little with age, but age generally hurts hop-centric beers. I will probably add more crystal malts and increase the mash temperature for next time I make this one. The hop bitterness is good and firm with a nice linger, but the hop flavor and aroma are weak to non-existant. I guess I need a lot more hops at flameout and maybe at other late boil times.

I'll report back when they're fully conditioned.


Pictures and revisions

<--Dragon King (left)...and...(right) Marynka Porter-->
First: Dragon King. For some reason, this bottle didn't have as much head as the others have. I still don't know of a great way to get consistent carbonation from bottle to bottle within a batch. Any thoughts?
Now: Marynka Porter. I was on crack when I said this was fruity like Cascades. There's none of that. The body is pleasantly light, given the darkness of the beer. I think it's more the Fuggles I'm picking up on and remembering and calling Cascades. What the hell do I know, anyway?

Brew Day

Today I am making two beers at once. This is the second time I have done this. That makes today the Gemini Series Beta Project.

Gemini Beta One is PostNatal IPA. This is a low alcohol IPA. Before you get all BJCP on me, let me tell you that I know IPA is supposed to have high alcohol, or else it isn't an IPA, just a hoppy Pale Ale. Blah blah blah. There's no style that welcomes 1.030 OG, 11 SRM, 45 IBU beer. At least none that I could find that would mean anything. If you know of one, let me know. The wort is not too sweet (obviously) and is very bitter (perhaps also obviously).

Gemini Beta Two is Chery Sparkles. This is named in honor of Iris, my four year old daughter. This is her self-appointed nickname, and ever since I had her make a label for me, she's wanted me to make this beer. She didn't really care what it tastes like, since she's four and hates beer. I think she'll like it to be pink. I am making my Stonington Memorial Summer Ale recipe, which is just a half wheat, half base malt beer with less than 20 IBU of Tettnanger hops. This is adapted from the Northern Brewer.com American Wheat recipe. But it's not like some earth-shattering unique recipe. I'll be using dry yeast, US-05, like always, so it won't be as tart or tangy as a normal American Wheat beer. Then I'm going to add some cherry extract at bottling time, to give it a very subtle cherry flavor. Then I'll probably dose it up with some red food coloring so the beer and bubbles will hopefully become pink. Should be fun. It's still boiling, so I don't know the gravity, but I'm planning for 5.5 gallons at 1.043.

Marynka Porter Tasted

I also broke into the Marynka Porter. No photo of this one, either. What's wrong with me? I think I'll have to drink one each of the Marynka and the Dragon King tonight so I can get a few snapshots to post here.

The Marynka Porter pours deep dark brown with a small head. The smell is of roasted grains. The taste is dark too. The Marynka hops promised a licorice, cedary flavor, and deliver something like that. I really like the Marynka hops with the Porter. I also used a small dab of Fuggles, but I used a lot more Marynka. I find this kind of a little light-bodied, and the hops seem almost fruity to me at times. I might have guessed there were Cascades in there if I didn't know better. Unless Northern Brewer.com sent me Cascades labelled as Marynka. Which I don't think they'd do. This is my favorite home-made beer right now. The Mean Giant Double Stout and Big Slick IIPA are just a bit over-the-top intense sometimes. But the Marynka Porter hits the spot. And at 7.1% ABV, it's the lowest alcohol of my own beers available right now!

The Marynka porter has no phenol at all to it. Maybe that's just because the dark grains hide it, but I don't think so. The massive hops and ABV in Big Slick couldn't hide it, so why would dark grain flavor hide it. This is part of my new belief that my water is alkiline, and thus better at dark beer.