Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Unsystematic Brewing - Tilda Swinton Pale Ale

Today is a very special day for me, because it marks a first for this blog and for me. This will be the first beer that I have reviewed that was also brewed by me. That's right, after years of talking about brewing, dreaming about brewing, and wondering why the hell I wasn't brewing already, the time finally came to brew my first beer. It just didn't seem right to be a beer reviewer and rake other people's beers over the coals on occasion if I couldn't make a decent one myself.

For my first beer, I decided to go with something as simple and seemingly impossible to screw up as I could find. I settled on a mild pale ale which I renamed the Tilda Swinton (the most pale thing I could think of. If you didn't laugh there, you're not alone. I'll try harder on the name next time). Tilda Swinton was made using Caramel and Pale malt, and hopped with Columbus and Cascade hops. By the way, after getting a whiff of the Columbus hop pellets, I decided I may just have a new favorite hop variety. I let the beer ferment for two weeks, then bottled it and left if for an additional three weeks in the bottle to condition. It's finally done and ready to be thrown into the fire. If homebrewing taught me anything, it's that there is a lot more to brewing than you would think. My appreciation for every brewery out there has skyrocketed. At number 127,657,899 on the Top Beers of the World list, here's Tilda Swinton.

Tilda Swinton pours a slightly hazy caramel color with a thin but foamy off-white head. When we were bottling this, I was a little worried because it was looking pretty darn chunky when we were transferring it to the bottling bucket. Luckily, it cleared up in the bottles and there's only a touch of haze. The smell is light, with some pale malt, some grassy hops, a touch of mango and grapefruit and some light breadiness. Fortunately, there's nothing too offensive going on in the smell. Infection was definitely my biggest fear going into this process, but it appears that Tilda has come out infection free. That sounds weird...let's move on.

The taste opens with a light hop bite, though it's really more of a suggestion than a bite. The hops kind of glide over your tongue, leaving a grassy sourness as they pass, rather than crushing your palate into the dust. A touch of caramel creeps in before a finish that brings a touch of chalky yeast and aspirin-like hop resin. The mouthfeel is a just a touch thicker than water, and this bottle was a touch under-carbonated, though I've had a few that were much better. The finish is a bit more on the bitter side than I'd like, but overall I'm still pretty happy with this one. I've had a few bottles so far and I haven't gotten sick, died or gone impotent so I'm calling this a success. There are some pretty obvious flaws that I'll have to watch out for on my next few batches, but it feels pretty great having one under the belt. And there's really nothing like kicking back with a brew that you made yourself.

Top 250 Beers Tasted: 119

Grade: No grade on this, but I will give homebrewing in general an A+. A huge thanks to my friends Ryan, Renee and Brian for letting me brew this in their house and for all the help they gave me. They all get an A+, too.

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