Evening all. I'm having myself a little tasting session tonight and I'm including an early taster of my latest home brew experiment in to the mix, just to spice it up another notch. BAM!*
One of the reasons I've become so fascinated with beer (apart from the fact that it gets you drunk...which there's no point denying is a bloody good plus) is that there are sooo many varieties of it, much more then wine or any spirit. From your basic best bitters, milds and I.P.A's to your lambics, raucbiers and to one that I'm trying tonight...gruit beer. Not to go into a whole nerdy history of beer (for A: I'll probably get all my info wrong anyway. and B: I most likely sound nerdy enough as it is.) but basically gruit is the old fashioned herb mixture used to flavour beer before the introduction of hops to England in the 16th century. Link here to find out more. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gruit
Alba from Williams Brothers Brewery is a 7.5% beer brewed with the addition of spruce and pine needles and as I pour it into the glass it shows its wonderful tawny red colour with a very slight carbonation producing a very faint head. The aroma of berries and Carmel are dominate with a faint whiff of pine lingering in the background. The taste starts with a rich, malty sweetness with flavours of blueberries, juniper, apples and pine coating the tongue with a slight herbal taste, probably coming from the spruce, coming slowly into play to balance the sweetness. Very, very drinkable and I wouldn't guess that this was a 7.5% beer. Its a shame that gruit beer isn't more popular then it is, because in my opinion...who the hell needs hops?!
Right, now here's the one Ive been waiting for. My banana, honey and maple syrup wheat beer! Its been bottled for 3 weeks now so its still kinda young, but as I pop the top off it shows plenty of carbonation, with it also frothing up fast on pouring giving it a big white head that starts to fade rapidly. The beer has a orange "fading sun" type colour and probably due to me not bothering with finings, its not particularly clear...but who cares?? Smells of sweet honey and sherbet tingle the nose with the faint aroma of bananas following. it has most of the classic smells of a good German wheat beer. The beers mouth feel is pretty thick, probably too thick for a beer this pale and strength (around 5.5% ABV) but luckily the high carbonation balances things up nicely. The honeys flavour and sweetness comes through more then any of the other ingredients, but the maple syrups taste is also noticeable and adds the richness that was needed. Unfortunately there's no banana flavour to be found. Although its not immediately obvious, the spiciness of the Tettnanger hops used, slowly creeps in and tingles the tongue in a battle for supremacy against the honeys sweetness, which after a bit of a scuffle, it ultimately loses and fades away.
All in all, not a bad batch. If I brewed it again, I think I would let it ferment longer, but its still a pretty good beer, and after a tad more maturing it should get better.
*Anyone who gets this reference....give yourself a goldfish!!