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Monday, February 28, 2011

Early Ale Early Review

An Historic Taste!
The first reviews of the "early ale" experiment are in.  Recall that this was an attempt to brew one of the Durden Park Beer Circle recipes for a pale ale from the early 19th century.  I had been wanting to try one of their recipes for some time and so I did.

I conducted the first tasting after about a week in the bottle.  Harsh is the only word that can describe what it then tasted like.  Very bitter, almost astringent, with a whopper alcohol bite and after taste.  Some might enjoy such a beverage, but it is not for me.  But remember, Dear Reader, that this is a bottle conditioned ale and taste evolution will occur.

At the week two mark, I took a bottle of said ale to the house of some friends. Without mentioning my initial distaste for the product I poured the glasses.  Both of them liked it.  Kristen especially liked the fact that it was sweeter and less bitter than most pale ales.  She felt it was, overall, smoother than a typical pale ale.

That was interesting!  Was this the same beer that had violently assaulted my taste buds barely a week before? I took a drink myself. What a surprise: The flavor had smoothed out marvelously and the alcohol bite was nearly gone.  The harsh astringency had been replaced by a strong maltiness with a background of fruity hoppiness.  It was the type of taste evolution that would make Darwin proud.

The question that remains is this:  Does my latest effort really taste like a beer from the early 19th century?  That is a tough question to answer.  So many things have changed in terms of materials and supplies that any attempt to reconstruct an early recipe is an exercise in speculation.  The fellows and ladies of the Durden Park Beer Circle are are well aware of that and take great pains to research the processes and materials contemporary with the beer they are trying to recreate and account for those differences when they create their recipes.  So while we cannot know if we have matched the taste exactly, we are at least pretty close to what the original beer tasted like.

Nothing quite like a history lesson in a glass.  Cheers!

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