Polarities

The beer flavor wheel.  GEEK OUT!

The beer flavor wheel. GEEK OUT!

The more  beer you drink, the more you notice things– my latest fixation has been texture or mouthfeel in a beer. People will describe beer as chewy or smooth, dry or creamy. (I enjoy looking at the flavor wheel.  It’s a bit like a diagram an ex of mine had with emotions clearly labeled.  It was supposed to help him talk about his feelings.  I liked to put together the worst combination of emotions possible, and I do the same thing with the beer wheel!  Mouthcoatingly-solventlike-cooked veg, anyone?)  Italo Calvino once said that one of the most admirable qualities of good writing was lightness.

photo by _bubby_ on flickr

photo by _bubby_ on flickr

The same can’t be said about beer.  Or can it?  Yesterday I had some Brooklyn Brewery Black Chocolate Stout.  It’s an imperial stout, my favourite style of beer.  I should have loved it but I couldn’t finish it.  It was just…so…sludgy.  With a weird mineral tang that distracted me from what should have been round, chocolaty warmth.

Still, it reminded me that beer is a mystery.  This stout is a polar opposite of the Brew Dog IPA I had last week. No matter how many beers you try, there is always the possibility of tasting something new.  What other beverage can claim such a thing?

And also a complete contrast to the stout is my own beer I just bottled.   It was  my first solo batch– the batch I brewed without my friend Bob.  I tasted it before putting it in the secondary fermenter and it is light in color and body, and gently carbonated.  Though I used the mild recipe it is nothing like a mild. The water here is very different than LA water.  Also, I had to substitute different grains and spray malt (DME), and I’ll admit finding the ingredients and equipment here has not been easy.  I bottled the beer using some janky make-shift siphon purchased at Wilco because I couldn’t find a regular stick filler. But hey, it tasted good, and hopefully after bottling it will taste even better but who knows?  I’m worried that if it carbonates more during bottle fermentation I’m going to have some really lively beer on my hands.

How important is mouthfeel to you in a beer? What kind of carbonation is too much?  How heavy is too  heavy? Have you ever had what’s described as a ‘powdery’ beer?

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7 Responses

  1. I like how the wheel lists some of these characteristics:

    Powdery (powdery)
    Salty (salty)
    Leathery (leatherlike)

    And please tell me your next homebrew will be a mouthcoatingly solventlike cooked veg one. You could market that from the healthy beer angle: “Two times the hops, two times the asparagus!”

    • Hi E.S.– maybe for my next batch I can just throw some brussel sprouts into secondary. It will be the 5-a-day beer. or something.

  2. I think mouthfeel is very important and I love creamy, full bodied beers. In fact I love the BBCS because of its slick thickness which just fills your mouth like cream. Something like the Hardcore IPA has a great body because of its strength and it makes it feel good in the mouth but cheap lagers are floppy and missing that body. I guess I have a palate which likes fullness. But I have a low tolerance of fizz, so much so that I often have to let the beer calm down a bit before I can really enjoy it!

    And you mention the beer being sludgy… I had a Mikkeller Beer Geek’s Breakfast which was kind of sludgy at the bottom and the sediment has all clumped together and was gloopy AND powdery and that was weird. Great beer though!

  3. Interesting. We weren’t blown away by the Brooklyn Chocolate Stout, either. I think our expectations were dangerously high, though, which didn’t help.

    • My expectations were high also– this is the first beer I have tried from this brewery, and I’d heard such great things. I probably should have tried the lager first.

  4. hiya – interesting, that wheel. I’ve never had a powdery beer. I’ve had ‘effing rank’ ones though! I bottle my beer , and I learnt very early on not to go too much on what it tastes like before bottling – give it three weeks, it’ll taste completley different. you see…

    • Hi Leigh. I’m hoping that after bottle fermenting my beer doesn’t become powdery or effing rank! Waiting is the hardest part of brewing!

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