flight of the Night Owl

Last saturday at Den Proefzolder the Night Owl took her first flight. This beer had only been in the bottle for about 10 days so I was a little worried about what I would find in such a stong but young beer.

Taking my nose to the glass I was hit with caramel covered apples and pears. Molasses and a touch of licqourice show up as well. Luikse siroop (a popular pear and apple based thick syrup that Belgians spread on bread) would be a good descriptor. Surprisingly there was no real trace of the quite generous East Kent Goldings dry-hopping, just a faint unidentified herbal note that faded in and out under the fruit.

Flavor-wise it is much the same story. Big bold fruit (Luikse siroop), some licqorice and caramel notes. Perhaps a touch of butterscotch too. There is enough herbal and lightly spicy bitterness to keep the beer from becoming too sweet. I also get a slight roast character in the very back. The beer does feel quite balanced and the alcohol is well-hidden. You do get a good swoosh of sweet alcohols but you have the impression that this is a 8-9% ABV beer, not almost 15%. That makes it a dangerous brew, so like it says on the bottle “Don’t turn your back on this one.” Overall I am very happy with where this beer is going.

The label did not turn out as well as I had hoped. Somehow the printer had taken my vector files and managed to create a low resolution print. Everything is pixelated! That isn’t too bad for the main image on the label but the finer text on the right is barely legible. After taking a few sips of the beer you won’t be able to hold the bottle still enough to read it at all. Oh well, like I tell myself every morning, it’s what’s on the inside that counts, right?

Once this beer has some age on it I will do a proper evaluation. Its just too young for such a massive beer. I am sure that that will be the consensus when this beer is served at the Borefts Beer Festival at Brouwerij De Molen in a couple weeks. We’ll see what all those Ratebeerians think (now that makes me nervous!). Night Owl should start to show her true colors around christmas time, and therefore help to make the holidays warm and merry!

hop nest

hopnest_label090702That’s the name I have given my munich malt IPA (still working on the label). This brew has turned out to be quite a fantastic, balanced IPA. It has the necessary hop bite, tons of hop flavor and a dreamy aroma. It does not have the harshness and finess of a sledgehammer that so many IPA’s do. This could be the beer to turn me to the hop side. So really, how is the beer? Well, I will try to give it the good old ratebeer analysis.

The beer pours a hazy deep copper with orange edges. A tall slowly fading creamy yellowed head sits proudly on top. Pungent hop nose with grapefruit zest and some musty pine resin. Some indeterminate fruitiness blows in as the hops dance around. Very complex hop notes that are a bit hard to nail down. Heavenly if you like the smell of hops! I can pick up something that you could describe as “winey.” Could this be the famed character of the Nelson Sauvin hops or am I just looking too hard for it? No, as it warms up that character comes out more. A touch of simple sugar and malt make their way upfront after a while, but the nose is definitely hop forward. First impression in the mouth is a good stiff bitterness coming from deep with some grassy notes. Not astringent at all but definitely assertive. Some malt and thinned out caramel try to work there way upfront but are pushed back by waves of citrus hops. Some pine is noticed in the throat. Good lightly fruity tones. Quite nice. Malt does finally make its way forward and join the grapefruit and “wine” for a decently long finish. Medium to light mouthfeel with a dry finish. CO2 level is just right.

Score: aroma 8/10, appearance 4/5, flavor 8/10, palate 3/5, overall 16/20: total score 3.9/5

hopnest_tasting090702This is pretty much exactly what I was shooting for. The only thing that I would like to change is that the beer is just a touch too thin. That is not really surprising since this was an experiment with only munich malt… nothing to build mouthfeel. I have already adjusted the recipe in BeerAlchemy to include a touch of crystal. It will definitely be brewed again. I am also now in love with Nelson Sauvin hops!