The latest batch of homebrew is done bottle conditioning and it was ready to drink over the weekend. This time it is an American Amber Ale:
I have brewed this exact recipe kit before, most recently last February when I chose to use Wyeast 1332 Northwest Ale in place Wyeast 1056 American Ale. The results of that batch were good, so I chose to brew a batch using a more traditional strain of yeast and see what happened. And?
This is a beer that definitely benefited from an extra week in the bottles. The first bottle that I tried, not pictured above, was bottle conditioned for the minimum of two weeks. The beer was not heavily carbonated and the flavors were kind of sharp instead of melting together. It drank like a young beer. It is odd sometimes to think of beer ageing, but it is critically important to remember that un-pasteurized homebrew is a living organism. It is what allows the beer to bottle condition and it can dramatically change the flavor profile over time. Usually this ageing improves the beer.
I waited an additional week to crack the next couple of bottles and was surprised by the difference. There was more carbonation, almost the perfect amount, and the malt profile no longer felt like it was trying to punch the hops out of the room. Some of the residual sweetness that was left on the tongue with the first bottle was totally gone.
iBrewMaster figures that my American Amber Ale will be of both middling bitterness (~41 IBU) and alcohol (4.6% ABV). Both numbers feel about right for the beer that I let age additional week in the bottles, but the alcohol felt a bit higher across the tongue on the younger beer. Overall, this is an excellent example of a modern American craft beer and it is very forgiving for the average homebrewer to take on.
It is my belief that amber ale and modern IPAs define the American craft beer renaissance. No two styles are crafted in as many variations by as many breweries with as dramatic a range of results. Partly this is due to just how versatile a base the basic recipe of either of these styles can be and the forgiving nature of the yeast, which seems amenable to just about any brewing condition unlike more temperamental ale strains. Do not even get me started on the prima donna yeast strains of the lager side of the house. Enjoy.
Next up is a dry-hopped Chinook IPA that is bottle conditioning right now and a Scottish 70 Shilling that is bubbling away in a carboy which would make it ready for the Thanksgiving holiday. Bring on the cranberries.