The Beginner Brewer: November 2016

Thursday, 17 November 2016

The Redrock Brewing Co. Nine Inch Ale

(340ml, Bottled, 4.25 % ABV)

Before the Pour

Matt's view: Interesting label. Not too sure about the goat/nail motif, but it's certainly distinctive. My favorite part of the branding is definitely the bottle. Unique and stands out from the crowd. But the claim on the label that it's "Master-brewed?" That's for us to decide, methinks.

Marcel's view: I like the blue hue of the label. Nice. Certainly stands out in both design and bottle shape. The Redrock embossing on the glass is a nice touch--that must have cost a bit, I'm sure. I like that they've got some info on the brewery as well as the style of beer (amber ale). Well done on that!

In the Glass

Matt's view: Not much on the aroma-front. Which is curious. A bit of caramel but not much. Golden color which is nice and clear. 
The lack of aroma unfortunately crosses over to the taste. Bland and disappointing. Good mouthfeel though. With a name like Nine Inch Ale, I'd expect a way more aggressive flavor. Not much of a lasting aftertaste, either.

Marcel's view: A bit light in color for an amber ale, I'd have expected a deeper color. Some very slight toffee aromas, which is worrying, especially for an amber ale. Even for a milder ale, like a bitter or pale ale, there is very little on the nose here. Apart from that, it shows no flaws, which is a good thing.

Taste is quite bland, a bit blah, really. Some maltiness but so feint that it's difficult to pin down. Despite claiming to contain Simcoe hops, I don't pick up much of that. More grassy than piney. A blunt, generally one-dimensional bitterness that doesn't really satisfy. Nine Inch Ale? Underground rock-inspired? I don't think so. It's far too middle of the road. More Nickleback than Nine Inch Nails.

On the plus-side, it's clean and without obvious flaws. So there is that.

Will it go to Mars?

If we could only take one beer with us to Mars, would this one be in the cargo hold?

Matt: No. Nice bottle to look at on the long journey there, but nope.

Marcel: Nope. The cargo hold will contain other beers, I'm afraid.

The Scores



Final Verdict

A competently made, ultimately bland beer that does not live up to its own marketing. A case of style over substance, perhaps. 

Seems more like a macro-brewery's interpretation of a full-bodied ale than the real thing. Exciting design elements, but not much else. Not flawed but also not very tasty. A bit of a shame, really.

Guide to the Scores

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Scum, Beer & Villainy: Episode 2

Episode 2 of our podcast about beer, geekery, and everything in-between is freshly out the oven and ready for you!

In this episode, your hosts bemoan the curious resilience of the slop bucket at beer festivals, debate what beer appreciation is all about, and they talk to the head brewer at Drifter Brewing Company about why you'd want to hide beer at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.

Show notes:
Drifter Brewing Company :

On Tap magazine:
Music by The Motherland:

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

3 Easy Upgrades for Homebrewers

You want to brew better, more kick-ass beer. I get it. But you also don't want to spend half of your kid's college fund. I get that also. So here's some (relatively) cheap and easy level-ups for your home brewery that will rock you beer quality!

1. Control your fermentation temperature

This is probably the number one reason why craft breweries outmatch home breweries. If you can keep your fermentation temps consistent and between 15-18 degrees Celsius, you're golden. 

Consistency is more important than the actual number here, but don't let it get out of hand, mind you.

Cheap option: Place your fermenter in a bath of ice water. Replenish the ice periodically and measure your temperature obsessively. Obsession is sometimes a good thing.

More pricey option: Modify an old fridge with a bolt-on thermostat. Keep that puppy at a constant temp. Winning!

2. Use liquid yeast

Yes, dry yeast is getting better all the time. But liquid yeast is where the real flavor's at. 

You can access just so many more style options with liquid yeast. And unlike craft brewers, you don't have to break the bank. A few vials and off you go! If you've got ambitions to brew Belgian beers, then this hack becomes essential. 

Don't compromise!

3. Full, rolling boils

A full, rolling boil. And a sneaker. Sorry.

I've spoken about the importance of achieving a full, rolling boil before. But let me say this again. Boiling the fill volume of your wort, properly, will improve the quality of you beer immeasurably. Here are some of the advantages:
  • Clarity, as you break up haze-forming proteins
  • Hop flavor, as you fully utilize the hops you're adding to the kettle
  • DMS elimination, as that ugly off-flavor is blown off
  • Sterilization, because nothing nasty survives a full, rolling boil.


Thermometer by Dominic Wade (CC BY-ND 2.0)
Other photos (c) by