So I’ve had several of these since I bottled them about a month ago. I just haven’t had a chance to officially sit down and “taste” it.
Several guests had one of these at our “First Ever Friendsgivingmas” party we threw a couple weeks ago, and reviews were generally favorable, though I don’t know how much of that was out of politeness, and how much of that was genuine. Maintaining my role of “harshest self critic,” these are the thoughts that roll through my mind.
As a quick overview, I’ll just say this: This beer disappointed me.
Not because it wasn’t good. But because it doesn’t taste at all how I hoped it would. That said, it still is pretty good. Here’s the lowdown on my first self-written recipe.
Appearance: (3.5/5) A very thin, bright white head bubbles at the top of this darkish-gold brew, but then quickly fizzes away, never to be seen again. No lacing, no residual bubbling, nothing. This is the clearest beer I’ve made, which was expected considering this was the first time I’d tried Whirlfloc (a tablet-ized Irish moss, a fining agent meant to remove haze and other effects of excess proteins in beer). But it’s still hazy. And considering the amount of flaked oats and wheat in the grain bill, I’d figure this beer would have more head to it. But…it just doesn’t. Lots to learn as I go about this.
Aroma: (3.5/5) Crisper than I’d expected. A hint of banana, a hint of toast, a very mild hint of cinnamon. I wanted more cinnamon. I wanted more toastiness. I didn’t want any banana. That’s a sign of botched fermentation (in this case). There’s a little fruitiness from the little bit of hops added, but not much. It doesn’t smell at all like Christmas cookies. Not in the least. But it still smells good. So while it’s a failure from the point of view of my goals, it’s still successful (mostly) as a beer by itself.
Taste: (3.5/5) Once again, it doesn’t taste much at all like I’d hoped. In hindsight, I should have styled this as more of a low-hopped brown ale than as a mild. It needs more robustness. Theres no cinnamon flavor at all. The little bit you get in the nose is completely gone by the time it reaches your palate. A little tiny bit of toastiness, a little tiny bit of fruitiness (probably a product of the Belgian Special B malt). But it’s bright. It’s a bright little beer. And as disappointed as I am in it…it’s not bad.
Drinkability/Mouthfeel: (4.5/5) Here is the main highlight of this beer. You can drink it all day. Heck, you can two-fist these. It’s easy on the palate, it’s not too heavy, it’s not too thin. Despite the lack of visible effervescence, it’s not as flat as I expected. Still needs more bubbles, but this isn’t bad at all. Very approachable, and with a few tweaks, could make a pretty darned good, standard mild.
Design: (4/5) I’m just going to go ahead and say it. This is one of my favorite designs I’ve come up with. I like the fonts I found to use. I like the color selection (especially that minty green). I like the way all the colors play together. I like this design. I like it a lot. It’s not perfect, but nothing is. But this is awful darned close, especially since it looks even better on the bottle. It just looks like a Merry Christmas…and that’s the point of this beer. Well…it was supposed to be the point. But at least it still looks like it!
Overall: (19/25) Despite my disappointments with the final execution of the concept I aimed for, this is (by the numbers) far and away the most successful beer I’ve made yet. But the style of beer was all wrong for this concept. More malt, more color, more bubbles were all needed to execute what I was after. And that’s what I’ll go for next year when I make another attempt at it. But I’m going to take what I learned from this one, and make it into more of a traditional mild. Because, frankly, it’s still a good beer.