Remembering beers I’ve made in the past is a weird thing. Naturally some batches stand out more than others, and some just get lost in the mix. It’s a lot to remember: flavors, aroma, color, general thoughts and impressions along with things that were happening in your life around that time that could have influenced your opinions towards it. Good note taking helps to conjure up memories, but even still it’s tough to retain a clear image. I have [probably very biased] fond memories of my earliest batches, but I wonder how it would stand up to my tastes today. I made a 3 gallon rendition of my first oatmeal stout that I really enjoyed back then and wanted to re-experience.
- 6 lb English Pale malt
- 0.8 lb Flaked Oats
- 0.5 lb Crystal 80L
- 0.5 lb Victory malt
- 0.33 lb Roasted barley
- 0.25 lb Chocolate malt
- 0.75 oz Cascade 60 min
- 0.25 oz Cascade 5 min
- WY London ESB 1986
// Mash-in 1.5 qt/lb (~3gal) to hit 154 for 60 minutes. Raise to 168, pseudo-sparge with about 3/4 gal of 170 water by pouring through the raised grain bag over the pot. Collected around 3 gallons of wort total. Boil 60 minutes. Added ice to get it down to 120, moved the fridge. Pitched at 80. OG 1074. Brewed 7/18/15. //
// Water: 1/2 tsp gypsum and CaCl2, 3/4 tsp chalk to the mash. No addition to sparge water //
Beer fermented out fairly quickly (within 3 days or so, but I wound up kegging it after 1 week). FG was 1.022.
Well, this beer was nothing like I remember it. For one, I overshot my OG by way too much (about 0.02) so it was a much bigger beer than the original. Rather than live in the past and reminisce about the older beer as I remember it (feel free to reference that post here), let’s focus on the positive takeaways from this batch and a few lessons learned.
First, I’m not that great at making strong beers. This beer was a little boozy; very drinkable, but after 1 pint I wasn’t feeling it much anymore. The English yeast does provide that warm, malty sensation but the sheer mass of how big this beer is kind of masks it, and makes me wish this was more of a session cask ale or just standard gravity ale. I also don’t drink strong beers that much, so I’m naturally biased more towards lower gravity beers that I can sip on and not feel like I’m putting in work to finish. Regardless, there are some things that I need to learn (likely with regards to yeast / fermentation) for making stronger, maltier beers taste smooth and savory.
Second, as a general comment, just because you use the same ingredients in a beer made prior doesn’t mean that it will taste the same when made a few years later. So much has changed about my brewing setup and process that flavors changed significantly. It’s a good thing in the end, because I’m confident in the choices I’ve made to upgrade various parts. But if I were going to try and remake (at least from my taste memory) my first batch again, I would just scrap the old recipe and start from scratch, focusing more on the bigger picture rather than just copy and pasting the old one.