Sunday, 19 October 2014

Home Brew Review: Bubba's APA

This was the second bottle of home brew I was gifted back when I was in Leeds, here, and, alas, the last. It was the nicer of the two brews on the night as I recall and so I was saving it. However, I was also terribly impatient because I drank it when there was nothing special happening beyond the fact that it was the weekend and I fancied a beer.

I refer, of course, to Bubba's American Pale Ale.

This being a home brew, you can't get any more, but I am given to understand that there is a stronger variant being brewed (7% ABV actually) and that if you are very nice to the brewer there is a chance of gaining some to try yourself. So, on that note, would you like to know more?

The aroma really can make or break an ale, I find, the more I gain knowledge of ale and the more I taste the more I have come to appreciate how much the nose can make a positive or negative difference. In some cases a good nose can lead to disappointment, such as with the lovely peach nose of Golden Glory (here) that gave way to a so-so ale. In other cases a bad nose can just ruin a decent brew so much that there's no saving it, such as with the rank Shambles Bitter (here). This is full of fruit and powerfully hopped, if I may borrow from Proper Job (here), to a positive strength. There's no mistaking the powerful fruit, mainly berries and citrus, and this carries over into the first taste. Opening with the berry fruit flavour and feel, it slowly slides into the malt and then this carries the wave of bittering hops to the end of the taste. All the while, there are bubbles of yeast and a hint of those berries that began it all. This is a hop-lover's ale and proud of it.

It was in discussion with the brewer that I learned precisely what 'dry-hopped' means and this is a good example of the power of that method. In making my own brew, Summer Stag, I used this method and now I know why that brew tasted so nice. In this brew there is a definite bias toward the hops over the malt (though this has been well chosen too) and the process has allowed the hops to take the centre stage. Indeed, in being bottle conditioned, there is an even bigger hit of the hops as the brew was still going nicely upon opening. Although there was an enormous head, reminiscent of Bruciani's ice-cream lemonade in Preston from the 1990s, this did not detract from the overall hit nor the overall taste. I was pleased that I'd had it but saddened that it was no longer there to have.

As a side note, I used the last of the bottle, slightly cloudy, to make some mushrooms for my evening meal. It went well with a knob of butter in the frying pan and offered a very nice taste to the meal. A shame that the main part of the meal was cheap southern fried chicken bought from a freezer shop - such a thing of beauty deserves to be coupled with something like a vegetarian lasagna or nut roast (no, seriously). Maybe steak? I digress.

Enjoy this as part of a good evening relaxation, regardless of weather (though cooler temperatures are encouraged to make the most of the warm malt), and with a nice meal to hand. It can be had with company, provided that the conversation is flowing and interesting, otherwise retire to the library and pull out some tome in which you are engrossed to keep the witterers away. A proper 5% ale, for proper people!

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