Before I forget my first impressions, I ought to post notes on how a couple of my recent brews have turned out.
First there is the Nottcider experiment, where I pasteurised the results of my slow apple juice extraction and then fermented with additional sugar and some Nottingham yeast. This has become a hard boy, quite harsh in taste although still with a few hints of its apple heritage. I am unsure exactly how strong it is though as I had a couple of large glasses one evening last week and (in an unscientific measurement) neither felt functionally impaired nor suffered the next day. I suspect that all the sugar turned to alcohol but that the sugar content was fairly low to start with. When the next apple harvest comes round I will continue experimenting.
The other brew I tried was an early bottle of my Winter Sail, which came not so much from a recipe as from a desire to clear out all my old grains and hops and give me a clean slate for this year’s brewing. Ideally it will have at least another month conditioning in the bottle but I find it helpful to take an early sample to see what track a brew is on. This one has developed a good level of carbonation although it remains quite cloudy and intensely dark. The strongest flavour at the moment is charcoal but not deleteriously so; it is like tidying up after a bonfire the night before. This will be down to the fact that about 30% of the grain bill was chocolate malt, when 3% would be a more common ball-park figure. I’ll let the rest of the bottles develop a bit longer but it certainly seems to be drinkable if a touch idiosyncratic!