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General Category => All Grain Brewing => Topic started by: gmac on May 31, 2011, 03:26:55 PM

Title: What would you call this beer?
Post by: gmac on May 31, 2011, 03:26:55 PM
I've been making a beer for a while now, slightly tweaking the recipe and I really like what I've been making but I'm not really sure what "style" it would fall into.  It was started as a clone of an amber cream ale that I really love but I think that this probably doesn't really exist as a standard style anyway.

The grain bill is very simple.
9 lbs 2-row
100 grams Chocolate malt
1 lb flaked corn - I added this because a lot of CA recipes seem to include corn but I'm considering leaving it out because I'm unsure what it is doing for the beer besides adding fermentables.
0.5 lbs Crystal 45 - I've done it with and without as well and although I like it without, my significant other likes the slight sweetness that this provides so it now goes in.
Mash at 152 degrees for 60-75 min, assume 85% efficiency.

The latest and I think best iteration of a hopping schedule is:
1 oz Cascade FWH
1/2 oz Northern Brewer at 60
1/2 oz Cascade at 15 mins
1/2 oz Cascade at flameout steeped for about 10 mins
WLP001 yeast
Fermented at about 65 degrees
Final beer is between 15 and 20 SRM, mildly hoppy with decent bitterness, very smooth and drinkable with nice colour and excellent head retention.
So, what should I be calling this?
Thanks



Title: Re: What would you call this beer?
Post by: denny on May 31, 2011, 03:29:04 PM
I'd call it "beer" and leave it at that.  The corn will lighten the body and perhaps add a very slight "corny" sweetness to the beer.
Title: Re: What would you call this beer?
Post by: dmtaylor on May 31, 2011, 03:31:45 PM
Looks to me like an American Amber Ale, or maybe Brown if it gets that dark.

http://www.bjcp.org/2008styles/style10.php#1b

Sound about right to you?
Title: Re: What would you call this beer?
Post by: gmac on May 31, 2011, 03:56:57 PM
Looks to me like an American Amber Ale, or maybe Brown if it gets that dark.

http://www.bjcp.org/2008styles/style10.php#1b

Sound about right to you?

Sounds pretty close.  I'm considering entering one in a competition (I'm also a member of CABA and they have some coming up) so I am curious what style it is closest to.

Today's version changed a bit.  Only had 1/4 lb of C45 open so it got a 1/4 lb of C120 as well.  Wasn't gonna open a 5 lb bag just for a few ounces.  Expecting colour from the C120 so I backed down the chocolate to 75 g instead of 100.  I'm glad it will still fit into the style type that Denny recommended...

Title: Re: What would you call this beer?
Post by: tomsawyer on May 31, 2011, 06:06:00 PM
I'd agree with the American amber ale category.

What amber cream ale are you so fond of?
Title: Re: What would you call this beer?
Post by: dmtaylor on May 31, 2011, 06:54:53 PM
I'm glad it will still fit into the style type that Denny recommended...

Well, sure, doesn't take much to fit a beer into the "beer" category.  ;)
Title: Re: What would you call this beer?
Post by: tomsawyer on May 31, 2011, 08:02:03 PM
I'm glad it will still fit into the style type that Denny recommended...

Well, sure, doesn't take much to fit a beer into the "beer" category.  ;)

Tough category to compete in though.
Title: Re: What would you call this beer?
Post by: denny on May 31, 2011, 08:04:43 PM
I'm glad it will still fit into the style type that Denny recommended...

Well, sure, doesn't take much to fit a beer into the "beer" category.  ;)

Tough category to compete in though.

Our county fair used to have a homebrew comp and along with it was a label comp.  For years we picked the really artsy, well produced labels.  One year we decided it was time to go the other way.  We awarded best label to a person who had written "BEER" on a piece of duct tape with a ball point pen and stuck it on a bottle.  I guess we pissed off a lot of people that year....
Title: Re: What would you call this beer?
Post by: ccarlson on May 31, 2011, 08:11:58 PM
I'm glad it will still fit into the style type that Denny recommended...

Well, sure, doesn't take much to fit a beer into the "beer" category.  ;)

Tough category to compete in though.

Our county fair used to have a homebrew comp and along with it was a label comp.  For years we picked the really artsy, well produced labels.  One year we decided it was time to go the other way.  We awarded best label to a person who had written "BEER" on a piece of duct tape with a ball point pen and stuck it on a bottle.  I guess we pissed off a lot of people that year....

If it was only one color and simple, then it should have been the winner. :D
Title: Re: What would you call this beer?
Post by: bluesman on May 31, 2011, 08:16:53 PM
It's a hybrid..."Stambrown".  ;)

 A cross between a Steam Beer, AAA and a ABA.  ;D
Title: Re: What would you call this beer?
Post by: gmac on May 31, 2011, 09:30:51 PM
I'd agree with the American amber ale category.

What amber cream ale are you so fond of?
The one I really like is Muskoka Cream Ale from here in Ontario.  Probably impossible to find in the US.  It's just a nice drinking beer with a bit more flavour and mouthfeel than a traditional cream ale.  It's supposed to be made with barley, hops, yeast and water (I'm not gonna try to spell Reinheitsgebot).  No corn but I put some in.  Not overwhelmingly hoppy but nicely balanced with more malt profile.  I think they market it as a cream ale instead of a brown because it's fermented a bit colder than normal from what I've been able to find out.  I'm trying to keep mine around 62-65 degrees as well although that's getting tougher.  Swamp cooler time I guess.
Title: Re: What would you call this beer?
Post by: thomasbarnes on June 01, 2011, 08:45:08 PM
How does the beer look, smell and taste?  That determines style, not the recipe.

Sit down with the BJCP guidelines in front of you and taste your beer critically. If it clearly fits into the American Amber (10B) category, then enter it as that. If not, enter it as a specialty beer (23A). If you're still uncertain as to which category you should enter it in, get an experienced beer judge to taste it and give feedback.

If you enter it as a specialty beer, and it's basically a cream ale except for the darker malt character, then declare the base style as "Cream Ale (6A)". For additional comments write something like, "Amber cream ale - similar to a Cream Ale (6A), but with added chocolate malt to impart amber color and hints of dark grain character." If you're certain that the judges will be familiar with the beer reference, and are trying to duplicate a commercial beer, you could also write something like "Muskoka Cream Ale clone."

If the base beer isn't really that much like a cream ale or an American amber, don't specify a base style, just write something vague like "Canadian Amber Beer" which complies with the competition rules. If you do that though, tell the judges what they should be looking for. For example, if the corn really comes through, mention that you used corn. If the Cascade hops are evident, mention them. Don't mention ingredients which don't come through in aroma and flavor, unless you qualify the ingredient with terms like "subtle" or "hints of . . ."  For example, "A balanced amber ale with hints of corn. 2-row American pale malt/10% corn, late hopped with Cascade and fermented with California common yeast."
Title: Re: What would you call this beer?
Post by: thomasbarnes on June 01, 2011, 08:51:58 PM
The one I really like is Muskoka Cream Ale from here in Ontario.  Probably impossible to find in the US.

And, knowing the state of beer in Ontario, it's probably just about as hard to find in the LCBO or the duty free shops. (grumble, grumble).

Historically, in the latter part of the 19th century until Prohibition in the U.S. and Canada, beers like you're describing mght have been considered to be "steam beers." There was a lot more variation in the style back then. Strike the cascade hops and use nothing but older hop varieties like Northern Brewer, Fuggles, Goldings, Cluster or noble varieties and you've either got a old school steam beer or possibly a variant on English Pale Ale.
Title: Re: What would you call this beer?
Post by: gmac on June 01, 2011, 10:14:34 PM

And, knowing the state of beer in Ontario, it's probably just about as hard to find in the LCBO or the duty free shops. (grumble, grumble).

The LCBO is the only place you can regularly find it.  The Beer Store sometimes has it but not always.  Duty Free?  Probably never. 

There's only 3 places you can usually buy beer in Ontario. 
The brewery.
LCBO - Liquor Control Board of Ontario - owned by the Government
The Beer Store - A brewery owned monopoly that controls beer sales in Ontario - not government controlled despite what most people think.
Title: Re: What would you call this beer?
Post by: The Professor on June 02, 2011, 01:14:32 AM
I'd call it "beer" and leave it at that.  The corn will lighten the body and perhaps add a very slight "corny" sweetness to the beer.

I'm with Denny.  "Beer" covers it pretty well!  8)
Unless you're going into a competition with it, I'm not sure why categorizing it as any particular style is even important.  Even in a competition, it's just a label of no particular importance other than to know what to judge it against. 

A "style" query story that kind of fits this thread:
I brought some brews to my 'local' one day for the staff to try out (I had served as a judge at some competitions they held some years back and they were curious about what I was making).    The beers went over very well, but one of the more savvy young barmaids who had some good and rather impressive beer knowledge (she dated a master brewer for a few years) asked  about one of the brews:  "what do you call this style?"
Not knowing how to answer, I just replied... "Arthur"     (quoting the great John Lennon in A HARD DAY'S NIGHT)
Title: Re: What would you call this beer?
Post by: punatic on June 02, 2011, 04:18:15 AM
"Ish Kabibble"
Title: Re: What would you call this beer?
Post by: malzig on June 03, 2011, 10:33:43 AM
I'm with Denny.  "Beer" covers it pretty well!  8)
Unless you're going into a competition with it, I'm not sure why categorizing it as any particular style is even important.
If you read the thread, you know that he is thinking of entering it into a competition.  Nonetheless, I agree with dmtaylor, it certainly sounds like an American Amber.  Very few beers don't fit reasonably easily into one category or another.

I don't get the problem people have with categorizing beer into styles.  This shorthand is very useful for a lot of reasons.  One of the best being that if you go to a bar, and only had one category called "beer" from which to order, you might get handed anything from an Ordinary Bitter to an Imperial Stout.  Those beers may each have their place, but one may not be what you're looking for on a hot day or if you need to drive in the near future.

Sure you could ask, "Do you have a pale but very hoppy beer around 6% abv", but isn't it nice to just order "an IPA".
Title: Re: What would you call this beer?
Post by: Hokerer on June 03, 2011, 03:47:43 PM
I don't get the problem people have with categorizing beer into styles.  This shorthand is very useful for a lot of reasons.  One of the best being that if you go to a bar, and only had one category called "beer" from which to order, you might get handed anything from an Ordinary Bitter to an Imperial Stout.  Those beers may each have their place, but one may not be what you're looking for on a hot day or if you need to drive in the near future.

Sure you could ask, "Do you have a pale but very hoppy beer around 6% abv", but isn't it nice to just order "an IPA".

But wait, doesn't saying things like "I don't care about styles, I brew what I like" and calling folks "style nazis" make you cool ?  8)
Title: Re: What would you call this beer?
Post by: gmac on June 03, 2011, 04:07:53 PM
Thanks everyone.  I just wanted to know what you think because I was considering taking some bottles to a CABA event next week but now I have to work anyway so that's not gonna happen.

I agree that 98% of what I brew is "beer" that probably doesn't exactly match any particular style and I'm just fine with that.  I basically brew this beer one week and then screw around with something different the next week.  I'm keeping a keg of this Amber Ale on tap most of the time and then rotating in something else (right now it's a mild that isn't too good - too hoppy for the thin malt body).  This week I had to do both because I'm falling behind.  This weeks "Special" is a Rye PA and we'll see in 2 weeks if I hit it or missed it.

My problem is that I am not a recipe person.  I'd prefer to make one up and take the bad with the good and be pleasantly surprised by my successes like I was with this one. 

Not trying to stir up a "style" debate.  I'm a live and let brew sort of person. 
Again, thanks for helping me clarify and especially thomasbarnes for his advice on how I should enter it if I do. 
Graham
Title: Re: What would you call this beer?
Post by: The Professor on June 03, 2011, 05:00:54 PM
I don't get the problem people have with categorizing beer into styles.  This shorthand is very useful for a lot of reasons.  One of the best being that if you go to a bar, and only had one category called "beer" from which to order, you might get handed anything from an Ordinary Bitter to an Imperial Stout.  Those beers may each have their place, but one may not be what you're looking for on a hot day or if you need to drive in the near future.

Sure you could ask, "Do you have a pale but very hoppy beer around 6% abv", but isn't it nice to just order "an IPA".

But wait, doesn't saying things like "I don't care about styles, I brew what I like" and calling folks "style nazis" make you cool ?  8)

Oh boy....  didn't mean to upset anyone.
Actually, It was the barleywine talking.  (a favorite 'style' of mine) :o

I was merely making an observation,  but didn't follow my own rule of not posting immediately after I write.  I guess I could have read the thread more carefully as well, and that's my bad...sorry. 
"Knucklehead Smiff" is my avatar picture for good reason. :P

As far as hokerer's comment goes, I don't think anything could make me look cool.   :-[
However,  I do concede that some shorthand with regard to talking beer (ie., styles) is indeed helpful.  I just think there's too much obsession about it (and that's not directed at the OP who made the inncocent query).
So yes...the manner in which I expressed my opinion was clumsy at best.   Sorry.

Next round is on me.  Your choice of styles. ;)
Title: Re: What would you call this beer?
Post by: punatic on June 03, 2011, 06:41:41 PM

As far as hokerer's comment goes, I don't think anything could make me look cool.   :-[

"Knucklehead Smiff" is my avatar picture for good reason. :P


That's pretty cool   ;)

And really, who cares what others think?
Title: Re: What would you call this beer?
Post by: thomasbarnes on June 03, 2011, 07:07:17 PM
My problem is that I am not a recipe person.  I'd prefer to make one up and take the bad with the good and be pleasantly surprised by my successes like I was with this one. 

The only problem with that approach is that if you hit gold, you never know exactly how to recreate your recipe. I hope that you keep notes as you go along!

Again, thanks for helping me clarify and especially thomasbarnes for his advice on how I should enter it if I do. 

Actually, I was sort of ripping off Gordon Strong, although I've got some strong opinions of my own about how specialty beers should be entered and judged. Basically, if you enter a beer as a specialty, you want to give the judges as few places to look for faults as possible, and you want to tell them what they should be looking for rather than making them hunt for it.
Title: Re: What would you call this beer?
Post by: thomasbarnes on June 03, 2011, 07:14:40 PM
But wait, doesn't saying things like "I don't care about styles, I brew what I like" and calling folks "style nazis" make you cool ?  8)

Only if you're Sam Caligione, a Belgian craft brewer, or can brew beers as good as theirs. Otherwise, it makes you look like a pretentious idiot.

I think of brewing "to style" as being like the foundation courses in drawing (that used to be) taught in art school, or learning to play scales on a musical instrument before you learn to improvise. Mastery of traditional forms, tools and techniques gives you the grounding needed to develop your own personal style.
Title: Re: What would you call this beer?
Post by: denny on June 03, 2011, 07:23:04 PM
I think of brewing "to style" as being like the foundation courses in drawing (that used to be) taught in art school, or learning to play scales on a musical instrument before you learn to improvise. Mastery of traditional forms, tools and techniques gives you the grounding needed to develop your own personal style.

Well said, Thomas!  How can you hit a target if you don't aim at a target?  Brewing to style gives you the foundation in techniques and ingredients that allows you to brew better beers and the beer you intend to brew when you don't brew to style.
Title: Re: What would you call this beer?
Post by: gmac on June 04, 2011, 10:32:43 PM
My problem is that I am not a recipe person.  I'd prefer to make one up and take the bad with the good and be pleasantly surprised by my successes like I was with this one. 

The only problem with that approach is that if you hit gold, you never know exactly how to recreate your recipe. I hope that you keep notes as you go along!

I keep pretty exacting notes to the gram and to the minute for everything I do (as well as after pitching and tasting notes).  I've done this brew several times now and tweaked one thing or another (tried a different hops or a slight modification of the grain bill) but each time the base is pretty much the same so I can ascertain what the small differences are. 

When I mentioned not following recipes, I was referring more to following others recipes.  I've brewed this Amber about 5 times now and I'd say each was pretty close the the previous but unfortunately, the prior batch is always gone so I have nothing to compare to ;).  For the one-off brews, I keep the same notes just so that I can try to do it again if I hit on something I like as I did here.
Title: Re: What would you call this beer?
Post by: akr71 on June 08, 2011, 01:53:24 PM
Thanks everyone.  I just wanted to know what you think because I was considering taking some bottles to a CABA event next week but now I have to work anyway so that's not gonna happen.

Just send them in anyway - you don't have to be there, just your beer.  I sent in 3 entries, but I'm certainly not making the 17+ hour drive just for the awards ceremony.  I just want the judging sheets (though I'd happily accept any prizes or medals).
Title: Re: What would you call this beer?
Post by: bluesman on June 08, 2011, 03:28:27 PM
Another strategy to employ when entering an elusive beer that you can't quite put your finger on as far as style goes is to enter the beer in a few categories that closely resemble the beer. So in gmac's case, entering the beer in the 7B, 7C, 10B and 10C would cover the potential possibilities. This will hopefully narrow down the beer to a particular style. Again, this is the hope.
Title: Re: What would you call this beer?
Post by: jeffy on June 08, 2011, 05:00:14 PM
That's getting expensive, both in money and beer!  If he wants the feedback, one cat should be plenty.  If he wants a ribbon, then.....

I often find myself writing "this would score a lot better as a suchandsuch style" in the overall impression section of the score sheet.  If he entered one category and it had a comment like that, then the problem is solved for the next competition.
Title: Re: What would you call this beer?
Post by: thomasbarnes on June 13, 2011, 09:29:14 AM
I often find myself writing "this would score a lot better as a suchandsuch style" in the overall impression section of the score sheet.  If he entered one category and it had a comment like that, then the problem is solved for the next competition.

That is, assuming the judges in the next competition think along the same lines as you do . . . But, generally, good advice.
Title: Re: What would you call this beer?
Post by: passlaku on June 13, 2011, 10:18:19 AM
How about American Porter?
Title: Re: What would you call this beer?
Post by: punatic on June 14, 2011, 03:52:31 AM
How about American Porter?

Yes please!
Title: Re: What would you call this beer?
Post by: gmac on June 14, 2011, 03:23:52 PM
Just send them in anyway - you don't have to be there, just your beer.  I sent in 3 entries, but I'm certainly not making the 17+ hour drive just for the awards ceremony.  I just want the judging sheets (though I'd happily accept any prizes or medals).

Good luck.  Thing is, I was away at work and wasn't going to get any bottled and conditioned in time to send. I thought about asking if I could send them late and be disqualified from the contest simply to get the judges feedback.  Had I been home I would have made it but work has a way of creeping up on me unannounced.  I'll be more prepared next year for this.

Regarding American Porter, I think the roast character is too subtle to really fall into the porter category.  Plus, I don't think that there is an Amercian porter category is there?  Could be a good one though.