Old Old Man
Style: 19A: Old Ale
Brew Date: January 27, 2014
Serve Date: June 26, 2014
IBUs: 60 IBUs
Coffee is the immediately obvious aroma from this beer. The color is dark, but definitely not opaque. There are red highlights showing through in the light. Out of the light, it almost looks black but there is still some brown showing. I really like the color of this beer. I don’t think I’ve ever made something in this hue. I’ve never made a brown ale, although this is a little darker than most of them, and porters and stouts have always ended up closer to black.
The coffee comes out again in the flavor along with brown ale like malty character. It is slightly sweet at the start, but the roast comes out more and makes it feel drier than it really is. It’s also a bit acidic, not sour but tangy and… well, acidic. That is definitely partly thanks to all the dark malts, but this was also before I got my water filter and I think that the water contributes some. I don’t distinctly taste chlorine, but I feel it could be contributing to the acid character.
As I drink more, the sweetness comes out more and I’m getting toffee and caramel flavors. More and more complexity shows as it warms and I drink more. Coffee prevailed at first, straight out of the refrigerator, but it seems much sweeter now.
There was not a big head to begin with, but it has really stuck around. There are a lot more hops in this than you would think initially, but keeping in mind how long it aged, it makes sense. There is a balancing bitterness but no discernible flavor or aroma from the Chinook and Brewer’s Gold hops, both of which have strong, distinct characters.
The water source is the only problem I have with this beer. Slight acidity from the roasted malt would be nice, but I think it is accentuated too much by the unfiltered city water. If I remember correctly, my efficiency was not what I hoped. At 8% ABV, there is no alcohol evident in this beer. I think it is very nice right where it is, but I’m curious how far it could be pushed without coming through all with all the roasted malts and aging.
I think this is an excellent recipe that I would like to brew again. Considering it is traditionally a style to be drunk in the colder months, I would like to try. I gave most of this batch to my Dad, so I really don’t have much…
If I were going to change anything, other than filtering the water, it would be the yeast. I used the super clean Chico strain and it did an admirable job of eating sugar, creating alcohol and being inconspicuous, but I’d like to have some yeast character in this beer. I was leaning to mostly (all but a couple specialty grains, Special B from Belgium and Brown Malt from England) American ingredients, but I think an English strain, or even a Belgian one could really add some depth to this already complex beer.
Actually, with a higher starting gravity from better efficiency and a Belgian yeast, this could easily be considered a Belgian Dark Strong Ale or Quad. It does not taste like that now at all, but I’d be very interested to see how that would turn out. The wheels are definitely turning.