Original Post: Elkland Amber Lager
Style: American Amber Lager
Brew Date: April 1, 2014
Tasting Date: July 10, 2012
ABV: 4.7%I have just poured an Elkland Amber Lager and a Yuengling Traditional Lager side by side. The Yuengling is a bit lighter and a lot clearer. This is not going to be a a full on comparison, I have said before that while Yuengling was definitely the inspiration for my beer, it is not meant to be a clone. So I’m going to do my normal tasting notes and then come back to the Yuengling at the end.
There was a nice white head on the Elkland Amber Lager but it mostly receded while I was writing that last paragraph. There are still some bubbles and it looks nice. The aroma is not strong, but it is pleasantly bready with some fermentation character that is less desirable.
The bready malt character comes through right away in the first sip. It is more robust than expected with more dark malt character. I don’t think I’ve ever actually used Crystal 80L in any other beers. I’ve definitely used 60L in some pale ales and some very light and very dark crystal in a variety of things, but this is probably the first for this specific color. It comes off slightly burnt, which is unexpected because it has a full red color, not as dark as I’d think it would be to get that. There is some caramel flavor, but it seems slightly burnt, as I said.
There is definitely some green apple flavor from Acetaldehyde, I’m not sure if that is mixing with the malt to cause the burnt flavor or what. The green apple taste comes in after the initial bread and caramel and stays until the finish.
I had some of this in both Elkland Lagers this year. I’m not sure what is causing it. My first guess was inconsistent fermentation temperatures as they both just fermented in the basement during cold weather, but I don’t see that coming up as a cause of this condition in my research. Racking too soon or incomplete fermentation is the main cause I see people pointing to, but I don’t think that should be it. I think they both had plenty of time.
Over pitching yeast is another possibility that I’ve seen. This could be the case for this beer, as it was racked directly on top of the cake from Elkland Golden Lager, which was probably a lot of yeast. That doesn’t explain why it’s in the former beer, though.
Anyway, despite that issue, this is a good beer. It is a shame that the imperfection comes through in the end as this is a beer that I’d hope to drink as a refreshing thirst quencher on hot days, but I’m still enjoying it. If anything, this issue just pushes me to try again. I have been thinking about brewing the same, or a very similar, recipe but fermenting as an ale with a nice, clean ale yeast. I don’t have a ton of this beer left and it is very popular with some relatives. It seems like it is something I would like to keep around just in case.
I remember that I added come Cascade hops later in the boil than I thought would be traditional, rationalizing that because it was a big batch and would take longer to chill, it would even out. Well, I don’t taste those hops at all. If anything, I think a bit more hops or a bit closer to flame out would be good. There is the perfect, subtle, balancing hop bitterness, but no discernible flavor or aroma.
Okay, I’m almost out of beer, I guess it’s time to drink some Yuengling and do some comparisons. Just looking at the glasses, now that there is condensation on both, they look much closer in color and my beer actually still has some bubbles around the rim while the Yuengling is devoid of any head whatsoever.
The aroma of the Yuengling is great. It smells like fresh, crusty bread with hints of sweetness. Taking a sip, there is still a lot of bread, but the sweetness is more pronounced. As soon as I swallow though, the sweetness is gone. This is the greatness of Yuengling. It has a ton of Crystal malt flavor and sweetness, but it is dry enough to clean itself up and it is back to being all bread in the aftertaste.
I get some very subtle Cascade hop flavor somewhere in the middle of the sip, tucked discretely between those malt flavors. I have gotten into arguments about this. Most people say that there is not hop character in Yuengling, but if you don’t notice it, I don’t think you’re looking hard enough. If you’re not looking, that is fine and you may not notice, but it is definitely there.
The great thing about this beer is that it is flavorful but not complex. Yes, complexity can be great, but Yuengling strikes a perfect balance between flavorless lite beer and craft beer that demands attention and tires your palate. It is interesting enough to drink but simple enough to keep drinking all day long. It is the perfect session beer, in my opinion.
Oh, right, I’m supposed to be comparing this to my beer… Yuengling is better. At the start, they taste very similar, but Yuengling cleans up while Elkland Amber Lager gets unintentionally fruity and slightly tart. I liked my Amber better before comparing it back to back with Yuengling. Again, that is not discouraging though, it just makes me want to take another stab at it. And I will. Definitely.