This is a beer that I dedicated, not one, not two, but three posts to. This was as near and dear to me as anything I have tried as a brewer, which is ironic because most of the recipe came from a professional brewer. Even though this was an extract batch where water chemistry is less important, it was still the first beer I applied what I had learned about water.
On a scale of one to ten with ten being the most satisfied, I would give the beer a seven. I did a side-by-side comparison of The Sustenance and The Substance:
The can I cracked open was three months old, but still had a noticeable hop aroma. The clone didn’t have as pronounced of an aroma, but it had slightly more hop flavor. I think the hop bag I used in an almost full carboy didn’t enable enough of the hops to be in contact with the beer. I would also whirlpool for 15 minutes instead of the 20 minutes that I did to try to capture more aroma and less bitterness from the late hops.
I think using the campden tables to de-chlorinate the water made a huge difference. When my girlfriend tasted the beer she noticed the difference right away. She couldn’t put her finger on it, but did say the beer tasted a lot better. Well, that was easy and something I should have started doing a long time ago.
If I were to do the extract version of the recipe again I would use more corn sugar and less extract to try and match the attenuation in the commercial version. Honestly, if I were to brew this again I would want to do an all-grain, or at least a partial-mash batch. I would be able to more closely match the color, and by mashing at a lower temperature create a more fermentable wort. Even adding most of the extract at the end of the boil, the clone is still noticeably darker.
As the picture shows, the clone has a much larger head. The bottles aren’t gushing, but the beer is very foamy. Even when poured slowly there is a thick white clumpy head. The beer itself is almost opaque. The beer looked clear all the way until bottling. Initially I was afraid the beer became infected at bottling, but luckily the beer hasn’t started gushing and it still tastes fine. Another adjustment would be to use less priming sugar.
The beer is entered in the Best of Boston Homebrew competition where I will be judging tomorrow as a final practice before my tasting exam on the 22nd. If the beer comes in with a score higher than a 30 on the BJCP 0-50 scale I will be pleased.
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