Tasting Notes: Peabody Pale Ale

In the words of the late 20th century philosopher Ace Ventura, “Loo-hoo, serr-herr”. This stuff was bad. I brought three of these to a gathering of a bunch of friends from Peabody, had a few sips, dumped the beer, and then dumped the rest when I got home.


The beer poured copper in color; much too dark for a pale ale. There was no discernible hop aroma from what was supposed to be a hoppy beer. The taste was overly metallic. It was like licking an Easton. Brewed in late November, the beer shouldn’t have spoiled. The likely culprit is old malt. Specifically, the crystal malt I steeped. Before I bought my grain mill, I ordered my malts pre-milled, and once grains are milled their shelf-life decreases dramatically. In hindsight swapping out un-milled Special B for old pre-milled Caramel 120 malt saved my Irish Red.

I’ve gotten away from the one and two gallon batches I brewed a lot of in 2014. Putting in the same amount of work for 20%-40% of the finished beer wasn’t starting to feel worthwhile. I would put off racking and bottling of the small batches because I couldn’t work up the motivation. The Ballantine IPA clone I brewed last fall was actually pretty decent, but I waited much too long after dry-hopping to bottle and the finished beer was lacking in hop aroma.

It can be challenging enough to dial in a process when brewing the same size batch with the same equipment every time. After having my new kettle for a few months I have a pretty good idea of how to hit my numbers every time. I will treat six gallons of water. I will usually use water I ran through the wort chiller on the last batch. Depending on the volume of grain I am mashing I will use around four and a half gallons for a sparge-less, brew-in-a-bag mash. I finally have a feel of how to hold my desired mash temperature by manipulating the burner on my stove. After the boil I usually end up with right around 5.25 gallons of wort.

The obvious benefit to brewing full, five gallon batches is having more beer. As the weather warms and summer outings loom, having more beer to share is even more important. Peabody Pale Ale was a throwaway batch brewed on a whim. Unfortunately I literally had to throw it away.

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