My apologies for taking so long to get the tasting notes for Gizmo Gold posted; I've been very busy with work. So anyway, let's get to it.
Gizmo Gold...Gizmo Gold. Well, I tasted it a week after it was bottled and everything seemed spectacular - great subtle honey flavor, head retention almost perfect, all around flavor was just right on track with my expectations. I decided a couple more days of conditioning should do the trick and turn this baby into a masterpiece. Well, for some reason "a couple more days" registered in my subconscious as "let's give it another week, shall we?" My mistake.
So let me backtrack a little here. Priming one's bottles with honey is a little bit more complex than just using dextrose; there's a whole process involving bees and hives that I'm just not at a comfortable enough place yet to discuss. But, our favorite microorganisms really like to eat up that honey goodness, much more aggressively than dextrose. As a result, if not properly measured or monitored, glass bottles can have a tendency to get a little over-excited about having the opportunity to be consumed and joyously explode (the carbonation is just too much for it to handle)! I was willing to try this out, though (how can I ever expand on what I do if I don't try new things, right?). For those of you homebrewers out there who are flirting around with this procedure as well, this might be particularly noteworthy:
After doing as much research as I could, I decided to use 1 cup of honey and mix it with 16 ounces of water. I brought this to a boil for 5 minutes (not realizing that I would experience a "hot break" of sorts with the honey, which I wish I would have known about so I could have used a bigger pot). After letting it cool for a few, I transferred it to my bottling bucket, followed by the anxious 5 gallons of mostly fermented wort (about 2 weeks in the primary...no secondary was used). A small taste at the end of the usual ritual indicated that things were going well (no off-flavors or too much honey detected).
After corresponding a bit with two of my homebrew buddies, I decided to wait a week, toss one in the fridge, and see how it was going. As I said earlier, things were looking great. "Just a couple more days," I thought. "That should be all it will need." For no apparent reason whatsoever, a couple days turned into a week. I loaded all 47 of the bottles into our cramped fridge and forced the yeast to take a permanent nap.
Well, those little buggers (although, I love them to death), went to town on the honey - big time. The result is a now incredibly over-carbonated Blonde Ale, with little to no remaining honey flavor. There's a slight off-flavor detectable, at least by me, but my wife and I are the only ones who know what this originally tasted like (so I don't know if it would be easily noticed by someone else; although, the over-carbonation and lack of honey flavor has been duly noted by my tasters).
So I'm a bit disappointed, as can be imagined. I mean, it's still a good beer, but I know it was on its way to being even better. I entered it into a homebrew meeting earlier this month (Commander SAAZ down in Cocoa, FL), and I'm pretty sure it won't do well (the yeast was active much longer in those entries, since they weren't being refrigerated). I was also hesitant to send this off to the organic competition that had originally inspired this recipe, but I figured it was the sole reason for brewing it, so I might as well. I guess I'll just have to wait and see what happens. Luckily, the entry for the Sunshine Challenge competition in November has been chilled with the rest of them, so that one might do better than the others.
Here's what we're looking at:
Final Gravity: 1.027
My gravity is also a bit off (by about 14 points) for the style too. But as you can see, at 3.5% ABV, it's incredibly drinkable, and I'm all-around happy with it, considering the circumstances. I'm definitely going to have to try this one out again sometime. Perhaps I'll use less honey too (just in case my subconscious gets the best of me again).
Keep an eye out for the next post. I should be tossing it up within the next couple weeks. I'm brewing an Oatmeal Stout this weekend, I believe (I need something sweet and hearty for the upcoming colder weather). I'll also be entering this one into the Sunshine Challenge, alongside Fuzzie Berr and Gizmo Gold.
Here's to the next batch!
Peace and Love!