Monday, August 9, 2010

Tasting: Les Fleurs du Mal 2010

The beginning of August marks the start of my annual month long sabbatical from brewing. Only beers not in bottles are the sours, which calmly do their thing in the corner just passing the time until it's their turn. It is too hot and humid for brewing to be any fun. And there is fun to be had out of doors. But this is a good month to drink some beer and write, neglecting this blog a little less. First up in the August tasting notes series is Les Fleurs du Mal.

This one presented a bit of a challenge when I went to buy ingredients at the LHBS. With Wyeast 3942 (De Dolle) out of stock, I was left scratching my head for a substitute. 3864 (Unibroue) seemed a reasonable substitute. No Amarillo whole leaf hops also forced a choice between Cascade leafs and Amarillo pellets for dry hopping. I chose the pellets and I'm not sure it was the best choice as they were a pain to separate from the beer and they seemed to affect the flavor.

OG: 1.070
FG: 1.010
ABV: 7.9% ABV

The medium amber color is decidedly darker than previous years. I account for this with unexpected efficient and color extraction as the grist did not change much. Just two months after bottling, the citrusy aroma of the hops is fading. The Amarillo pellets for dry-hopping seemed to give a harsh edge to the flavor and aroma that I've not found in my whole leaf dry-hopped beers. The fading hops have struck a nice balance with the yeast and malt. There are fresh pears and apples. Maybe a bit of mango? A bit a honey sweet malt gives way to a bone dry finish accented by just enough bitterness.

I had not sat down and focused on the flavor of this brew but I'm glad I did. Even with the on-the-fly changes I am pleased with how this turned out. I doubt I will let more than a bottle or two get much older as previous batches turned too sweet, almost syrupy, when the hops faded.

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