Famine – Tasting Notes
In keeping with what I guess we can now call a tradition (I’ve done this for Conquest and War), today I am posting another candid review of our third (and final, in case you missed it) Apocalypse Beer, Famine.
First, a little back-story. As is the case with every beer we’ve done in the Apocalypse Series, we try to tie the beer back to the horseman which it represents. With Conquest I did this by playing off of the beer’s color (‘white”) to tie back with the white horse which Conquest rode. With War I also used the color of the beer (kinda sorta red), but in addition I infused the beer with an element of conflict by using multiple yeast strains. So the question became, how do I follow suit with Famine?
A suggestion from a friend is worthy of a lol: “Maybe just sell empty bottles?”
Hilarious yes, but that has to be illegal.
Anyway, I set some rules for myself: I wanted to brew a SMASH beer. Homebrewers will know the term, it stands for: Single Malt and Single Hop. Pretty much as bare-bones as you can get when brewing. It makes sense right? If a famine were to fall on us tomorrow, it’s reasonable to think that you’d have to make the most out of very little resources.
And so, Famine was born:
Famine is a SMASH Belgian Style Tripel. I chose this style because it’s one where the yeast does most of the legwork, so the malt and hops selections aren’t at the forefront. I also happen to love tripels, and belgians (shock of the year right there, huh?). This beer only employs continental pilsner malt and stryian goldings hops. I did however also spice it up a little bit with some coriander and orange peel.. which you can consider cheating, but hey shut up.
Ok, here’s the review:
Appearance: Before we even dive in – because the yeast is so important to this beer, PLEASE ROLL THE BOTTLE. If you pour yourself a crystalline golden beer for your first glass, and then a glass of what looks like orange juice for your second, you did it wrong. Lay ‘er down for a few so you get a nice, uniform tasting experience. The color should be a cloudy pale gold with a decent amount of head that recedes fairly quickly. Damn you SMASH beer, if only I could have used some wheat for head retention.
Smell: This beer has a nose that reminds me vaguely of Groundswell believe it or not. The beers are totally different, from malt bill to hop choices and yeast selection, but they both have that distinctive belgian spice kick. Famine does have a bit more of a sulphury smell. Those of you who have had Golden Monkey might know what I’m talking about here – although to be fair, Famine is much more subdued that G.M. There is some citrus on the “edges” of the nose, very faint but they’re there if you search for them. No hint of the 7.5% alcohol.
Taste: The taste starts off with a slight malt sweetness which kind of melds with the fruity esters component that you could pick up in the nose. Around mid palette the Belgian spice begins to take over, and the finish is more Belgian peppery/clovey spice with some herbal/spicy bitterness. Again, I do not detect any alcohol at all. The finish is bone dry, with the spicy clove character lingering a bit- kind of makes you want to take another sip, which I shall.
Mouthfeel: Again, the body on this beer really depends on you reincorporating some of the fallen sediment. The yeast needs to be in suspension for both flavor and mouthfeel purposes. With the beer fully blended, the mouthfeel is medium, with good carbonation cutting through. However, without rolling the bottle you’d lose out on a lot and the beer would be much lighter.
Overall: This beer was a big challenge for me. By committing to the SMASH approach, I really limited myself in regards to what styles I thought I could pull off and have the beer still be dynamic. I think this beer proves 2 things: 1) You can do a lot with a little when you need to, and 2) Belgian yeast kicks ass.
I’m proud of this beer, you wouldn’t know it contained so few ingredients unless someone told you.
Give it a shot and let me know what you think!