Thursday, December 12, 2013

Review: 1st Place KLCC #53 CUDL Buddy (Winter Warmer)

It is nice and bright outside right now, the sun is shining, the snow is reflecting white glares into my eyes, my pipes and feet are frozen (I thawed the pipes with the dryer exhaust duct), and my 3 year old son sled down a nice steep hill on his own; so proud.  Winter is here, even if the calendar says it is a week away.  We have not had weather like this in Eugene in nearly 40 years, and 6-8" of snow is nearly unheard of here on the valley floor.  It's cold out there, and hard to drive.  Sounds like the perfect reason to stay inside in sweats cuddled up to a nice malty beer.  I built the recipe around many of the Winter Warmer beers made here in Oregon that I really enjoy, beers like Deschutes' Jubel Ale, Full Sail's Wassail, and Bridgeport's Ebenezer.  I wanted a nice malt back bone, balanced bitterness, complex maltiness, with breads and toffee, and cocoa with a spicy and piney hop presence.  I was shooting for a higher ABV (7.2%, but got 6.6% due to low efficiency).

Pours a clear deep brown with beautiful ruby highlights, thick, dense khaki head that fades slow to a thick cap and leaves ample lacing down the glass.

Milk chocolate leaps out of the glass first and dominates the nose.  Behind the chocolate are spicy and herbal hop notes, toffee, baked bread, ginger, and citrus rind.  Nutty yeast.  Light fruity esters, and nice spices (even though there are none).

Chocolate hits the palate first, followed by sweet toffee, pine needles, herbal hops, spices in the finish.  Ginger, biscuits, nutty, touch of figs and raisins.  Weird how the spices show up when there aren't any in the beer, only hops.

Medium body, semi-sweet but roasty dry finish, balanced bitterness in the end that asserts itself just enough to keep the sweetness in check and cleanse the palate.  Medium carbonation.  Smooth beer.

Really hit the nail on the head with the flavor profile I was going for.  The chocolate is really nice, but could be dialed back a notch, maybe not though, it is nice in there.  The lower than desired efficiency and OG made for a lower ABV than I wanted, could use more alcohol and alcohol warmth in the back end.  The spicy character is very enjoyable, and I can't pin it down as to flavors, but seeing as I used no spices in this beer, I am pleased with what the hops and alcohol did here.  A little too drinkable, very balanced.

NOTE: This beer took 1st place in the KLCC BJCP comp in February 2014 in the American Browns and Ambers category.

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