The first 750ml bottle was shared with my great high school friend, Josh Demasi, a few weeks back; the ubiquitous Facebook finally paid dividends with an actual reunion with an old friend.
I recently had an Allagash White at a beer dinner at VeeVee, and was hoping for some parallels. At that time of the Josh-JC reunion, I think the bottle was just short of 2 weeks in to conditioning. I poured aggresively, pushed out a lovely even haziness, golden and creamy white head. But, when brought to the nose, it had an overwhelming, very powerful aromatic that he described as lemony, where for me, it was hitting the olfactory senses hard with a rose petal perfumey-ness.
No sir, I didn't like it.
Mouthfeel was a touch thin. Also had a sort of mild astringency and a whiff of higher alcohols on the breath after the exhale on the swallow. I wanted the fullness of the Allagash, I wanted the even, finishing crispness, but all I could focus on was that weird aromatic. Was it the coriander? no, I used the same amount as previously, and this coriander should only be milder, as its been sitting there in storage for a while. The tangerine? nope, it just didn't remind me of the fresh aromatics that were being emitted as I zested. The wicked expensive chamomile? Again, no...My mind was swimming, and I had to return to being present with my guest.
I bowed my head in a bit of shame, as Josh and I were reunited under the pretenses of a proper beer tasting + tasty fresh out of the oven flatbreads evening. I hoped for a seamless experience. While pot&kettle b2, the SPAb3, Leon, and RIS2008 made very strong showings, bumbleb2 pulled up lame, for sure. Oh well, work in progress, I hoped.
Josh finished the glass with a redemptive, "Well, it would probably be good in the summer time...right?"
hmmmm. maybe he was right, maybe a little time would fix what ailed this witbier.
Fast forward to tonight, about a month + in the bottles now. The pour revealed what again looked to be a proper witbier, if not 'white' enough...probably too golden.
That flowery aromatic was only maybe minorly (possibly) present, or existed only as a haunting fearful memory of bottle 1. Things seemed to have mellowed and smoothed over, very similar to what I remember the witbier of batch 1 eventually provided. I searched for finishing aroma hops, none to be distinctly found, though the just-enough bitterness was spot on. rolling spices and not-quite-full-enough mouthfeel. Perhaps the carbonation was set too high?
Still, the Allagash is still a towering standard to which I haven't even remotely (yet) approached. I think I'll simplify, add a much larger percentage of wheat.
And de-bumble it.
Yep, drop the honey.
The honey must be thinning the body substantially. So, that, coupled with the too high carbonation, is sort of leaving it in no-man's-land. So it will be not a honey witbier for the time being. So I can't, with a straight face, continue to give it bee inspired name. Right? But that's OK, I've actually tired of the moniker almost immediately after I coined it.
She sure is photogenic, though.