I'm sure it's very tempting, as a brewer, to just go nuts on a recipe. Project drift probably creeps in very easily and what started as an experiment with a new kind of malt can end up as a multi-directional concoction of things that were never really meant to go together. And sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. While I'm the first to scoff at pre-conceived beer styles, they do at least provide a template, a jumping off point for sensible experimentation.
Where am I going with this? Tasmania, and Huon Dark Ale from the Two Metre Tall brewing company, a gift from globe-trotting Derek. Lots and lots of information on the label. Too much, perhaps. Dark ale? Okay. Five different malts? Fair play. Hallertau hops? A surprise, but why not. And apple juice. Eh?
My bottle is quite elderly, having gone into the fermenter on 5 December 2009, but for a 5.5% ABV dark beer that's not an unreasonable drinking age. It's fully bottle conditioned with lots of sediment in the bottom of the bottle, though pours a clear ruby and shows little carbonation. The aroma has a touch of vinegar, but not an unpleasant amount: very much at the Flemish brown end of the house. It tastes broadly sour with a lot of roasty and slightly sweet coffee notes underneath. But that's about it. I really like the different flavour elements, but all together in the same beer? I'm not sure. It's just a little too jarring.
There's a lot to be said for experimentation, but even more to be said for getting it right.
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