Tag: Tasting

We’re at the end of the year, at the end of the project, and about to find out if it was all worth it.

I run through the final few days, announce the name and open up that first bottle with an international beer judge…

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So, here we are. The year has flown by and it seems like just yesterday that I was standing on a freezing cold allotment with a pile of rubbish to clear. We’ve come full circle and, finally, I’m ready to open up the first bottle. After much procrastination and consideration I finally settled on a design and name – I went round and around in circles, trying to come up with the name that best described the ingredients, the project or the place from which it all came, and that is when it struck me. The place already had a name, it had been there the whole time. The plot is called 10S, and once I realised this there was no way I could call the beer anything else.

The final label design for 10S

The final label design for 10S

Adrian assessing the first bottle...

Adrian assessing the first bottle…

To make my life harder, I decided not to tuck myself up in Richard for an hour to open the first one. Instead, I enlisted the help of British Beer Writer of the Year and international beer judge Adrian Tierney-Jones to open up the very first bottle of 10S and critically evaluate it. This led to an extremely tense few days in the run-up to the big day, whilst the 30 minutes immediately before he poured out the first bottle was excruciating. I was quickly relieved though, for he popped off the cap to a pleasing hiss before slowly talking me through the appearance, the aroma, flavour, mouthfeel and finish, taking each into consideration before deciding on his overall view. And, his verdict…?
The beer was good. Not just okay, or drinkable as I had hoped for, but actually good. Cue huge relief, leaning back in my chair and very large grin on my face.
This wasn’t the only surprise of the evening though, as 10S didn’t come out as the hoppy, English Pale Ale that I thought it would. It was hazy as expected and coloured a deep amber, but instead of the floral, fruity or grassy aromas I was expecting from the fuggles there were spicy, clove and banana from the yeast. The hops were very subtle, only really notable for the smooth bitterness that gave way to a soft, bready sweetness that let the barley join the party. Despite my fears about getting the bottling right the carbonation was pretty good, resulting in a soft white head and good lacing around the glass, whilst the mouthfeel was full with a really rather nice, dry finish.

All in all then, 10S was far closer to a German style of Weisse/wheat beer than a traditional British one, which has to be down to the yeasts that came from the plot. I think the rainwater played its part too, as the flavours flowed together rather than competing, none of them aggressive. I’m putting this down to the very soft nature of the water, providing a neutral, clear base on which to place the other ingredients, one that didn’t favour hop bitterness or malty tones to come through on top.
I would have enjoyed drinking the beer regardless of how it came out, but for it to be drinkable to the point of Adrian suggesting that it wouldn’t have any trouble in the first round of a major competition was a wonderful outcome! The weekend was a blur of TV, filming, radio and the first tastings, so I’m going to put my feet up for a minute, rather chuffed that that the little allotment and it’s resulting beer, 10S, did me so proud.
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