Category Archives: Beer Tasting

Jet Black Hat

This is a straight clone of Brewdog’s Jet Black Heart of which I am a big fan. The name ‘Jet Black Hat’ is in line with my computer related naming convention ( This recipe was taken from DIY Dog 2017 which has no added vanilla, unlike the the current version used in this comparison.

Jet Black Heart v Jet Black Hat

Appearance wise they are identical, both black and totally opaque. The foam retention was also remarkably similar. I carbonated mine for 2 days at 20 psi which turned out to be a good guess.

The two beers did differ significantly in aroma and taste. It was clear that Jet Black Heart has a lot of vanilla aroma and especially flavour. My Jet Black Hat had no vanilla whatsoever, which was for the better in my opinion. I felt the vanilla was too overpowering and I ended up preferring  my more traditional stout. It was smooth to the taste and finished with a pleasant and slightly bitter aftertaste.

There’s no doubt in my mind that the vanilla flavour is not for the best.  I  really prefer the original version without vanilla.  This is probably the best beer I’ve made to date and will certainly be revisiting it soon. Perhaps with a chili kick in the summer.

Recipe Details

Batch Size Boil Time IBU SRM Est. OG Est. FG ABV
20 L 60 min 43.2 IBUs 74.1 EBC 1.071 1.023 6.3 %
Actuals 1.046 1.01 4.7 %

Style Details

Name Cat. OG Range FG Range IBU SRM Carb ABV
Sweet Stout 16 A 1.044 - 1.06 1.012 - 1.024 20 - 40 59.1 - 78.8 2 - 2.7 4 - 6 %


Name Amount %
Pale Malt, Maris Otter 4.55 kg 60.76
Pale Crystal Malt 640 g 8.55
Brown Malt (Crisp) 442.2 g 5.9
Oats, Flaked 442.2 g 5.9
Wheat, Malt (Simpsons) 290.9 g 3.88
Black (Crisp) 221.1 g 2.95
Carafa I 221.1 g 2.95
Crystal Dark - 77L (Crisp) 221.1 g 2.95
Milk Sugar (Lactose) 460 g 6.14


Name Amount Time Use Form Alpha %
Magnum 24.1 g 60 min Boil Pellet 12
Sorachi Ace 12.6 g 30 min Boil Pellet 13


Name Amount Time Use Type
Baking Soda 4.00 g 60 min Mash Water Agent
Calcium Chloride 4.00 g 60 min Mash Water Agent
Epsom Salt (MgSO4) 4.00 g 60 min Mash Water Agent


Name Lab Attenuation Temperature
American Ale (1056) Wyeast Labs 75% 15.56°C - 22.22°C


Step Temperature Time
Mash In 67.78°C 75 min


Step Time Temperature
Primary 14 days 19.44°C
Aging 30 days 18.33°C


Final Adjusted Water

Final Calcium (ppm) 61
Final Magnesium (ppm) 19
Final Total Alkalinity as CaCO3 149
Final Sulfate (ppm) 76
Final Chloride (ppm) 70
Final Sodium (ppm) 54
Final Residual Alkalinity as CaCO3 94
Final Sulfate to Chloride Ratio 1.1


Cascade Dry Hop Experiment

I had just gotten hold of some Cryo Hops® LupuLN2® pellets and I wanted to know if they made any difference from using normal pellets. This new form of hops claims to provide an intense hop flavour and aroma without introducing astringent flavours. I also had some Cascade hops in the freezer that I had grown. So it seemed like the perfect time to experiment with dry-hopping the same beer three different ways.

The basis of this experiment was a light pale ale. The same beer was dry hopped for 4 days with pellets, whole hops and LupuLN2 pellets. The quantities of each hop type was adjusted to keep the level of alpha acids constant.

Cascade pellets, Lupuln and whole hops.

Each beer was given to a bunch of mates at work to obtain their perceived differences. The replies were mixed, perhaps indicative of the similarity of the beers. Unarguably though, the normal pellets were noticeably cloudier than LupuLN2® pellets. I believe this is due to the significantly less quantity of pellets used.

The whole hops divided opinion, people liked and disliked them in equal measure. The main debate seemed to exist between the two hop forms. LupuLN2® arguably had some more aroma than the standard pellets. The pellets though seemed to win out on flavour.

There doesn’t seem to be any great advantage in LupuLN2® pellets in terms of flavour or aroma. The smaller quantities required however result in more clarity. I would recommened there use for beers requiring a high level of dry-hopping. Then again no-one seemed concerned by the cloudier version, it was actually deemed preferable by some tasters.

Recipe Details

Batch Size Boil Time IBU SRM Est. OG Est. FG ABV
23 L 60 min 68.7 IBUs 10.7 EBC 1.060 1.012 6.4 %
Actuals 1.042 1.01 4.2 %

Style Details

Name Cat. OG Range FG Range IBU SRM Carb ABV
American IPA 21 A 1.056 - 1.07 1.008 - 1.014 40 - 70 11.8 - 27.6 2.4 - 2.9 5.5 - 7.5 %


Name Amount %
Extra Pale Maris Otter (Crisp) 5 kg 74.63
Cara Gold 1 kg 14.93
Maris Otter Pale Ale 500 g 7.46
Pale Crystal Malt 200 g 2.99


Name Amount Time Use Form Alpha %
Cascade 80 g 60 min Boil Leaf 5.5
Cascade 55 g 30 min Boil Leaf 5.5
Bramling Cross 50 g 15 min Boil Leaf 6
Citra 16 g 5 min Boil Pellet 14.2


Name Amount Time Use Type
Calcium Chloride 4.00 g 30 min Mash Water Agent


Name Lab Attenuation Temperature
California Ale (WLP001) White Labs 77% 20°C - 22.78°C


Step Temperature Time
Mash In 65.56°C 75 min


Step Time Temperature
Primary 14 days 19.44°C
Aging 30 days 18.33°C

The Elements Project

This months Beer52 box contained a rather exciting experiment which highlights the difference that a single ingredient can make.

Exactly the same reason for building Brewnode.


Ruby Rising v 11th Hour

Both beers have Caramalt, Amber Malt, and Pilsner Malt. 11th hour has the addition of rye malt. The differences were surprising. The rye dramatically increased the head foam and its retention. It also caused a slight haze. Overall it seemed more rounded and suited the style.


California Dreaming v Dreaming of Frites.

No surprises here. The Abbey yeast gave a saison nose and correspondingly typical flavour. It also made the beer a bit darker and slightly better head retention.

Zig v Zag

Zig used a Belgian abbey yeast and Zag was T-58 (whatever that means). In my mind, Zig was the clearly the better beer. It had a sweet, fruity aroma and a more rounded mouth feel than Zag. Most significantly, Zag retained no head foam and was clearly less effervescent.


Mosaic v Ekuanot

Well this one is all about the nose. I preferred the Mosaic because it was more floral and slightly sweet smelling.The Ekuanot was not as powerful and had a medicinal edge to it. Mosaic has a stronger aftertaste but was less bitter than Ekuanot.

One thing that came as a surprise was that the Ekuanot had better head retention. I don’t understand how hops can have this effect. I definitely need to do some more research on this.


  • Amber malt increased the head retention but introduced a slight haze.
  • Hops can effect head foam. How?
  • Avoid the Belgian blonde yeast, T-58.

Dead Pony Taste Test

I wanted to compare how my inspired brew compared to the original. Given the problems experienced during the brew it is no surprise that they are not the same.

First of all, the beers look different. My Little Dead Pony is significantly darker. The aroma also is noticeably different too.  I am no expert but I would almost describe my brew as being “off”. Not in a particularly bad way but just a bit odd. Brewdog’s aroma is much more hop-like whereas mine is not that reminiscent of hops.

Taste-wise, things improve somewhat. Mine is very bitter – in a good way. A nice strong after-taste lingers. But if anything, it’s probably a little too bitter. Again I still prefer Brewdog’s because I can’t help feel that there’s something wrong with my brew.

Punk 2007 vs Punk 2017

I couldn’t wait for my bottles of nostalgic Punk IPA to arrive.  Brewdog have released versions of their original recipe 10 years on. I’ve fond memories of this stuff and I know for sure that it’s changed over the years. Although I was curious to know if my memories were purely nostalgic or not.

So I poured each one into an identical glass and started the test.

The 2017 version as we all know is light, fresh and hoppy.  It’s clean with a bitter after taste.

The 2007 version was noticeably bitter, which I liked. However I felt it was bordering on being ‘off’. There was a rather unpleasant fusty smell. This was also reflected in the taste. I am no brewing expert but either my taste buds have matured over he past 10 years or I got sent a dodgy batch.

Original on the left.
2017 2007
Appearance Light and golden Noticeably darker and slightly less carbonation than 2017
Aroma Floral and hoppy. Not terribly pleasant. Borderline off and stale.
Taste Clean and bitter. Stale beginning but hop bitterness kicks in later.
ABV 5.6% 6.0%
IBU 35
Malt  Extra Pale Extra Pale
Hops Ahtanum, Chinook, Crystal, Motueka.


Ahtanum, Amarillo, Cascade, Chinook,  Nelson Sauvin, Simcoe.


Overall I think a combination of the two would be ideal. I didn’t like the aroma of the original but I did appreciate the extra hoppiness.

Perhaps my own taste has moved on but I would not buy 2007 Punk IPA today. There are just too many similar beers available that are a lot better. It’s probably a good thing that Punk has changed to keep up with today’s tastes.