We saw in the New Year at a friend’s party, with a bottle of Deus and a polypin of home-brewed stout.
First, the Deus. There’s no denying that this is a very special beer. It has an incredibly complex production process and shares some champagne maturing techniques — hence the epithet “Brut de Flandres”. If you want to find out more about how it’s made you can visit their site here.
It’s absolutely lovely, with a wonderful perfumy aroma. It’s light on the tongue initially, but with a long complex aftertaste, and ginger and apple notes, amongst others. But is it worth £15? There are even lovelier beers available for a lot less. Still, a nice one to pull out for a special occasion, and the bubbles were fantastic.
As saddo homebrewers, however, we were just as interested in seeing how our polypin-conditioned stout would work. This was the first time we’d used a polypin (essentially a strong collapsible plastic bag with a tap) so we were worried as to how it would turn out. We couldn’t find a lot of guidance on the internet about using one in homebrewing, but it’s quite common for UK breweries to offer polypins for home use, so we figured the end product would probably taste OK.
We were slightly perturbed when it expanded ready to burst after just a day of secondary fermentation, so we decided to vent it. We continued to vent it 2 or 3 times a day until the day before it was due to be served, when it was transferred to our hosts’ house to settle. At that point, we started worrying about whether it would be carbonated enough, or off, or explode in their garage.
And wonder of wonders, it worked. It was extremely interesting (well, for us anyway) to compare the polypin version of our stout with the bottled one. The one in the polypin was “flatter”, but no flatter than most cask ales in pubs. They had a different mouthfeel (perhaps due to the carbonation) and the faux-cask ale had a softer aroma. The cask ale also tasted “fresher” — it’s difficult to describe exactly what we mean by that, but hopefully it’s clear to those who’ve compared cask and bottle. The bottled version tasted like it wasn’t quite ready, whilst the cask ale had definitely matured in the same period (two weeks).
This is a useful discovery as (a) it saves on bottling (b) it’s probably as close as we’re going to get to the condition of cask ale at home — more so than bottle-conditioning.
Incidentally, we also discovered that smoked paprika doesn’t *really* work in stout…