The year 2002 was a little slow for homebrewing. These beers were all very decent, but none of my personal favorites are among them. This is also the year I was married – I actually made three “Wedding Ale” recipes. The first two were half-sized batches where I was testing and adjusting the recipe to make sure it would be good and suitable for the big day.

  • Blonde Lager
    OG: 1.052
    FG: 1.017
    ABV: 4.5%

    A refreshing lager full of Saaz hops. The recipe started out as a Pilsner recipe, but there is a bit too much hop flavor and too much fruitiness and butteriness (from fermenting a little too warmly for the lager yeast). Overall, this is a pleasant brew, but not extraordinary.

  • Hefeweizen
    OG: 1.051
    FG: 1.013
    ABV: 5.0%

    A dry hefeweizen. The dryness accentuates the hop bitterness, but the star of the show is the big wheat taste.

  • Wedding Ale
    OG: 1.046
    FG: 1.009
    ABV: 4.9%

    This was the third attempt at the wedding ale. I cooked up a couple of half-sized batches in order to test out some ideas. I wanted to make sure that the final recipe was appropriate (and tasty). The main differences between the three attempts were differing levels of hops and spices and different strains of yeast. The final batch had coriander, cinnamon, cardamom, and anise seed, and it was fermented with an American ale yeast. Luckily this final batch (actually served at the wedding reception) was the best one.

  • Sleeping Monk Ale
    OG: 1.066
    FG: 1.007
    ABV: 7.8%

    A strong Belgian pale ale, dry-hopped with Saaz hops. The beer is a bit bitter, and has a very dry finish (thanks to the use of candi sugar). The bottles had quite a bit of sediment in them, and the beer poured quite cloudy. But the flavor made it quite drinkable.

  • Oatmeal Stout
    OG: 1.058
    FG: 1.018
    ABV: 5.2%

    A full-bodied, roasty stout. The mouthfeel is a bit thick, but overall the flavor is excellent. The contributions of the hops, malts, and roasted barley are all evident in this batch, and at the same time they all blend into one cohesive nectar. The only regret: I could have used more oatmeal.

  • Li’l Bastard Ale
    OG: 1.068
    FG: 1.018
    ABV: 6.6%

    As with all beers I’ve made that used smoked malts, this beer started off a bit too smoky. But after a short period of aging, the smoke flavors mellowed, and delicious flavor shone through. The smoke blended with flavors of caramel and bitter chocolate to create a fascinating taste. Not quite as malty as a typical Wee Heavy, but still a very tasty recipe.

  • Holiday Ale
    OG: 1.054
    FG: 1.015
    ABV: 5.1%

    Another spicy winter ale. This one turned out significantly better than the previous year’s winter brew. A wide array of spices and adjuncts went into this recipe. The overall flavor: sweet malts and chocolate with a hint of cinnamon and a zip of ginger. This combination makes for a very complex and interesting beer (albeit still not perfect – the next Holiday Ale I make will be something very different).