Changes in temperature and carbonation can radically change the flavor and a drinker's perceptions of a beer. When I packaged the Trans Atlantic Ale I bottled four gallons, and packaged on gallon in a plastic polypin like I did with BeerSmith's Dry Irish Stout.
Out of the bottle the beer pours dark copper, with a thin and mousy white head. Clarity was disappointing. This is probably the result of too much hot break material making it's way from the boil kettle and into the fermenter. Meh. I am not trying to win a gold medal at the National Homebrew Competition with an improvised extract kit.
The aroma is a mix of earthy hops and an expressive, floral character from the yeast. The beer starts suggary sweet, but that sweetness becomes thicker the further it goes back in your mouth. It's like the sugar is caramelizing in your mouth. There is sufficient hop flavor and bitterness to ensure the beer isn't too cloying. The finish was quite dry at first. When I drank my first bottle, I double checked the recipe to see what specialty malts had I added. Two ounces of chocolate malt may have been a bit much. This dryness has mellowed in subsequent bottles I have had.
Out of the polypin, with it's lower cask-like carbonation the finish was much more balanced. The relatively higher carbonation out of the bottles enhanced the roasted character more than the "cask" version. Out of my improvised cask the beer was a veritable fruit bomb. I shared the cask at the North Shore Brewers beer camp. The other members there got lots of cherry and gooseberry notes. The beer served in that format served as a canvas for the Windsor Ale yeast to shine. I would certainly use it again without hesitation for any English style.
As an improvised beer I am happy with the results. While not a perfect English bitter, I do think I can apply some of what I learned to future batches in terms of hopping, yeast selection, grain selection, and carbonation. English Bitters and English styles are some of my favorite styles to brew. Fullers ESB would probably be in my dream six-pack. By the time I finish all of the Trans Atlantic Ale I have at home, it will probably be cool enough up on the third floor to ferment with an English yeast at the appropriate temperature. I think it will be time to brew up a bitter of my own.
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