Tasting the Definition Beer Manifest Destiny

As the inaugural brew for Definition Ale, branded under the name Definition Beer, Manifest Destiny has made is was from pot to bottle, and finally into my fridge. Brewing this, my very first homebrew was an exciting, and very educational experience for me. This beer is a partial mash brew, meaning that it was brewed with malt extracts and steeped with malted barley grains. Given the limitations of malt extract brewing I am very pleased with the way that this beer turned out, and will be even more excited to recreate a richer, more full bodied all grain version.

The back label on the bottle states it pretty well; “Manifest Destiny is a culmination of years of passion, intrigue, yearning and obsession for real beer. This represents merely the beginning of a dream which has lived within me for many years now. It has been an unbelievable pleasure to share real beer with my friends and family, but now it is time that I become more than an observer…  Much more. Thank you to all those who have shared and enjoyed real beer with me over the years, you have enriched my life more than any beer ever could. This beer is dedicated to you, with love.”

Manifest Destiny is a Hop Spiced Peculiar Ale, and as stated on the label, it is brewed with passion heart and soul. Truly though, Manifest Destiny is an extract beer brewed with six different malts; Pale, Amber, Munich (steeped), Caramel (steeped), Dark, and Roast (steeped), four different hops; Fuggle, Bullion, Perle, and Cascade (all pellet), fresh pears, almonds, demarara brown sugar, whole cloves, allspice, and has been dry hopped with Williamette (whole) and Sazz Hops (pellet). It is bottle conditioned, and was aged for two weeks before finding its final resting place.

My initial intent with this beer was to make a spicy Peculiar Ale aimed towards a Belgian Dubbel. I was going to shoot for 8% abv and make it severely rich. However with the summer fast approaching I did want some that would be refreshing in the heat. Beyond that, I also wanted all of my friends and family to be able to enjoy it; even those who don’t yet appreciate beer. So I decided not only was an 8% Dubbel Peculiar a bit to aggressive, but also probably not the right choice for my first brew. Step by step I guess.

The original reading on this beer indicated an abv of 5.2%, but now close to 7 weeks old it is most likely closer to 6% abv as the yeast remaining in the bottle continued to eat away at the sugars. I opened the Manifest Destiny up cool around 8C (45F); this beer is moderately hopy with significant spice and mildly sweet malts – at a cool range is is very refreshing and will warm up and reveal slightly greater complexity.

The pour is gentle and smooth building a lightly hazy, but overall deep transparent amber mahogany beer in my snifter. It show golden browns and deep dark purple streaking through it in the light. A one inch head is dense but fades quickly to a film on the beer. It is creamy white with a subtle glow of amber from the beer.

The nose immediately indicates spice and Christmas cake, especially when it is warmer. Big rushes of clove and allspice aromas fill your senses with the mild sweetness of almonds, ripe pears, somewhat sugary malt and a hint of ginger. It is clean and very crisp foreshadowing a refreshing, rather than creamy beer.

Get a nice full mouthfull of the Manifest and it will rush spices and caramel malt into every inch of your palate. Cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg penetrate your tongue, cheeks, throat and the backside of your lips. At first impression it does really come off as a quenching Christmas Ale. Cloves are most dominant with a ripe caramel and light toffee candy sweetness. A myriad of cinnamon and allspice make its way over your palate and a touch of pear rind greets you at the very end.

Hops are relatively subdued, but as the beer warms both malts and bop bitterness comes into play. The 6 different hops do combine for a gently complex bitterness that does become apparent, but is still overpowered by cloves and malt sweetness. The fresh hops used to dry-hop the beer add an earthy and lightly floral flavor and aroma helping create a crisp and refreshing finish.

The body is relatively light with a medium amount of carbonation. It is smooth but pretty thin – this I expect is due to the extract rather than all grain recipe. This to me is the beer’s big downfall. The malt presence is lightly sweet rather than deep, the body is thin rather than round and full, and the hop character is subtle rather than rich and potent. All of these issues I look to improve upon when I recreate this in an all grain brew.

Nonetheless, I am very happy with the outcome of this beer and the entire process. It taught me a lot about brewing and has left me much better equipped for my first all grain batch. Be ready for some exciting beers!

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