To what do you owe the distinct honor and pleasure of back-to-back homebrew reviews? Honestly just a bit of bad timing and good luck. I’ve had some issues with carbonating my homebrews. I haven’t quite nailed down my fermentation process yet, and through either under-pitching or over-stressing the yeast I’ve ended up with some flat beers.
I thought Symphony of Decay would suffer this fate, but thankfully it just needed a little (a lot) extra time to finish carbonating. Not wanting to take any chances with Cheeky Bastard, I decided to add half a packet of dry champagne yeast in addition to the yeast that was already in solution. This probably ended up being unnecessary, given the level of carbonation that ended up in this beer.
Did you hear that everybody? They said they’re not that drunk! Cheeky bastards!
– Pim Scutney, Beerfest
This beer was largely an excuse to use the vial of Conan yeast I purchased from YeastGeek (which I believe is now defunct). For those who don’t know, Conan is the yeast strain used by the Alchemist to brew the world famous Heady Topper. The strain apparently started at the Vermont Pub and Brewery in Burlington, VT and has also been used by Hill Farmstead in some of their earlier beers. Conan is supposed to give Heady its trademark creaminess and citrus/peach/apricot flavor. So how did it fair in my amateur hands?
The recipe is available here. There is an additional 0.5 oz of Centennial and 0.25 oz of Northern Brewer hops in the dry hop addition due to having it laying around, and well, fuck it let’s toss this in there.
Appearance: Much like its infinitely superior cousin, Heady Topper, Cheeky is an ugly beer. Okay, that’s being a little harsh, but it is a very hazy brew. The Conan strain does not flocculate well (drop out after fermentation. High flocculation leads to clearer beers), and as such the beer looks murky. It is a very striking red-orange color though, with a just-off-white head. The head is massive on this beer due to the champagne yeast that was added to aid carbonation. The lacing is thick and lingering.
Smell: No one will accuse this beer of having a weak aroma. Wow. I normally have trouble picking up the aroma of a beer unless it is super-potent, and this is one pungent brew. There is a great big tropical fruit and citrus aroma. I get peaches, apricot, mango, lemon, orange and grapefruit. The smell reminds me of Stone’s Gotterdammerung. Very pleasant and fruit.
Taste: Again, subtlety is not the strong suit here. Big orange flavor with some mango, grapefruit and peach as well. Not very bitter, surprisingly, but also not too sweet. There is a bit of a bitter aftertaste that comes in to help the beer finish dry. Very fruity and pretty damn tasty. I wasn’t sure if I liked the first one I tried today, but this is my third one and I gotta say that it is growing on me fast.
Mouthfeel: I’m very pleased with the creaminess of this beer. I gotta think that is the work of the Conan yeast. As I mentioned above, the bitterness comes in toward the end and helps this beer finish dry. It leaves me wanting to take the next sip. It is lacking in overall bitterness though. I think if/when this gets brewed again, I’ll add some more hops earlier in the boil.
Final Verdict: 4.0 out of 5.
This may be my best brew to date. I’m still partial to The Abyss Stares Back because it was my first, and stouts hide a lot of sins. This ended up being a pretty solid and tasty brew, if a little lacking in bitterness. But hey, it could be a lot worse.