Well, the Autumnal Ale has turned out pretty nice. Perhaps the best way to describe it is Saison Dupont crossed with Chimay Blue. It's of course not nearly as strong as Chimay, but has a bit of the flavor of the Blue from the use of dark Belgian candi syrup and a fairly low hop bitterness. It's kind of interesting stuff. Like I posted earlier, I really thought it wouldn't turn out as dark as it did using only a half pound of candi syrup. I've actually already (sadly) plowed through most of the batch even though it is just now coming into it's own. I guess I was thirsty and foolish.
I've brewed another batch since the Autumnal Ale and it is a rather fun project. My friend Eric Keeley shared some of his prized hop crop with me a few weeks ago and I used the fresh hops pretty straight away. He packed two gallon-sized Ziploc bags with the fresh picked Chinook hops, which I put in my freezer for about a week before using them. I used all of them in the batch which at first seems like a lot, but I did so after reading that five times the amount of fresh hops should be used compared to dry. It turns out I did the right thing, as the beer is hoppy, but not too much so. I did cheat a bit and used the Brewer's Best Red Ale kit, so the batch was augmented with some pellet hops, which I used for bittering only. (The kit called for splitting the Kent Goldings and Fuggles hops between bittering and flavoring additions.) I made a point to bitter with the pellets (since I knew the AA percentage) and use the fresh hops late in the boil for flavor and aroma. I'm actually a bit surprised at how much aroma persisted in this beer without dry hopping with additional pellets. I'm quite pleased. I added the corn sugar provided for bottling and reduced the volume of the batch from five gallons to four and half gallon to push the gravity up a touch.
I brewed the Chinook Red on the September 14, racked on October 7 and bottled it this evening. The results so far are about as expected. I really didn't expect a hop bomb, but I wasn't sure. What I hope to end up with is a flavorful red ale with a nice accent of Chinook hops and smooth, but lingering bitterness.