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Cleopatra's Asp -- archived recipies

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I don't know what came over me but I found the "Have You Seen Cleopatra's Asp?" in the archive, and it seemed like a good adjunct-based beer, has a solid base (Bewitched and a golden LME, basically That Voodoo That You Do, something I love). Also, I've been intrigued by chile beers. So why not try this?
 
 
This one has only a single 3-star review on the mrbeer site; he put in too much cardamom and knocked it for that. Duly warned. It's got a handful of adjuncts; fresh grated ginger, the aformentioned cardamom, date sugar (which is actually dates ground up, not really "sugar"), and honey. Oh, and some cayenne.
I only put in 3/4 tsp of fresh ground cardamom instead of 1 tsp. The common knowledge on other beer-brewing sites seems to be cardamom, while fairly common in spiced beers, can easily turn things haywire. Without actual specifics it's clear a little cardamom goes a long way. That lonely user who left the review said the recipe was was 4xs too much.
 
4x? I wonder if he actually put in a tbsp.
 
Rather than adding cayenne, I decided to boil half a hatch chili at the top for 5 minutes, relatively low on the Scoville scale around the heat of pablano, and would give me some vegetal quality, not just heat. (For comparison, I boiled a third of a jalapeno to make some tea to see how that was. Boy, pretty hot. Would be good for a stout-based chile beer. This one's an amber based, so subtle's better.)
 
 
I also got freshly ground ginger, and found date sugar at Whole Foods after not finding it at 4 other stores (11 oz goes for about $7.00). And plain ol' honey. Our lone reviewer mentioned that having actual date sugar "saved" his batch. Another good sign.The 4 oz of date sugar boiled down but didn't completely dissolve. It tastes less like brown sugar, more butterscotch than molasses so not quite as sweet when I'll be done?
 
Still, that 6 oz of honey overtakes the taste for the unfermented wort. No hint of my balanced/ boiled hatch pepper tea or cardamom. I can always add some heat later, probably with a hop sack of a roasted pepper.
 
I'm more interested in the cadamom/ ginger/ spiced amber beer I'm likely to get. Don't want to kill it with too much heat by accident. As the man in the gynecologist's office says, it's a lot easier to put in than it is to take back out.
 
Also, by way of insurance, my batch before this one was a straight up Voodoo, so if the Cleopatra goes off the rails, I can dilute any mistakes with a beer of same style. Solution to beer problems: more beer. ;)
 
Temp in my fermenting fridge was set to 70 - 72 degrees range, slightly higher than usual per instructions. First good sign: krausen was quite active after only 24 hours.
 
After 2 weeks of fermentation, taste-test was rather bland amber, there's no twang of cider, even the sweet of the honey is now gone, also no hint of heat, barely a hint of the ginger. So subtle I wonder if any of that will come out in the final product. Slightly adjusting my earlier plan, I added a hop-sack of half a jalapeno seeped in vodka. I still prefer actual pepper to cayenne, which original suggested.
 
After 4 more days, I pulled out the jalapeno sack, reduced to 40 degrees for 48 hours to cold-crash. (No hydrometer, I'm going by taste that it's done fermenting.) Bottled with table sugar priming half the bottles, turbinado for the other half. Uncarbed beer at this point is rather low-key. No sweetness from the honey anymore, a hair of the caramel (possibly from the amber malt base), a hint of ginger, a slightly larger hint of the jalapeno pepper.  Will be very interesting to see how these adjuncts come out.
 
So now, patience. In about a month or 6 weeks, I'll update with what I ended up with. I know I'm going on long, but there's scant info on this recipe, details, why it was pulled (too hard, too many moving parts?) but consider this a public service post for what I hope to be a great forgotten gem.

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Follow up 11/20, 7 1/2 weeks of bottle conditioning on the Cleopatra's Asp. A few days shy of 2 months in the bottle. Opened a couple this weekend, and this amber-esque ale is very similar to That Voodoo That You Do, but with date sugar instead of brown sugar, ground ginger, and cardomom added it becomes quite different. More nuances but nothing stands out. Like everything cancelled everything else out?

 

Just as brown as Voodoo tends to be (darker than the pictures) aroma is a brown sugar/carmelly, slightly malt. Taste is heavier than a lager or Voodoo, without sweetness I expect, what with that date sugar and honey. Date sugar gives it a more molasses without the cloyingness I get in Voodoo, and even though I put in less than a teaspoon of cardomom, getting that dusty dull "spice" flavor. Chai spices would have worked with this beer.

 

As you can see above, I also boiled a hatch chili which gave it a slight vegetable taste, really no heat. The dry-hop of jalapeno also didn't do much heat wise and I half attribute the "bite" it has to the ground ginger in the wort. I think more ginger wouldn't have been unwelcome.

 

With all the additions you might consider this a "spice" beer but it was not very aromatic or boozy. The unofficial math on this pegs it at about 8 - 8.5% but this feels on the low end. If I did this again, I'd probably forget the cardomom (too much of a wild card) and add cinnamon or chai, now knowing how the date sugar changes the feel, and more be more bold on the heat. I'm still not sure date sugar is what you want in beer, as it's actually ground-up dates and doesn't entirely dissolve, adding a minimum to the ABV I believe, unlike honey for example, which I read gets eaten up completely in fermentation and leaves a dryer finish.

 

I thought I'd try this novelty beer, being a little bored with Voodoo and going out of my comfort zone adding things I never added before. I assume the brewmasters at MB had experimented on this and decided on the ingredients so I went with them for the most part.

 

On a scale of 1 - 5, I'd go with about a 3.5? Not terrible, it's just not spectacular like some Mrbeer recipes.

 

I'm going on so long for a reason: when anyone in the future encounters the recipe in the archive here's more info. It had one review and no real write-ups when I looked to see how it might be and adding all this in the interest of the common knowledge. Buyer and brewer beware: This is all personal opinion and your results, if you try, will likely be different.

 

Cheers!

 

R

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