Friday, May 16, 2014

#20 Hoppy American Wheat - Tasting

Recipe     -     Brewday     -     Tasting

ABV: 4.7%
Serving Temp: 38F
Grade: C-

Ah, spring has arrived.  The sun is out, and hops are blooming in my glass, if not in the yard.  It's wonderful timing that we finally have a week of warm weather just as my first summery beer is ready to drink.  After the scare with the lactic acid, I was worried I may have ruined the beer, but thankfully that wasn't the case.

As you can see when poured into a glass, this is without a doubt a wheat beer.  It's firmly translucent, cloudy feels like the wrong word here because the haze is so pervasive, with no hints of clarity even around the edges.  Despite the low pH (which can be hard on head retention), the nice light foam hangs around for quite a while, clumping into a thick white island in the middle of the glass.

The smell oddly reminds me of German hops.  I was aiming for bright citrus with a bit of pine for balance, but there's also that strange something I remember from the Hallertau I used last year.  Maybe the wheat is playing tricks on my nose, since wheat beers are usually brewed with German hops

The taste at first is dominated by the wheat.  As I make my way down the glass, the citrusy side really comes out, both in the aroma and in the flavor.  The acidity brightens it up and helps cut the thick body a bit, making it a very pleasant drink for this warm weather.

My biggest complaint is a little something ... off.  I'm going to blame this on the lactic acid.  It's not something I can put my finger on, but there's a weird mustiness in both the beginning and end of the sip that shouldn't be there.  It does remind me of the lactic acid as I added it to the boil but even more of that last second before a sour beer hits your tongue.  You know the feeling: the aromas start to hit the back of your throat and there's the brief fear of "Oh no, this beer is not right, what am I doing!"  Then you taste the sourness, your face turns itself inside out, and you lose all hope of identifying those subtle foreign flavors.  My beer tastes far different, but that same ghost haunts the glass.

All that's easy to fix though: double check your math.  But what did I learn about the recipe?  First off, I think I wanted something more hoppy.  I took it easy on the hops since this was supposed to be a fairly light beer, but maybe the low attenuation (66% ADF) masked the hops more than I anticipated.  As it is, it's nice and "balanced" for an American wheat, but maybe I really wanted more of an IPA.  (Can't believe I'm saying that, I must have a case of "Lupulin Threshold Shift.")  As for the hops themselves, Amarillo and Centennial got along as well as I hoped--Centennial brightened the Amarillo, and Amarillo smoothed the rough edges of Centennial--but I'm not sure what I think of the net effect with the heavy, malty wheat.  Better attenuation would have helped lighten the body but the wheat seems to paint its flavor in broader strokes across the palette than barley, so the pairing with crisp citrus hops is an awkward one.  The Amarillo + Centennial duo could really shine in smaller varieties of IPA, but I'll have to think more about what would go well specifically with wheat.

Recommended Pairings:
Grilled Chicken
Grilled Vegetables
Anything else grilled

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