Thursday, August 28, 2014

#25 Session IPA - Tasting

Recipe     -     Brewday     -     Tasting

ABV: 3.9%
IBU: 41
Serving Temperature: 36F
Carbonation: 2.8 vol
Grade: B+

One thing you don't get to experience (or have to struggle with) buying commercial beer is how much a beer changes as it ages.  I touched on it briefly in my post on bottle conditioning, but merely sealing a beer in glass (or steel in this case) doesn't stop the myriad chemical processes happening inside the beer.  IPA's in particular are known to change rapidly in the first couple months and this beer even more particularly.  Instead of breaking down the beer tasting by sense, I think this time I'm going to do it chronologically.

3 days in the keg:  Ok first off, just pouring a glass you could smell the hops across the room.  This seems excessive and it probably is.  At this point the flavor was also surprisingly malty with a ton of that sticky/saturated hop flavor and aroma.  The dry hops still tasted pretty rough as they always do right at kegging (plus I had issues siphoning and may have got some bits from the Mosaic pellets in the bottom of the keg), and the hop flavors didn't really mesh.

2 weeks in the keg:  Now that the hops have settled in, it's starting to taste much better.  The hops are still bold and in-your-face, but I think I can finally make some observations about the hops.  I originally based my hop schedule off Topcutter IPA from Bale Breaker, and the similarity is obvious.  It has that same deep, dark, citrusy hoppiness, though theirs is a little more balanced as I went overboard with the Mosaic.  I haven't brewed a straight Citra beer, but I have had a couple IPAs where Citra was the lead actor (RPM and Purebread), and I can certainly see the similarity between Citra and Mosaic.  Citra has a more multifaceted flavor than Amarillo, with bold orange and classic american hop aroma that stops short of pine, while Mosaic has the same flavors, but a bit smoother and in a darker shade.  Some people say it has hints of blueberry, and while maybe that's what I mean by "darker," I don't think I can pick out blueberry specifically.

The malt is interesting as well.  The pale malt and Carastan form a nice smooth base, and the Victory malt jumps out with a surprisingly sharp Ritz cracker flavor.  At only 3.9%, this beer is really light on alcohol, but the malts still holds its own as interesting in its own right.  If you look specifically for the alcohol, you won't find it, but I don't know that anyone actually does that.  I could see this grain bill being really nice as the focal point, say in an English bitter. Unfortunately it just doesn't mesh with the hops.  Maybe a few more IBU (as in 5?) would help balance it out, but the sharpness from the Victory is just too much.

1.5 months in the keg:  Oh no it's almost gone!  Since the last update, the body has continued to lighten just a tiny bit.  Or maybe it's the contrast with the heavy imperial IPA on tap next to it instead of the dry belgian table beer from before?  I don't know.  The whole package just seems lighter and less saturated before which is nice.  The victory/cracker flavor has settled into place too.  The hops seem to have faded only slightly, but it seems like it's all come from the citrusy side, leaving the smooth not-really-blueberry side as the dominant hop flavor with maybe a touch of crispness from the Simcoe.  Mosaic is a cool hop, and I see why it's so popular, but like Amarillo, I think it's too fruity and mellow to really carry a beer on its own.  Maybe paired with Nelson Sauvin or Columbus?  No wonder brewers get addicted to hops, the options are tantalizing.

Overall, the individual components came out really well.  But as I said in the recipe post, there were kind of three separate ideas driving this beer, and they never really came together.  Brewing my own beer usually makes me feel like a boss, but in this case I needed to promote more synergy between the various pieces of the recipe. Still one of my better beers though.

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