Friday, March 27, 2015

#39 Willamette Session Ale - Tasting

Recipe     -     Brewday     -     Tasting

ABV: 4.5-5%
IBU: 36
Serving Temp: 38F
Carbonation: 2.6 vol
Grade: B+

Despite how terribly brewday went, I'm really excited about this beer!  The grain bill here is pretty cool, confirming what I thought when I first used it in the session IPA last summer, but I still have to come up with the right hops and yeast combination to complement it.

The beer is somewhere between a dark golden and a light brown.  It's interesting trying to describe this beer to people because it's too malty to be an American pale ale, too light to be a brown ale, not hoppy enough to be a session IPA, too American (in yeast and hops) to be an English bitter... I think the name I like most is just "American Session Ale."

I split the batch between two yeasts--good old Chico, and Denny's Favorite 50 from Wyeast--and I learned a lot about how they affect the beer.  I put the Chico variant on tap first, and it had a surprising amount of fruitiness.  It was sort of an appley crispness that seemed to clash a bit with all the malt flavors swirling around.  It's always hard to tell whether those flavors are from the yeast or the hops, so it was good to compare it to another yeast.  The keg made with Denny's yeast had significantly less fruitiness, with the malt more in the forefront.  This half attenuated even more than the Chico half, so there was a hint of dry toasted malt flavor that was hidden in the Chico version; a friend even described it as a "summer brown ale."  Both versions were just noticeably thin, and I think the oats I forgot on brewday would have gone a long way to filling in that emptiness.

For this beer, Denny's yeast was the clear winner.  I think this grain bill (more as I drew up the recipe than how I brewed it) is also solid, but the hops need a bit of work.  I wasn't really happy with Willamette; I haven't come up with the words to describe it, but it doesn't add what I was looking for and adds things I wasn't.  I'm not sure what it was I was looking for so it will take a bit of experimentation to figure it out.  Cascade?  Chinook?  Simcoe?  Fuggles?  Looking over descriptions of some hops I've never tried, I think Sovereign, Ella and Summer could be a good fit too.  Guess I'll just have to brew some more!

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