I’m not much for brewing specifically for monthly homebrew club competitions, but when the timing works out I’m game. This Saturday is the first joint meeting of BURP and DC Homebrewers (the two clubs I belong to), and festivities includes an IPA competition. With an IPA on tap, coincidentally, I couldn’t resist entering. I’d been feeling pretty confident about my chances with this West Coast IPA, but after drinking what my friends Erich (Amarillo/Galaxy) and Andrei (Mosaic) are entering earlier tonight, I’m no longer as sure about my chances (update: my IPA won 2nd place of the 42 entries). The IPA style can have so much range, it’ll all come down to what sort of hop character and balance the judges are looking for.
Appearance – Golden-yellow, almost clear, but with a slight blur. Given how flocculent the yeast (WLP007) is, blame falls squarely on the dry hops. The white head is very sticky, but retention is moderate at best.
Smell – Wow! Huge citrus peel (fresh orange), tropical-mango, with some pine. I’d call it classic, but I don’t think a nose like this was possible until the modern high-oil hops started to be released a decade ago. Saturated, complex hoppiness, with just a hint of malt toastiness. The yeast adds to the generally fruity character without being immediately discernible. Can’t imagine a better IPA nose. I like that this beer has the complex essence of the hops, without the green-grassy “nose in a hop-bag” character of some much sought-after hoppy beers.
Taste – The flavor is coated in hops, lingering into the finish. There is a slight sweetness, hard to say whether it is residual sweetness (1.013), or a trick of the fruity hops and yeast. Lots of citrus zest and dank-pine, not as tropical as the nose. Slight maltiness, but it sits on the sideline. Coating grabby bitterness, without being harsh or rough.
Mouthfeel – Slightly fuller than many IPAs, but considering the substantial flavors, I don’t mind it. Solid carbonation mostly stays out of the way.
Drinkability & Notes – It is remarkable how much better this beer is than the DIPA I brewed a week earlier. The nose leaps out of the glass, and the flavor is dripping with hop oils. One of the best two or three hoppy beers I’ve ever brewed, complex, drinkable, beautiful! We’ll see if the judges agree…