Thursday, March 4, 2010

Big IPA Tasting (Plus EisPA)

Normally I sit on a beer for awhile before I post a review, especially for a big beer, but with this big IPA (that was hopped with Amarillo, Simcoe, and Columbus including 3 oz of dry hops and 3 oz of keg hops) I wanted to log a tasting as soon as possible while the hops are still blaring.  I brewed the batch just 32 days ago, and I've already been drinking it for more than a week.

West Coast IPA in the Mid-AtlanticAppearance – Slightly hazy (which I'll blame on the dry hops) pale yellow (just a shade or two darker than Bud). Nice tight white head, beautiful lacing, and great retention (the carapils did its job).

Smell – Pine, tropical fruit (mangoes), resiny, pretty close to sticking your nose in a bag of Pacific Northwest hops. That's pretty much it, no malt, alcohol, yeast, or subtlety (just about perfect in my book).

Taste – Big bitter assault on the back of the tongue that lingers until you take another sip (or a couple minutes if you don't). The volatile hop oils carry through in the flavor as well with similar notes of resinous pine and tropical fruit, as well as citrus (orange) there in the background. A bit of clean malt in the middle, but it stays out of the way of the hops. The alcohol is well disguised for 8% ABV, thanks to the hops. Not balanced in any sense of the concept, but that is what I want from a big IPA.

Mouthfeel – Light and crisp (the sugar really helped out), with moderate carbonation. The bitterness is more a part of the mouthfeel than in any other beer I have brewed, but it is not rough/tannic luckily.

Drinkability & Notes – The epitome of a “West Coast” IPA, highly drinkable if that is what you like. This is the happiest I have been with any hoppy beer I have brewed. I could count the commercial IPAs I would take over this beer (and just about all of them are from Russian River). Hopefully this one keeps drinking this well as it continues to sit on the keg hops.

Iced IPA (EisPA)Bonus - I also tried a quick ice concentration (EisPA) on this batch a couple days ago, using the same process I did to make the Dave clone (freezing it overnight and letting it slowly drip through a metal strain for 20 minutes or so).  Instead of aging it in the bottle though I put the concentrated beer into a plastic bottle and used my carbonator cap to give it a bit of carbonation.  It worked well resulting in one of the tastier "massive" IPAs I have had (not hard compared to Dogfish Head 120 Minute and Founder's Devil Dancer).  The hop aroma was just about as aggressive and the bitterness kept up with the increased sweetness.  The alcohol was present (~14% ABV if the 75% increase I got with the Dave clone held true), but we drank it pretty cold so it did not come off as harsh. I think this is a much more practical way to get a giant alcohol/hop bomb rather than fermenting our a very high gravity wort which tends to leave too much residual sweetness.


Tom said...

Wow...both of those beers sound interesting. Glad they turned out well and you are reaping the sweet rewards your hobby.
I like Amarillo and have used Simcoe in some beers, but not Columbus. Do you feel the three hops you used compliment each other? Is there one that you smell/taste more?

Scott said...

What do you think the difference is with this IPA than the ones you did in the past? I always thought you're IPA's were really nice.

Anuj said...

off topic question,

im getting ready to make a saison for the summer and i want to add either jasmine or hibiscus to it.

what im planning on doing is adding a minimal amount to the "whirlpool" stage and add more in secondary if needed but i just came across an interesting idea where someone soaked flowers into the spring water they used for the mash/sparge.

what do you think?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

The Simcoe is probably the most prominent, followed by the Amarillo, and then the Columbus. I think they do well together, especially the Amarillo and the Simcoe with the Columbus adding some of those "danker" notes that those two are missing.

This one just tastes fresher/brighter/cleaner than any of the hoppy beers I've done in the past. That first big Pliny clone I did years back was close, but I didn't get to drink much of it fresh because of the bottle conditioning issues.

I think flowers near/at the end of the boil and then more in secondary is a great plan. Adding them to the mash/sparge water just seems like a waste since most of the volatiles would be lost in the boil/fermentation.

pantsmachine said...

Think i've found your site before and had a read. Tonight i spent a good bit of time on it instead of flitting hither and yon tween various sites of beergeekery.

You really are one mad bastard(i mean this in the most complimentary fashion possible). Its so good to read about your adventures in beer. I have a 200 ltr brewery here in Scotland and thought i was making some interesting beers. I'm in the footlhills! Rock on and find that summit!

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I'll certainly take that as a compliment.

I'm thinking about building a bigger system, any tips? What do you use for fermenters?

pantsmachine said...

I use a 120 ltr HDPE conical fermenter. They are used primarily in the biofuel industry but a few of us over this side use them for the brewing. Excellent bit of kit and a fraction of the stainless Blichmann models. I think this one cost me £80 for the conical, 20 for the valves and about £10 for the steel. I welded up the frame myself(around $170 total). Favourite things about them are you can brew at your natural level coz you set the height of the gear during build(i'm 6'2" 41 old and my back says thank you when brewing)! Also i can now dump out the bottom of the fermenter every day around a 1/2 pint of trub/dead yeast. Don't know what you think yourself but no matter how diligent i am when cooling transfering there's trub gets through! The conical with jug in hand and a quarter turn valve makes it so easy. The rest of the system is a 156ltr mash tun and a 400 ltr kettle. I call it 200 ltr brewery as that seems about average! Here's a link to my conical

I'm liking your hop flowers in the bottle idea, okay for me to borrow it?

Off down to Glasgow today to meet an American guy who flew in yesterday for the glasgow visual art one night pub event on the 30th April. Dropping off 80 of my own style of scottish malty ale with a heavier aroma hop infuluence. Its all going to be craft beer, not a single commercial variety to be had.

pantsmachine said...

Realised my links did not work very well. Here's one to a thumbnail of the fermenter

This one should work to the breweing folder, has all sorts of photos. Plenty of my set up. Hope you get some ideas that work for you.