Wednesday, May 11, 2011

IRA - India Red Ale Tasting

I do like West Coast style hoppy beer, that is to say hop saturated with minimal malt character, but sometimes it is nice to have a hint of caramel sweetness along with the hops.  With this India Red Ale I wasn't trying to balance the hop bitterness with malt sweetness, just complement the citrusy hops with some darker fruit and toasty flavors. 

So far the pellet keg hops have not contributed a grassy flavor even after more than a month in contact with the beer.  I had suspected that my previous experiences with keg hopping worked so well because I used whole hops, but it turns out pellets work just as well in terms of flavor.  The disadvantage found with pellet hops was that for the first two weeks I was pouring beer with suspended hop particles (despite the fine mesh hop bag holding them).

It is amazing how much the glass can affect the color of a Red Ale.People often complain about not being able to get the RED color they want in their beer.  If you end up with a beer that is a bit too light or dark try serving it in different glasses.  In the picture you can see the color difference I get from serving my red ale in a thin sample glass instead of a pint glass. 

India Red Ale

Appearance – Beautiful clear red body (when served in a pint glass). The retention of the off-white head is terrific, sticky, coating, with tight bubbles. The combination of crystal malts and loads of hops did their job. It took a few weeks cold for it to clear, but it is a stunner now.

Smell – Big citrusy hop nose: grapefruit, orange, pine, and strawberry. There is a touch of caramel/toffee malt as well, but the hops are the primary aromatic. As it warms the fruity yeast character adds some additional complexity.

Taste – Firm tongue coating bitterness. The toasty malt melds with the raw fruity/citrusy hoppiness in the mid palate before the hops win out. About three seconds after I swallow I get the slightest hint of coffee, trailed by a lingering bitterness. I'm not sure if it is the color or the caramel flavors of a hoppy red ale that always makes me think that the hops are a bit more berry-like than in a normal IPA/APA.

Mouthfeel – A bit fuller than I tend to like in my hoppy beers, but I think it works well with the richer malt flavors of this beer. Medium carbonation, enough to lift the aromatics, but not enough to get in the way. 

Drinkability & Notes – I'm really pleased with how this beer turned out. The malt and hops strike a perfect balance. With the weather warming, I wish I'd dropped the gravity .010, but hopefully this one won't last much longer anyway.


Anonymous said...

Nice recipe Mike and great looking brew. I definitely will be trying a recipe similar to this in the future.

I usually do my dry-hopping straight in the keg and yes, suspended hop bits can be troublesome. I tried dry-hopping a secondary once and it was big mess transferring the beer to a keg so I just leave it at that. Also, with keg-hopping I tend to get more polyphenol extraction and slightly hazier beer.

As for getting the red color - have you ever tried "capping the mash" with a small amount of roasted or black malt? Heard this can work too.



The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Thanks. Yeah, I tend to like using whole hops for dry hopping in general because it minimizes the particulate matter and slows extraction.

I've tried capping the mash with roasted grains, but only for doing darker second runnings beers. Certainly an option, as well as cold steeping, sinamar, and dehusked malts.

Mark said...

Re: grassy flavours from extended dry hopping in the keg.

It is my experience that you don't get grassy flavours if the keg is kept cold.

I add my dry hops, fill the keg and pressurize. Then let it sit at room temp for 5 days, this seems to encourage soluability of the hop oils. But then I chill it down and keep it cold.

I have done a bit of testing, and found this to work best. If I skip the first 5 days at room temp, the hop aroma is very muted. And if I later remove the keg from my keezer and leave it at room temp for a few days, this is when it gets grassy.

By the way, I only use leaf hops.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I’ve taken to two stage dry hopping, once at room temp for faster/better extraction, then a second fresh dose at serving temps. I find this to give the best of both worlds, fast extraction for good hop aroma early on, and good lasting character.

ivan said...

After receiving a bottle of Lagunitas Lucky 13 red ale, this has been one of my top beer styles to brew. When a friend was looking for the recipe in my book I told him to find where the spine was most broken.
I've been brewing Jamil's West Coast Blaster and a Hop Rod Rye clone. It's delicious almost any time of year.

Anonymous said...

Have you ever tried one of these stainless steel mesh tea balls for dry hopping? The one I have only holds about 1oz of pellets so if you are brewing something like an American IPA it doesn't do the trick, but I find it is great for adding .5oz or so to something like an English Bitter and I've never had a problem with it leaking hop particles. Plus, it's easy to sanitize by steeping it in some boiling water.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I mean for keg hopping.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Certainly seems like a good option for adding small amounts of hops, it would work for oak cubes, spices, or anything else you wanted to have the option to remove.

Haputanlas said...

How do you dry hop in the keg exactly? Do you just tie off a hop bag and throw it in? Do you somehow mount it to the lid for easy removal later?