Thursday, June 28, 2012

Citrusy Hopped Wheat Beer Tasting

Jacob just showed me the first concept label art for Modern Times. Sadly I can't post them yet, but what I can share is tasting notes from the most recent test batch. We aren't sure whether a hoppy American wheat will be a summer-seasonal or a year-round, but it will be in the lineup somewhere.

This is my first batch, with the goal being a citrusy/fruity leaning hop character in a sessionable beer. In addition to two of my favorites, Citra and Amarillo, I used Calypso for the first time. Much like my first time using Galaxy in a double IPA, my first impression of Calypso isn't highly positive. Although I have enjoyed samples of commercial beers hopped with both of these new-ish varieties, in my own brewing I've used whole cones that probably weren't in perfect shape.

For once Jacob was actually in DC to taste this batch when he visited me a couple weeks ago. In addition to getting to drink a bunch of great beer together (homebrew and otherwise), we also started getting down to some serious business like estimating the hop contracts we'll need for the first year. We're also both planning to go to GABF this year (my first time), so let me know if you're going to be headed to Colorado!

The more refreshing the beer, the bigger the glass.Hold the Orange Slice

Appearance – Pale yellow, although there are some golden tones that make it darker than the common straw-yellow color of many American wheat beers (although it isn't nearly as amber as the picture appears). The thick white head is rocky and sticky (lots of hops and plenty of wheat make a great combination when it comes to foam stability). The body is a bit hazy, but not muddy or murky.

Smell – Big fruity-hoppy nose, but not as much citrus as I intended. This beer has never had quite the big orange nose that I wanted it to. There is a slight resiny-complex hoppiness behind the fruit that plays a good counterpoint.

Taste – The hop flavor isn’t as bright and fresh as the aroma. It has an overripe pear component that I am assuming is from the Calypso. The balance is a bit drier than I would prefer. Overall the fermentation character is pleasantly clean, and the malt character is lightly bready. The moderate hop bitterness lingers for a few seconds after each sip.

Mouthfeel – Nice medium-low carbonation, could be a bit higher, but I like it as is. Slightly tannic.

Drinkability & Notes – Not a bad first attempt at a hoppy American wheat, but I still have quite a bit of work to do. Jacob shipped me the Calypso, and they may not have been in the best shape after a warm week traveling cross-country without being vacuum-packed. I think the next iteration of this recipe will be all Citra and Amarillo. Then maybe I’ll see if we want to work in something Southern Hemisphere like Riwaka or Rakau on subsequent batches.


Anonymous said...

Um, top of the window-mounted air conditioner is perhaps the weirdest backdrop, but … it works just fine!

Suburban Brew said...

Mike, try using Summit if you want big orangy type aroma. I know some people say it gives off a green onion flavor but I've never experienced it.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Take 100+ pictures of beers in your house and you’ll start getting desperate for something besides the top of the kegerator, dining room table, and coffee table. Haha. Seemed appropriate with this being a bright summery beer.

I haven’t used Summit, but I have experienced the oniony flavor in a friend’s beer who brewed with it. Might be worth a short as an accent. On Twitter and Facebook I’ve also had people pitch Brewer’s Gold, Sorachi Ace, Pacifica, Centennial, Southern Cross, and Simcoe as well. So many choices.

Unknown said...

I brewed your recipe with Sorchi Ace in for the Calypso and I think it worked out great.

pgrebus said...

Since you're now doing quite a bit of experimenting/designing, are you brewing smaller batches? Pouring out the "rejects"?

Scott said...

I feel your pain with the picture backgrounds. My kitchen counter, and my back patio are getting old.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Glad to hear it worked out! Never been a big Sorachi fan, but I may have to give it another shot. I've also got a pound of Comet I bought on a whim that is supposed to be very citrusy.

Jacob is getting about 1/2 case of each batch, so I'm sticking with my standard 5 gallon brews. Haven’t had to dump anything yet, but I’ve already got the coffee stout waiting in a keg and I'm planning a 100% Brett IPA for this weekend.

yuval said...

I thought about brewing a maris otter and dark wheat based wheat hopped to about 28 ibu's with nelson sauvin - late additions 30 min. to 0 and dry hopped with sorachi ace(2 oz.), those hope are'nt available here at the moment so that one has to wait.

HolzBrew said...

I agree with the Summit recommendation. I've found that they add a bit of an orange marmalade flavor to IPAs. That being said, I have read about the onion/garlic flavors, but never experienced themm myself.