Work and life has been keeping me from posting in a long time. As a result I have about 7-8 topics that need to get written. Part of the problem is adjusting to working in the biomedical industry compared to academia, while juggling the demands of a two year old. Free time for writing has been limited. I’m renewing a push to keep a regular posting schedule, and I’ll start by reviewing a beer that is long gone.
The American IPA style is so ubiquitous in American craft beer culture, most likely a result of market competition and demands from the consumer. There are plenty of samples to choose from to refine one’s palate and the range within the style can vary considerably. Malt character, body, hop varietals, and yeast are variables used to make this beer and my personal taste gravitates me towards a narrow range within the style. I like IPAs that are very bitter but not harsh and still retain hop aroma and flavor – a difficult feat to achieve in my opinion. For me the beer needs to be bone dry yet balanced to accentuate hop character. Yeast health and fermentation conditions remain paramount to achieve a high level of attenuation. My favorites? Only a few:
- Masala Mama IPA from Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery. A growler of this beer came to me as an extra in a BA trade. My favorite IPA and dream of trying it again.
- Susan from Hill Farmstead Brewery. Tried this beer only once on tap in NYC. Perfect balance of malt and hops.
- Sculpin IPA from Ballast Point Brewing Company. One of the more readily available IPAs, it needs to be consumed fresh to achieve its full effect of hop goodness.
My fifth attempt at brewing an IPA and the description of the beer can be found here. It reflects a winding road of trying to figure out how to make the perfect IPA (for my tastes). This may take a long time, but I feel as is if I came one step closer.
Appearance: Pours a golden orange color and is a bit hazy from the continuous dry hopping in the keg. Massive fluffy white head that sticks around for a long time and leaves laces down the side of the glass.
Smell: Decent floral and citrus aroma. Mango, pine, and passion fruit come to mind. However, with two ounces of whole leaf dry hops and large amounts of late hop additions, I was expecting more. Unfortunately, the aroma does not jump out of the glass.
Taste: Clean and assertive bitterness that lingers in the finish and complements a bready malt backbone. Interplay between the munich and pale malt provides a biscuit-like and nutty finish Fruity hop oils leave a lemon-rind like flavor, followed by orange and tropical fruit. Medium body and well carbonated.
Overall: Not a bad IPA, but could be improved. My favorite aspect of the beer is the bitterness. Aggressive and long lasting, the bitterness is clean, neutral and not harsh in any respect. Warrior is now my standard bittering hop. Unfortunately, hop aroma was lacking and I feel as if I’ve maxed out on the amount of hop aroma I can put into a beer on my system. A hop rocket or hop back may be in my future. Finishing at 1.014, the beer needs to be drier. Next time I will make enough yeast to overpitch and drive attenuation even higher. Other options include the addition of sugar to dry the beer even further. I sent this beer for competition at NYC’s Homebrew Alley 7 and we’ll see how it performs.