Blue Ribbon Winner!
Love it! A bit fruiter in the hop profile than I planned, but definately a solid crack at a house IPA.
Smell: Clean and bright hops. Orange rind, grass, apricot, and grapefruit are the main impressions in that order with some spicy-pine resin and caramel malt in the background. The smell is surprisingly sweet. Hop candy. Kelly threw in a comment about a smell of "stone" along with clean and grassy...
Taste: Prickly, balanced bitterness. Orange peel all up in your face. More grassy and floral notes than in the nose- almost earthy but not nearly as woody as the Blind Pig I had next to it for comparison. A slight black pepper spice in the finish from the hop oils. Clean sweetness underneath it all that gets stronger along with the citrus juice flavors as it warms up. Slightly warming from the 6.9% ABV.
Mouthfeel: Spot on. sticky despite the dry 1.010FG with a super mellow lingering bitterness. Finishes surprisingly clean for all of the hop and candy flavors. Kelly pointed out that it has pretty fine bubbles, which I agree with and like, although it needs slightly lower carbonation next time.
Overall: I've been drinking this for a few weeks now, and I am pretty happy with the way it turned out. I feel like I pretty much nailed what I set out to brew and could easily tweak this into a real staple IPA.
Strengths: The neutral, slightly sweet malt works perfectly with the moderate OG and nice dry finish. The resinous hop-oils make for an awesome, sticky, medium body that I really want to re-create in every IPA I make. And, the smooth bitterness from the Centennial bittering charge pairs well with the almost candy-sweet hop flavors. I think a rougher bitterness would have been a little harsh next to the otherwise so-fresh-and-so-clean hop flavors and aroma.
Weaknesses: I was looking for something with a bit more of a pine kick. I'm glad I missed the mark, as I think it would have been a bit overwhelming in the mix with so much grassy, citrus, and fruity hop flavors. The carbonation is a bit too high. Just a bit though. Also, it's a touch sweeter than I planned, I think mainly because the super juicy hops add to the perceived sweetness (the malt backbone is quite dry and neutral).
Take-aways for next time: The mouthfeel is PERFECT to my tastes, I just can't get enough of the prickly-spicy hop oils. This hop combo is great, even if it is a bit off of what I was looking for. Next time I'll use it in an even paler beer as it seems to bring it's own sweetness to the table- no need for the extra caramel from the C40L. Switch the oz of Cascade for Columbus, and add an extra oz of Amarillo in lieu of one of the Centennial additions for a touch more floral and a bit less grassy notes.