Thursday, August 16, 2012

Sunny Side IPA Tasting

Reviewed 8/5/12

Oh boy! This beer is a great success in terms of drinkability and sheer enjoyment factor. Even though it is a bit off of the mark on some of the particular features I was going for, it is basically just what I set out to brew.  

A rad tropical and floral hop nose, hop saturated and wheaty mid-sip with a nice flash of thirst-quenching sweetness before a dry finish with super smooth but substantial bitterness (although it finished so dry that it doesn’t take many IBUs to balance).

Alright, so on to the tasting notes. I’m very pleased.

Appearance: Hazy honey hue with a very creamy 2 finger head and vigorous carbonation. The head is epic, but I find the beer to be otherwise pretty ugly.

Smell: Huge and sweet floral aroma of cantaloupe, passion fruit, pineapple, and orange peel that you can smell from 3 feet away. More pine than I expected and some black pepper spice in the back. I’ll say it again for emphasis: Floral, cantaloupe, passion fruit, pineapple, and orange peel.  A hint of honey sweetness from the malt but otherwise it is a hop-only nose.

Taste: Follows the nose with big hop flavors that flow from citrus to melon to pine to pepper. The malt is vaguely cracker-like with that doughy wheat thing and dominant honey-sweetness mid sip. It finishes dry with a soft lingering bitterness that tingles with the pepper notes.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with foamy carbonation. Really great for what a mouthful it is. Amazingly clean finishing for all the aromas and flavors leading up to it.

Overall: Great Summer IPA. Sessiony as hell balance and a bitchin play between the sweetness and hop bouquet.

Take aways for next time: The Citra, Amarillo, and Centennial combo makes for a great bouquet that is amazingly sweet-smelling  up front but has more pine in the mix than I expected… I reckon next summer I’ll switch the Centennial with some, Wakatu hops for more floral/lime notes and less pine (maybe I’ll just do all Amarillo and Citra?... Pacifica, NZ Hallartau, or Rakau are on the radar too). The grain bill worked well, but I plan on totally re-thinking it for the next Summer IPA. The Golden Promise worked fine as base, but I want to do pilsner malt as the base next time as I really love the ultra neutral, waxy-sweet-yet-dry foundation it lays down in my favorite Pilsners. The wheat was a great choice as a character builder, I love the doughy impression it gives summer beers so it will make it into the next beer in equal or greater quantities. The Carapils was totally unnecessary in this beer. The wheat did the job just fine, and since I want my next Summer IPA to be a touch smaller it has no place adding more body. The Honey malt is crazy! It is SUPER sweet, but since it provides so much sweetness in such small quantities it allows the beer to stay very dry… useful for later beers but it is a bit too “warm” tasting and I plan on switching to Carmel 15 for the next Summer IPA. Also, this one came out much darker than I wanted which is again something that will be easily remedied by the planned revisions to the grain bill. The hop quantities were great, although next time I’m going to do one more oz in the DH (I’m saving a more focused, cleaner hop profile for my Winter IPA). The water treatment worked perfectly as did the neutral yeast.

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