Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Hella! Tasty

Reviewed 11/22/12

It’s been in bottles for quite a while now, and besides being moved in and out of the fridge a few times to make sure I didn’t get any gushers because of the priming sugar mishap, it’s been a tasty last month and a half. I couldn’t really be much happier with the way this one came out.

Appearance: Pale gold with a chill haze and hop oil filter that clears to crystal clear once it has a chance to sit for a bit. Eggshell white head that settles quickly to a thin 1 finger of lacy cream. Next to Celebration Ale it is quite a few shade lighter but shares quite similar clarity and head. **Very happy with the Nottingham yeast’s flocking capabilities! This is the clear beer I have been looking for.**

Smell: This is a very aromatic beer, not hugely complex, but very satisfying. Pineapple juice and sugar pine sap blast right off the bat with pithy tangerine right behind it. Some peppery spice fades into a subtle bready malt behind the citrus fruit and pine needles. Under it all I’m getting a pretty generic “ale” type smell from the yeast, but all and all it is a very clean fermentation. Next to the Celebration Ale I’m having along side it the nose on Hella! is much bigger, with similar woody notes but quite a bit more “sticky”.

Taste: Piney! More complex than the nose. Simcoe hops that stick to your teeth with more than expected pineapple and passion fruit flavors, some peppery spice, and mushroomy earthiness. Clean, minimally sweet malt doesn’t really show through, but serves as a nice medium for all the hop oils. I think it is the Chinook hops giving the spicy and earthy notes that I could almost call out as celery-like. Bitter and crisp with a great prickly hop oil tingle, and almost cheesey in the background (but not in a bad way). Next to the Celebration it is much less malty and much more pithy… Hella! falls on the steamy/ heady side of things while Celebration has that great alpine briskness.  

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, dry, very bitter, prickly. No boozy heat. Right in line with the Celebration.

Overall: In the dream-land-fantasy-world where I own a bitchin mountain top brewery and spend all my free time on two wheels, this would be my flagship big IPA. Way too hoppy, pale and bitter with a hop aroma and flavor to just plain overwhelm all else with pine, tropical fruit, and spice. The Nottingham yeast is a keeper, but next time I’m going to go a bit bigger on the sulfate treatment for some extra bitterness, and go 2:1:1 Simcoe:Chinook:Citra to step up the complexity in the nose a touch.

EDIT: After drinking this to the end, I think I may just go 1:1 Chinook:Citra and save the Simcoe for a single-hop beer. The Simcoe is so overpowering, I'd like to see some more of the wood from the Chinook and the melon from the Citra... plus Simcoes are still my favorites and I kinda want to make a beer that shows them off as the solo act.

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