Sunday, 4 May 2014

Tasting Notes: Black Mamba Rye IPA

A pint of Black Mamba
The Black Mamba IPA has been brewed, carbed and is already at its prime. This black IPA was formulated to highlight the last of last summers home-grown Cascade hops. I am very, very happy with this beer; it is one of the better IPAs that I've put together lately, with the debittered dark malt and rye adding a wonderful accent to the beer.

Appearance: Dark, dark and dark. Pours with a fluffy white head that dissipates over a few minutes.

Aroma: Cascade dominates the aroma. I'm not sure if its the beer's formulation, or because the hops were home grown, but the dank aspect of the hops comes through much more than the citrus/grapefruit character.

Flavour: Cascade plus hop bitterness is in the fore - a grapefruit & resinous hop flavor dominates, balanced with a smooth but strong hop bitterness (the smoothness, I think, is due to the use of first wort hopping). The dark malts and rye are in the background, but are noticeable and create an interesting mix or rye crispness and chocolate flavours. The use of dehusked Carafa Special II creates a unique flavour profile - roast notes, chocolate-like in nature, but without the astringency that normally comes along with the use of classical dark malts. This beer used the legendary Conan yeast, and while the yeast worked well with the beer none of the notes I was expecting are apparent - perhaps they ended up buried behind the strong hop schedule and rye/roasted malt character. That's not to say the yeast have detracted from the beer, but rather that the yeast character I was expecting is somewhat subdued.  The after taste is a mostly hop bitterness plus a lingering dank/citrus flavour from the hops.

Mouthfeel: Light in body, like an IPA should be, and effervescent. Crisp & refreshing; no drying astringency or any other detractors. If this wasn't 7% alcohol it would be a great session beer.

Overall: A fantastic beer which is a real pleasure to drink. Black IPAs may just have become one of my favourite beer styles...

4 comments:

  1. I recall John Kimmich saying that first generation Conan isn't as exciting as later generations (2-10) in the aroma department. The one beer I made with Conan had a massive hop aroma but no peachy/fruity character, but did certainly have that awesome mouthfeel. I'll test Conan in a second-generation ferment soon.

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    1. What do they mean by "generations"? Repeat pitchings? That's a bit of PITA, if that's the case. Next time I may try a warmer fermentation temp; this on was on the cool-side (17-18C).

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    2. Bryan, does all yeast from the bank effectively start from fresh from 1st generation? I kind of figured that whatever generation got banked was the generation that withdrawals would be picking up from (e.g. if an 8th generation yeast was banked, all subsequent withdrawals would be starting from the 8th generation). I really don't know the mechanics of banking like this, though...

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    3. Bryan,

      I meant generations in terms of beer fermentations, yes. Maybe try fermenting around 20 next time - people seem to report more of the apricot and peach esters at higher temps.

      John - that's an interesting point. There's certainly a lot up in the air when it comes to handling of beer yeast at lab scale, I feel. Generation numbers could account for the slight differences between the various commercially available Conan isolates (Easy Coast Yeast, GigaYeast, etc) that homebrewers have reported.

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