Saturday, 30 January 2016

It was the worst (of beers) and the best (of beers)

December and January have been nuts, so I'm a little behind on my blogging. Way back in November I brewed what was both the best - and worst - beer of 2015. I very briefly blogged the recipe a few posts ago, but the quick version is that it was a classical American-style IPA, with a touch of bittering hops and then 170 g (6 oz) of hops (1:1 mix of centennial & citra) added in the hop-stand. Fermented with "Brett" trois for 12 days, and then kegged.

My biggest mistake was preparing this beer right-on-time for the keg to be tapped at the same time by brew club began its advent exchange. Having a 29-day series of largely high-alcohol, high-body winter beers does not lend itself well to IPA consumption - meaning that this IPA was consumed far more slowly than it should have been. It started off amazing - best beer of the year. By nearly two months later, when the keg finally kicked, it had faded into something far less desirable.

So how was it (sorry, no pictures)...

Appearance: Extremely cloudy, almost orange in colour. Looked a bit like orange juice. Poured with a course white head that faded pretty quickly into a ring of bubbles around the glass. As anyone whose worked with trois before knows, it simply doesn't flocculate, so clarity only improved slightly as the beer aged.

Aroma: Early on the aroma was 100% tropical fruit; papaya with a touch of mango. It was heavenly, and so intense that the room would fill with the aroma as you poured a glass. This faded fast; a month later it was merely a generic, modest fruitiness, with the clear tropical note completely lost.

Flavour: Early on the flavour matched the aroma - tropical fruit flavours dominated, with a slight malt backbone and modest hop bitterness to hold everything together. If it wasn't for the underlying hop bitterness, this would have been like drinking a glass of papaya & mango juice. Personally, I wish it was a little more bitter in order to balance the fruit "sweetness" from the hops a little better, but just a slight boost in bittering would be needed to achieve that. As with the aroma, the flavour did not age well; within a month the clear tropical flavour note had faded to something almost cider-like, with the added 'bonus' of also tasting "dead" (for lack of a better descriptor). Both the fresh and aged beer had a lingering hop bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Everything an IPA should be - crisp & effervescence, somewhat drying, and with a lingering hop bitterness. The mouthfeel was about the only thing not negatively affected as the beer aged.

Overall: When fresh, this was easily the best beer of the year and one of the better IPA's I've made in a while. After a month this was a piddling IPA at best. In the future this would be a beer to prepare for an event - to ensure it disappears quickly - but it is a beer I would love to re-brew.

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