Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Review: Identity Crisis

My view on Black IPA is not a secret... it is not a hoppy stout, it is exactly what the name says... an IPA that is black in color, that's it!  No charcoal, no rich chocolate, no heavy roast, no smoke, no ash, just pure IPA with a mild dark character that is barely noticeable.  If you drink it blind, you would never know that the beer was black.  And that is what I brewed, spot on.

Pours a dark black with ruby hints, off white head that hits thick  and stays to the end, super sticky with great lacing all the way through.

Smells like blueberries.  Touch of spice, pine cones, resiny hops, light chocolate, grapefruit, mild fruitiness.  The hops are big and bold, but I would still like them to present a lot more (like the regular IPA).  Touch of malt in the background.

Pine and resin lead the flavor, followed by a hint of mildly smooth char.  Biscuity, mild fruits, light grapefruit.  Mild malt presence in the back, hops lead through to the end.

Medium body gives way to a dry, bitter, but not bracingly, finish.  Great balance.

Too drinkable.  Heavy hops on the resin and pine side with a touch of fruitiness.  Balanced bitterness.  Hit almost exactly where I wanted it to.  Light malt, mild dark malt, heavy on the hops in pine and resin, with a touch of fruit.  The hop aroma is a tad light for the amount of hops and level of dry hopping on this beer; its very noticeable, but I would like it to have a little more hop pop.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

CO2 Forced Racking

Oxygen impacts both the flavor and stability of beer in many ways.  Small amounts of oxygen over extended periods of aging in big beers can impart lovely Sherry and dark fruit notes in beers like Barley Wines, Dopplebocks, and Scotch Ales, while Imperial Stouts can take on the flavor and aroma of soy sauce.   Small amounts of oxygen in sours can lead to the growth of acetic acid bacteria, while too much oxygen will turn the beer to vinegar.  If you've ever had a gathering at your home that included beer consumption and left the mess for the next morning, you know the smell of oxidized beer, a beer that has been exposed to way too much oxygen, the smell of wet cardboard.  Aside from aroma and flavor degridation, too much oxygen in the brewing process can lead to an unstable product that might taste good (not great) fresh, but quickly decline after packaging.  One of the fastest beers to decline from too much oxygen is an IPA; known for it's beautiful aromatics, oxygen exposure with hops make them dull quickly, this is the reason why so many homebrewers want kegs for at least their IPAs.

Friday, February 8, 2013

First Pour

First pour of my newly kegged IPA.  A little yeasty and foamy, but tastes great, big tropical fruits, pine, resin, medium dry finish, medium mouthfeel, lingering bitterness.

Recipes: Identity Crisis II (Black IPA) & 2nd Place - Homie's Hop Sock (IPA)

Every so often (more often then I would like to admit) I get an itch, an IPA itch.  Nothing can scratch this itch except a hop bomb.  Unfortunately many of the commercial IPAs I have been buying just don't cut it, some are just old (one hop bomb was simply caramel in the nose and flavor).  I even got a Black IPA from a local brewery that was brewed and kegged only days before I got my growler fill, and it just didn't work.  I haven't brewed an IPA in a long time, my 3 Fresh Hop beers were great but just didn't have the hop punch I was hoping for, and the Gumballhead Clone I brewed was quite hoppy but the 1/2 gallon of StarSan impacted the final pH making the finish on the beer difficult to drink.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Mash Tun Ball Valve Bulkhead Build

When I first went all grain, I built the traditional cooler mash tun with SS water hose braid.  I used the set up that Denny Conn uses (rubber bung, nylon valve, vinyl tubing) which seemed a good fit since we are in the same brew club, and he was very helpful in answering my questions via email on how to build it.  It worked great for the past 2 years with few exceptions.  The biggest issue I have with it is that, with my set up, I have to run it off into my kettle on the ground, then move the kettle to the burner.  As I have increased my volumes, this aspect proves very difficult and dangerous.  At the end of each brew day, my back hurts quite a bit.  With my new pump, I can let the machine move the wort to the kettle that is already atop my burner awaiting my fresh wort, only problem is that my nylon valve and vinyl tubing won't work with my pump.  To remedy this, I decided to remove the old set up and install a ball valve with camlock fitting.  I priced many of the SS versions that sell at the homebrew shops, and just couldn't justify the extra cost to have SS, so I pieced it together myself for under $20 (bulkhead and ball valve only - cooler, camlock, copper tubing, SS braid are all extra costs).