American IPA, 3 hops, 2 yeasts, 1 wort — tasting

The recipe for this beer is here.

I had a chance to try the IPA’s side by side.  A note before we begin.  I am still working on my mashing process with the HERMs system I built, and yeah, well, I must have screwed it up.  I ended up with a very dextrinous wort.  The finishing gravity on both was 1.025.  Yeah, bummer.  Unfortunately, this has left me with a heavier beer then I intended.  I chalk this up to learning a new process, but I was still miffed it ended this way.  I guess this just means I will have to try again in the future!  The biggest problem is, I don’t really like sweet and heavy with my IPA’s.  I prefer drier beers generally, but particularly in the IPA, which is supposed to highlight the hop.  I have a hard time doing that with too much malt.  Also, I wanted to see how much hop character I could get without dryhopping this beer.  Dryhopping, what used to be a rarity less then 10 years ago, seems to be the norm now.  I now drink a pale ale or an IPA, and if I don’t get smacked in the face with hops, it seems off.  So, this was a bit of a challenge to see how much hops I could get just from kettle additions.

Tasting Notes

WLP 028

Appearance: hazy golden color, well carbonated, hangs on

Aroma: Spicy, herbal hop, some pine and apple

Taste: sweet full maltiness at first, immediately followed by a strong bitterness.  Some apple and some darker fruit esters.   Beer is more hop forward, but there is a malty note in the aftertaste to balance the hops

Mouthfeel:  Full body to the beer, but the hops give a drying sensation on the cheeks.

Wyeast 1056

Appearance:  Hazy golden color, about 2 fingers on the head, dropped a bit faster.  Not as carbonated as WLP 028

Aroma:  citrus, floral, spicy hops.  some malt

Taste:  touch of malt, but quickly moves to a very bitter taste from the hops.  No esters noted.  Hops pop out, and it lends to a fairly dry finish.  The hops outlast the malt on the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel:  Medium body, prickly on the tongue.

Critique:  Wow, what a difference the yeast makes.  What impressed me most was the difference in how the hop and malt were balanced.  I felt the WLP028 gave a more balanced beer.  The malt profile was there, but so were the hops.  You also get more esters from it, it is not as clean as the 1056.  However, even though the final gravity was the same in both, it tasted sweeter and fuller, more in keeping with what I would expect from a 1.025 FG beer.  The 1056 has a way of hiding that sweetness.  It accentuates the hops much more, and the citrus note really popped on this beer, where I got more of the pine and herbal notes on the 028.  I would be curious to see which I liked more if I had not mashed too hot.  The hops pop much more on the tongue with the 1056.  It is definitely very clean, I did not get really any esters at all.  However, I am worried the 1056 may actually have made the beer seem too thin, without enough malt to hold up to the hops.  Only way to know would be to retry.  In the end, I concede 1056 is the yeast for the hophead.  They just jump out at you with this yeast, and it gets out of the way to let the other ingredients do their thing.  However, the WLP028 had a nice hop aroma and taste, not as bright, but it definitely was more balanced with the malt.  I can see this being a great yeast where you want more malt expression, but it still plays well with the hops.

As far as the hops go, I liked this blend.  Very “American” but it gives a wide range of hop flavors and aroma that work well with each other.  I will likely play with it a bit, I would like more of a citrus presence, but I think this is a solid starting point for a very classic American hop signature.  There is lots of hops on the nose and on the tongue, but you miss that brightness you get from dryhopping.

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