Friday, August 12, 2011

Session Belgian IPA

I brewed this beer in honor of my father's birthday and styled it largely after one of his favorites: Flying Dog's Raging Bitch.  As my father is (quite) a lightweight but also enjoys to have a few beers regardless of strength I wanted to knock down the ABV on this from the normal belgian IPA strength and, due to the decrease in OG, also knocked down the BU's somewhat.

Appearance - A very clear amber with a bit of a reddish tint that almost appears violet.  A small head of about one finger fades quickly into a thin white film. Pretty good in terms of looks, wasn't going for anything in particular in this category but it seems to be my clearest beer so far.

Smell - Wow, right up front there is a ton of fruit. Some is yeast derived ( cherries, plums, apricots) and a lot is from the American hops (orange) with a bit of sweet candy malt also present.  When I first tasted this prior to carbonation I feared the dry hopping and overall hop presence may have entirely outshined the yeast, the aroma now seems to favor more towards the Belgian side than the hops.

Taste- Like the aroma the hop taste seems to have faded very quickly.  Part of the problem is the under attenuation and residual sugars which I blame likely being due to the extract.  This puts the beer far from the level of bitterness desired and adds sugars which detract from the hoppiness all around.  That said the belgian yeast components do come through with a bit of fruit and spice and the hops make their presence with the nugget definitely apparent.  A bit of bitterness at the very end alludes to the 40 IBU's estimated.

Mouthfeel - Fairly full bodied, again likely due to underattenuation, but also highly carbonated.  The carbonation does allow the bitterness and hops to coat the mouth somewhat but again the residual sugars shine a bit more than I would have hoped for.

Drinkability/Overall - This beer met some expectations (my dad does seem to enjoy it) but it did not work quite right. I blame the low attenuation (about 72%) on low fermenting temperatures (around 68) and extract which is generally not mashed at low temps.  While I do enjoy this beer quite a bit and love where the aroma is I think more flavor hop additions should have been used, and with this high amount of residual sugars a bit more bittering as well.  One of the most important things about this beer to me is how much better it got as it warmed, I pulled it straight from the fridge and everything was much stronger and simply better by the end.  I'm not a huge hophead but this is definitely one I will make again.

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