Friday, May 2, 2014

#38 - American Rye

With the warm weather finally setting in here in the Mid-Atlantic I've turned my mind towards warm weather, quaffable beers and this low alcohol, hoppy, American style beer using both wheat and rye seems as summery as I'm going to get.  The goal here is to have a highly hop flavored, but only lightly bitter, light beer that can quench my thirst through the next few months as the area turns from a beautiful, cherry blossom filled oasis to an unbearably hot and humid swamp.

While the recipe has been changed a number of times some of the main ideas were to use wheat and rye and to retry Citra after less than stellar results a few years back.  The final iteration also uses the experimental HBC342 hop varietal and a little Palisade. Rubbing and smelling each hop separately is an eye opening experience, especially considering their somewhat similar descriptors.  HBC342 has a strong damp, decaying leaves, earthy, woody, canteloupe, black pepper and black currant smell that reminds me of Styrian Goldings more than any American hops.  Citra has a strong fruit salad smell with mango being the most obvious component with pineapple, guava, papaya, grapefruit and aggressive, bitter citrus peel all in the mix as well.  Palisade, as displayed in my Belgian American Pale Ale, is floral and perfumey with light apple, pear and cedar notes in the rubbed smell.  Some of the reports I have read of HBC342 have stated that the aroma doesn't come through very strongly, also a common complaint with Palisade, which might make them more backing parts to the Citra.

The brewday went long due to having to run errands in the middle, single infusion mash began at 150 and lasted nearly 2 hours falling to 144 before mashing out at 168 and batch sparging at 175.  Hour long boil was mostly quiet since I only added all the hops at the same time that I cut the temperature.  With this many hops and the amount of alpha acids pulled during the post boil not super accurate it should be interesting to see just how bitter (or not) this one turns out.  OG is just 1.040...once again well below my already low projections.  (Note: reviewing the recipe again I see this isn't as far below as I had originally thought but is still only about 60%).  In this case I'm almost certain it is due to the milling since all the grains, and the rye and malted wheat especially, seemed to have a large number of unthreshed pieces.  This might be the batch that finally prompts me to buy a mill.

Popped one open to test. Very flat and cloudy with a heavy citrus and moderate bitterness but not a lot of hop flavor on the tongue. Hopefully the carbonation kicks in and brings this beer more together.  As it currently stands, it looks and tastes quite a bit like grapefruit juice.

Tasting notes.  Still very cloudy with high drinkability but nothing too exciting in the flavor and something seems a touch off other than just the appearance.

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