Tuesday, March 01, 2005

IPA in the Keg and a brewing relationship diatribe.

Googol Grapes and Barley Bytes

I should give some background on this batch since it was brewed PB (Pre Blog).

This is a variation of my typical Pale Ale, but I decided to get back to its roots. When I first started regularly brewing IPAs, the target was Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. But, our paths have diverged. When Sierra first came out, it had an incredibly fruity nose. The dry hopped Cascades were predominant. But over the years, they have toned down the nose and made a more mainstream hop experience. Also, the bitter component has stayed very close to the original but there seems to be more of an acidic component, even citrus. The best that I can describe it is a characteristic of a ripe, Coachella Valley, Ruby Red Grapefruit.

Now, before you tune out right there, if you have never had a Ruby Red grapefruit, fresh from the tree in the Coachella Valley, you need to. They are Sweet and succulent and not the mouth wrenching think that you have probably been told was a grapefruit by ignorant, but well meaning, grocers.

But, I digress. This flavor in Sierra Nevada has worked very well. And the citrus aspect has seemed to make up for the drop in the cascade hops contribution.

My IPA on the other hand has changed a bit over the years, and probably because of my lack of quality brewing time and overall apathy on my part. My IPA has evolved to more of a utilitarian brew. Moving to a blend of only pale and crystal malt instead of the original blend of 3 types of fermentable malts plus crystal. Instead of a fairly complex mash schedule with a lot of attention paid to each enzymatic conversion, I have a single mash-in/conversion temp that I hold for the entire mash. Instead of Pellet bittering hops added at 3 different stages and then dry hopping with cascade, I have only a bittering hop addition just after the boil and aromatic hops right at the end.

You might say that my brewing had become the equivalent as a comfortable relationship. Going through the motions, enjoying the fringe benefits, but not really emotionally invested in the whole thing. Well. That is over. Time to add some spice back into the zymurgy relationship. Time to get back to our roots.

With that in mind, this batch starts to be more like the original. Not a complete schedule of mash conversions, but I did go back to separate mash-in/protein rest, conversion, and mash-out temperature phases. And the biggest change to my regular routine, I have gone back to a dry hopping of the cascade. And, stead of cascade pellets, I used whole cascade hops and just the bittering hops as pellets.

When I racked from the primary to the secondary, the floral character was incredible. Going from the secondary to the keg was not as pronounced, but still very aromatic. I am looking forward to seeing what type of character is left after a couple weeks of aging.

I will let you all know.



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