I “test tasted” nearly my entire little nano-batch of half-matured KickAss IPA and almost exclusively by myself, save for 1 bottle that I gave to a friend for feedback. Not a great strategy for #IPADay, but at least there’s something else in the fermenter…
The colour turned out beautiful and it poured with an impressive head.
Upon closer inspection the head was rocky and not creamy as I had intended. The bubbles were still too big and diminished quite quickly.
I had added oats and wheat malt to the grain bill hoping it would help with this – but unintentionally sabotaged myself. Disappointingly the head was mostly diminishing and it had virtually zero lacing.
I primed for a 3.0 carbonation, which turned out a too fizzy for my liking.
At this time of year I tend to drink my beers without putting them in the fridge first, because the house is cold enough, but apparently it needs to sit at much lower temperatures for a while for the CO2 to absorb nicely into the beer – the house is notthat cold.
I tested this theory and stuck one in the fridge before having it some hours later and it helped somewhat, but it remained fizzy and more than what I was looking for.
It had a pleasant hoppy aroma, but it wasn’t as overt as I had hoped, and the longer it stood the less pronounced it became.
I guess I added the finishing hops too early in the boil (15 minutes from the end) and, of course, the whole dry hopping saga, which I erroneously attempted in the primary fermenter.
Having used a witbier yeast, the aroma had a distinct fruity note, which was actually quite pleasant amidst the hops.
A sip of the first bottle, perhaps a little immature after only 8 days, rolled onto my tongue along with a nice rush of hops flavour, but also a tartness that I found annoying. I hadn’t planned for this, but with the low final gravity, I assumed, it fermented to a dryness beyond what I wanted.
This was less apparent in the subsequent bottles, which I picked off one at a time day after day. With the last one I had yesterday it had mellowed out nicely and was actually not an issue anymore. I had originally intended to mature the beer for a month and it might well have been perfect by then.
It lacked any kind of sweetness, yet it felt good in the mouth with the hops complimenting rather than overpowering the maltiness and the tanginess adding to flavour experience.
The dryness revisited in the finish, but mellowedsubstantiallybetween the first and the last bottles.
It’s a good start for KickAss IPA, but I needs tweaking.
I certainly want to subdue that tart / dry note and add it a little sweetness to the palate. Also a more hops couldn’t hurt. I think I underestimated the quantities as my scale isn’t too accurate with these minute amounts I’m brewing. And then I’ll next try a lower carbonation, something not quite so fizzy.
And lastly, I need to practice my self restrain and leave them to mature properly and refrigerate them long before having them. That’s hard.
Lessons From the Outside
I bemoaned the perceived flaws while sipping craft beers with @myburgher – friend and fellow Ultimate player who brews at Maties. He pegged the issues as related to the 3-step mash process I followed.
The first step required holding the mash at 50C, which was the one thing that caused almost everything I was complaining about.
Lower mashing temps, he explained, converts more of the worts’ sugars to simple sugars, which is what gets digested during the fermentation. This is apparent in the low FG I ended up with.
On the one hand, he said, more simple sugars lead to more fermentable materials and a higher alcohol content, but with all the sugar digested, a dryer beer. Which is fine if you’re aiming for that kind of thing.
However, he explained patiently over the Boston Pumpkin Ale he was nursing, when using fully modified malts (like I probably am), this low temperature can actually destroy the very proteins I was hoping would add body, head retention and lacing to my beer.
Here’s a more detailed explanation of what happens and why atHowToBrew.com.
Having later tasted the sample, he said overall it’s a good beer, but his drinking buddy reckoned it wasn’t bitter enough to be an IPA, but rather reminded him of something like a Duvel triple hop.
He picked up on the witbier nose, but wasn’t sure if it was in the KickAss IPA or in the glass he had had my witbier experiment in. He also added that he didn’t find the dryness to be an issues, and liked it a lot.
And those are the lessons I applied to KickAss v.2 which is in the fermenter as we speak.
Next, I put lips to the wildly experimental witbier which, oddly, I didn’t name.