Sorry long post here. Ive been needing to update these for a while. Hope somebody will get something from this. Both kegs are about to kick. Most of these were consumed back in May when my brothers were here.
Chicago Spring IPA
This finished at 1.011. Not the greatest pic but it was a nice orange-amber color as you can see. Really big resinous hop character with a the mild but noticeable malt backbone you would expect from that grist. Really nice IPA that was easy to have a second or more of. I really liked the blend of the hops in this one and you could really pick out what each one was bringing to the beer. The star of this one was the El Dorado hops. They give a decided fruity-candy like note to the finish of the beer that I really like. The one thing I would change about this beer would be to make it finish less dry. I know thats not usually what we say about our IPAs but this one had a finish that was almost too dry at times and I think it would have been nicer to have this beer finish with a tiny bit more richness to go with the bright, juicy, and fruity hop character of the El Dorado better. I could mash hotter, drop the IBUs or drop the sulfate level which for this beer was 218ppm. I think dropping the sulfate level is what I would try first as 1.011 is a typical FG for IPA here and I'm usually happy with that. I dunno, anyone else ever have an IPA they wished was a little less dry?
Also finished at 1.011. There aren't enough superlatives to describe this beer so I'll just say this... This beer is among the best IPAs I have had black or otherwise, home-brewed or commercial. Black IPA, for me, usually seems to miss the mark. I have had a few good ones but they are often too roasty and/or loaded with too dank a hop character. These two things clash IMO. This one is jet black, and even on these last few pints still has a massive in your face hop nose. The typical rye character is modest/not too strong. The rye certainly helped to give the beer a med-full body that, coupled with the lower carbonation I gave it (~ 2.0 vol, maybe a little more), results in a very creamy smooth and rich mouthful of deliciousness. The light tan head on this beer is thick and creamy and as sticky as any beer I can remember. The hop character is massive and complex resinous citrus-fruitiness typical of Amarillo and Citra. The roast character is present but subdued, mostly some low level chocolate notes and zero harsh or astringent character, just as you would expect from MW and Carafa Sp. III.
FWIW I mashed this beer a little differently. Here is what I did. I mashed just the Rahr PA malt and the rye malt for 90min. at a pH of 5.5. I targeted the higher end of the mash pH range as it is said to reduce astringent or biting roast flavors/smooths harshness of the dark grains. Then I added the two roasted malts and the crystal rye for just the last 15min. of that 90 min mash. Again just trying to get color from them and not a lot of flavor. Final mash pH/pre-boil pH was 5.4. It worked.
If I were to change anything next time around it would be only one thing. I might try dropping the MW and Carafa Sp. III back to 8oz. each. Not because the beer was too roasty, not by any means, but I have a feeling I just didn't need 9oz each to get the jet black color. Also I would wait until cooler months to re-brew it. It's getting to warm now for this beer.
Edited by ettels4, 12 June 2014 - 06:36 AM.