Sunday, February 19, 2012

Belgian IPA Tasting

Brewed this beer on the New Year's day and it has been dry hopping in the keg for three weeks now, with seven ounces of simcoe and citra hops. I was a little worried the dry hop character would turn grassy with all the hops, but so far the aroma and flavor is very clean. Just a ton of hop flavor and aroma. Now, I'm not normally a big hop head, though I do find it easier to appreciate hoppy beers when you don't have a lot of bitterness and alcohol character. I intended this beer to a be a mix of the two, a big beer with lots of hop aroma and flavor, but without all the bitterness. I'll be giving a few growlers of this beer away as a belated Christmas gift for some hop-head friends.
New pint glass

Hoppy Belgian : Belgian "IPA"        

Appearance - Pours a light gold and straw color with a nice two fingered head and good retention. I was hoping for a little hazier color, more like a white IPA, though I am happy how it looks now. I used 8% wheat malt in the recipe, though I could up this closer to 25% next time if I wanted it a bit more opaque.

Aroma - Right out of the tap, the aroma on this beer is a wall of tropical and piney hops. While it was dry hopped with equal amounts of simcoe and citra hops, the simcoe has taken somewhat of a back seat to the intensely tropical citra character. Lots of mango, pineapple, and peach aroma up front with some piney undertones.The malt character is pretty well hidden from the hops and the overall hop character is nice and clean. No grassy aromas and not much in the way of esters. 

Taste - Again, mostly hops. The citra hops have an intensely tropical mango-peach flavor that slowly fades to some resiny and piney, simcoe character. I've heard some people say that citra can give a strong peach-ice tea type of flavor when used in large amounts and I can see why. The peach character is noticeable, though it melds so well with the other fruity flavors that I don't find it disagreeable at all. As the beer warms up, the malt and yeast flavor becomes noticeable with a sweet, neutral malt and that characteristically spicy, Ardennes yeast character. The bitterness is a lot lower than I expected, some bitterness on the swallow but not much otherwise. The beer finishes very clean and dry. No astringency or grassy flavors. 

Mouthfeel - Carbonation is probably lower than most would care for, as I have it on the same regulator as my English beers, though the mouthfeel is medium and pleasant. If the beer were highly effervescent, I suspect it might be a bit thin due to the very low finishing gravity. As it sits now, I wouldn't change it.
Drinkability & Notes - Overall, I'm very happy with this one. I've been moving more towards American style beers with high hop aroma and flavor, rather than bitterness, and this one hit the nail on the head. Very easy to drink and extremely flavorful. Definitely one for the hop heads, though without the puckering bitterness that can turn some people away. However, I would have liked this beer to have a stronger bitterness, as it would have helped balance the hops a bit better. As of now, this beer is just loads and loads of hop flavor and aroma. Not a bad thing, though I couldn't call it an IPA. Moreover, at 7.8% ABV this beer is way too easy to drink. The Ardennes yeast took the O.G of 1.064 all the way down to 1.004! Two pints of this and everything suddenly gets a bit more sleepy. In closing, this beer has the hop aroma and flavor of a good IIPA with the drinkability of a session pale ale. A dangerous combination. Definitely a re-brew, but with more bitterness.

O.G: 1.064, F.G: 1.004, 7.8% ABV, 60 IBU, Wyeast 3522 Belgian Ardennes


  1. I was reading (or was it listening to) something that indicated it would not be unreasonable to re-use hops that were used for dry hopping in a subsequent brew as bittering hops, since so little to none of the bittering quality of the hops are used when dry hopping. Ever try that?

    1. I heard reusing hops in historical beers, though I never thought of recycling the dry hops. Considering I used so much citra and simcoe in this one, I might have to give this a try. Maybe do a little session APA or something.


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