Thursday, July 5, 2012

American Pale Ale Tasting

Considering the number of breweries that have an American pale ale as part of their brewing portfolio, it is no surprise that there are so many different types of APA's being brewed today. Traveling across the country, it would seem like every brewery has their own take on the style; be it the English inspired, malt rich APA's of the East Coast or the hop bombs so found in Colorado and along the West Coast. While I've never entered an APA in a BJCP competition, I've always wondered how judges come to a decision on what type of APA is considered "best to style," given the number of variations homebrewers come up with. Looking back through the past NHC winning recipes for APA's, there is a whole mix of malty and hoppy recipes. Some use the typically citrusy - IPA standby- varieties, while others go for an earthier and maltier approach using fuggles/willamette. Personally, if I am drinking an APA, I want to taste and smell citrusy American hops. Leave the fuggles and dark crystal malts for your amber ales and ESB's. However, there seems to be a trend in recent years to turn APA's into miniture IPA's, with huge hop flavor and minimal malt character.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Levi's Pale Ale : American Pale Ale  
Appearance - Pours a very clear, light copper and orange color with a fluffy two finger head with good retention.                                                                                                  
Aroma - First impression is of tropical, citrusy hops and clean maltiness. The hop character is quite strong and similar to that of an IPA, with some floral grapefruit dry hop aroma. Not grassy.

Taste - Strong citrusy hops followed by a very clean malt character. The focus of the beer is squarely on the hops and while it is hard to pick out the individual hop varieties, there is a definite mango-grapefruit-pine flavor going on. Esters are very low to none and the bitterness is firm, but unobtrusive. The beer has some nice complexity, be it from the malt or the yeast. 

Mouthfeel - Carbonation is a tad higher than the 1.2-2.0 volumes I am accustomed to, but not fizzy by any means. Mouthfeel is medium and about right for the beer. 

Drinkability & Notes - Honestly, probably the best version of my Levi's Pale Ale that I've brewed yet. The hop character is spot on for what I like in an APA... lots of hop flavor and aroma with a nice malt backbone that makes for easy drinking. I actually left out the amber malt (at the last minute) and I think I will brew this recipe from now on without it. The golden promise adds a really nice malt character to the beer and the hops have a nice mix of tropical-floral citrus and pine. When the beer was young (1-2 weeks in the keg) the hop aroma was very strong, though a month+ in the keg has settled it down to a level more to my liking. Again, I am very happy with the wy1332 yeast when fermented cold.

O.G: 1.058, F.G: 1.012, 6.0% ABV, 57 IBU, Wyeast 1332 Northwest Ale


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