Monday, October 21, 2013

Black IPA Tasting

Admittedly, I am not much of a fan of most commercial black IPAs, or whatever you want to call the style. There is just something about mixing strong pine and citrus character with your typical stout-like roast and chocolate flavors that does not go well together. Often times, BIPA's come across as an overly hoppy American stout or devolves into a train wreck of clashing hops and malts. Nine times out of ten, I'd rather drink something else. With that said, a few breweries do make good examples of the styles, one of which being Wookie Jack, a beer I will gladly drink whenever I can find it on tap.

Regardless, back in early August I had some Wookie at one my locals and figured such a beer would be a nice thing to have on tap when the weather got cold and miserable. With that in mind, I brewed what I think is a pretty good approximation of the real stuff. The recipe I used is close to the real thing, using a sizable amount of rye malt, with smaller portions of cara-rye, carafa, and roasted wheat malts. For hopping, as I had a bunch of odds and ends that I wanted to use up, I went with an unusual mix of varieties, including Columbus, Mt. Hood, Centennial, and Simcoe. After a month+ in the keg, this beer has really turned into something nice.

Wookie II: American Black Ale
Recipe Specifics:
Batch Size (Gal): 4.50
Total Grain (Lbs): 12.05
Anticipated OG: 1.068
Anticipated FG: 1.010
Anticipated SRM: 31
Anticipated IBU: 70
Efficiency: 70%
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

74.7% - 9.00 lbs. Pale Malt, 2-Row
16.6% - 2.00 lbs. Rye Malt
2.9%   - 0.35 lbs. Cara-Rye
2.9%   - 0.35 lbs. DeBittered Black
2.9%   - 0.35 lbs. Midnight Wheat

0.50 oz. Columbus @ 60 min for 38 IBU
1.00 oz. Mt. Hood @ 20 min for 14 IBU
1.00 oz. Columbus @ 10 min for 18 IBU
1.00 oz. Simcoe @ flameout
1.00 oz. Mt. Hood @ flameout
1.00 oz. Centennial @ flameout
1.00 oz. Columbus @ dry-hop 7 days
1.00 oz. Centennial @ dry-hop 7 days 
1.00 oz. Mt. Hood @ dry-hop 7 days

Yeast: Wyeast 1764 Pacman
Mash 154F for 60 min
Brewed on 13 August

Tasting Notes:

Wookie II: American Black Ale

Appearance - Pours an opaque, ruby tinted black color with a moderate tan head that has good retention.

Aroma -  Aroma on this one jumps out of the glass; a pleasant mix of grapefruity citrus, pine, and lightly-dank hops with a clean and neutral chocolaty malt character.

Taste - Hops lead the way with strong citrus/grapefruit-piney-dank flavor, followed by a spicy and smooth rye malt character. Besides the rye, the malt profile is quite neutral, with very little dark malt. Some chocolate, but that's about it. Bitterness is high and the beer goes down smooth, clean and crisp. Again, Pacman yeast does a fantastic job in dark beers.

Mouthfeel - Carbonation is medium-low and the beer has a smooth and creamy mouthfeel.

Drinkability & Notes - While I can't say this would pass for a Wookie clone, due to the hops, the malt profile is quite similar and the restrained roastiness keeps the flavors from clashing. With that said, I am not completely happy with my choice of hopping; using Mt. Hood was sort of a throw-away choice, since it is much too neutral to impart any character as a mix and while I do like the citrusy-dank contribution that Columbus makes, it seemed to overwhelm everything else when the beer was young. Overall, this is by far the best Black IPA I've brewed and one well worth re-brewing... although without Mt. Hood and the Columbus dry-hop.

7.6% ABV.


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