Sunday, May 30, 2010

SR4: Dialing it in (hopefully)

The new batch is started and hopefully it will be a lot like the old batch.
SR3, my unnamed original IPA, turned out really well. But there were a few things that I wanted to tweak: the hop flavor, the aroma and color. It was nearly there, but just not quite.

That said, I took SR3 to my first DC Homebrewers meeting last week and it went over well. I've been interested in joining the group for a while, but because I decided to start homebrewing as soon as the baby came along, I haven't had any extra time for it. It worked out, though, because I was able to bring my own recipe to the first meeting and compare it to what the other homebrewers produced. It stood up.
There were a variety of styles at the meeting, from double IPAs, to kolsch beers, to ESBs and Scottish ales (really, not a stinker in the bunch), but I was surprised to find that I was the only person to bring an IPA, easily the most popular style in the craft beer community. I was also surprised to run into Mike Roy, the brewer from Franklin's, and Tammy Tuck, a beer writer for the City Paper, both of whom were at my house for a beer tasting three days earlier. Small world.
If all goes well, SR4 will be a little better than its predecessor. Admittedly, I could've decided SR3 was good enough -- it does have a real nice hop flavor, a good aroma, the proper amount of bitterness and the alcohol content I was going for -- but I picked up some advice on Beer School: in order to make a beer right, you have to make it over and over again.
What a lot of homebrewers do is make a beer, decide it's good or bad and then move on to something else. On the one hand, there's nothing wrong with that. It is all for fun, after all. On the other hand, if you want to create a special beer, or at least get a beer just right, you have to work at it. And that means tinkering with the recipe over the course of a few batches. I think I might have this IPA dialed in with this batch, but I won't know for sure for another six weeks.

So for this recipe, I added another ounce of Simcoe hops at the end of the boil, used a crystal malt with a lighter toast and dumped in another two ounces of whole Cascade hops for dry hopping. I'll also leave the whole hops in for the full two week fermentation, rather than pull them out after a week. I thought dry hopping with an ounce of whole hops was a lot last time, but it was a damn hop salad in that bucket tonight. This should be one hop stinky beer.
You know, that's not a bad name.

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