Here’s a vivid way to show the many flavors of beer you can create from a single mash.
A month ago, Lara and I brewed a young beer to blend with our homebrew club’s Flemish red ale. Rather than stop there, we brewed a double batch. We treated half as the young Flemish red and half as this brassy, resinous red IPA.
Lord, what different beers we ended up with. With the red IPA, I wanted a beer heavy on resin and pungent forest floor flavors that bordered on scallions and garlic, figuring this malt bill would stand up to such a potent hop burst. More than anything, though, I just wanted to drink a lot of Chinook.
I smell all three hops: the rough spice of Chinook, the oniony bite of Summit, and the bright grapefruit of Centennial. If you like this combination, it’s a beautiful thing. There’s plenty of malt underpinning the potency, though---hints of plum and raising from Special B and bready, nutty aromatic malt.
Ruddy with a slight haze. It’s deep ruby with caramel notes. A single-finger head of white foam that sticks well to the glass.
Summit leads right now. Plenty of herbal spiciness with that expected scallion note. But just beneath that is that classic Chinook resin-and-dirt thing that I love blended with a background note of Centennial. There’s residual sweetness from the malt bill---again, raisin, bread, and maybe some toffee---but it works well with this hop combination. Yes, the malt masks some of the pure hop flavor, but that was by design here. I wonder whether these three hops in a pale, specialty malt-devoid IPA would taste like a rusty razor blade across the tongue.
Adequate carbonation. Just prickly enough to be lively without giving much of a carbonic acid bite. Plenty of body given the complexity of the malt bill, but rather than irritating me the way it would in a standard IPA, it’s rather pleasant, a fullness that complements the hops because I went into this tasting expecting a malty, spicy IPA.
A pleasant success. This is just the sort of thing I want from our double brew days, when we’re brewing with a purpose and double up on the mash to see what sort of outlier we can create from the other half of the wort. There’s plenty of room for experimentation, though. I’d love a stronger hop aroma. What if we dropped Summit for Bravo? What if we dropped the Belgian-style specialty malt in favor of Caramunich, Munich, and Crystal 60? We won’t be brewing a Flanders red ale again terribly soon, so I imagine grist changes will happen next time we tackle this beer. For now, though, I’m going to drink the hell out of this keg.