This is how you drown your witbier sorrows.
Our chamomile pale ale, the last in a trio of flower-forward beers we brewed this summer, is easily the most successful of the three. The rosewater saison was nice, if a little touched by sharp fusel alcohol and overburdened by the rosewater addition, and the lavender witbier suffered from heavyhanded spicing with both lavender and coriander. (We call the witbier Hot Ham Water, if that gives you an idea where that one stands in the farmhouse.)
The chamomile pale ale, however, is pretty nicely balanced, and the chamomile addition does work well between Citra and Sorachi Ace hops. It certainly helps that chamomile is naturally mellow, unlike rosewater and lavender.
Deep caramel, almost coppery. It’s clarified nicely in the keg, and pours a two-finger head thanks to a healthy dose of gas. It may be a little dark for a typical pale ale, but this is what we were aiming for.
Two things immediately stand out: the ripe, tropical tone of Citra and the mellow fruitiness of chamomile. Sorachi Ace doesn’t really push through like I thought it might. I had in mind a lemon wedge in a pungent tea. The aroma is lovely, though. I imagine if we scaled back or altogether dropped the chamomile, Sorachi Ace would reveal itself.
Here’s where Sorachi Ace shines. Lemon peel is prominent in the flavor, as is chamomile. The chamomile imparts a soft fruitiness that I think is a little strong for this beer, but it’s tasty. Citra’s in there, too, providing a papaya flesh depth behind the chamomile. I’m pleased with the bitterness. It’s bright and clean, with the IBUs well within the pale ale range and making a nice counterpoint to Citra and chamomile.
This is not a thin beer. We mashed at 154, so there’s plenty of body to back up the flavors, and I think it works.
We’ll rebrew this one for sure. In future batches, we’ll probably halve the chamomile addition just to see how that affects the aromatic hops, and we’ll also brew it without chamomile at all just to let two of our favorite hops (if you couldn’t tell by the blog’s name) really play together.