After about a week and a half in bottles, I put on in the fridge and popped it open last night. Was worried it wouldn’t be carb’d up yet, as the house temps have tended to be around 67-68 in the day, 64 at night. I prefer 70-72 and it’s been my experience that sometimes beers take a bit longer to carb in the bottle in the cooler temps.
I didn’t really give it proper time in the fridge for the yeast to nod off and sink to the bottom, but curiosity got me, especially after seeing some floaties in the secondary carboy prior to bottling.
Well, I popped the top and got that nice sound indicative of the beer being well carbonated. So far so good. I poured carefully, so as not to end up with a huge amount of head, into one of my shaker glasses, with the head almost reaching the top. Smelled delicious. Plenty of that Amarillo hop aroma. I used 1 oz of Amarillo and 0.5 of Columbus in the dryhopping, and did not notice the Columbus all that much.
I was fearful that the bitterness was too high, given the changes I had made since the first brewing of this recipe. I had increased the calculated (software estimation) from 70 to 80 IBUs, and used a teaspoon of gypsum in the boil this time to accentuate the hop bite as my well water is relatively soft and my calculated IBUs in the past have typically tasted less than intended/expected. When I tasted my final gravity sample prior to bottling, it tasted very bitter… too bitter… and I was bummed. However, I know the beer was not “finished” as it still had to carbonate and condition in the bottle for at least a couple weeks, and even then, the beer will continue to change a bit with age.
Thankfully, I did not taste that extreme bitterness in this beer last night. 80 IBUs is a lot, but it didn’t taste like 80 to me. This beer is 6.4% ABV (not huge… pretty standard for an American IPA), and had a final gravity of 1.014. So this is not as dry as many of my ales, where I typically finish at 1.012 or lower. I did mash at a higher temp to see if I could keep it from finishing too dry, and hopefully have more mouthfeel. While not super dry according to the numbers, it’s not sweet either. I believe the increase in the percentage of rye malt used actually gives the finish of the beer a more dry feeling. The rye lingers on the tongue long after the beer is gone. This may not be for everyone, and honestly, I may go back to the 2 pounds of rye versus the 2.5 pounds I used this time. Verdict is still out on that.
In the end, though, the beer reminds me greatly of the first batch I brewed and entered in the Merrimack Valley Homebrew Club’s competition in the Spring, which finished 2nd in the Specialty category. Consistency is often considered the mark of a good brewer, and while it wasn’t the exact same recipe, it was similar enough that I expected the final differences to be slight, and they are. This second batch finished a couple points higher (1.014 vs 1.012) which was my hope. I increased the bitterness via the bittering hops (changed the 60 minute hops from Northern Brewer to Chinook and increased the amount slightly, and the 30 min addition of N Brewer to a 20 min addition of Columbus). The Columbus packet was labeled as 4.4% alpha acids, which is completely out of range for this hop which is typically over 13%. I assumed it was mislabeled and was actually 14.4%… but that was an assumption. It’s possible I’m noticing much more bitterness despite the 10 IBU increase because I don’t have the correct alpha acid amount for the Columbus. Even thought it’s used later in the boil, it still contribute to the IBUs, and if it really was only 4.4%, then the beer would actually calculate out to being 70 IBUs (same as the first batch). The additional 0.5 pound of rye malt has definitely given me more of the rye impact in the beers taste and finish.
S0 I am overall very pleased with that first bottle. I do believe, assuming those floaties were in fact not a sign of any infection, that the beer will improve in the coming couple weeks, if past experience is any indication. I will be moving more into the beer fridge today though, to be enjoyed over the weekend.