I gave in and chilled one and quickly tried it after 2 weeks priming in the bottles. The hop presence was pronounced, and the beer was still a bit “green.” At only 2 weeks in the bottle, none of this was surprising. Another week (1 full week in the fridge post carb’ing up in the bottles) and the beer was much more ready, and slightly less in your face with the hop aroma. Seeing that I didn’t hit as high a mash temp as I had hoped, and therefore it finished drier, the hops are going to be a bit more obvious, with less residual sugar to balance against.
I have all the bottles chilled in the beer fridge (a little more than a case and a half). Gave out one 0.5 liter bottle to a friend, and will likely hand out another 12 pack or so to friends around the holidays. Leaves a case or so in the fridge for serving at home. Ho ho ho.
I think the hop presence should lessen with age. The bitterness won’t go away, but the hop aroma and flavor shouldn’t dominate as much, allowing the chocolate malt to come through more. Unlike a porter or stout, this American brown will give up the chocolate, but not the roast. In my mind, the one thing that bugs me about “black IPAs” is the roast quality. I really am not a big fan of roast and IPA hopping in the same beer. This is a nice way to offer up some chocolate flavors and hops, but avoid the brash roast flavors.
Thanks again to Mike “Tasty” McDole who’s American brown “Janet’s Brown Ale” recipe this was based on.