After the last debacle with my efforts of comparing the different versions of this recipe side by side, I was a little leery when I poured two more pints. After all, Iteration 3 had been subject to the same methods and stored in the same conditions as the now-cidery Iterations 1 and 2. Although I feel (unfortunately) confident that Iteration 3 will go the way of 1 and 2, I was relieved to find that it had not yet had the time for oxygen to take its toll.
The differences between versions 3 and 4 of this recipe were solely in regards to the malt:
- Iteration 3 had 0.25 lbs. more malt total than Iteration 4.
- The base malt differences looked like this:
- Iteration 3 had 10.25 lbs. 2-row
- Iteration 4 had 9 lbs. 2-row and 1 lb. Dark Munich
- Iteration 4 had 0.5 lbs. more Crystal 120 than Iteration 3.
- Iteration 3 was 0.8% higher in alcohol than Iteration 4 due to differences a 4-point difference in OG (1.056 and 1.052, respectively) and a 2-point difference in FG (1.008 and 1.010, respectively).
Both beers were red in appearance, but Iteration 4 was more of a copper/amber hue than the deep red of Iteration 3. Iteration 4 was also notably brighter.
The difference in head was a striking one. Iteration 3 had an impressive head with excellent retention, while Iteration 4’s head was lackluster at best and dissipated quickly.
The aroma of Iteration 3 was one of citrus, floral, and cherry. Overall, I was pleased with the hop presence in a beer now two months old. The cherry, however, was more of a red cherry flavor than the black cherry flavor I am looking for.
Iteration 4 had the same familiar citrus and floral aroma that I’ve become accustomed to with this hop profile, but it also had a hint of plum.
Iteration 3 hit my tongue with a blast of raisin. I did get other flavors in addition to the raisin, but I want to preface them with the fact that the raisin was very prominent and truly overshadowed the rest of the flavors. That said, I did also taste a floral note, and the end was one of citrus with a lingering bitterness.
Iteration 4 had a big citrus flavor that came through prominently in the way that I would hope from a red IPA. The hops also yielded some floral notes. The malt character was rich and bready. The richness was quite nice, but perhaps a bit distracting from the plum note that I would like to be more prominent.
Overall, Iteration 4 is the better beer (which continues to give me hope that I’m improving as I continue adjusting this recipe). It has more of the flavors I want coming through with less malt covering up the hops. However, the breadiness could stand to be toned down, hopefully allowing the dark fruit character to shine through.