This post is one in a series of making small adjustments to a single recipe in order to improve it, learn more about the impact each ingredient has on the finished product, and the art of recipe creation. The rest of the comparison tastings in this series can be found here.
Despite almost exactly the same grain bill, Iterations 5 and 8 of this red IPA recipe have a 10-point difference in OG and, subsequently, a 1% difference in ABV. By way of explanation, in the first several versions of this recipe, I had an issue with wildly varying efficiency. Iteration 5 was the brew day where I eliminated the final possible reason for that variation outside of an inconsistent crush (via my LHBS). From that point on, I’ve had my LHBS double mill my grain in hopes of mitigating any variation in my conversion efficiency, and so far that has been successful. Iteration 5 was the final version wherein I had a lower than expected OG; such is the reason for the difference in ABV. Despite that difference, these beers did still have (almost) the same grist, which made me interested in seeing how the differences in my hop schedule affected this beer, as well as determining how much 10 gravity points impacted the malt flavor.
The recipes for each beer are as follows:
Iteration 5 poured with an excellent head, had excellent retention, and was an amber (slightly copper) hue.
Iteration 8 was a bit over-carbonated (apparently due to an uneven mix of priming sugar throughout the beer, based on the first few under-carbonated bottles I opened). As such, it had quite a large head with lots of staying power. This beer was exactly as red as I’d like a red ale to be.
Iteration 5 had grapefruit, floral, and cherry notes in the nose. There was a certain sweetness in the aroma, too. Iteration 8 had an aroma of orange, plum, and Bing cherry.
Iteration 5 tasted of cherry, an indistinct citrus, floral hops, and had notes of an indistinct sweet fruitiness (which is an unfortunate new development as this beer ages).
Iteration 8 had flavors of cherry and plum, with a hint of orange and a hint of floral notes.
Overall, Iteration 8 is richer than Iteration 5, both in aroma and flavor. I attribute this “richness” to the 10-point difference in OG. The richness is by no means off-putting as it is not overly rich, but rather a definite malt balance to the hop flavors in this beer. Perhaps a better word than “rich” is “deep.” This beer has a deep malt flavor. Rich seems to indicate that there is a fullness to the mouthfeel and perhaps makes this beer a sipper, but at an FG of 1.010, this beer is quite quaffable for having such deep malt flavors.