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.
All fifteen of my previous side by side comparisons of this red IPA have been completed with me knowing which beer I was drinking, admittedly making it harder to battle my preconceived notions of a beer I’d had plenty of times before I sat down to compare it to another. After much goading in the direction of a blind tasting for comparison purposes, I finally admitted to myself that was the best way to go about this and took the extra effort to bother my wife with helping me out and handing me beers (after I’d taken my notes on appearance of each). She humored me with the process—not missing out on calling me a nerd along the way—and I do think that I was able to concentrate more on the flavors and aroma in front of me at the moment without knowing which beer I had been handed.
The recipes for each beer are as follows:
Both beers poured with a medium head. Iteration 6 had great retention, maintaining a small bit of foam on the top until I reached the bottom of the glass. It was a copper/amber hue.
Iteration 9 had decent head retention, but not as long-lasting as Iteration 6. This beer was properly red.
Iteration 6 smelled fruity and sweet. The hop aroma was gone.
Iteration 9 had an aroma of cherry, plum, and citrus. The aroma in this beer was deeper and more complex than version 6 (age is probably a factor in this as well).
Although the formerly pleasant aroma of Iteration 6 was basically gone, the flavor stood up to age. It tasted strongly of cherry, with notes of plum, some cattiness, and a hint of citrus flavor. The citrus flavor was somewhere between orange and grapefruit.
Iteration 9 had a rich plum flavor paired with black cherry. There were also notes of orange. The malt and hop balance was nice, but honestly more on the malty side.
Something that stood out to me with this comparison was the difference in color between the beers. Both beers had the same grain bill and OG; however, Iteration 9 was definitely redder than Iteration 6. I’m not entirely sure why this would be the case, unless age is playing a factor here; even then, my original notes for this beer indicate it was amber rather than red (a small distinction, but one I’ve tried to make throughout this process).
Regarding Iteration 9, the grassiness noted in my initial tasting has basically faded at this point and is letting the other flavors shine through; unfortunately, the hoppiness seems to have faded with the grassiness, so I’m unable to see what this beer would have been without that off-flavor. The flavors are good and play well together, but it still needs more hop punch to hit that IPA-level of hoppiness that I want in this beer.