Monday, April 23, 2007

Swamp Rat Super IPA

Last year I wanted to brew another IPA for a late summer thirst quencher. The Swamp Rat Super IPA was originally inspired by Dogfish Head's 60 minute IPA. But then it changed drastically into a super charged English/American style. I was trying some new hopping ideas like first wort hops (FWH), and in the end it came out very unexpected...almost strange and out of place.

I really don't get into naming my beers, but entered it into a competition and had to give it one. I was having a hard time with it so I asked my brother what he thought. Right away he suggested a phrase he used for a long time..."swamp rat super...." This meant that what he was describing totally rocked! It was perfect. In fact I think the name suits the beer quite well...not that it rocks, but that it's kind of like a swampy beer.

Swamp Rat Super IPA
6 gallons

Grains (1.066)
4 lbs. Pilsner
4 lbs. 2-Row
3 lbs. Vienna
1.5 lbs. Munich
1.5 lbs. Crystal 10
.5 lb. Flaked Rye

Hops (68 IBU)
2 oz. Cascade, 6%, whole, FWH
1 oz. Galena, 12%, pellets, 60min
1 oz. Goldings, 5%, whole, 30min
1 oz. Goldings, 5%, whole, 5min
1 oz. Goldings, 5%, whole, Dry

Wyeast 1275 - Thames Valley Ale

3 judges at the Schooner Competition gave a very fair and accurate critique on this beer. I think the malt complexity and messy addition of hops contributed to its overall harsh bitterness and blunted edges. Here's what they had to say...

Aroma: Grainy, slight indistinct fruity nose, malt sweetness, faint hops.

Appearance: Copper gold color, cloudiness, persistent thin head.

Flavor: Malt sweetness, then hop bitterness, and harsh finish. Grainy maltiness with balance to the bitter side.
Flavor is rustic, not citrusy with fruitiness restrained.

Mouthfeel: Medium body, mild/medium carbonation, high alcohol presence, with no astringency.

Overall Impression: Good beer, almost no hops in aroma, bittering hops are harsh, no citrus notes, not one I'd drink more than one.

This beer was definitely more experimental. I would keep the grain bill simple choosing a pale or pilsner base. Skip Vienna. Bump up the Crystal to 40 or 60 Lovibond. Either bold rye presence (10%) or none at all. If using FWH, treat it as both the bittering and flavor hop additions, and then add KO and Dry hops. Maybe Goldings was not such a good choice for aggressive IPA hopping. Perhaps a 3C blend or Amarillo might be very nice. I will definitely try a better FWH schedule in the future.

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