Mar 22, 2014

Tasting: Hansard's Delight Red IPA

Hansard's Delight was brewed with and for my mate Luke on January 4. It was inspired by Little Creatures' limited run brew called Shepherd's Delight.

The label I made for Luke's embarrassment

Aroma: Pine, sweet fruit, juicy, flowers. Bready malt. Some toffee and roast that complements the hops.
Appearance: Fairly dark but clear, deep red heading towards black. Red highlights. Thick, sticky and slightly off white head.
Flavour: Generous hop flavour, plenty of juicy berry flavours which mingle nicely with the malt. Some herbal flavours going on in there as well. Clean finish. Fairly restrained bitterness. A little bit much sweetness, possibly too much malt.
Mouthfeel: fuller mouthfeel than I'm looking for in an IPA, good low-medium carbonation level, no astringency.

Red like it says on the box

I don't know why it is but Red IPAs or their equivalents seem to be so hot right now in Australia, or at least so hot last year. Two of the best IPA style beers I had last year were Mountain Goat's Fancy Pants Amber Ale and Monster Mash's Hopped Out Red. They were probably the freshest commercial IPAs I've had and I'd love to get my hands on them again. Little Creatures' Shepherd's Delight was also a good showing in the genre although it wasn't quite up to the standards of the first two.

When I was planning the recipe I was uncertain about whether I'd get the red colour I was after and whether the hops would achieve what I wanted, a combination of light fruitiness with a bit of extra bite. Fortunately both those aspects of the beer ended up pretty much exactly as I intended which was a nice confidence boost. It's very approachable with a good, refined hop presence for a first pass at the recipe. As I've mentioned before, getting better at crafting recipes is one of my priorities for this year. It's pleasing to get one close to spot on with the first try. That said, I've got ideas for how to improve it.

If I was only going to make one change, I'd probably turn the malt down a bit. It's nice but there's a bit much malt flavour and at times it can feel a bit overwhelming. Blending the Golden Promise 50:50 with Australian pale malt or something like that. I think I'd also enjoy it a bit more if it was a little more dry, at the least it'd be more drinkable. If I was being really picky about it I think I'd also lighten the colour a little bit and perhaps fiddle with the ratio of Columbus and Centennial in the dry hopping stage. That sounds like a lot of changes but they're still keeping the beer fundamentally the same. The changes are all tweaks to wring the most out of what's already there rather than change too much about it.

Next time: Reduce the malt flavour a bit by shifting to a 50:50 Golden Promise:Australian pale malt blend, dry it out a bit more, slightly lower the Columbus and increase the Centennial in the dry hopping. I'd probably also make it a touch lighter in colour.

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