Okay, I'm doing better this time... actually posting some tasting notes for a beer that I just bottled a couple of weeks ago. Maybe this isn't necessary for a Russian Imperial Stout, but for style like American IPA, I really should be doing this more often when the beer is actually fresh. I would have done this even sooner, but this beer has actually been taking its time reaching a decent carbonation level. I had added some dry yeast when bottling (since the beer was at lower temps when I dry-hopped it, I didn't want to take any chances), but maybe it's been slower due to the extremely cold temperatures here in New Brunswick, and therefore lower temps in the house. While still a bit low, it seems to be where it should be, now.
I've had the real Finestkind plenty of times, but it's been awhile, so I need to pick some up during my next trip to Maine to refresh my memory. However, I think I can say now that I'm a bit disappointed with how the homebrew clone turned out. I find the entire hop character - aroma and flavor - to be quite mild for an American IPA. Is Finestkind the hoppiest IPA out there? No. As I mentioned in my brewing post, it isn't near as hoppy as a lot of the "West Coast IPAs" that are so popular now. But while this homebrew is tasty, it could definitely use more hop aroma and flavor. Since this recipe apparently came straight from the brewers at Smuttynose, I'm going to assume that the problem lies more with the freshness of my hops. The every-5-minute Simcoe additions, while small, should have added some nice pine flavor and aroma to the beer; however, I have had them for at least six months now. They were stored in ziplock bags in the freezer, but this isn't the best-case scenario for hop storage, and they undoubtedly lost some of their punch.
I'll be posting again in the (hopefully) near future, where I will compare the homebrew to the actual Finestkind, to see if the difference between the two is as obvious as I think.
Appearance: Poured with a small-moderate, off-white head that sticks around nicely for awhile and then fades to 1/4-finger. Body is golden-colored, with some slight haze.
Aroma: The aroma isn’t very strong in any regard. The malt character is there, and a bit bready. As for the hops, they dominate, but not overly so... they come through as citrusy, here. Not near as hoppy as a lot of the other IPAs I’ve brewed.
Taste: Same goes for the flavor, here... some neutral malt background with a pleasant citrus-hop character, but maybe a bit mild for an American IPA. Medium bitterness in the finish.
Mouthfeel: Medium-light bodied, and medium-low carbonation.
Overall: A very drinkable IPA; a good entry-IPA for those who aren't used to bitter beers. As mentioned, I’ll be doing a comparison to the real Finestkind when I can get some, but I think that my version is definitely milder on the aroma and taste. Therefore, while tasty, not an American IPA recipe I will likely be making again.
UPDATE: Feb 5th/13 - I've had a few more of these now, and after a bit of time in the bottle I find the beer is actually tasting better than when I wrote this review... the hop presence is now more prevalent, for sure. I think it may have to do with the slow time-to-carbonation, but I'd have to say this recipe is actually much more accurate to the real Finestkind than I had originally thought!