Tuesday 4 September 2012

Tasting : Z.E.D. IPA

While I actually bottled this NHC final round American IPA back in the middle of May, and even jotted down the tasting notes for the beer(s) soon afterwards, I'm just now getting around to posting about it. No excuses at all. Basically, I just waited until I could take the opportunity to open both versions at the same time, for picture purposes - even though the two beers look exactly alike.

This beer was brewed a little hastily... after my Alpine Duet clone won a bronze medal in the 1st round of the NHC, and therefore moved on to the finals, I decided to brew it again, in case the bottles I had left over wouldn't taste as fresh for the competition in June. Unfortunately, I lacked the hops needed to do a total rebrew of the recipe, so I changed things up a bit, and even increased the amount of hops in the beer. I also split the beer into two batches, the only difference being the dry hopping - one with CTZ/Nugget, the other with Citra/Simcoe. I decided to send the Citra/Simcoe version on to the NHC final round, which the judges felt was actually TOO hoppy for an American IPA, and a little harsh-tasting as a result.

The beers obviously look alike, but it's pretty amazing just how much of an effect the dry-hopping has on the aroma and flavor, even though the grist and boil-hops are exactly the same. In the end, while I did really like both of these replacement beers, I still feel the Duet clone was the better beer, and even now, 7 months later, is still tasting better then the replacements. In hindsight, I think I would have even entered the older beer into the competition, as I feel it's smoother and better-balanced.

Appearance: Both beers have a moderate-sized, fairly sticky white head that leaves good lacing. The body is a burnt-orange, with a bit of haziness (that isn't unexpected with the high amount of dry-hopping).

Aroma: Both are very hop-forward, with very little (if any) malt background. The CTZ/Nugget beer is slightly dank and earthy, with an odd candy-sweetness that I assume is from the Nugget. The Citra/Simcoe, however, has a huge citrus aroma - very big on a grapefruit/melon character, with a bit of pine.

Taste: Again, neither beer has much to offer in terms of malt character, which should be considered a fault. I'd have to say both taste pretty much like they smell, with the Citra/Simcoe version being more intense due to the huge grapefruit/melon presence. Oddly enough, the CTZ/Nugget version actually comes across as slightly more bitter... say, medium/high bitterness in the finish for both, with the CTZ/Nugget having a bit of an edge.

Mouthfeel: Both are medium-light bodied, with medium carbonation, and a bit of astringency.

Overall: As I mentioned, really tasty beers, but the Duet clone definitely wins out, even now.

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