Jul 12, 2012

Pale Ale #2 Review

So, in a couple of weeks, I will be heading down to Hilton Head, SC for a yearly vacation with my wife's family.  It is always a good time.  We usually keep a nice stash of beer on hand, but this year I want to do something extra.  I want to take a corny keg of homebrew down to share.  Since we will be at the beach, the beer should be easy to drink and yet flavorful.  This led me to a pale ale - hence why I have brewed so much pale ale recently.

The second pale ale recipe I am trying comes from the same book as the first: Brewing Classic Styles.  It takes out the biscuit malt and adds some caramel malts and a higher mash temperature to give it a fuller mouthfeel.  Recently, the batch was ready.  Here's what I think.

Mine's the one on the left... if you couldn't tell.
Aroma:  No hop aroma, which is ok since this is a pale ale.  I get sweetness up front with a little bit of malt finish.  There is not a stand-out aroma.  It is pleasant but simple.  Verses the previous batch of pale ale, this one has a little less aroma.  PA#1 had a nice husky, grainy nose.  Winner: PA#1

Appearance:  Poured with a nice head which quickly settled out.  A little head is present throughout the glass with some decent lacing left on the glass.  Color is a deep honey color and very clear and clean looking.  (This could be the result of cold crashing the beer - dropping the temperature way down once fermentation is complete.  The yeast and other particles drop out and not as much "stuff" gets transferred over to the keg.  Mental note: cold crash more often!)  Verses the previous batch, this looks beautiful.  PA#1 was cloudy, but had a nice head that stayed throughout consumption.  Winner: PA#2

Flavor:  This beer is sweet - not under-attenuated sweet, but the caramel malt brings a lot to this beer.  I can't decide if that is a good thing or a bad thing.  No off flavors, but a bit of fruity ester from the yeast.  I don't get much hop flavor or bitterness.  Maybe that ratio is off a little.  But that being said, I like the taste.  It is sweet but doesn't coat the tongue, making this an easy drinker (what I am looking for).  Verses the previous batch, they are both good but very different.  I actually live in a house divided (my wife claims PA#1 is the best beer I've made).  I lean toward PA#2.  So, since this is my blog and I am the brewer, winner: PA#2

Mouthfeel:  Good.  No harshness or astringency.  Carbonation is right.  Verses PA#1, can't really decide.  Both were kegged and if I didn't think there was enough carbonation, I'd just bump up the C02.  Winner: Tie.

Overall Impression:  This is a nice, easy drinking beer.  It is flavorful and smooth, and I think I could drink many pints in a row (maybe I will see how many in a row soon...).

So, by a margin of 2-1, PA#2 is the winner.  I will be taking a keg of it down to SC with me in a few weeks.    Now all I have to do is not screw up brewing it a second time!  I will probably bump up the bittering hops just a touch in hopes that I nail a more balanced profile, but other than that, keep most of the recipe the same.  I'll be sure to let you know how that turns out.  If anyone is in Hilton Head in the next few weeks, I can leave a pint for you.