The reason that it’s taken me a while to get around to writing a review of these beers is because I’m not particularly happy with them. They are not bad beers by any means, but since the first batch I brewed with this recipe was so good I had high expectations. I can’t quite put my finger on what is wrong with the beer but there are a few things that I could do to improve the next time. The first time I brewed this beer it was a five gallon batch. This time, however, I decided to brew 10 gallons. I think part of the problem with the taste is that hops extract efficiency is not linear like malt. In other words, I can’t just double my hops like I can malt and expect to get the same result. Another problem is the lack of aroma from the dry hopping. I can’t tell if it’s old hops (which it kind of smells like) or if part of my batch was infected with Brett (also not shocking). The infection was my first thought when I first tried the beer, but now that I’ve cleared out the yeast at the bottom I don’t think that’s the problem.
The other half of this batch I planned to add grapefruit. I added grapefruit peal along with the dry hops as was recommended by Ballast Point. I took care not to add any of the pith. When it was time to remove the dry hops I was pretty disappointed with the aroma and flavor. To rectify this I added grapefruit juice and some more zest to the keg. This definitely gave me the aroma I was looking for, but I don’t like the grapefruit character in the flavor. It’s prominent like I wanted but the problem is that it’s just the wrong grapefruit in my opinion. In the future I’ll probably add the zest from the same grapefruits as before, but use a different species for flavor.
Grapefruit: Prior to adding the juice it was brilliantly clear with strong head retention, after the addition it became a hazy pale yellow with orange shades and medium to weak head retention.
Regular: Pale yellow with some chill haze topped off with a white head that fades somewhat quickly. As the beer warms up it becomes brilliantly clear. Conan is known for its poor flocculation, but with the right pH and calcium levels you can get it to drop out like any other yeast.
Grapefruit: Right of back you get grapefruit aroma, some citrus, and a slightly musty aroma. Luckily the grapefruit overpowers most of the aromas. The grapefruit aroma definitely comes across as a zest rather than the meat of the fruit. There is no malt character at all.
Regular: Some citrus, stone fruit, peach, yeasty, and what I can best describe as a musty stale character. My first inclination was infection when I smelled it, but I’m fairly certain it’s due to old hops. Despite the fact that I bought them from my LHBS a few days before, it has been a year since the harvest. The aroma is not as bright and vibrant as it was last time. I’m not sure if it’s from the hops age, the different scale of the batch, or from my pH being too low.
Grapefruit: Bitter grapefruit flavor is the predominate sensation. This is where I think a different grapefruit would have benefited the beer. I probably would have used a slightly sweeter fruit next time. I would probably also scale back the juice addition so that the beer is still apparent. It’s not like it taste like straight grapefruit juice, but I think it overwhelms any subtleties of the beer.
Regular: Slight bitterness, some citrus, and peach with a backend finish that I don’t like. This is where the musty flavor descriptor comes in again. This is what made me think infection to begin with, but I really don’t think that’s what it is because it’s not specifically a Brett quality. I’m still leaning towards old hops.
Grapefruit: Medium body with a slick mouthfeel (probably from the grapefruit juice), carbonation on the high side with a dry lingering better finish.
Regular: Light to medium body with a crisp dry finish and medium-high carbonation. I’m happy with the body on this beer and the finish. Often times I find IPAs to have too much malt character for my liking.
Grapefruit: I’m pleased with the grapefruit aroma and the fact that I could get grapefruit character in the flavor, but I’m not pleased with the flavor from the grapefruit. As I’ve stated, I think it was just the wrong species of grapefruit for the job. Beyond that I do enjoy drinking the beer; I just had higher expectations.
Regular: The parts of this beer that I don’t like I feel like are easy fixes, fresher hops, pH adjustment, and hop extraction adjustment. I’ve never brewed 10 gallons of IPA at once so the hop extraction is something I never really considered, but I know for the future.
I try to; even if I don’t like the beer that I’ve brewed, write a review just in anyone that reads this wants to brew anything I’ve brewed. For me it’s a way to learn from what I’ve done and remember what I’ve brewed before so I can make changes in the future.