I’m way behind on this post, mostly due to laziness, but partially due to work travel and GABF. By now the keg has kicked, but I still have my tasting notes thankfully. I wanted to brew a beer that was as close as I could get to Bell’s Two Hearted. It’s one of my favorite IPAs due to how well balanced it is and its availability (if you’re in Bell’s distribution footprint, which I am not yet). It’s malty without being sweet and hoppy without being too bitter. The aroma is restrained, but complex. Since it’s not overly bitter, you’re able to drink a few of them without ruining your palette. To hold me over until Bell’s starts distributing in Texas (early 2017) and for the challenge I decided to try brewing a clone.
I was able to find a recipe from one of the Bell’s brewers online and went from there. There were a few adjustments on my part to adapt to my system, the grain I had on hand, and my water profile. I have no idea if Bell’s brews uses RO water and builds it up or if they use MI water, but I do know that their water source is somewhat similar to mine, in that it’s hard. I did my usual mash with SAWS water and sparge with RO to cut down on CaCo3 in the finished product. I’ve found this has really helped my hoppy beers by reducing the astringency. Other than that it was a pretty straight forward brew day. Since I don’t have access to Bell’s, however, I was not able to culture any house yeast from their bottles, but I did some research and determined that Cal V is a close representation to their house strain.
Appearance: Mildly hazy, just chill haze as it goes away when the beer warms up, orange-copper with a creamy white head, good retention that clings to the side of the glass.
Aroma: Citrusy, grapefruit, and some bready malt character. Balanced and restrained, not in your face but still hoppy with fruity yeast esters as well.
Flavor: Smooth bitterness on the citrus side with some bready malt character rounding it out. Clean with a slightly lingering bitterness balanced with the malt character.
Mouthfeel: Medium body, medium carbonation (could be a little higher), dry finish.
Overall: I’m very pleased with how this beer ended up. I wouldn’t say it is exactly like Two Hearted, but it’s pretty close and very good on its own. If I owned a brewpub, this would be one of my staple IPAs. After I increased the CO2 it helped to dry the beer out a bit and bring out the hops a little more, which I preferred. There isn’t really much I would change if and when I brew it again, perhaps the dry hopping, but that will probably take away from the malt character.