Okay, I'll admit it. The overwhelming majority of my posts have to do with my humble exploits as an endurance athlete. But I do have other passions in my life including . . . Beer! So this post is dedicated to my third, and I believe best batch of beer so far. I named it Wall Breaker Extra Pale Ale in honor of my third marathon running back in May. It wasn't quite ready in time for that event, so I was only able to sample my first bottle last night, nearly two months after brewing. It was worth the wait.
As I've done in the past, I did a comparison between my beer and a "professional" version, as this helps to keep me objective, and to assess the extent to which I've produced a quality brew. Tonight's comparison beer was a Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra Pale Ale.
If you haven't had Sierra Nevada's Torpedo Extra Pale Ale, I hope that you like your beer hoppy. The IBU's (Individual Bitterness Units) on this one are pretty high, so there's a great deal of bitterness. In my opinion, this is fine as long as you know what your getting into. If you don't, chances are that it's not a beer that you are going to enjoy. Personally, I've acquired a taste for hoppy beers, so this type of beer is something that I frequently choose over other varieties.
|I've got high hops . . . yes I've got high hops!|
In comparing my Wall Breaker EPA (WB-EPA) with the Torpedo, they are two very distinctly different flavors and the biggest difference is in the bitterness. Torpedo has a much more bitter flavor than my beer did, but that's okay. My beer turned out well.. In fact, I can say without hesitation that this is the best beer that I've made to date. So how does the WB-EPA look and taste? Here are my observations:
1. The head on this beer is an off-white color, almost like what you'd see on a root beer. On the first pour, it looked like the head would quickly fizz and then dissipate altogether, but this one stuck around. It's fairly foamy with a thick lacing and I was quite pleased with this as it reminded me of the type of head you'd get on a professional craft beer.
The Color of the beer was a bit of a surprise to me, but a pleasant one. I anticipated a golden color for this beer. It's hard to see in the picture below, but the Torpedo (on the left) is lighter in color than the WB-EPA. However, the brown, coppery color makes for a nice looking beer. Here's a comparison photo of the two beers.
|Torpedo Extra IPA to the left, Wall Breaker EPA to the Right|
The mouth-feel and body of my beer was fantastic. Sometimes the home brews can feel a little thin and slippery to taste, but this one had none of that. It's well-balanced so you feel like your drinking something substantial, but it's not so thick as to taste like a stout or porter either.
The aroma of the beer is perhaps one area that's a little disappointing. It's not that the beer smells bad (it doesn't), it's just that there isn't much in the way of an initial aroma. It's fairly subtle and I would have expected a little more from the dry-hopping. Perhaps, the key in the future would be to add a little more of the Centennial Hops to the dry-hopping process.
Finally, and most importantly, is the flavor. First, there is definitely a hoppy, bitter flavor, but it's not over the top. Even my wife, who tends to enjoy wheat beers, thought the taste was good. The beer has pleasant caramel and malt flavors, and the bitterness of the hops layers over these quite nicely. The finish on the beer is pretty typical of a pale ale. As near as I can tell, Extra Pale seems to be a good descriptor for this beer (as opposed to just plain pale ale or IPA, or something else).
So this one was a success, much more so than my Sekhmet Red Ale, which must have gotten corrupted along the way with some off flavors. I plan on taking a couple of bottles with me to the mountains in a couple of weeks to share and enjoy.
|The not-so professional beer label|