Beer Tasting: New World Blonde Ale

blonde_aleMy New World Blonde Ale ran out last week, but I did a tasting before the keg kicked. Results are below.

  • The Basics
    • Original gravity = 1.045; final gravity = 1.008; abv = 4.9%; estimated IBU = 24
  • Aroma
    • Initial aroma has a bit of orange with a hint of grainy maltiness behind that.
  • Appearance
    • Moderately hazy and light gold beer, with a low and fine but persistant white head.
  • Flavor
    • Light malt flavor with a slightly grainy and bready aspect. Hops are at a moderately high level for a blonde ale, with a slight orange pith aspect to it. When I first tapped this beer, the citrus was a bit overwhelming and unpleasant–almost like rotten orange. I think somewhere this flavor was euphemistically called “candy orange,” but I can’t say it is a particularly pleasant flavor. It has moderated quite a bit, but is still hanging around in the shadows.
  • Mouthfeel
    • This is a light-bodied beer with moderately high carbonation, so that it has a slightly effervescent feel on the tongue. The finish is dry, and the hop bitterness persists as the dominant character.
  • Would I brew this again?
    • This is a decent beer, but not a great beer. Or I should say that it’s not really to my tastes. I think I will lay much of the “blame” on HBC 438–the hop comes across as a bit harsher than I like. Perhaps it is good in other styles, but it just doesn’t do the trick in this particular beer. Apparently HBC 438 has been a pretty divisive hop–people either love it or hate it. I wonder if there’s not some compound in there similar to the various stuff in brussels sprouts, where folks with one taste receptor taste awesomeness and folks with another taste receptor taste awfulness.
  • Overall rating
    • 5 / 10

New World Blonde Ale

20160415_190959Time to make a classic summer beer! For this batch, I wanted to try something different, by mixing techniques used on two previous blonde ales that have turned out well. Firstly, following my Summer Blonde Ale, I elected to keep a simple grain bill. This meant mostly 2-row malt, with a touch of dark Munich malt (somewhere in the 10 to 20 lovibond range). However, I wanted a slightly more complex hops character, so I followed a version of the hopping schedule from my Citra Blonde Ale, in that all of the hops were added in the last 10 minutes of the boil. I had two ounces of the experimental HBC 438, and this seemed like a fine batch in which to highlight those.

New World Blonde Ale

  • 9 lbs. 2-row (Great Western Malting Co.)
  • 9 oz. Dark Munich malt
  • 0.5 oz. HBC 438 hops pellets (16.6% alpha, 6.2% beta, 10 minute boil)
  • 0.5 oz. HBC 438 hops pellets (16.6% alpha, 6.2% beta, 5 minute boil)
  • 1 oz. HBC 438 hops pellets (16.6% alpha, 6.2% beta, 5 minute whirlpool)
  • 1 tsp. Irish moss (10 minute boil)
  • 1 pkg. California Ale Yeast (WLP001, White Labs), in 1L starter

Procedure

  • 48 hours in advance, I prepared the yeast in a 1L starter
  • I mashed in with 3.5 gallons of water at 161º, to hit a mash temperature of 149º. The mash was down to 149º after 40 minutes. After 60 minutes, I added 1.5 gallons of water at 180º, which raised the mash bed to 152º. I vorlaufed and collected the first runnings, and then added another 3.5 gallons of water at 180º, let it sit for 10 minutes, and then collected the remainder of the wort.
  • All told, I collected 6.8 gallons of wort at a gravity of 1.040, for 78% efficiency.
  • I boiled for 60 minutes, adding the hops and Irish moss per the schedule.
  • After flame-out, I chilled the wort down to 75º, transferred to the fermenter, and pitched the yeast slurry.
  • The starting gravity was 75º. I brewed this on 15 April 2016, and fermented it at 66º for six days.
  • The beer was kegged on 21 April 2016. At this point, it had a final gravity of 1.008, which equates to 4.9% abv.