Friday, 15 November 2013

Black IPA taste test

Well, the time has come. The mighty Propaganda has been bottled for two weeks and is ready to drink. Instead of the usual simple tasting, I decided that Mrs Nelly and I should do a "Black IPA comparative blind taste test". I bought a bottle of Thornbridge Raven (which used to be called Wild Raven) and a Buxton Imperial Black IPA (7.5%).

In the brief period of time between our child going to bed and tea being ready, we did an "in-depth" taste test.

Drink A (Thornbridge) was hoppy-ish, with a head that stuck around. It had a medium body and a slight caramel/toffee taste. It also pulled off the clever trick of managing to have a fairly white head on a black drink.

Drink B (Buxton) had the least aroma and had a head which subsided the quickest with the least carbonation. We noticed a distinct liquorice flavour which, while not unpleasant was different to the other two.

Drink C (Nelly Brewery) was the darkest in colour and had a slightly brown foamy head. It had more carbonation than the other two and more mouthfeel.

Mrs Nelly, the Father-in-law and I agreed that we liked Beer A the best, Beer C second and Beer B third. I felt that the Buxton was too flat and became a bit chewy and hard-going as a result, which I think can happen easily with very strong, dark ales and was something I had consciously been trying to avoid. The Thornbridge beer definitely had more flavour, with a lovely complex roasted, caramel taste and was really nice, as you'd expect, having recently been voted best Black IPA in the World.

I think that next time, I would slightly reduce the amount of dark malts used, as there was more than enough to make it go black. And it needs more hops. When I tried a few bottles in the first week, the hop aroma was still there but after two weeks in the bottle, it's all but gone. You have to put a stupid amount into these beers, to get the delicate hop aromas to stand out against the strong roasted malt background. I reckon about 400g in late and dry-hopping would be okay for the next batch.


I had another three bottles of Propaganda and can now report that the hangovers you get from homebrew are very similar to the ones you get from shop-bought ale. Urgh!

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