What Kind of Beer is That?

Posted on 12.02.09 9:15PM under Alcohol, Barley Wine, Brewing, IPA, Style Profile, Tasting

IIPA or Barley WineI pull a half-pint of my latest monster – a 10% ABV beer, pale in color, with a moderately high bitterness and lots of late hops. A huge nose of Amarillo and Centennial hits me right away – floral citrus notes assault me like Coltrane’s Sun Ship. Then I take a sip. Bitterness is not that strong, and alcohol dominates the flavor. This beer was meant to be an IIPA. But now I am not so sure.

This past week I read somewhere about how people will force-fit beers into styles that they feel match their drinking personalities. One that really hit home was “I don’t drink BarleyWine, I drink IPA. That’s an IIPA.” Sitting here looking at a quarter-pint of my “IIPA” I realized I might be one of those people that so fancies myself an IPA drinker, that I’d even delude myself into thinking that the beer that I made was an IIPA when in fact it is a BarleyWine.

So I pulled out the BeerSmith to check out the style guidelines and how my beer fit into them.

Other than the 8 SRM color, this one fits squarely in the middle of the Barley Wine Style. Aiming for 70 IBU should have been my clue that I was not really making an IIPA, especially with an OG around 1.090. Even two ounces of hops at flameout and two more dry hopped for a week can’t really convert a recipe like that into an IIPA without a few dozen more IBU.

It is now that I realize that I believe myself to be an IPA drinker because I like beers made around 50-70 IBU. In the realm of commercial beer, especially the standard-strength variety, that means it’s IPA time. Of course in homebrewing, nothing prevents one from making a 10% ABV beer pale colored with a meager 70 IBU and a ton of late hops.

In the end, that’s what I love about making my own beer. Forget about the market, and what others want. I get to make just the beer I want. Even if it doesn’t come out quite how I’d imagined it, it comes out more like what I want than the random sixer from the packy.

Comments are closed.