Sunday, March 5, 2017

Pudgy in My Glass

I don't write many beer reviews anymore.  I know there are many people out there that do a better job of that than I (search Twitter for @iabeerbaron) but sometimes you get the opportunity to try a great beer that you feel the need to share your experience.  I recently wrote about the good people at Pulpit Rock Brewery in Decorah, IA and their first ever bottle release.  Pudgy, an 11.6% abv Imperial Stout aged on 4 different kinds of vanilla beans lived up to the hype.

It poured dark and thick with little to no head.  The smell of vanilla was predominant along with some roasted and chocolate malts.  The mouth feel was creamy and velvety smooth with soft carbonation.  Marshmallow, vanilla and chocolate danced on my taste buds, not competing with each other, more working and blending together.  I had some chilled and allowed some to warm to see how  the flavors differed, and honestly I didn't notice a great deal of difference.  All the same flavors where there, maybe just in a slightly different balance.

In short, if you were lucky enough to get a bottle it's worth keeping and drinking.  I know the thought of trading is tempting when you can get 3-5 other great beers for this one, but I think you'd be doing a disservice to yourself not to enjoy this brew while you can.
Fun with filters

If I'm going to talk about one beer, I might as well talk about two.  My first true attempt at a NE IPA (or NE Iowa IPA) called Hazy Little Thing Called Love was inspired by the IPA's brewed by 515 and Pulpit Rock.  I'm quite happy with how it turned out.  Don't get me wrong, it's still not in the same league as 515 and PR, but good enough I'm happy to share this beer with others (including the brewers at PR) and not feel ashamed by it.

I used a pound of home grown hops that I split in the beginning and end of the boil (mixture of Nugget and Mt Hood.)  I also mixed several ounces of Mosaic, Galaxy, and Wai-iti hops at the end of the boil, and double dry hopped during and after fermentation.  This resulted in a well balanced IPA with enough bitterness to keep from being too sweet, yet loads of passion fruit, peach, and citrus making it very easy to drink.  I also used a pound of flaked oats during the mash process for the first time.  This added a little haze and smoothed out the mouth feel.  This is a beer I will likely brew again.  Will I make some minor changes?  Sure.  I would probably add more dry hops and try to keep the carbonation on the softer side.

After slowing down on my home brewing the past few years, I've been a bit underwhelmed by my last several brews, and I finally feel like I'm getting back into my brewing groove, if you will.  The pursuit of making the perfect beer still eludes me, but I finally feel I'm back on the right track.  I'm thinking about brewing smaller batches more often so I can keep experimenting with my recipes and improving my brewing skills.  In the meantime, I'm lucky to live in Iowa where there are many fantastic breweries only a short drive from me.  Cheers!

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