Base Beer: Irish Red Ale
Medium-bodied red ale brewed without finishing hops. We split it into 10 kegs and added one of the following hop varieties to each keg:
Northern Brewer (Germany). Notes: Mild at first, with a dry punch. Subtle notes. Extremely drinkable.
East Kent Goldings (England). Notes: Totally British. Kinda mild but permeates the brew, especially at the finish. Passive-aggressive.
Saaz (Czech Republic). Notes: Light and slightly zippy. I was waiting for this one...not disappointed. Brings that pilsner drinkable dryness to an Irish Red.
Styrian Goldings (Slovenia). Notes: Mysterious. Well-balanced but hard to describe. I like it. I think.
Nelson Sauvin (New Zealand). Notes: Bright hops, less citrusy than the Citra. Little milder but very tasty.
Sorachi Ace (Japan). Notes: Dry and smooth, touch of citrus, reminds me: Saison-ish. Yards? Most intriguing.
Citra (United States). Notes: Hops are a little brighter, giving a fresh lift to the red ale. Stylish, but I'm looking for a little maltier.
Columbus (United States). Notes: Bitter on the back end, leaving room for the malt. Reminds me of: Yakima Glory (light).
Centennial (United States). Notes: Hops are grungier with a darker, milder grapefruit flavor. I was expecting something more like Centennial IPA from Founders, but this is different.
Amarillo (United States). Notes: Slightly funky, easiest drinking so far, but it's cooling down my Chipotle Wings.
The interesting part of this experiment to my mind is the use of the Irish Red as a base. The malt bill is going to be different from a typical pale ale or IPA, so my assessments of these brews is a bit backwards from my typical tastes in hops. I usually love Citra and Centennial hops,while Sorachi Ace... not so much. But here I found that the foreign hops added the most to the Irish Red. An interesting study indeed...
When first introduced to Iron Hill's beers a few years ago, I was in a very experimental stage and really enjoyed by beers over the top. Iron Hill had reminded me of the Triumph (the Princeton location was the only one I had visited at that point) in that they were drinkable, yeah, but not very bold. I found them to be a bit boring back then. But a visit to Iron Hill North Wales changed my mind: I discovered the Nine of Diamonds Scotch Ale. As you check out this brief, please know that the Iron Hill location was incorrectly identified as Maple Shade, NJ... But never fear! I also reviewed the McMaster Scotch Ale on Cask while I was at Iron Hill, Maple Shade for A Study in Hops on April 2, 2011.
The truth is, I am enjoying Iron Hill's brews more and more each time I go. The Pig Iron Porter is a super-solid porter by just about anyone's standards, but their experiments, seasonals, and collaborations have proved to be more and more interesting while maintaining a manageable level of drinkability. I've met the head brewer of Maple Shade a few times now, and Chris LaPierre has been incredibly accessible and gracious whenever I've bumped into him. I look forward to spending a bit more time at Iron Hill now that my lovely wife included a mug club membership as part of my Christmas present this year (thanks, honey!). Please share your Iron Hill experiences as well as other beer-drinking adventures with the Ferment Nation. Include pictures and we'll share them with our readers. Thanks and Cheers!