Mountain Saison #1 and Mountain IPA #1 Review

For the inaugural homebrew on my PicoBrew Z, I chose a popular saison recipe that I have brewed nearly 20 times since 2013.

Mountain Saison #1

For the inaugural homebrew on my PicoBrew Z, I chose a popular saison recipe that I have brewed nearly 20 times since 2013. Mountain Saison #1 was the first batch of beer I brewed since April 2018 and also the first homebrew that I canned – so needless to say I was very excited to taste it! It was brewed on December 7, 2019 and reviewed on January 1, 2020.

Appearance Three fingers worth of intensely sticky white foam wants to jump out of the glass. Below the foam reveals a fizzy, clear straw-yellow beer. The effervescence continues for several minutes with lively bubbles churning throughout the glass.

Smell – Familiar aromas of Juicy Fruit gum and SweeTarts candy overwhelm my nose. Peppery phenols present themselves and become more intense as the beer warms. There is also a distinct aroma of Mecca Grade Estate Malts – rich, freshly baked bread. I pick up a hint of lime seltzer as I finish the glass.

Taste First sip is extraordinarily tangerine with heaps of orange in the finish (more orange Runts candy vs. orange zest). Mecca Grade malts lends a pleasant sweetness that contributes to the perception of orange juice with a gentle astringency from pulp. There is also a faint apricot flavor which counters the black pepper finish.

Mouthfeel – The beer is thin and dry (by design) with a high carbonation. But there is a pleasant softness from the Mecca Grade Shaniko Wheat that coats the back of the tongue.

Overall – This recipe tastes exactly as I remember! It’s a nice complement of fruity American hops and estery Belgian yeast which a lot of beer drinkers can get behind. It did not last long in cans!

Changes For Next Time – After 17 iterations, this recipe is dialed in. The inclusion of Mecca Grade and mash hopping were positive changes and the SafAle T-58 Dry Yeast was nearly identical to previous versions brewed with White Labs WLP565 Belgian Saison I. Moving forward, I may try Imperial Yeast B56 Rustic as part of my continual quest to source 100% of ingredients from the Mountain West.

Mountain IPA #1

Mountain IPA #1 is the culmination of more than 12 months of research on New England IPAs. The recipe was heavily influence by Scott Janish‘s The New IPA: A Scientific Guide to Hop Aroma and Flavor, Ward Labs Mineral Analysis and Siebel Institute Beverage Analytics of Tree House Julius. Mountain IPA #1 was brewed on December 28, 2019 and reviewed on January 20, 2020.

Appearance – Despite containing no flaked malt (oats or wheat), Mountain IPA #1 has a respectable haze complemented by a glowing yellow/orange hue. A frothy, paper-white head laces the top of the glass and clings to the sides sip after sip.

Smell Initially there is an unmistakable aroma of a Creamsicle bar. Juicy fresh pineapple hits my nostrils next, followed by freshly mowed summer grass. As the beer warms I pick up more and more tangerine/mandarin orange with subtle hints of honeydew melon.

Taste – Lots of pithy orange flavor with the first sip which eventually bleeds away into more tropical fruit flavors. Mango is quite intense but not completely overpowering. There are also pleasant flavors of tangerine, pineapple, and papaya. It’s something like a tropical fruit medley.

Mouthfeel – For a 4.2% New England IPA, I am very impressed with Mountain IPA #1’s mouthfeel. I was nervous that it would be too thin, but it drinks pretty smooth and full bodied for such a small beer. Overall it is very soft and rounded with a creaminess very much like commercial New England IPAs but without the cloying sweetness.

Overall – This one came out great! It checked all the boxes for me in a NEIPA – drinkable, intensely aromatic, soft and rounded. And it’s still drinking great more than two months later!

Changes For Next Time – Since I am always chasing mouthfeel in my NEIPAs, I plan to increase mash temperature from 148°F to 158°F for a more dextrinous wort. I also want to increase my brewing salt additions by ~40% to compensate for Mountain IPA’s lower ABV to more closely resemble that of Julius. Next, I plan to substitute 10 oz of Vanora (Vienna-style) malt for Lamonta (American pale) malt to help push the SRM into the “glowing orange” range of 5. To increase hop intensity, I plan to double the total whirlpool hopping rate to 1.0 oz/gal. Lastly, I will give the new seasonal release from Imperial Yeast (A34 Julius) a try next round too.

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