Style: American Amber Lager (Pilsner hopped Vienna lager?)
Brew Date: 2/5/2014
Expected Serve Date: April, 2014
Estimated ABV: 5.6%
I love the color of this beer. It is bright orange. Most American amber beers are much darker. This immediately reminds me of Tröegs’ amber ales. Both Hopback Amber Ale and Nugget Nectar Imperial Amber have a similar hue. The color is coming from Vienna and Munich malts as opposed to Crystal in all of these beers, although there is a small amount of two different Crystal malts in this lager. This beer isn’t perfectly clear. There is some haze, I’m guessing that it’s mainly from the unplanned extract addition.
Despite the similar look, this is definitely not as hoppy as either of those Tröegs beers. The aroma, though definitely dominated by hops, is not strong. Taking a sip, the first impression is from all that Vienna malt, but it’s quickly replaced by the Mount Hood hops. It is initially a spicy, Noble hop flavor, but as it moves to the back of the mouth, the American citrus flavor creeps in. This isn’t the grapefruit explosion of the “C” hops, but it leaves a distinctly “American hop” impression. I love these hops. After swallowing, the hops are cleaned up quick and the late impact is mainly from malt sweetness.
I would like this beer to be a bit less sweet. It finished fairly dry, but maybe I used too much Vienna malt, or more likely, the extract is to blame. At this sweetness, the fact that it’s a lager is not terribly obvious. It is still clean, but a good, cool fermentation with an American ale yeast could yield similar results.
This is a very pleasant beer, but it is not nearly as hoppy as I was hoping. Memory is not always a reliable source of information, but this seems very close to last year’s batch. The emergency mid-fermentation extract addition did not ruin the beer, but it may have hurt it. I still think it was necessary. At the lower gravity it would have been a hop bomb, but now it’s thrown too far in the other direction. I added a lot more late hops this year to try to up the Mount Hood sensation, but it was for naught.
This batch is slightly disappointing, but I will still enjoy it and more than anything, it makes me anxious to give this recipe another stab. Though I’m sure I’m not the first one to try it, I think that the Pilsner, or even American Pale Ale, level of hopping in a Vienna Lager idea is worth pursuing, and I think that Mount Hood hops are greatly under appreciated because of their step child of Noble and American heritage status… but I still haven’t perfected this.