Tasting Notes: Camp Randall Red IPA

In the Camp Randall Red IPA I was trying to make a hoppy, but fruity red IPA. Unlike a lot of IPAs on the market that seek to minimize hop and yeast flavor with most of the flavor coming from the hops, I wanted all of the ingredients to play a role. In my mind a red or amber beer should have malt flavor. Even a hoppy amber or red IPA shouldn’t taste like the grist is only plain, American 2-row barley, that just happens to be a little darker than a regular American IPA.

The beer pours dark copper. The head is thick, white, and frothy. The retention is good and there is beautiful lacing in the glass.  The beer is cloudier than I had hoped. Clarity varies from bottle to bottle, and depends greatly on the pour. Clarity has been lacking in some of my recent batches. I have an idea why that is and what I can do to fix it. The clarity isn’t a major concern and doesn’t effect the taste or overall experience, but it is an area for improvement.


The aroma is a blend of sweet tropical fruit. There are notes of mango and melon. As the beer warms there are subtle pomegranate aromas as well.

At the front of the pallet the beer starts sweet. Then assertive grapefruit and passion fruit flavors from the hops make themselves known in a big way. When I shared the beer at last week’s North Shore Brewers meeting one of the other members remarked that I must really love hops after tasting the beer. That made me smile to myself for a second.

The malt flavors are multi-layered. The aforementioned sweetness from the Honey and Caramel 80 malts give way to a deeper, more fruit-like sweetness which the Caramel and small amount of Special B likely provided. The Munich malt adds additional malt flavor in a more light-handed way than just using more Caramel malt. There is also the subtle toasted notes from the Vienna malt. The malts and hops combine to give the beer a crisp finish.

This is a beer that shows my growth as a brewer. I tried brewing a red IPA last year. It was okay, but didn’t have anywhere near the complexity that this beer has. With this beer I was able to apply what I’ve learned about water and ingredient selection. The malt bill was complex, but it wasn’t a “kitchen sink” beer where I threw in so many ingredients that the overall flavor became muddled. I formulated the recipe with an idea in my head of what I wanted each ingredient to contribute and the finished beer was pretty close to that vision.

This one is a keeper!

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