Tasting Notes: Queue Juice (New England IPA)

I held off on a brew day post for this brew as I brewed it specifically for Homebrew Talk. It was a post specifically about New England IPA. I shared my insights, tips, and brewed a sample batch. The recipe was loosely based on my previous Haze for Daze.. As there are several commercial beers named Haze for Daze. I came up with a new name for this brew. Oh, and somehow I ended up adding 43% more hops.

When a beer is dry hopped for too long, or too much dry hops are added the beer can take on a grassy flavor. There is a line where too much is too much. This beer was right on the edge. It was on the edge of the cliff. It’s tippy toes were just over the edge. It was looking down as tiny pebbles crumbled off the edge and fell into the abyss below.

The snow on the ground indicates it was bottled awhile ago. 

The beer poured a hazy deep gold color. There was a thick, frothy white head with excellent retention and left a beautiful lacing on the glass.

One thing I am comfortable saying is that this is my most aromatic IPA I have brewed to date. Lots of papaya, mango, and tropical fruits.
Carbonation was medium to medium-high. The carbonation does cut through the creaminess to an extent. It also amplifies the astringency that the hops leave in the finish.
When the beer was young the flavor was a wall of hops. After two weeks in the bottle I did get an unpleasant grassy flavor. A week later that grassy and vegetal taste lessened and the beer hit its peak. It was around this time I shared bottles with several friends and coworkers who all really seemed to enjoy it. Jennie even gave it 4.5 stars on Untappd.  
Eamon, my manager at Modern Homebrew Emporium examines my Queue Juice.
When I saw the Boston Worts added a special New England IPA category to their competition I decided to enter the beer. Their judging was on May 6, the same day as the judging for our competition. Queue Juice was bottled on March 12, seven weeks before judging. I threw a couple bottles in the back of the fridge and hoped for the best. Queue Juice recorded a respectable, if unspectacular 26. As of press time I still haven’t received my score sheets.
On Sunday May 7 I opened one of the handful of bottles I had left. The hop aroma was nice but not nearly as intense as it was a few weeks earlier. The grassy flavor was gone and the hop flavor had similarly lessened. That slight astringency in the finish never went away. Without seeing the scoresheets, that score felt right to me as I drank Queue Juice on the couch. 
I can take several lessons from this brew:
  • The flavor of NE IPAs fall off so quickly I will never make a batch larger than three gallons unless it is for an event like Ales over ALS or jamboree.
  • There is a point of diminishing returns with dry hop additions. This beer had a really nice hop flavor and aroma, but if I dialed back and dialed in the amount of hops I add the beer would be smoother. In future batches I will work to find that sweet spot.
  • If entering an IPA in a competition the beer has no chance if it is not at the peak of freshness. I planned out The Anti-Chris perfectly at it placed at the Worts’ competition. I suspected freshness would be an issue for Queue Juice and entered the beer as a bit of a lark when I saw the special NE IPA category. 
I am overwhelmed with beer at the moment that is ready to be bottled and racked. Warm weather is also coming which makes fermenting American styles difficult for me. I probably won’t brew another batch of Queue Juice until the fall. I do have some fun, experimental hops I look forward to trying in future batches!

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