August 25, 2013

Tropic Bling review

I turned Tropic Bling around fairly fast to try to make it available for the end of summer's heat. My use of Spalt instead of Opal hops made this beer slightly different from the actual Funkwerks Tropic King. It's missing the noticeable pungent earthy character of Opal. Otherwise, it's a pretty good clone.

Appearance: Hazy orange hue with a dense white head. I did a bad job pouring the bottle and ended up with some yeast in the bottom of the bottle but otherwise the beer has a nice look to it.

Aroma: Hop aroma dominates the smell with some pepper and citrus fruit notes coming off the yeast. The hop aroma is grass and apricot. It's missing some of the more pungent woody/earthy notes from the Opal hops I subbed out in favor of the Spalt hops I had lying around.

Flavor: Flavor starts off with malty sweetness and a hop flavor that mirrors the hop aroma. The sweetness is sort of different but since this saison uses two row instead of pilsner for the base malt it's going to carry a touch more sweetness than a pils-based saison. The flavor is sharply bitter on the back end, which I don't especially enjoy. It tastes a little like yeast bite, which might go away in another week or so. It's also hop bitterness, which is a little too intense and definitely isn't present in the true version of Tropic King. Yeast character is also a little more assertive than Tropic King.

Mouthfeel: Mouthfeel is slightly watery compared to the true version but otherwise it is a fine beer. Probably should have mashed higher based on Funkwerks' mash schedule rather than my usual saison mash temperature around 148F. The slick oily character that was present before bottling has disappeared.

Drinkability: It's definitely missing the mark on a few key areas as a clone. It really needs the Opal hops at the flame out addition and letting the beer steep too long before it cooled seemed to have made it a lot more bitter than the true version of this beer. It also should have been mashed higher for more body. Water profile might have also played a role in making this beer more bitter on the back end, so I'll also want to take a look at Funkwerks' water profile for that beer to try to get more exact to their process and ingredients. Otherwise, as a beer in its own right it's a decent performance. Not great by any means but not a drain pour, either. It's a good exercise in comparing the difference between my normal brewing procedures and another brewery's procedures. It goes to show how much process really affects a beer.


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