So about a month ago I brewed up a variation on Northern Brewer's black Cascadian IPA but with a few substitutions based on what I had readily available in my grain bin, hop chest, and the yeast packs in my fridge. Given that I was unfamiliar with the recipe (and the style) I brewed up a small one-gallon batch so that if it sucked bad I wouldn't feel bad about dumping it.
Now I must admit that I've never tried some of the commercial black IPA's out there (and I'm sure they're as diverse as the opinions about black/cascadian IPA's), so I really don't have a baseline of what they should
taste like. But when I sampled a bottle of the finished product, it was VERY odd. I'm not even sure how to describe the flavor — it was medicinal, licorice-alcohol, and just nothing that reminded me of an IPA (black or not). There seemed to be a lot of off flavors, but no hallmark flavors like buttery, butterscotch, etc.
So here's the recipe/mash/boil specs:
Yield: one gallon (test batch) - BIAB
IBU’s: 77, Color: 31°L,
Pre-boil: 1.050, OG: 1.062, FG: 1.016, ABV: 6.03%
[My actual OG: 1.076 / 18.4 BRIX]
2.3 lbs 2-row
.1 lbs crystal 80°L
.08 lbs simpsons chocolate
.08 lbs 2-row special black (500°L)
.4 oz Cascade (60 min)
.2 oz Chinook (15 min)
.2 oz Centennial (10 min)
.2 oz Cascade (5 min)
.4 oz Centennial (0 min)
.2 oz Cascade DRY HOP
Yeast: I used Safale S-04 but next time will try 1056 American Ale instead.
Sacc rest at 152°F for 75 minutes (3.8 qt water at 167°F)
Sparge with 3.3 qt of 180°F water over two minutes)
In actuality, I rested between 145°F and 152°F, so had more beta conversions than alpha.
Now I know that apart from actually providing everyone a sample, actually troubleshooting my brew will be quite difficult. But I guess I wanted to ask the greater community to at least look at the recipe and see if there's anything about it that might produce some weird flavors.
I'm a clean/sanitizing freak and make sure that all my gear is clean and sanitized, so I'm pretty confident it's not a contamination issue. Fermentation also appeared quite healthy, but offhand can't recall how much of the yeast I pitched (certainly not the whole pack) for this batch.
I don't know. It tasted really weird and maybe even phenolic — like alcohol-infused licorice bandaids. It was just odd.