Author Topic: APA - what makes it great  (Read 2192 times)

Offline morticaixavier

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APA - what makes it great
« on: April 04, 2015, 12:59:29 PM »
I have consistantly had a problem judgeing APAs. on my online entrance exam for the BJCP my main area of weakness was pale ale style guidlines. And again in my tasting exam I was master level scoring and perception on 5 of the 6 beers but on the APA I was only certified level. So I obviously just don't get this style. In the name of self improvement I've set this as my brewing goal for the next few months. I will craft a great APA. I figure if I can learn to brew one along the way I'll have to learn to judge one.

So as step one I invoke the group mind of the AHA forum. what makes a pale ale great? it can't be as simple as a smaller IPA, although I feel like that's what I get from a lot of commercial examples.
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Offline dannyjed

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Re: APA - what makes it great
« Reply #1 on: April 04, 2015, 01:19:14 PM »
I like mine with some Vienna malt. Ever since I've added it to my APA, I've liked the results better.
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Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: APA - what makes it great
« Reply #2 on: April 04, 2015, 01:38:06 PM »
Personally, I like APA to have a little more malt character,ie., to be more balanced than IPA. I blend the 2 row with ~ 20% Munich, Vienna, or MO for APA. I also use a little more crystal for APA, ~ 7% (as opposed to no more than 5% for IPA).  As for water salts, I use gypsum to bring out the hop character, but I don't try to get the beer as dry as an IPA. Definitely not a smaller IPA to me.
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Offline duboman

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Re: APA - what makes it great
« Reply #3 on: April 04, 2015, 03:00:10 PM »
From a competitor's perspective I've almost given up even entering in this category. The reasons are generally being that they are way overloaded with entries and second, judges in general don't seem to agree on the style. I've gotten feedback ranging from not enough aroma,  too dry, too malty, too hoppy, etc.

It seems some judges expect that over the top hop aroma bomb to the more classic pale style like east coast vs west coast.

I think there is just way too much variance in judge's take on what exactly it should be. I'm not sure I helped you Jonathan, I'm sure you're doing a great job tasting and evaluating but I think the style guidelines might just not match with the actual beer style...
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Offline jeffy

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Re: APA - what makes it great
« Reply #4 on: April 04, 2015, 04:05:16 PM »
When judging APA's I find that a lot of judges are looking for way too much hop character.  I remind them that Sierra Nevada is only about 32 BU's.  I like to use Munich malt at maybe 20% and medium Crystal at about 10% to give it some balance.
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Offline Alewyfe

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Re: APA - what makes it great
« Reply #5 on: April 04, 2015, 05:16:54 PM »
When judging APA's I find that a lot of judges are looking for way too much hop character.  I remind them that Sierra Nevada is only about 32 BU's.  I like to use Munich malt at maybe 20% and medium Crystal at about 10% to give it some balance.
What Jeff said. Emphasizing that to me an APA is a symphony not a solo performance and should exhibit balance and drinkability while still having an easily detectable hop flavor and aroma. I hesitate to say Americdan hop flavor and aroma as many good APAs are now using the newer Pacific varieties with great results too.
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Offline Stevie

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Re: APA - what makes it great
« Reply #6 on: April 04, 2015, 05:25:41 PM »
America, that's what makes it great. Nuff said, case closed, moving on.

Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: APA - what makes it great
« Reply #7 on: April 04, 2015, 05:37:05 PM »
When judging APA's I find that a lot of judges are looking for way too much hop character.  I remind them that Sierra Nevada is only about 32 BU's.  I like to use Munich malt at maybe 20% and medium Crystal at about 10% to give it some balance.

It is actually 38 IBU. Not too bitter when compared to ones like Dales Pale Ale at 65 IBU, but that one is more of an IPA to me at 6.5% ABV.

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Offline pete b

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Re: APA - what makes it great
« Reply #8 on: April 04, 2015, 05:50:15 PM »
Hop and malt balance. I also like there to be a dominant aroma/flavoring hop so that there is a cleaner flavor ie "citrus and pine" as opposed to "citrus, pine, mango, stone fruit etc."
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Offline HobsonDrake

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Re: APA - what makes it great
« Reply #9 on: April 04, 2015, 05:53:22 PM »
Personally, I like APA to have a little more malt character,ie., to be more balanced than IPA. I blend the 2 row with ~ 20% Munich, Vienna, or MO for APA. I also use a little more crystal for APA, ~ 7% (as opposed to no more than 5% for IPA).  As for water salts, I use gypsum to bring out the hop character, but I don't try to get the beer as dry as an IPA. Definitely not a smaller IPA to me.
+1
Maybe not so much on the crystal but for sure on the Munich/Vienna.
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Offline klickitat jim

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Re: APA - what makes it great
« Reply #10 on: April 04, 2015, 05:57:38 PM »
Too bad the 2015 guidelines aren't out yet. It would be unfortunate to master a style only to find out it no longer exists.

Depending on perspective,  APA is its own animal or just another IPA. Most commercial APAs I find are just IPAs. Its what makes it American I suppose. Never happy with what it is, always comparing itself to others, and always focused on one-upping the neighbors. It even took two thirds of its name from IPA. It might as well just go all the way and fully assimilate.

But a good APA is quitely content with itself as is. Malty and hoppy balance, clean, refreshing, high repeat drinkablility. Not just a hop show with a quick buz.

Offline Alewyfe

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Re: APA - what makes it great
« Reply #11 on: April 04, 2015, 06:17:53 PM »
"Not just a hop show with a quick buz"

......another good Klickitat succinctification
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Offline Phil_M

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Re: APA - what makes it great
« Reply #12 on: April 04, 2015, 06:27:29 PM »
My definition is a beer that's much like an English bitter, but brewed with American hops and malt. This generally makes it a bit less malty and a bit more hoppy, but IMO I feel that has more to do with the differences between American and British malt and hops. (We have really intense hops and less intense malt, the Brits have really potent malt and more subtle hops.)

I do think several brands slap APA labels on what should be an IPA. 21st Amendment's Bitter American is a good example, and to me it's still a better "Session IPA" than many of it's competitors.
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Offline tommymorris

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APA - what makes it great
« Reply #13 on: April 04, 2015, 06:29:50 PM »
Too bad the 2015 guidelines aren't out yet. It would be unfortunate to master a style only to find out it no longer exists.

Depending on perspective,  APA is its own animal or just another IPA. Most commercial APAs I find are just IPAs. Its what makes it American I suppose. Never happy with what it is, always comparing itself to others, and always focused on one-upping the neighbors. It even took two thirds of its name from IPA. It might as well just go all the way and fully assimilate.

But a good APA is quitely content with itself as is. Malty and hoppy balance, clean, refreshing, high repeat drinkablility. Not just a hop show with a quick buz.
I agree with Jim.  APA is not a session IPA. Then again is a session IPA just an APA? I am confused.

Offline jeffy

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Re: APA - what makes it great
« Reply #14 on: April 04, 2015, 08:02:45 PM »
Jonathan, I would like to know how you missed the score on the exam with that style.  Were your comments and descriptions different from the proctors' or what?
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