Sunday, February 3, 2013

Cascadian Dark Ale Tasting/Experimental Hopback Results

Cascadian dark ale

I am getting low on this batch brewed back on 11/1/2012 as it is one of my favorites I have brewed to date. Friends and family have been hounding me lately to share another one, then another one, etc... The only thing keeping this beer from being a hop blasting westcoast style ipa is the soft edge of toasty notes from the chocolate and carafa malts. I am pleasantly surprised with how much hop aroma and flavor I was able to retain by racking the wort hot into an CO2 sparged glass jar filled with hops and sealed aitright and left to cool. The jar did a great job keeping the volatile hop aromas from boiling out of solution. Best drunk early on, this is one I may enter into a competition someday as I am so very pleased with it. This recipe will be my go to standby as a baseline for cascadian dark ale, the hops may change, but the malt gives just enough toast to hint at some nice malty echo heard in the darkness of this pint.

Tasting notes: 2-3-2013

Appearance: Thick off-white and rocky head one finger thick that drops slowly leaving foam shrapnel along the glass. Black in color with no clarity. Without tastebuds or a sense of smell I would guess this to be a stout.

Smell: Sweet malt and citrus hit the nose with a slight floral note trailing in and out at the end. I swear I smell a hint of cola in there, perhaps it is the chocolate malt.

Taste: Subtle chocolate and caramel malt hit the palate first and slowly fade into the herbal/citrus flavor of the hops. This brew has a very long and light toasty finish that grows in strength as it warms. Slight oxidation can be detected, though it does not spoil the beverage in any way. Since I am tasting this a little late, the malt is the edge that sticks out past the hops knocking the balance of this homebrew toward being  malt forward after some age. Bitterness is in balance with the malty sweetness though.

Mouthfeel: Moderate mouthfeel wit ha mouth coating bitterness that dries the tongue making me want another sip.

General notes: I remember the first time I tasted this brew it had a much stronger hop character which let the hops lead the balance. After some age the malt shines through and has a stronger toasty/chocolate flavor profile.  The caramel malt still comes through nicely, I really like the subtle sweetness it imparts. I would brew this again, though I would drink it earlier in its life and make sure to store it as cold as possible. Interestingly, the floral hop aroma from the Amarillo is still quite pungent as I can smell the brew beside my keyboard.

Leave a comment!

 I would love to hear from anyone as to your favorite hops to use in your cascadian dark ale!


  1. This looks like a great beer. Can't wait to try it out. My favorite hops in a cda are Simcoe and citra together. I get an orange/grapefruit note with this combo.

    1. I love citra, but I haven't tried that combination yet. Thanks for the idea. One thing I have noticed is that big American citrus flavors tend to clash with dark malt, so be sure to use the huskless carafa type malts when going for cascadian dark ales, this has been a good rule of thumb for me.


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