Over two months ago, I brewed a beer with Colleen’s tastes in mind. I wanted it to be light and crisp on the palate with citrus aromas and flavors. However, Colleen felt I overhyped the beer a bit, and that the citrus didn’t come through as strongly in the flavor as she had hoped, and that the beer seemed watered-down. Nonetheless, I was really pleased by this brew, and think it has great potential to be even better.
Colleen and I agreed that this beer would not be linked with her likeness, and that she would choose her beer from future brews that have already proved themselves against her palate. This brings us to the newly dubbed Summer Session Ale and its pairing with an artichoke pizza.
To further capitalize on the citrus flavors and acidic character of the beer, I wanted to incorporate lemon and fresh tomato into the pizza. Since I’d already used asparagus on pizza in the past, I chose artichoke to serve as the vehicle for the lemon. I used a dough recipe that will be coming in a future post (and will be subsequently added to the recipe page), and topped the pizza with mozzarella cheese, slices of tomato, and artichoke hearts canned in water that had been rinsed and subsequently tossed with lemon juice and garlic.
All summer long I’ve been making my pizzas in a cast iron skillet preheated on a burner set to high heat. Once I’ve laid out the pizza skin and topped it in the pan, I slide it under the broiler. My results have greatly improved from the first time I tried this method, principally because my dough handling in general has improved, also to be detailed in a future post.
This pizza is delicious, and paired nicely with the beer. Since the artichokes naturally have a kind of oiliness to them (even when packed in water), the beer helped cut through the each bite of pizza, refreshing the palate for the next. There was a kind of symbiosis where the artichoke kept the beer form appearing too thin while the beer kept the artichoke and garlic from seeming too rich or overpowering.
As for the beer itself, here are my tasting notes.
Appearance: My clearest beer to date, pouring a rich gold color with a sort of warm, orange glow to it. Decent head retention, with a thin layer sticking to the top of the beer all the way down the glass, but very little lacing.
Flavor: Bright citrus with just a hint of tartness. There’s a slight malt sweetness, but it can easily slip by undetected. The hop bitterness is right on point, slightly biting on the tongue.
Mouthfeel: Very crisp and dry on the palate, but also a bit thin. The beer begins to feel particularly thin and watery if it warms to near room temperature and loses too much of its carbonation.
Overall: I’m very pleased with this beer. All of its elements seem very well-balanced, though I agree with Colleen that it could use more body, and I’m curious to see if I can push the tartness a little further forward. I’ll be adjusting the hop schedule a little to hopefully bump up the citrus without increasing bitterness, as well as nearly doubling the acid malt content. For the body I’ll replace the 2-row malt with Vienna and increase the mash temperature to 156 degrees F. Unfortunately at the time of brewing this I was using an inaccurate thermometer, so who knows what effect mash temperature will have in the end.