I personally do not put all my stock in national or international beer contest award winners, if an IPA wins a gold medal, I'm certainly not prepared to say that it's the best IPA in the world. However, occasionally I a.) Have tried the beer under scrutiny and b.) completely agree that it's the best in that category.
The Firestone Walker Pale 31 has won gold several times at the World Beer Cup, plus countless other awards along the way to their reign at the top. We're trying to make something that will taste close.
Beer nerd specs: 62% 2-row, 24% Maris Otter, Munich and Crystal 40 for the rest. Shot for 1.049 OG, 50 IBUs, 6.5 SRM with Fuggle for bittering (that's a hop AND a strange word) and Cascade, Centennial and Chinook for Aroma and Dry Hopping.
I plan to introduce some characters at a later time - but for now - Dan's daughter Nora, our future marketing manager and event planner or perhaps yeast strain microbiologist?
Silky smooth brew day, through cleanup in 4:30 without breaking a sweat (which we didn't have to do because it was 75 outside and perfect, Northwest in the summer is pristine). We shaved substantial time off by implementing a ghetto-as-the-day-is-long brew tree for the sparge and getting the boil started.
OSHA approved for 3-year-olds running around too. In the end, or efficiency was too good (82%+) so we overshot our targets, even after adding water to the boil, getting 1.056 OG and our eventual ABV up ~0.6% and out of the session category. Shame.
Might need to skip the next brew day scheduled in 10-days, I have 20 gallons fermenting at various places all over my house and I'm going to have to figure out what to do with it. Cheers to you, reader.
8/16 UPDATE: Fermentation finished up in 8 days to 1.013, giving this a 5.6% ABV. I'm going to do something slightly different with each 5 gallon split: one got kegged tonight with dry hops in the keg, the other I'm going to dry hop in a carboy along with 1/2 oz french oak chips. I have been disappointed in the aroma we've been getting with dry hops and I'm suspicious that doing it in the keg may be to blame - we'll know the truth. The oak is to grab a little flavor imparted by some commercial breweries (like FW) that ferment in oak - not sure if I'll be able to taste it, but having the comparison helps.