Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Tasting Notes: Centennial Pale Ale - Conan vs. Chico

I have been anxious to get tasting notes posted for the 2 Centennial Pale Ales (well 3 if you count the Trois version). I will start by saying both beers are great on their own, side by side however there is a clear standout.

Chico on left, frothy Conan on right.

Conan FG: 1.010 - 76% Attenuation
Chico FG: 1.012  - 71% Attenuation

Appearance: Poured into identical 8oz Nonic tasting glasses with Chico (WLP001)on the left and Conan on right, the first thing you notice is that Conan pours with a much more rocky head. The head on the Chico version is a bit more appropriate for the style of beer although the thick head of Conan is not distracting but does result in a short pour.

Both beers are the same color, a light orange/bronze with yellow highlights. But the one thing in the photo above that is a little deceiving is the clarity. Chico is actually significantly more clear than Conan, although both beers come with some hops floating around not unlike Heady Topper. Conan is notorious for being a low (or slow) flocculator.

Aroma: Conan's aroma is huge, it hits me without having to put my nose to it, fruity esters, tropical fruits, orange, mango, peach, a little bit of piney-ness as well. Chico has a very pleasant aroma but not quite as big. There is more pine in this one, a little bit of grapefruit and orange. It comes through with classic Centennial aromas where the Conan version there is a big assortment of fruity hops and esters melding together nicely.

Taste: The bitterness up front on the Chico is a bit sharp, not bad but a little biting, it also comes across as much more dry. There isn't much body to the Chico version either, its good and refreshing with strong hop flavors of grapefruit and some pine but finishes quite thin. The Conan version on the other hand, has a nice creamy medium bodied mouthfeel, similar to what you might get from 3711 French Saison, the malt also shines with some toasted bready notes balanced by a smooth bitterness. There is a slight dankness to this one but is balanced with citrus fruit flavors and finishes dry and refreshing.

Overall: If you haven't noticed by now Conan was the winner here. The Chico version was just fine, and normally I probably would have raved about the beer but in this case Conan was a clear favorite. Conan seems to have the ability to amplify hops, and squeeze out many different aromas and flavors, it's really very unique. 

I knew Conan was essentially steroids for hops but I never knew it would add such a smooth full mouthfeel. Thats what struck me the most with this experiment, the malt really showed itself and added another dimension to this beer thanks to Conan. Which was surprising based on the final gravities of the two beers.

  • Ah, the Brett Trois version, how could I forget. The beer went over very well at NHC club night, I was really happy with it served from the pin (although it took about an hour to calm down after it was tapped, it was just spewing foam). I wish I could have had a glass to try alongside these 2. Stone fruits, dry, smooth bitterness, no malt but was still in balance due to the low carbonation. Final Gravity was 1.009.


  1. Glad it came out so well, Conan just rocks! The mouthfeel was one of the first things that struck me as well, besides of course the hop-steroid qualities. I think a lot of it is just the amount of Conan that remains in suspension. Unfortunately, that also means Conan beers have all been very hard to clear so far, in my experience. I still can't decide how much the clarity bothers me, so long as it tastes so good.

    1. I think that the mouthfeel is what really makes this strain stand out, obviously the hop-steroid quality is awesome but it really does round out a beer. For me clarity isnt a big deal, especially in an over hopped beer. But for presentation its not the best, especially if youre serving someone who doesnt drink homebrew often.