I've just kinda got back into brewing after a many-year hiatus, and getting into specialty grains and partial mash makes such a difference in the flavour of your beer. I think the big two benefits are that it tastes a whole lot fresher than malt extract (even if it's just a portion of the recipe), and that it gives you so much more control over the malt profile of the beer you're making.
Man, I'm really surprised by that hopwired recipe -- putting all the malt extract in at the end will give it a really strong malt character. I guess that's the point though, huh. Interesting to see all the NZ hops in there. I haven't seen a bottle of the real stuff at my local store yet, but I'll keep an eye open. The regional differences would be really interesting!
The crystal 60 in my IPA should give it a nice colour. The intent was that the munich 10 could add some fresh base-type malt, and the crystal 60 would add some depth and character. More than anything, keeping the ABV lower (most hoptastic IPAs sit in the 7+ range) should keep it in check. I think I've changed my mind on the hop bill too -- I'm going to add some Northern Brewer, which has an earthier taste than northwest hops, to fill out the hop bill. In the end it'll be:
Zeus (aka Columbus) for bittering.
Cascade for flavour
Simcoe for aroma (at 0)
Williamette for aroma (at 0)
Northern Brewer for aroma/flavour (gonna make hop tea and add to secondary)
Cascade for aroma (dry hop in secondary)
Should give it a solid depth of hop profile to offset the malt. I'm a fan of a broader hop profile than just the focused citrus/pine that's typical here in the northwest, but we'll see how this turns out. Hopefully the Northern Brewer hops don't make it too earthy.
Let me know how that brew of yours tastes when it makes it out of the bottle -- sounds like an interesting recipe.
I think next on the docket for me will be a simple blonde ale, partial mash with some vienna malt, hopped with Centennial (if I can find some - local shortage) for bittering and cascada for flavour. About an ounce of hops total in the whole batch will seem like nothing compared to the last few brews I've made, but hey -- gotta have a "crowdpleaser" on standby for the non-beer-geek drinkers.