Blitzen’d – New England Style Christmas IPA

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A little blurry, but shows the color better

Blitzen’d was brewed on 11/11/16.  I’m getting around to this brew day post almost two weeks later after the beer has already been kegged on the second round of dry hops.  Oh well.  This beer is another in my line of New England style hoppy beers, but it’s a bit different than the juice bombs I usually make in this style.

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Brew day was a cool, clear evening

The inspiration for this beer was Sap by Tree House.  I never set out to clone beers though, and cloning Sap wasn’t my goal here, especially since I’ve never even had it.  I love the idea behind the beer though.  Sap is brewed primarily with Chinook hops to get those pine and herbal notes that the hop is known for.  Sap started off as Tree House’s Christmas IPA, though it apparently is in regular rotation now.  I love the idea of a Christmas tree inspired piney IPA mixed with the New England juicy style.  I imagine that Sap is truly reminiscent of pine sap, the Chinook giving that pine aroma and flavor while the NE IPA base calling to mind that golden stickiness of tree sap’s consistency.  Most of these types of beers, mine included, are made with hops like Galaxy, Citra, Mosaic, El Dorado and so on.  It’s fun to try other types of hops in this style to see the results.

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The burner, up close and personal

In keeping with Sap’s spirit, I mostly used Chinook hops in this beer.  This might be my first time ever using Chinook hops now that I think about it.  Simcoe takes a supporting role to give the beer a bit more depth of flavor, as well as a bit of fruitiness.  Simecoe is also known for having a very unique pine aroma, but I’ve also gotten pineapple and citrus from it was well, especially when used in a NE style IPA.  I’ve always used Simcoe with fruity hop varieties though, never with another piney or herbal hop.  I’m really excited to see what happens with this beer.

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Prepping my brew water

I’m also trying out a new hop schedule that I’d like to implement in all my future New England style IPAs/DIPAs.  Almost like a template to get my bitterness and flavors where I want them.  I’ll be using .5oz of Apollo hops for bittering, and then 1oz of Apollo at 10 minutes.  All flavor and aroma hops then go into a hopstand and massive dryhops.  I had been using hops like Citra and Galaxy or whatever in 10 minute additions, but when you do a 30 to 45 minute hopstand on top of that, I’m wondering how much flavor those are really contributing in the end or if its more bitterness?  I’m thinking rather than potentially wasting expensive flavor and aroma varieties in an addition where I might not be maximizing their use, why not use just a single ounce of Apollo to get the same bitterness and maximize my whirlpool and dryhops.  Every clone recipe I’ve seen for Trillium beers uses this method, just with Columbus rather than Apollo.  I prefer Apollo since it seems less sharp to me.  Blitzen’d is my first shot at what will hopefully be my IPA hop schedule template going forward.

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Staying warm around the kettle

The grainbill is a bit different from my usual New England base beer, but not by much.  Most of these beers I make are a golden/light orange color, very orange juice-like in appearance.  I’m going for a more deep glowing orange appearance for this one.  I had some English dark crystal on hand that I used in a previous batch, so I used a bit of that for color.  I also had some light caramalt to had just a bit of sweetness.  I skipped my usual honey malt in this one.  Honey malt is great for adding a bit of fruity sweetness to help with the juiciness of my NE IPAs, but I didn’t want that sweetness to detract from the pine of the Chinook and Simcoe.  I figured a small amount of the light caramalt will still contribute just enough to add some depth of flavor.  Other than that, my usual flaked oats and white wheat are there to achieve the creamy body that the style is known for.

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Brew day was pretty smooth for the most part with one exception.  I overshot my mash temp by about five degrees, and then overshot my sparge temp as well.  To compensate for this I added ice to bring me to my 150 degree mash tempt and 168 degree sparge.  Well, that turned out to be a problem because I undershot my OG of 1.068 by a few points in the end due to the added water volume.  The recipe posted here was adjusted with the new OG of 1.065, which isn’t a bit deal, but its worth noting.  Other than that, everything went smoothly.  The beer was boiled for 60 then I did a 30 minute hopstand prior to chilling.  The beer fermented for 3 days at 65 degrees.  I added the first round of dryhops on day three and ramped the temperature to 70 to help the beer finish out, though activity had slowed by then.  The beer was fermented for another five days on the dryhops.  I normally have these posts typed prior to kegging, but I’m a little behind.  I’m typing this on 11/23, two days after I kegged this……soooooo see below the recipe for the keg update like I usually do.

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Alyssa’s first brew day!

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10 lbs Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM) Grain 1 68.4 %
2 lbs Oats, Flaked (1.0 SRM) Grain 2 13.7 %
White Wheat Malt (2.4 SRM) Grain 3
Acidulated (Weyermann) (1.8 SRM) Grain 4
Caramalt (Thomas Fawcett) (15.0 SRM) Grain 5
Carapils (Briess) (1.5 SRM) Grain 6
Crystal, Dark (Simpsons) (80.0 SRM) Grain

Apollo
Chinook
Simcoe

Kegging Update:  This beer was kegged on 11/21/16 on the second round of dryhops.  The transfer went smoothly under my usual closed Co2 transfer process.  The FG came in at 1.015, a point or two higher than I would have liked, but thats ok.  The ABV on this beer is 6.5%.  The hydrometer sample tasted really good, it definitely had some pine notes mixed with a bit of grapefruit and pineapple.  I should be ready to drink in another five days or so.

Tasting Notes 12/05/16:

Appearance:  Blitzen’d pours a deep golden orange with a white head supported by fast, tiny bubbles.  It has the typical juice-like appearance of my other New England IPA’s which in my opinion is a thing of beauty.

Smell:  The aroma of Blitzen’d is pretty interesting.  There’s definitely pine from the Chinook and Simcoe, but there’s more fruitiness than I would have expected.  There’s prominent aromas of orange citrus, a bit of peach, some papaya, and some pineapple.  I dare say the fruit is even more prominent than the pine.  I’m sure some of the fruit comes from the Simcoe, but I think the 1318 yeast probably provides a lot of those fruity aromas as well.  I get a lot of those same citrus/peach/pineapple aromas in most of my pale ales using this yeast, so I’m sure its a contributing factor.

Taste:  This beer has a pleasant mild bitterness that quickly gives way to a predominant herbal flavor that I’m pretty sure is the Chinook hops from what I remember from other beers I’ve had where they feature.  There’s just a hint of piney resin in there as well.  The Simcoe hops provide a bit of pineapple and citrus in addition to the resin, and the 1318 yeast flavor profile tends a bit towards a peach flavor when used in beers like this.  There’s a bit of underlying sweetness here, but it’s not juicy in the way most of my beers of this style are and that’s good since juicy wasn’t the goal here.

Mouthfeel:  Medium carbonation with a medium body.  As usual with beers with this percentage of oats and wheat, there’s a smoothness and fullness without feeling heavy and chewy.  The beer remains dry enough that it’s easy drinking.

Overall:  I’m really interested to try Tree House Sap after this beer, I’d love to know what flavors they get out of those Chinook hops, and what they do with the malts to balance it.  All in all, this is a fine, tasty beer, but if I’m being 100% honest I expected more.  Maybe I’m not the biggest fan of Chinook hops since I had a pale ale from Goose Island featuring Chinook that didn’t do a whole lot for me, and it had a similar flavor.  This beer is different being a New England style beer than anything I’ve ever had from Goose, and I DO like it, but it just doesn’t blow me away in the way I’d hoped it would.  Again, I admit I’m being really picky here.  I’d be interested to brew this beer again with some major tweaks.  I think I’d make Simcoe the star of the show and either scale the Chinook back or replace it entirely.  I’d also make it a bit darker orange, just to set it apart a bit more than my usual pale ales.  I’m not sure what I’ll do next year though, I kind of missed brewing my Black December this year, but I’d like another crack at this with some changes.  We’ll see next year!

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2 thoughts on “Blitzen’d – New England Style Christmas IPA

  1. Pingback: Tasting Notes for Blitzen’d, Cold Black Eyes, and House Blend Brown | White Pointer Brewery

  2. Pingback: My 2016 Homebrewing Year in Review | White Pointer Brewery

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