Hop Harvest IPA 2016

dsc_1148Hop Harvest IPA was brewed on 09/18/16.  This beer marks the first time I’ve had access to freshly picked hops!  A coworker of mine, Steve, is a fellow homebrewer who happens to also grow his own hops.  I showed up to work and found a bag of about three and a half ounces each of freshly picked and dried Nugget and Cascade hops!
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I brought the hops home that night, measured them out in 1 ounce bags, flushed with Co2, and then put them in the freezer until brew day a few days later.  The flavor fresh hops impart is supposed to be unique and intense when compared to using pellet hops.  I had about 6 and a half ounces to work with here, so that’s not a ton given that whole cone hops have more plant material that doesn’t impart anything to the beer than pellets do.  I figured to get the most out of this beer I needed to both do a smaller batch to make the amount of fresh hops I had go further, and I needed to supplement them with some pellets.

I bought two ounces each of Cascade and Nugget pellets to use during the boil and first round of dry hops, saving all my fresh hops for the hopstand and keg dry hops.  If you read my blog, you know I make my pale ales in the New England/Northeast style.  I always do a round of dry hops in the fermenter while primary fermentation is still active.  I used an ounce each of Nugget and Cascade pellets in the fermenter just for ease of removal.  Getting bagged whole cone hops out of the carboy would be awful, and not bagging them would make yeast harvesting difficult.  So pellets it was.  An ounce and a half each of my freshies were saved for hopping in the keg.

Cascade and Nugget are not the trendiest types of hops, and I’ll be interested to see what these classic American hops do in the new school NE hoppy style.  Cascades are still citrusy, and I can see Nugget fitting in here too.  Nugget can lean more towards the herbal, pine and spice side of things, but I’ve had strictly Nugget hopped beers that were fruity as well. Cascade and Nugget aren’t the Citras and Mosaics of the IPA world anymore, but that’s kind of appealing here, combining old and new.  I’ll also be excited to see what using fresh hops brings to the table as far as flavor and aroma intensity goes.  In reality, 6 ounces of fresh cones isn’t a lot by today’s pale ale standards, so I’m hopping that by doing a smaller batch I was able to stretch them a bit further.

Brew day was a madhouse, but in a fun way.  I was given two one gallon brew kits by my friend Andy, and I decided to put them to good use.  While I was brewing my fresh hopped pale ale, I had two batches of one gallon all grain beers going on the stove.  Needeless to say, I had my hands full.  Things were pretty hectic, but everything turned out well for the most part.  The Hop Harvest ale went really well, I hit all my numbers.  I mashed in at 152 for 60 minutes, sparged, and got my 60 minute boil going.  I used some of my Cascade and Nugget pellets in the boil, and saved a bit for a flameout addition.  I had a big addition of fresh hops go in right at flameout, and I steeped the hops in a hopstand for 45 minutes to let those freshies really soak in.  After the hopstand I chilled to about 70 degrees, took my hydrometer sample, and poured through my strainer into the carboy.  My hydrometer sample came in at 1.058.  The beer fermented at 68 degrees for 4 days.  I hit it with the first round of dry hops on day 4 and ramped the temp up to 72 to help the yeast finish out.

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Recipe Specifications
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Batch Size (fermenter): 4.00 gal
Estimated OG: 1.058 SG
Estimated Color: 6.2 SRM
Estimated IBU: 36.6 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 73.00 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Ingredients:
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Amt Name Type # %/IBU
5 lbs 8.0 oz Pale Malt, Golden Promise (Thomas Fawcet Grain 1 64.5 %
1 lbs Wheat, Flaked (1.6 SRM) Grain 2 11.7 %
1 lbs White Wheat Malt (2.4 SRM) Grain 3 11.7 %
6.0 oz Honey Malt (Gambrinus) (25.0 SRM) Grain 4 4.4 %
4.0 oz Carapils (Briess) (1.5 SRM) Grain 5 2.9 %
4.0 oz Munich 10L (Briess) (10.0 SRM) Grain 6 2.9 %
2.5 oz Acid Malt (3.0 SRM) Grain 7 1.8 %

0.25 oz Nugget [13.00 %] – Boil 60.0 min Hop 8 15.3 IBUs
0.75 oz Nugget [13.00 %] – Boil 10.0 min Hop 9 16.6 IBUs
0.50 oz Cascade [5.50 %] – Boil 10.0 min Hop 10 4.7 IBUs
2.50 oz Nugget [13.00 %] – Steep/Whirlpool 0.0 Hop 11 0.0 IBUs
2.00 oz Cascade [5.50 %] – Steep/Whirlpool 0.0 Hop 12 0.0 IBUs

1 oz Cascade [5.50 %] – Dry Hop 1
1 oz Nugget [13.00 %] – Dry Hop 1

1.75 oz Cascade [5.50 %] – Dry Hop 2
1.5 oz Nugget [13.00 %] – Dry Hop 2

London Ale III (Wyeast Labs #1318)

Mash Schedule: Single Infusion, Medium Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 8 lbs 8.5 oz
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Name Description Step Temperat Step Time
Mash In Add 10.66 qt of water at 163.7 F 152.0 F 60 min

Keg Update 09/29/16:  I kegged this beer last night on 2.25 oz of fresh Nugget and Cascade hops.  I used some stainless steel washers to help keep the bag weighted down.  I took my final hydrometer sample and it came in at 1.012, giving me an abv of 6%!  The sample tasted nice already, with citrus and some herbal and pine notes.  I’ll be anxious to see jhow this turns out!

Tasting Notes 10/12/16:

Appearance:  Hop Harvest pours a cloudy orange color with gold highlights.  This beer started with the usual level of juice like haze I get in my New England style beers, but as the keg has gone, it’s begun to settle out a bit.  Its still hazy, but not turbid.  The beer has a nice white head that dissipates fairly quickly.

Smell:  I’ve never used Nugget hops, and its been a while since I’ve used Cascade, so I’m not sure how much the fresh hops differ from the usual pellets, but this beer has a unique smell.  The dominant smell almost reminds me of being in a forest after a rain shower.  Its a very fresh floral and herbal note I think, with citrus and a bit of peach underneath that.  I’m guessing the peach comes from the 1318 esters, while the citrus should be the Cascade.  I’m thinking the herbal and floral notes are from the Nugget hops.

Taste:  This beer benefits from the stirring the keg up periodically, otherwise its a bit bland for a NE style pale.  The bitterness would be mild in a more flavorful beer, but there’s not a ton of hop flavor, so the bitterness sticks out a bit more.  There’s a spicy herbal flavor, with just a hint of grapefruit and peach beneath that.  The Golden Promise and honey malt add a bit of complexity to keep the beer from seeming boring, but there’s a bit of harsher bitterness in the finish.  Don’t get me wrong, this is a decent beer, but its pretty balanced and certainly not a hop bomb.  Its just a bit bland.

Mouthfeel:  Pretty nice body on this,  but nothing special.  Medium carbonation.  The bitterness in the finish creates a drier feeling on the tongue that interferes with what would otherwise be a smooth finish.

Overall:  I can’t say I’m necessarily let down here since I didn’t really have any expectations for this beer, but I’m certainly not impressed with it either.  I think the issue comes down to the amount of hops used.  The fresh whole cone hops have a lot more plant material by ounce, and while the aroma and flavor they provided was raw and pretty cool, I just didn’t have enough.  I should have done an even smaller batch to really make the most of them, but oh well.  I’d love to try another fresh hop beer though, and it was cool getting to use some varieties that I don’t use much if any of.  In the grand scheme of things, this is a forgettable beer.  I’ve brewed plenty worse, but I’ve certainly brewed better IPA’s.

 

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White Death (Version 4)-Northeast Style DIPA

White Death 4

White Death 2

This beer was brewed on 06/12/15.  As the title suggests, this is my fourth crack at this recipe.  The funny thing is, if you go back and look at the first take on this beer it will resemble this one more than versions 2 or 3.  I’ve gotten away from trying to get this more like a Heady Topper like beer specifically and more like a general “Northeast Style IPA.”

A Northeast IPA isn’t really a sub-category of IPA or DIPA, but it may as well be due to the similarities these fantastic hoppy beers in that part of the country have.  I’ve had hoppy ales from The Alchemist, Trillium, Lawson’s, Hill Farmstead, Treehouse, Bissell Brothers, Foundation, Tired Hands, and a few others from the Northeast.  Not bad for a guy living in Chicago.  The hoppy beers from these guys are exactly what I want for my beers and specifically my “flagship,” White Death.  A lot of the beers from these guys are light colored, hazy, have a creamy soft mouthfeel, low in harsh bitterness but huge on hop flavor.  That’s not to say you can’t find beers like that in other parts of the country, but these breweries in the Northeast seem to just “get it” when it comes to the hoppy styles.

While not truly sub-categories of IPA, most people will admit that there is East Coast IPA and West Coast IPA.  The standard East Coast variety tends to be a bit darker and maltier, maybe using more specialty grains, a bit fuller bodied, and not usually total hop bombs.  Think Dogfish Head 60 or 90 Minute IPA as a good example of this.  The West Coast IPA’s are usually a bit lighter in color and body, bitter, dry, and are huge in hop flavor with little in the way of malt.  Think Stone IPA and Pliny the Elder.  The Northeast IPAs seem to find a balance, taking the best parts of these two IPA types and combining them into an amazing whole.  Most of them have a hazy blonde or orange color that ranges from 4 to 7 or so on the SRM scale.  The mouthfeel of a lot of these beers is absolutely incredible.  They have a smooth, creamy, and soft mouthfeel that sets them apart from other IPAs.  The bitterness on these beers is noticeable, but rarely too assertive.  These beers tend to load up on late and dry hops to get huge flavor and aroma.  The balance of flavors a lot of these breweries pull off is incredible.

I’m trying to get White Death to encompass all the things I love about the beers from this part of the country.  I’m still using the Heady Topper Conan strain on this beer since I love the fruitiness and mouthfeel the yeast leaves.  I’m still chasing the incredible body that beers from Hill Farmstead, Trillium, and Tired Hands seem to have so I made a few adjustments with this goal in mind.  I added some of the oats back into the recipe from the 1st version as well as adding carapils to keep the beer from drying out too much.  I also changed the water profile by upping chloride and dropping the sulfate to smooth things out further.

After working with both Golden Promise and Pearl malt a few times each, I’ve found I prefer the Golden Promise.  Much like in the 1st version of this beer, I went with a 2 Row and Golden Promise mix.  Golden Promise has a sweet bready flavor that I really like, and I was tempted to use a higher portion of it, but in the end I went with a 50/50 split with the 2 row just in case that sweetness would take from the hops.  I still like the Pearl malt, but I find it more grainy rather than bready which is what I want in this beer.  I kept the pound of White Wheat I’ve been using in this recipe.

I simplified the hop bill a bit by cutting out the Apollo hops and upping the Columbus additions as well as using Columbus for bittering.  I actually like Apollo hops a lot, but my LHBS doesn’t stock them and I got tired of having to pay for shipping just for hops.  I tried to make Simcoe and Columbus the stars of the show more, with Mosaic and Citra supporting.  With Conan yeast adding fruity flavors in addition to the Mosaic and Citra, I felt loading more Simcoe and Columbus would bring out more of the pine and dank notes to balance the fruit.

This brew day was done on a Friday night, with just me and Kristin.  I love my busy brew days with my friends, but this was a nice low key change of pace.  This is my favorite beer I make, and I wanted to be focused on my process to get it perfect since this will be its first trip to the keg.  The brew night went perfectly, no steps were missed and no mistakes were made.  I hit my 152 mash temp on the dot.  I boiled for 60 minutes and chilled to 180 to do a 30 minute hopstand.  The OG came in at 1.075.  The first round of dry hops went into the primary at day 5.  They’ll sit there for 4 or 5 days until I rack to the keg for the second round of dry hops.

Here’s my water profile:

Ca+2           Mg+2         Na+         Cl-         SO4-2          HCO
153.6           0.0            0.0          194.9      104.0            0.000

Recipe Specifications
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Batch Size (fermenter): 5.50 gal
Bottling Volume: 5.25 gal
Estimated OG: 1.075 SG
Estimated FG: 1.015 FG
Estimated Color: 5.2 SRM
Estimated IBU: 95.1 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 73.00 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Ingredients:
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Amt Name Type # %/IBU
6 lbs Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM) Grain 1 39.8 %
6 lbs Pale Malt, Golden Promise (Thomas Fawcet Grain 2 39.8 %
1 lbs White Wheat Malt (2.4 SRM) Grain 3 6.6 %
12.0 oz Carapils (Briess) (1.5 SRM) Grain 4 5.0 %
8.0 oz Oats, Flaked (1.0 SRM) Grain 5 3.3 %
5.0 oz Acid Malt (3.0 SRM) Grain 6 2.1 %
8.0 oz Corn Sugar (Dextrose) (0.0 SRM) Sugar 7 3.3 %

1.50 oz Columbus/Tomahawk/Zeus (CTZ) [15.50 %] – Boil 60 min Hop 8 70.1 IBUs
2.00 oz Simcoe [13.00 %] – Boil 5.0 min Hop 9 15.6 IBUs
1.00 oz Columbus/Tomahawk/Zeus (CTZ) [15.50 %] – Boil 5 min Hop 10 9.3 IBUs
2.00 oz Simcoe [13.00 %] – Steep/Whirlpool 0.0 Hop 11 0.0 IBUs
1.50 oz Columbus/Tomahawk/Zeus (CTZ) [15.50 %] – Hop 12 0.0 IBUs
1.00 oz Mosaic (HBC 369) [12.25 %] – Steep/Whirl Hop 13 0.0 IBUs
0.50 oz Citra [12.00 %] – Steep/Whirlpool 0.0 m Hop 14 0.0 IBUs

1.00 oz Columbus (Tomahawk) [14.00 %] – Dry Hop 1
1.00 oz Simcoe [13.00 %] – Dry Hop 1
0.5 oz Mosaic (HBC 369) [12.25 %] – Dry Hop 1

0.50 oz Citra [12.00 %] – Dry Hop 2
0.50 oz Mosaic -Dry Hop 2
1.00 oz Simcoe – Dry Hop 2
1.00 oz Columbus – Dry Hop 2

2.0 pkg DIPA Ale (Omega Yeast Labs #OYL-052) Yeast

Mash Schedule: Single Infusion, Medium Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 15 lbs 1.0 oz
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Name Description Step Temperat Step Time
Mash In Add 18.20 qt of water at 163.7 F 152.0 F 60 min

Update 06/24/15:  The beer went in the keg last night for a second round of dry hopping.  It’ll sit there at room temp for 4 more days and then I’ll remove the hops and get carbonating.  The gravity sample came in at 1.014, right where I was hoping.  The sample tasted great.  One thing I noticed was the bitterness on this version.  I don’t think I’d ever bittered with Columbus until now and the bitterness is a bit sharper than Warrior or Apollo.  That’s not to say I don’t like it, and it’ll be interesting to see how it is with another week of conditioning and with carbonation.

Tasting Update 0717/15:

Appearance: The beer pours a beautiful hazy golden/orange color.  This version looks just like the previous batches.  The beer is hazy, which is fine by me for this type of beer.  Kegging helps the head stick around nicely and the beer leaves nice lacing on the glass.

Smell:  This batch had heavy orange citrus aroma.  There are hints of grapefruit, pineapple, and peach as well.  There also a heavier pine and earthy element to this batch.  The aroma of this one was pretty strong, I like what layering the dry hops does for this one.

Taste:  The bitterness in this version is sharper than previous ones from the use of Columbus as a bittering hop.  Its still a great beer, but the bitterness is a bit sharper than I’d prefer.  Some people would like this, but I want the flavors in this beer to be a bit rounder.  The bitterness of this beer lingers longer than I’d prefer.  This version of the recipe is very resiny.  There’s a bit less fruit than previous versions, but its still there.  The fruity hop flavors follow the nose with orange, grapefruit, peach, and pineapple.  The malt body has a nice bready flavor thanks to the Golden Promise, but I may just go with straight 2 row for simplicity’s sake next time.

Mouthfeel:  This is an area that improved over the previous versions.  I’m really like liking the higher levels of chloride in my hoppy beers.  That combined with the oats, wheat, and yeast really do wonders for the body of this one.  The beer has medium carbonation.

Overall:  This beer took a couple steps forward in some areas and a couple steps back in others.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m still really happy with this beer, but there are things I’d like to change before I brew it again.

Lets start with what works.  Kegging helped this beer in a number of areas.  Its held up way better than any of the batches of this that I bottled.  The aroma has been clearer and more powerful.  The flavors seem a bit bolder.  The mouthfeel is smooth, almost creamy, but still dry enough to stay very drinkable.

As far as improvements go, it’s mostly fine tuning at this point with one or two bigger things.  I’m going to bitter with a cleaner hop next time like Warrior, the Columbus was too sharp for my tastes.  I went a bit heavy on the Columbus in the flavor and aroma additions as well.  I need to bring some of the fruity notes from the Mosaic and Citra back into focus, this batch was a bit more resiny than I wanted.  For the malt, I may try going just 2 row as the base.  I’ll keep the wheat and oats, and likely add a bit of caramalt in place of the carapils.  The last charge is a maybe: yeast.  I really like Wyeast London Ale III when I used it in my summer ale.  I plan on doing a side by side with London Ale III and Conan in an APA as a test before I decide this for sure.  I really like both yeasts, and it will be the only way I can choose between the two.

All in all, this was still a great beer and I know what I need to do to perfect this recipe.