Brewing a Brett Session IPA

Not too long ago I brewed my first session IPA of the summer. I hopped that beer with Citra, and Galaxy, both of which are some of my favorite varieties. It was fermented with LAIII, and it turned out quite well if I do say so myself. I wondered, as I was enjoying it one day, how it would taste if fermented with a Brett strain. So, this is a very similar recipe, though I did add in equinox (another favorite of mine) as well. I thought its fruit and lime character would mesh well with Citra and Galaxy. Turns out I was right, this turned out at least as well, though it seemed to need a little extra time to come together. That seems counter intuitive for a hop forward style, but I have found that to be consistent when fermented with a Brett strain. It could be that Brett just needs a little more time to help punch out the over ripe fruit character I love so much.

About six months ago I decided to have a dedicated line for beers fermented with Brett strains. It’s nice not having to worry about scrubbing or changing tap lines every time they kick. Especially during the summer when my brewing schedule slows down, it’s helpful to have a beer on tap that doesn’t have to be enjoyed as fast as possible. I do enjoy how these beer change over a couple of months, instead of simply fading as most hoppy styles do. Brett IPA’s seem to gain complexity over time and continue to be delicious to the last drop.

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Though it may not be a Brett IPA, Little Brett by Allagash is a perfect example of how well Brett, and a well chosen hop variety (Mosaic in this case) can work together to form a delicious tasting “Wild Ale”

I don’t need to go into much detail with respect to the three varieties of hops I used for this beer. I’ve talked about them in previous posts, and they are generally all “winners”. Used in any hop forward style, you can’t really go wrong with any of them. Though, I have been told before by a fellow home brewer that Citra adds too much mango flavor, but what the fuck is that all about? If I’m getting a ton of tropical fruit character from any hop, I’m really happy. Anyway, I digress. Here’s what I love about Citra, Galaxy, and Equinox.

Citra- Tropical, mainly mango, and pineapple as well as citrus character. I find it to be very punchy, and a little dank at times.

Galaxy- Fruit, passionfruit, peach, and citrus. I don’t think it’s quite as punchy as Citra, but it is a fantastic hop.

Equinox- Citrus, especially lime, tropical, and yes green pepper. This is such a unique hop, it really helps your beer stand out from the usual hop forward styles.

As the title suggests this was fermented with a Brett Strain. My favorites so far are Brett C and Brett Amalgamation for hoppy styles. They both display high attenuation, and they seem to get to terminal gravity quickly, meaning they can be turned around in a short amount of time. This helps maximize those hop flavors and aromas we all love so much. I went with Brett C this time, not because I felt it was a better choice, but because I use those two strains interchangeably so I can maintain them more easily. This allows me to build them every couple of months, and I don’t have to worry about doing starters simply to feed those cultures.

The grist was kept fairly simple, and consistent with how I normally brew an IPA. Base malt is almost always 2-row, but this time I split it half and half with Maris Otter. I like to mash fairly low so that the beer finishes dry, because of this I like to add some malted wheat, or flaked oats to re-gain some mouth feel. I opted for the latter this time, along with some Carapils for head retention, Acid malt for water chemistry adjustment, and finally a little Carared.

I was happy with how this turned out. I did find it needed an extra week or so after kegging, before it really came together and hit its stride. While I could pick up on Citra quite easily, Galaxy and Equinox seemed to blend, and were a little more elusive. If you have any experience using these hops you likely could pick them out, but otherwise they mixed to a nice fruity character.

 

Recipe Targets: 4.5 Gallons,OG 1.043,FG 1.008,ABV 4.4%,IBU 49 ,SRM 3.9

Grain:

1.30 kg               Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM)         40.6 %
1.30 kg               Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.0 SRM)       40.6 %  
0.30 kg               Oats, Flaked (1.0 SRM)                  9.4 % 
0.10 kg               Acid Malt (3.0 SRM)                     3.1 % 
0.10 kg               Carapils (1.5 SRM)                      3.1 %    
0.10 kg               Carared (20.0 SRM)                      3.1 %

Hops:

15.00 g    Citra [13.40 %] - Boil 10 min      11.2 IBUs
15.00 g    Equinox [13.40 %] - Boil 10 min    11.2 IBUs
25.00 g    Citra [13.40 %] - Steep 10 min      9.3 IBUs
25.00 g    Equinox [13.40 %] - Steep 10 min    9.3 IBUs
21.00 g    Galaxy [15.10 %] - Steep 10 min     8.8 IBUs
20.00 g    Citra CHILLER [13.40 %]             0.0 IBUs
20.00 g    Equinox CHILLER [13.40 %]           0.0 IBUs
20.00 g    Galaxy CHILLER [15.10 %]            0.0 IBUs
Dry Hops:
56.00 g    Citra - Day 4 (21g), Day 8 (21g), Keg (14g)
56.00 g    Equinox - Day 4 (21g), Day 8 (21g), Keg (14g)      
56.00 g    Galaxy - Day 4 (21g), Day 8 (21g), Keg (14g) 

Extras:

1.00 Items   Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 10 mins)
1.00 tsp     Yeast Nutrient (Boil 10 mins)

Yeast:

Starter      Brettanomyces Claussenii (White Labs #WLP 645)

Brewed by my son, and I June 13th, mashed in with 8.5L of strike water to hit mash temp of 152F for 50 minutes. Mashed out with 4.5L of 200F water for 10 minutes, and finally batch sparged with 3.9 gallons of 168F water. 60 minute boil, 15 minute hop steep, chilled to 62F, and transferred to primary. Carboy was shaken for two minutes prior to, and after pitching yeast slurry. I really need to get an oxygen system someday. OG was 1.044, fermentation was starting within 12 hours, and going strong within 24. Primary fermentation was winding down within 72hours, and the first charge of dry hops were added at this point, second round of dry hops added on day 8. On day 12 beer was transferred to a co2 purged keg, seal added, and keg was purged again (multiple times). FG 1.005. Pressure was set to 30psi, shaken lightly and left in kegerator for 24 hours, pressure then reduced to serving.

Brewed – June 13th

First Dry Hop addition – June 17th

Second Dry Hop addition – June 21st

Kegged – June 25th

IMG_2346
This is what happens when a keg kicks much sooner than expected…

Appearance: Pours with a white head, half finger, and fades to quarter finger within a few minutes before fading to a thin ring eventually. Golden in color, and lightly hazy.

Aroma: Over ripe, and tropical fruit followed by some mild Brett funk.

Taste: Moderate fruit, and tropical hop flavors, mostly pineapple, and mango. Mid taste Brett makes its presence known, but never over takes the hops, light bitterness.

Mouth feel: Light-moderate carbonation, finishing dry.

Overall: This turned out pretty well. Honestly, I was slightly underwhelmed when this was first carbed. A friend told me it tasted like it needed a little time to come together, and he was right. About a week or so later the hop flavors and Brett character really merged, became increasingly tasty, and slightly more complex. Like all the good beer one brews, this didn’t last nearly long enough. I would brew this again, maybe with Brett Amalgamation, just to see how different it could be. I know I’ve talked about how much I love Equinox on it’s own previously. But, I’m really enjoying what it adds to other fruity, and tropical varieties. I wish it was easier to come by because I would definitely use it more frequently.

Brewing a Belgian Session IPA

Well, it was bound to happen at some point. I’ve fallen behind on blog posts, and as I’m writing this post this beer has already kicked, weeks ago. Summer is such a busy time, as I’m sure it is for everyone, and one of the last things on my priority list is putting aside time for writing, unfortunately. I do have a new respect for brewers that post on a timely, and consistent basis.

A little while ago I had mentioned that I still hadn’t brewed any iteration of a Belgian IPA. It’s something I’ve always had in my line up, but I kept pushing it back again, and again. Of course, I’m not talking traditional Belgian IPA, though those are very enjoyable in their own right. I mean a hop forward IPA, similar to the American styles I brew, fermented with a Belgian strain that would hopefully compliment the hops used in the recipe. This, I believe, is the most challenging aspect, mixing a Belgian strain with American, Aussie, etc hops.

To be completely honest I haven’t had many super hoppy Belgian IPA’s, only a few each of commercial, and home brew examples. The best iteration I’ve sampled has to be a home brew made by a friend of mine, he termed it a Belgian APA, the recipe can be found here. I highly recommend trying that recipe if you’re inclined to brew something along this “style”.

This beer was yet another learning experience for me in brewing. I have come to the realization that when brewing a new style for the first time that it is very helpful to brew someone else’s recipe, and preferably something you’ve sampled previously, and enjoyed. Using the recipe I mentioned above would have been the safe, and smart move. Unfortunately, I decided to throw caution to the wind and craft my own recipe, and this is where I went wrong.

Not to say this particular beer was undrinkable, or that I dumped any of it. Let’s just say that I was happy to see it go, and I gave away as much as possible (with fair warning, of course). I believe the grain bill, and hops I used should have produced a reasonably good beer, but my choice of yeast strain is what lead me astray.

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Image taken from Brewery website

 

Getting specialty strains at my LHBS can be a challenge at times, so when the strain I wanted wasn’t available I decided to go with what they had in stock, Wyeast 3522 Belgian Ardennes. I had used this strain previously for my attempt at a Houblon Chouffe clone,  and although I didn’t exactly hit the mark that time, it did have similarities to the real deal. I had thought I could at least partially remember what to expect from this strain, and that it would work well with my hop choices.

If you read the product description from the Wyeast website it sounds like a very reasonable, and safe strain choice for an IPA. Here is how it reads on their site:

“One of the great and versatile strains for the production of classic Belgian style ales. This strain produces a beautiful balance of delicate fruit esters and subtle spicy notes, with neither one dominating.”

I had decided early on I wanted to use Amarillo, and Waimea for this beer. Amarillo is known for its floral, and citrus character, though I tend to get a lot of fruit as well when it’s used correctly. Waimea is a hop I’ve only used once previously, but it has descriptors of citrus, and pine. I’m still confident these two hops would work well together, citrus, fruit, and pine sound like qualities that would mesh well with a strain known for mild fruity esters backed with light spice. I’m certainly not looking to brew this recipe again any time soon, but I will try to brew a Belgian IPA again at some point with a different yeast strain. Maybe I’ll even take my own advice, and use the recipe I mentioned above.

Recipe Targets: 4.0 Gallons, OG 1.043, FG 1.010, IBU 45, ABV 4.3%, SRM 4.7

Grain:

2.30 kg               Pilsner (2 Row) Bel (2.0 SRM)           79.1 %        
0.14 kg               Aromatic Malt (26.0 SRM)                5.0 %         
0.14 kg               Oats, Flaked (1.0 SRM)                  4.9 %         
0.14 kg               White Wheat Malt (2.4 SRM)              4.9 %         
0.09 kg               Carared (20.0 SRM)                      3.1 %         
0.09 kg               Acid Malt (3.0 SRM)                     3.0 %         

 

Hops:

4.00 g                Waimea [17.20 %] - Boil 60.0 min              
14.00 g               Amarillo [8.20 %] - Boil 10.0 min           
14.00 g               Waimea [17.20 %] - Boil 10.0 min              

28.00 g               Amarillo [8.20 %] - Steep/Whirlpool  10 min    
28.00 g               Waimea [17.20 %] - Steep/Whirlpool  10 min  
28.00 g               Amarillo CHILLER [8.20 %] 
28.00 g               Waimea CHILLER [17.20 %] 

14.00 g               Amarillo - Dry Hop (Day 5)
14.00 g               Waimea - Dry Hop (Day5)

28.00 g               Amarillo - Dry Hop (Day 9-14)
28.00 g               Waimea - Dry Hop (Day 9-14)               

Yeast:

1.0 pkg               Belgian Ardennes (Wyeast Labs #3522)

Extras:

1.00 tsp              Yeast Nutrient (Boil 10.0 mins)
1.00 Item             Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 10.0 mins)

 

Brewed by myself May 23rd, mashed in with 7.5L of strike water to hit mash temp of 152F for 50 minutes. Mashed out with 4.3L of 200F water for 10 minutes, and finally batch sparged with 3.8 gallons of 168F water. 60 minute boil, chilled to 62F, and transferred to carboy. Wort shaken for approximately two minutes prior to and after pitching yeast starter. OG hit the mark at 1.043. Fermentation active within 36 hours, temperature never rising above 72F.

  • May 26th – 28g each Waimea, and Amarillo added to primary.
  • May 30th – 42g each Waimea, and Amarillo added to primary.
  • June 3rd – FG reached 1.006, a few points lower than expected.
  • June 4th – Transferred to CO2 purged keg, set to 30psi.
  • June 6th – Lowered CO2 to serving pressure.

 

 

IMG_2313
This was taken about a month after kegging, and has lost the slight haze it had initially.

Appearance: Pours with a white head, quarter finger that fades to a thin ring after several minutes. Light orange/copper in color, mostly clear with only slight haze.

Aroma: Phenolic, mainly clove initially. Followed by some light hop aroma coming through afterwards, they seem a bit muddled and somewhat difficult to describe. Light fruit, and floral is the best I can do.

Taste: Follows the aroma, phenloic with light fruit, and floral hops. Something near the end that’s off putting, more than bitterness, and a little harsh. This faded some what with time, and eventually the fruit character of Amarillo seemed to punch through.

Mouth feel: Medium carbonation, with light-medium mouth feel, finishing slightly dry.

Overall: As mentioned above, this was decent, but not at all what I had hoped it would be. It did get better with time, when the yeast flavor seemed to subside, at which point I enjoyed what Amarillo brought to the beer. But, I couldn’t pick out Waimea really, or it was muddled by the yeast strain. Not to mention that harsh and/or bitter finish. I will come back to this style at some point. But for now I’m going to brew something in my comfort zone to get my confidence back up.

 

 

 

How I salvaged a Hoppy Kettle Sour

Last summer I tried my first hop forward sour beer, Funky Gold Amarillo by Prairie Artisan Ales. To be honest, I was blown away. It was moderately sour, quite clean with lots of Amarillo aroma and flavor. It was simple, but at the same time it had a good amount of complexity. It was intriguing, and I really wanted to re-create this style for myself at some point. Little did I know at the time, this style would give me far more trouble than any other, testing my patience and confidence on numerous occasions. I’ve had a handful of hoppy sours from commercial breweries since, but that beer still stands out for me, as does Funky Gold Mosaic. A very similar beer but with mosaic hops instead of Amarillo, obviously.

goldamarillo-2-320x400
Image sourced from http://www.prairieales.com/beer/funky-gold-amarillo/

 

Now when I say “salvaged” in the title, I mean it a little loosely. This post is mostly about my attempts, and subsequent failures trying to produce a super hoppy, sour beer. Though I did end up with a drinkable sour that was indeed hoppy, it did not proceed how I expected.

I’ve read countless blogs regarding fast souring with Lacto, and I’ve attempted this style previously, albeit with minimal success. After much reading on Milk the Funk, The Mad Fermentationist , and Ales of the Riverwards, not to mention American Sour Beers by Tonsmeire, I decided kettle souring was best suited to my current set up.

It seemed as though home brewers everywhere are turning these styles around in less than two weeks. But there are numerous options available to build your Lacto culture. I came across this post from Derek Springer of Five Blades Brewing. It’s a great step by step instructional for a Lacto starter.

Next I had to decide what type of Lacto I wanted to sour with, there were a few options I was interested in. There are other options of course, yogurt, sauerkraut, and so on, but these were the three I was most comfortable with at the time.

  • Pure strain – Such as L.Brevis
  • Probiotic Capsules – L.Plantarum
  • Grain

 

Lactobacillusbrevis
Lactobacillus Brevis. Image sourced from here

 

After deciding which type of Lacto I wanted to use, I had to settle on a yeast strain to ferment the wort with once it had reached a ph level I was happy with. If you’ve had a kettle sour, or any fast soured beer for that matter, you know that while they are quite tasty, they are not overly complex like a Flanders. This is one of the reasons why Berliner Weisse is traditionally served with raspberry or woodruff-flavored syrup, they also help to balance sourness. I thought the use of a Brett strain may add a little complexity, and luckily a friend had just ordered a vial of White Labs Brett Brux Trois Vrai for me. This is not a strain I had used before, but I felt it would be well suited for this style. Unfortunately this wasn’t the case, but more on that a little later.

Now I turned my attention to hop choices. For a little while I’ve been wanting to use Mosaic and Vic Secret together. They’re both very expressive and tasty on their own. I find Mosaic to be a little dank with lots of fruit, and tropical character. Vic Secret seems to be tropical as well, mainly pineapple with some pine character. So I was fairly confident these two would work well together, especially playing off some sourness and a restrained malt bill.

Speaking of malt bill, I wasn’t quite sure exactly what I was going to build. Prairie doesn’t list the grain they use on their site as many other breweries do, not that I was looking to clone Funky Gold, but it would have been great to know where to start. I also didn’t take any tasting notes at the time I had that particular beer, unfortunately. I do remember it being a light orange hue, and I don’t recall much contribution from the grain flavor wise. It was almost entirely the sourness, and delicious hops that intrigued me. With this all in mind, I tried to keep things relatively simple. Pilsner as the base, some Vienna, and Munich for a little biscuit, and bread respectively. Wheat malt for added mouth feel as I was planning on mashing quite low, and finally acid malt for water chemistry adjustment.

The very last variable I had to decide on was batch size. I brew many different amounts based on my needs. I tend to brew hop forward styles in four gallon batches because I want to get through those kegs before the hop character fades significantly. This time around I thought about brewing more and taking some of the wort for a fruit addition, as I didn’t want to go the syrup route I mentioned earlier. I thought a pineapple sour sounded good for the upcoming summer weather, and I thought it would go well with the tropical character of the hops I had chosen. Keeping this in mind I decided to brew 6.5 gallons, 4 gallons for the hoppy sour with heavy dry hopping, and the other 2.5 gallons would receive chunks of pineapple at a rate of 1.25lb/gal.

With all of that decided, I was eager to get my fast sour brew into a keg, so I got a starter going right away with Lacto Brevis. I had assumed that I would have a starter ready to go in less than a week, wort soured in a few days, and the batch completed within three weeks. I matched fermentation temperature to the strain, but even after a week the ph had not dropped below 3.8.

My next attempt involved using L.Plantarum, a probiotic, which was recommended by a friend after reading this post by Ed Coffey on brewing a Gose. I decided to use four capsules instead of the three he used, simply because of my issues in the past. Again this starter stalled, only reaching a ph of 3.9. So I tried again with a pure strain of Lacto Brevis, and I got the starter to 4.0. At this point the frustration was setting in, so I decided to go the grain route. First with 2-row, then acid malt, then a mix of those two with three L.Plantarum capsules. Fail, fail, and fail. None of them got below 3.8.

As a last ditch effort, I attempted one more starter with grain only, and after a week it had still only dropped to 3.8. At this point I decided to just walk away for a little while, I had family coming to visit, plus I wasn’t making any progress. I decided to leave the starter at around 105F for two full weeks. When my visitors left I thought about just dumping the starter, but my curiosity got the better of me. I tested the ph, and to my surprise it was down to 3.58, so the next day I mashed in, and collected my wort. I then brought the wort temp up to 180F to kill any potential bugs, chilled to 120F, and pitched the starter. I poured in 1L of seltzer water to purge the kettle (hopefully) of oxygen. Making some effort to purge the oxygen in your fermenting vessel is important to minimize butyric acid from being produced. I then covered the lid with saran wrap, placed the lid on, and watched the temperature closely. Every time it dropped below 90F I turned the stove burner on low-medium heat, and brought it back up to 120F. I repeated this for an entire week, and checked the ph at 36 hours, then about every 12 hours for a few days.

I know this was less than an ideal method, but I thought if the starter was below 3.8 it was worth a shot. Unfortunately the wort never got below 4.2, despite giving it a head start down to 4.8 with my mash adjustment. Then I had a full batch of non sour wort and I wasn’t sure if I should proceed with the boil, or cut my losses and dump the entire thing. By now I had spent a lot of time attempting to build starters and sour my wort. In the end, I decided to use all of the lactic acid I had left, 120ml, and it got the wort ph down to 3.5. From here I did a 60 minute boil, added a good amount of hops to steep and again when I started to chill.

 

Recipe Targets: 6.5 gallons, OG 1.050, FG 1.011, SRM 4.5, IBUs 17, ABV 5.2%

Grain:

0.15 kg               Rice Hulls (0.0 SRM)                    2.7 %         
3.50 kg               Pilsner (2 Row) Bel (2.0 SRM)           62.0 %        
0.50 kg               Munich Malt (9.0 SRM)                   8.9 %         
0.50 kg               Vienna Malt (3.5 SRM)                   8.9 %         
0.50 kg               White Wheat Malt (2.4 SRM)              8.9 %         
0.50 kg               Acid Malt (3.0 SRM)                     8.8 %         

Hops:

10 g               Mosaic [12.25 %] - Boil 10min      
10 g               Vic Secret [15.50 %] - Boil 10min   
20 g               Mosaic  [12.25 %] - Steep/Whirlpool 15min 
20 g               Vic Secret [15.50 %] - Steep/Whirlpool 15min   
28 g               Mosaic  [12.25 %] - Dry Hop Day 7       
28 g               Vic Secret [15.50 %] - Dry Hop Day 7
42 g               Mosaic [12.25%] - Dry Hop - Day 15
21 g               Vic Secret [15.5%] - Dry Hop - Day 15

Extras:

1.00             Whirlfloc Tablet Boil 10 mins
2.00 tsp         Yeast Nutrient Boil 10 mins

Yeast:

WLP 648 Brettanomyces Brux Trois Vrai 
US-05

Brewed with my son, mashed in with 15L of strike water to hit mash temperature of 149F. Mashed out with 8L of 206F water, and finally batch sparged with 4 gallons of 170F water. Wort temperature brought up to 180F for 15 minutes, then chilled to 120F, Pitched Lacto starter, added 1L seltzer water, covered with saran wrap, and placed lid on the kettle. Kettle was put on stove top. Temperature was kept between 90-120F for a week. Ph stable at 4.2 from day 3 through day 7. 120ml Lactic acid (88%) added, wort ph reduced to 3.5. Moved kettle to burner and proceeded with 60 minute boil, chilled to 62F, split batch, and pitched Brett starter.

Now you would think with all the trouble I had getting a starter, and wort ph to drop, that I would have been in the clear at this point. But oh no, this finicky beer was not done with me yet.

One week after pitching Brett, gravity was stable at 1.018. First dry hop charge added. The next day an active starter of US-05 added, one week later gravity down to 1.012, and second dry hop charge was added. Four days later gravity was down to 1.010, beer transferred to CO2 purged keg. Force carbed at 35psi for 48 hours, then reduced to serving pressure.

IMG_1631

Appearance: Pours with a white head, half finger that fades to a thin ring very quickly. Pale, golden yellow in color, and moderately hazy.

Aroma: Sourness seems to stun the aroma initially, then lemon, grapefruit, and pineapple come through, light to moderate in intensity. Very slightly dank as well.

Taste: Light to moderate sourness is front and center, which is followed my a moderate hop presence. Pineapple, meyer lemon, followed by lighter notes of mango, papaya, orange, and lime.

Mouthfeel: Light-medium carbonation, acidic, finishing dry.

Overall: I like this, I just don’t love it. I’m enjoying it now that it’s had a few weeks to settle in, but initially it had a near offensive chemical or metallic note that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. I assumed at the time it was due to using so much lactic acid to sour, instead of taking the natural route. But, it has faded, I’d say almost entirely. I think the Mosaic and Vic Secret work well together, definitely a combination I’ll be using again, I’d love to see how those would work with a strain like London Ale III.

I doubt I’ll be using Brett Brux Trois Vrai again any time soon, you’ll notice in my tasting notes I didn’t mention anything regarding flavors typical of Brett strains. That’s because it has absolutely no Brett character, at least none that I can pick up on. Not to mention it stalled fairly high for a moderate gravity wort, though had I done more reading ahead of time I would have known to ferment this strain at a higher temperature. White Labs recommends 70-85F, and I never let this beer get above 72F.

The worst part of the process to brew this type of beer was that I had so much trouble, yet I still have no idea why that is. I followed every guide, recommendation, etc that I could find with no little to no success. I would like to brew kettle sours on a fairly regular basis, but there’s little I could do differently next time. There is a Lacto blend from Omega that I’d love to try, though it’s difficult for me to get my hands on. Until then I am going to try another starter, this time using RO water. I brought up the issue of water chemistry with Derek Springer, Mike Tonsmeire, and a friend, and they all can’t see a reason for my particular water profile to deter the growth of Lacto. But, just to be safe, and rule out every possibility, I’ll give it a shot.

 

Coming Up: How to ruin an IPA with one simple ingredient choice. I’m on a roll!

 

 

 

 

Brewing a Session IPA with Galaxy, Citra & London Ale III

Well, it’s almost that time of year again. The temperature outside is finally climbing above the freezing point on a regular basis, and even getting quite warm here in Atlantic Canada. That generally means a common shift in brewing, or at least it does for me, to more session strength beer. Up until about six months ago, I was notoriously behind on brewing as the season dictated. I always seemed to wait until I was craving a particular style appropriate for the time of year before I got around to brewing said style. But no more, I’ve decided to try to plan months ahead (finally), so I brewed a session IPA in April. My kegs generally last about two months, give or take, depending on how much I enjoy the beer. So, this should set me up into June.

I enjoy a session IPA anytime of the year. But especially when it’s getting warmer outside, it’s refreshing to have a light ABV, highly hopped, easy to drink IPA. I’d use the word “crushable” as the ideal description, but that term is thrown around way too often, and far too loosely. Essentially something that is highly hopped like a standard IPA but sub 5% abv and IBU’s in the 40 range. Some commercial examples that come to mind would be Maine Island Trail Ale by Rising Tide, Diavoletto by Bissell Brothers and very local to me, Session IPA by Trailway. The first two I look for whenever I’m in Portland through the summer months, and Trailway’s version is always a solid choice, though even more enjoyable on a hot patio.

hops1

Writing a recipe for this style is pretty easy, simply take a favorite IPA recipe you have and dial back the ABV and IBUs. I tend to keep my dry hop additions consistent with my IPA ratios, and I think I’ve finally settled on a new dry hop routine (for now) that seems to be working well for me. I add about 40% of my dry hop addition on day 5, approximately the time primary fermentation is winding down. The rest I add four to five days later, which I leave for another four days. This allows me to keg a hop forward beer within two weeks of brewing. It seems that since I’ve started this routine the beers have had more pronounced hop character, and this one was even quite juicy, especially for the first couple of weeks. The grist is kept simple, as it is for all my hop forward styles now. This recipe has a mix of 2-row, Maris Otter, and a small amount of carared, and acid malt.

I try not to pick too many hop varieties for any IPA, I find that mixing more than a few varieties can muddle flavors. So I try to pick two or three, at most, that I think work well together. For this brew day I selected Citra and Galaxy. Citra because I love the tropical and slight dank quality it has, and well, who doesn’t love Citra? Galaxy I haven’t had the pleasure of using much prior to this, though the descriptors sound very interesting. Most resources online cited fruity, citrus, and tropical character, which seemed to be qualities that would match well with Citra. Or at least that’s what I was hoping.

With the hops selected, the only big decision left was yeast strain. Months ago I would have went with my default, US05. I find it quite clean, plus it flocculates, and attenuates very well. But more and more I find myself reaching for Wyeast 1318 London Ale III, it seems to help fruity hops punch through just a little more. It attenuates well, albeit not as well as US05, but if you mash reasonably low it will still finish in the 1.010 range. Wyeast mentions that it may finish slightly sweet, but it doesn’t seem to add to any up front sweetness from malt (which I’m not a fan of in any hop forward style). That slight sweetness they mention only seems to add to the beers being perceived as “juicy”. If that’s what you’re looking for in an IPA I suggest you give this strain a try. I’ll always keep a few packs of US05 on hand for impromptu brew days (though those rarely happen anymore), but  otherwise I’ll be making any hop forward American styles with LAIII for the foreseeable future.

 

Recipe Targets: 4 gallons, SRM 4.5, IBUs 42, OG 1.047, FG 1.012, ABV 4.6%

Grain:

1.50 kg Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM)  46.7 %
1.50 kg Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.0 SRM) 46.7 %
0.13 kg Carared (20.0 SRM)  4.0 %
0.08 kg Acid Malt (3.0 SRM) 2.5 %

Hops:

12.00 g Citra [12.90 %] – Boil 10.0 min
12.00 g Galaxy [15.10 %] – Boil 10.0 min
37.00 g Citra [12.90 %] – Steep/Whirlpool 15 mins
37.00 g Galaxy [15.10 %] – Steep/Whirlpool 15 mins
30.00 g Citra CHILLER [12.90 %]
30.00 g Galaxy CHILLER [15.10 %]
56.00 g Citra [12.90 %] – Dry Hop (split as per dry hop method mentioned above)
56.00 g Galaxy [15.10 %] – Dry Hop  (split as per dry hop method mentioned above)

Extras:

1 whirlfloc tablet @ 10mins

1 tsp yeast nutrient @ 10mins

Yeast:

Wyeast 1318 London Ale III

Brewed by myself, mashed in with 8.5L water to hit mash temp of 152F, mashed out with 4.7L of 200F, then batch sparged with 3.3 gallons of 170F. 60 minute boil. OG five points high 1.052, chilled to 62F, shook carboy and pitched starter. Fermentation quite active after 24 hours, and vigorous at only 36 hours, this strain can be a beast. FG 1.010, finishing a little lower than expected. Dry hops were added on day 4, and day 8, transferred to a co2 purged keg on day 12. Force carbed @35psi for 48 hours, then reduced to serving pressure.

This is by far the “juiciest” hoppy beer I’ve brewed, and certainly up there with my best so far. The first week or so after this was carbed it was extremely punchy, tons of hop aroma and flavor. I love how these two hops work together, melding tropical and fruit flavors. Initially Citra was dominating slightly, and it was a little dank, but Galaxy quickly caught up and things evened out.

My only complaint was that it was just slightly thin, not too much so, but it was noticeable to me. As with all hop forward styles I did find this beer starting to fade after only two weeks, though it was still very tasty. I think it’s time for me to look more seriously at creating an oxygen free system to transfer from primary to keg. I would certainly brew this again, although I’d love to try different hops of course. But, if you’re considering this recipe I would say adding some wheat malt or oats  (~5%) would be a good idea, simply to add a little mouth feel.

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Appearance: Pours with a thin white head, quarter finger, that lasts for a few minutes before fading to a thin ring. Golden orange in color, quite hazy.

Aroma: Moderate-high fruit hops, a touch dank with something slightly tropical, possibly mango.

Taste: Moderate to highly hoppy (for the style), lots of fruit initially, and then mango punches through and takes over. Finishes smooth with no bitterness, and just a little sweetness.

Mouthfeel: Light-medium carbonation with mouth feel that’s just slightly too light.

Overall: As I mentioned before this turned out really well. Loads of hop aroma and flavor, quite juicy. My only issues were that it was a little light in mouth feel when it was first carbed, though that did seem to remedy itself within a week or so. Perhaps the carbonation settling in helped to fill it out. The hops did start to fade faster than I would have liked (as they always seem to). Otherwise, one of my best hoppy beer yet.

 

Coming up: My (multiple) attempts of brewing a hoppy kettle sour, and all the problems I’ve had thus far with lacto starters.

 



Brewing a Rye IPA – Inspired by Daymark from Rising Tide

Over the years as a home brewer I’ve tried to brew a number of different types of IPA’s, as I’m sure any hop loving home brewer has. Double, red, session, black, Brett and white iterations have all come and gone, but one of the few types I hadn’t tried brewing yet was a rye IPA (as well as a Belgian IPA). I’ve had a couple of commercial, and home brew examples that I’ve enjoyed but for some reason I’ve never gotten around to even writing a recipe for myself.

Recently I made another trip to Portland, Maine. One of the beer I happened to enjoy during my time there was Daymark by Rising Tide. It is a rye pale ale, light golden color, mild bitterness and light-medium hop aroma and flavor. Though I knew I didn’t want to brew a clone per se, it did inspire me to brew something along the same lines. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great beer, but I wanted to bring the hop aroma and flavor up a few notches.

Which brings me to a question I find I’m asking myself more and more lately. Have I completely ruined myself for hoppy beer? By that I mean, if a beer I brew doesn’t have loads of hop aroma with citrus, tropical, fruit character (depending on what I’m brewing), I’m disappointed. If a beer I brew isn’t at least on the verge of being “juicy”, I’m disappointed. Yes I’ve read about the arguable “lupulin shift”, some say it applies only to bitterness tolerance, others to hops in general. I’m not sure if it’s an accurate idea and I’m certainly not looking to start a debate about the concept. I just know that since trying beers like The Substance by Bissell Brothers, or Scaled Up by Trillium, I want more from the hop forward styles I brew at home, and from other commercial examples.

rising-tide-daymark-american-pale-ale
Photo: http://www.risingtidebrewing.com/daymark/

So, like I said, as much as I enjoyed Daymark, I used it as inspiration for this beer instead of looking for a clone recipe. Luckily, I remembered a friend of mine did try to clone Daymark a few years back with this recipe. I came up with my own grain bill but decided to use his hop suggestions, though I did make increases simply because I find my beer to be less hoppy than his consistently. So the grist was fairly simple, 2-row for the base malt, rye malt (obviously), wheat malt for added mouth feel, acid malt for water chemistry adjustment, and finally rice hulls (rye can cause slow or stuck sparges). His recipe used Columbus and Centennial, I decided to use Chinook as well because I felt its citrus, pine, and spice character would go really well with this style.

It was nice brewing with these hops for a change. I tend to always chase the newest varieties, or at least as often as possible. Galaxy, Vic Secret, Kohatu, and so on. I really enjoy trying new hops and getting to experience what each variety has to offer. But, in doing that, the “classic” hops like those in this recipe can be over looked and honestly, under appreciated.

Here’s what I picked out of the BJCP for a rye IPA that I felt would work well and happened to be in my wheel house. Citrus and pine character with intense hop aroma, high hop flavor, medium-light body, and finishes dry. The style, of course, is much broader than that, but that is what I know I would like in a rye IPA.

I have a great amount of respect for the brewers, both home and commercial, that can nail down a beer perfectly within the BJCP guidelines of a specific style. This takes a great amount of experience and hard work. Not to just create a beer within said guidelines, but to make that beer outstanding. As much respect as I have for those brewers, I’m just not one of them. Aside from a number of Belgian styles, I don’t get too excited about guidelines, I tend to try to brew beer that I know I’ll enjoy, especially hop forward styles. On occasion though the BJCP guidelines seem to line up (for the most part) with what I’m interested in brewing.

Recipe Targets: 4 gallons, SRM 4.4, IBUs 44, OG 1.054, FG 1.010, ABV 5.7%

Grain:

3 kg 2-Row (71.4%)

0.6 kg Rye malt (14.3%)

0.2kg Wheat malt (4.8%)

0.2kg Acid malt (4.8%)

Hops:

24g Centennial (9%) @10

24g CTZ (10.9%) @10

30g Centennial (9%) 10 min hop steep

30g CTZ (10.9%) 10 min hop steep

28g Chinook (day 4 fermentation)

28g Centennial dry hop 5 days

28g CTZ dry hop 5 days

28g Chinook dry hop 5 days

28g Centennnial keg hop

28g CTZ keg hop

Extras:

1 whirlfloc tablet @10

1 tsp yeast nutrient @10

Yeast:

1 pack US05 (rehydrated)

Brewed by my son and I, mashed in with 11L, hitting mash temp of 150F. Mashed out with 6.2L, and finally batch sparged with 2.5 gallons of 170F water. 60 minute boil. OG five points high at 1.059, chilled to 60F and pitched re-hydrated pack of US05. Fermentation noticeable at 36 hours, and going strong at 48 hours. 1 ounce of chinook added on day 4 to primary. Second dry hop addition added on day 7. Day 12 beer transferred to CO2 flushed keg, keg hops added to weighted muslin bag. Force carbed in kegerator at 35psi for two days then reduced to serving pressure. IMG_1495

Appearance: Pours with a thin ring of white head that fades quickly, pale orange in color. Moderately hazy.

Aroma: Moderate citrus hop aroma, mainly grapefruit.

Taste: Light-medium bitterness, orange and grapefruit hop flavor followed by slight rye spice. A touch of sweetness but it fades quickly and finishes fairly dry.

Mouthfeel: Light-medium carbonation with medium, smooth mouth feel.

Overall: I like it, and it’s pretty close to what I had in mind when I was writing the recipe. I do think I’ll be sticking with a 10 minute hop addition again, I had dropped that in favor of a heavier flame out addition recently. I would like to try brewing this again with a Saison yeast strain. I think the citrus hops and spice from the rye would work well with wyeast 3711 French Saison. Until then, I’ll be chasing the next hoppy beer, something session strength coming soon.

Brewing a Brett IPA with Nelson Sauvin and Brett C

My very first blog post was about a Brett IPA (turned pale ale) using Kohatua and Vic Secret. At the end of that post I mentioned brewing another Brett IPA using Nelson Sauvin and a different Brett strain (last time I used Amalgamation). So here we are.

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Last summer I was fortunate enough to attend the Allagash Street Fair in Portland, Maine. It was a great event with lots of delicious beer. I was surprised to find that my two favorite beer were from Austin Street Brewery. Simply because there was a solid line up of breweries pouring at the event. Allagash (of course), Bissell Brothers, New Belgium, Dogfish Head and more. But Austin’s Pale ale and Brett IPA (Brett Loves Hops) really stood out to me, the IPA especially. It was a little funky with tons of over ripe fruit and tropical flavors, and incredibly delicious. Anyone that knows me knows that Nelson is my favorite hop, it has such a unique aromatic and flavor profile. Stick your nose in a freshly opened bag of Nelson if you don’t believe me, it’s hop nirvana. If you haven’t tried brewing with it before it is described as having white wine, fruit, passion fruit and freshly crushed gooseberry characteristics. I’m sure I haven’t tried freshly crushed gooseberries to compare, but this is an amazing hop nonetheless.

As with my Brett Pale Ale I stuck with a supportive grain bill for this beer. I want the Nelson and Brett to really stand out. Aside from 2 row I used wheat malt, and flaked oats for mouth feel and body. Carapils for head retention and acid malt for water chemistry adjustment purposes. I used polaris at 60 to make up approximately half the ibu’s, otherwise as the title states I used all Nelson Sauvin for the remainder of the hop bill. I save the entirety of those hops for hop steep, chiller, and dry hop additions, trying to pull as much flavor and aromatic punch as possible. My yeast selection was easy, Brett C WLP 645, as this is what’s listed on Austin Street’s description of their Brett Loves Hops. I’ve used it before with my Allagash Midnight Brett Clone and it worked well. I found it has a mild to moderate amount of Brett funk, but minimal leather and horse blanket character, hopefully resulting in a more pronounced hop profile.

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The one thing I have found with using Brett in primary is inconsistency in attenuation. When you use US05 often enough you know, within a couple of points, where its going to finish, depending on mash temp and pitching rate. But with Brett strains I haven’t found that consistency, at least not yet. I do love that they’ve been attenuating quite well so far, but I haven’t been able to reliably predict a FG. Maybe I just need more experience with these strains, only time will tell.

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Recipe Targets: 4.0 gallons, OG 1.057, FG 1.012, IBUs 57, SRM 3.7, ABV 5.8%

Grain:

3.0 kg 2 Row (70.6%)

0.4 kg Flaked Oats (9.4%)

0.3 kg White Wheat Malt (7.1%)

0.24 kg Carapils (5.6%)

0.15 kg Acid Malt (3.5%)

Hops:

10g Polaris (21%) @60

56g Nelson Sauvin (11.4%) 15 minute steep

56g Nelson Sauvin (11.4%) chiller addition

56g Nelson Sauvin (11.4%) Dry Hop 5 days

56g Nelson Sauvin (11.4%) Keg Addition

Extras:

1 Whirlfloc tablet @10

1 tsp yeast nutrient @10

Yeast:

WLP 645 Brett Claussenii

Brew day went as expected. Brewed by my son and I, mashed in with 11L hitting target mash temp of 152F. Mashed out with 6L, and finally batch sparged with 2.5 gallons of 170F water. OG a few points high at 1.060, chilled to 60F and pitched Brett C. Fermentation well under way within 24 hours, primary seemed to wind down within three days. First dry hop addition added on day 12, left for 5 days. Racked to co2 purged keg with weighted bag of hops. FG 1.006. Left for two days at room temp, then put in fridge and started force carbing at 40 psi for two days, then reduced to serving pressure.

Johnsons

Appearance: Pours very pale yellow (lighter than pictured), straw color with a light fluffy head that fades to a ring within a few minutes. Mostly clear.

Aroma: Slight barnyard funk followed by typical Nelson aroma, grape, tropical notes, maybe a little pineapple.

Taste: Good amount of Nelson character up front. To me Nelson is a complex hop, I always have a hard time describing the flavor, though it’s easy to pick out in any beer once you’ve tried it. Essentially the flavors carry over from the aroma, white wine, grape, light pineapple and citrus. Mid taste some mild barnyard funk followed by light bitterness that fades as the beer finishes dry.

Mouthfeel: Medium carbonation with medium light mouth feel that finishes quite dry.

Overall: I do enjoy this beer, it smells great, and it has a fair bit of Nelson character. But considering the heavy hop additions this is not as juicy and punchy as I would expect it to be. Certainly not nearly as good as Austin Street’s version, not that I expected it to be. But I do find myself wanting more, especially from such a punchy (and expensive) hop as Nelson. Lately I have been omitting a 10 minute addition of hops in favor of more added for the hop steep. I think for my next batch I’ll try the 10 minute addition again and see if that gets me more pronounced hop flavor. I would recommend Brett C as a primary strain and of course Nelson, if you haven’t brewed with it before, try it! Despite the cost it is worth it to use at least a couple of times a year. I would like to try brewing a double batch and fermenting the other half with a clean strain like US05, just to compare. But Nelson is just so expensive and it can be difficult to acquire at times, at least where I live. I doubt I’ll ever get the chance.