NEIPA with one of my favorite hops – Azacca

I think it’s pretty easy to tell I’m on a NE style kick lately based on my recent posts. I’m still determined to have some version on tap at all times. After my double IPA I wanted to bring things back to the IPA range and limit the hops to a couple of varieties. I really like being able to pick out specific hops in a hop forward style.

One of my absolute favorite hops is Azacca, it’s normally very punchy and known for its tropical character like mango and pineapple as well as some citrus notes with tangerine. Spice and pine is also mentioned in the descriptors but I tend not to get the latter when I’ve used Azacca in the past. Based on all this and the fact that I’ve never used this particular variety in an IPA I thought it was the perfect choice for the majority of the recipe.

Another variety I had on hand was Kohatu, it also has some tropical character and pine as well. This sounded like a perfect match for a juicy NEIPA with lots of tropical fruit flavors. The only downside to Kohatu is that in my experience it is a little mild compared to some of the really punchy hops out there. But I wasn’t planning on using a lot of it, it was merely being used to compliment but certainly not compete with the Azacca.

Unfortunately this was one of those brew days where I learned something from making a mistake. I think providing you learn from your mistakes, that brew day is not entirely a failure. When I opened the bag of Azacca (from a high quality source) I was surprised that the hop aroma wasn’t that punchy. Sure it smelled good but it was much more mild than what I remembered from this variety. I should have subbed in another hop at this point, I should have trusted my nose. Especially since the Kohatu is also known for being mild. But I really wanted to make a NEIPA with these varieties so I stubbornly moved on as planned.

As you can guess this turned out quite mild. There was nothing wrong with it per se, aside from how mild the aroma and flavor was compared to how much hops I used in the recipe. It was simply just ok. I let it go for a couple of weeks after kegging but I wasn’t really pouring it often because I wasn’t really enjoying it. This is where I decided to incorporate keg hops to breathe some life back into this NEIPA.

I had used keg hop additions on a regular basis for quite a while. But when I started brewing NE styles I found I no longer needed to use keg hop additions to get punchy hop character. The dry hop addition early on in primary allows for biotransformation of the hop oil compounds and the addition I use on day 7 also helps to really make those hop aromas and flavors more pronounced. This time however I decided to throw in three ounces into the keg as a last ditch effort to bring this NEIPA back from mediocrity.

I would have to say I was pleased with the results, within a few days the aroma and flavor had certainly become more intense. I’m not going to pretend this simple addition brought the beer from being mediocre to great. But it is more enjoyable now and I find myself pouring it more often so I think it was worth the easy fix.

Still the fact that this batch didn’t turn out as planned has me itching to brew something similar again soon to get my juicy hop fix. Otherwise I think with a good batch of Azacca or another great hop variety this recipe is solid.

 

Recipe Targets: 5 gallons, OG 1.061, FG 1.014, ABV 6.2%, IBUs 48, SRM 3.8

Grain:

3.80 kg Pale Malt (2 Row)                71.2 %
1.30  kg Oats, Flaked                         24.3 %
0.24 kg Acid Malt                                4.5 %

Hops:

7.00 g Polaris [21.00 %] – Boil 60 min                   17.9 IBUs
42.00 g Azacca [8.40 %] – Boil 10 min                   15.5 IBUs
14.00 g Kohatu [6.40 %] – Boil 10 min                    3.9 IBUs
35.00 g Azacca [8.40 %] – Steep 15 min                  8.9 IBUs
28.00 g Azacca CHILLER [8.40 %]                           0.0 IBUs
14.00 g Kohatu [6.40 %] – Steep 15 min                  2.7 IBUs
14.00 g Kohatu CHILLER [6.40 %]                           0.0 IBUs
42.00 g Azacca [8.24 %] – Dry Hop Day 3
28.00 g Kohatu [6.50 %] – Dry Hop Day 3
49.00 g Azacca [8.24 %] – Dry Hop Day 7
14.00 g Kohatu [6.50 %] – Dry Hop Day 7

28 g   Azacca                  Keg Hop

28 g   Amarillo               Keg Hop

28 g   Southern Cross    Keg Hop

Extras:

1 tsp yeast nutrient Boil 10 min

Yeast:

Wyeast 1318 London Ale III

Brew day went as expected hit mash temp of 150F, pre boil gravity was slightly high at 1.051, 60 minute boil. Chilled to 60F, pitched LAIII, max temp of 72F reached during course of fermentation. Dry hops added on Day 3 and 7, kegged on day 11.

OG 1.059

FG 1.012

ABV 6.2%

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Appearance: Pours with a white head, 1/4″ which fades to a thin ring within a few minutes. Light golden in color.

Aroma: Slight hop aroma, tropical, citrus.

Taste: Light hop flavor, some pineapple/mango as well as apricot. I believe the yeast vs hop flavors were close to being balanced which lead to more of a mix of flavors rather than the LAIII simply accentuating the character and making the Azacca more punchy.

Mouthfeel: Light to moderate, medium carbonation, finishing slightly dry.

Overall: I would say this turned out as mediocre. As mentioned earlier the hops just didn’t have the punch expected. My approach to brewing a NEIPA didn’t change so I have to believe it was the quality of the hops that made this difference. There wasn’t anything wrong with the flavor or aroma it simply lacked the punch I’m used to.

As a result I added 3oz of dry hops to the keg after a couple of weeks. This noticeably increased the hop aroma and even flavor. It had much more citrus, fruit and tropical character after this addition. This brought the beer from mediocre to good. Not great but I enjoyed it more after this hop addition. While I don’t plan to go back to keg hopping on a regular basis it is nice to know I can “save” a batch I’m not overly happy with using this method.

 

Update: Midnight Brett Clone

Last year I wrote about my attempt of brewing a clone of Allagash’s Midnight Brett. Read about it here if interested. It’s a dark ale fermented with their house strain of Brettanomyces.  At the time I was looking to turn the batch around quickly so I packaged mine in about a month after brewing. However Allagash’s technical lead recommended a 7-8 month fermentation prior to bottling. So I brewed a 10 gallon batch and left the additional 5 gallons in primary to ferment for a year. I had planned on bottling at the 7-8 month mark as recommended but things got busy and I thought the extra time couldn’t really hurt so I let it go.

Soon after bottling this beer I did a side by side with one of the few remaining bottles I had of the original batch I had bottled after about a month. I couldn’t believe how different they were. Both versions were enjoyable but the first batch had a much more mild Brett character, still displaying some roast character and over ripe fruit. The second version was very funky, lots of barn yard and leather notes. I do enjoy this batch but I think I prefer the first, if I brew this again I would likely split the difference and bottle after approximately 6 months. Tasting notes for version 2 below.

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Appearance: Pours with a light tan head, 1/4″ that recedes to a thin layer that persists. Very dark, essentially black in color.

Aroma: Lots of Brett barn yard funk with some leather notes. Mild roast and dark fruit.

Taste: Follows from the aroma, very funky with mostly barn yard and pronounced leather. Followed by slight roast and possibly some over ripe dark fruit. Not bitterness to speak of.

Mouthfeel: Hard to describe, silky, moderate to full. Moderate carbonation but seems to have micro bubbles.

Overall: Enjoyable and I’ll be interested to see how this ages and changes over the next couple of years. As I mentioned earlier, I would likely package at the 6 month point if I was to brew this again.

Brewing my annual Coffee Stout

A coffee stout is something I brew once a year in the winter, it’s a style I tend to crave when the weather gets cold. The version I brewed last year turned out well, you can read about it here if you’re interested. Last year I used some Starbucks coffee which worked fine but I made notes to use more this time around to really get a good punch of coffee character from the beer.

I’m lucky to live close to a very talented roaster, Jonnie Java and I’ve been spoiled to consistently grab great beans roasted within a couple of days. Being a coffee geek I really wanted to use freshly roasted beans this time around to see if it would make an impact on the beer. I can tell you it had a much larger influence on the beer than I expected. I used beans that had only been roasted for a day prior to using them in a cold brew and dry “bean” addition.

I had initially planned to ferment this with a German yeast strain, even though I don’t have much experience with them. The idea was to brew something along the lines of Ursa Minor by Rising Tide with a coffee twist to it. I was hoping that the German yeast strain would help accentuate some fruit character in the beer. But my LHBS couldn’t get the strain I wanted in a reasonable amount of time so I decided to go with my dependable LAIII. It exudes fruit character and esters so I was hoping this would get me in the ball park of what I was aiming for.

I kept my grain bill pretty consistent with my previous recipe. I did up the flaked oats hoping to add some mouth feel that I felt was lacking last time. I also added a 10 minute addition of Amarillo to try to help add some fruity hop flavor to compliment the LAIII.

I’ve always found a really good coffee bean can display many complexities like a really good beer. One of my favorite beans from Jonnie is Ethiopian Yergacheffe, it has some berry character, mild chocolate, slight citrus yet is still quite dark. But I was worried the roast from the stout would over shadow much of that delicious bean. So I decided to go with a Colombian bean which was full of dark chocolate character plus an Ethiopian Mokamba bean which has some milk chocolate and blueberry notes.

For my last coffee stout I added beans to the mash and then a cold bean and dry “bean” addition. But I wondered if the mash addition had much, if any, influence on the beer at all. Not to mention using beans in the mash can potentially lead to some harsh bitterness, though I haven’t had that experience so far. So as mentioned earlier I went with a cold brew coffee and dry bean addition.

This turned out fairly well, but I seriously underestimated the impact of using very fresh beans. The initial pulls from the tap were all coffee. Like cold brewed carbonated coffee. Now this may sound great to any of you that love coffee as much as I do. But the coffee flavor completely overshadowed any of the actual beer character. The fruit character I was hoping LAIII would help add? Completely unrecognizable in this coffee bomb. Not to say the flavor isn’t good, I do enjoy it, and still am. But this is far too much coffee character even for a coffee stout lover like myself. I would cut my coffee additions by 50% next time around but I would still use freshly roasted beans.

Brew day went as expected. Mashed in with 15L of 166F water to hit mash temp of 154F, mashed out with 9L of 196F water. Drained the mash tun completely and then batch sparged with 8.4L of 165F water. Pre boil gravity 1.051, a few points low. 60 minute boil, chilled to 60F and pitched LAIII.

 

OG 1.063

FG 1.024

ABV 5.1%

 

Recipe Targets: 5 gallons, OG 1.067, FG 1.019, ABV 5.8%, IBUs 45, SRM 56

Grain:

4.00 kg Maris Otter                                        68.1 %
0.40 kg Chocolate Wheat Malt                       6.8 %
0.40 kg Roasted Barley                                    6.8 %
0.30 kg Crystal Malt-120L                              5.1 %
0.30 kg Oats, Flaked                                         5.1 %
0.20 kg Midnight Wheat Malt                        3.4 %
0.15 kg Carafa Special II                                  2.6 %
0.12 kg Acid Malt                                              2.0 %

Hops:

14 g Polaris [21.00 %] – Boil 60 min       34.2 IBUs

28 g Amarillo [9.20 %] – Boil 10 min     10.9 IBUs

Extras:

1 tsp Yeast nutrient

1 Whirlfloc tablet

5 oz cold brew coffee @ kegging Day 21

1.5 oz dry bean @ kegging Day 21

Yeast:

Wyeast 1318 London Ale III

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Appearance: Pours with a light brown head, 1″ which fades to a thin layer within minutes. Pitch black in color.

Aroma: Intense coffee, dark chocolate, some slight roast and dark fruit (I’m reaching here to get past that bracing coffee aroma).

Taste: Intense coffee. It actually tastes like carbed cold brewed coffee. Some dark chocolate notes, slight roast and possibly dark caramel.

Mouthfeel: Moderate, light to medium carbonation.

Overall: This does taste pretty good and I am a huge dark roast coffee lover. The darker the better usually. I love making a cup of intensely flavored coffee using my Bialetti or Aeropress. So you would think I would love the extremely high level of coffee character in this beer. Here’s the problem, a good coffee stout should have a balance of coffee to roasted grain character. This beer is all coffee, two months later and it has finally faded enough to be able to pick up on slight flavors from the grain bill. The hope I had of adding some fruit character from the Amarillo addition and use of LAIII were dashed overwhelmingly by excessive coffee additions. When I brew this again next year I will be cutting the coffee additions by half and increasing the ABV to ~7% in hopes I will get a more “balanced” coffee stout. I’m sure I could use a neutral yeast like US05 as well.

 

Brewing a NEBIPA

For the last couple of years in early December I’ve brewed a black IPA, it’s a style I like to have on tap around Christmas. So, not wanting to break from tradition that’s what I did again this year.

Yes I know. NEBIPA isn’t a “thing”. But I felt it was at least some what appropriate considering how I decided to brew this. Lately I’ve been brewing NE styles almost exclusively. So I thought I’d try something different and apply some of those techniques towards a black IPA.

Even though this is my third “annual” Black IPA, I have brewed a few of them prior as well. Usually I try to have a present but restrained roast profile with citrusy hops and light to moderate bitterness. But I rarely brew the same beer twice, I always want to modify a recipe in some way. Last year I kept nearly everything identical from the year before, but I fermented the beer with a Brett strain and it turned out pretty well. I have no comparison for a Brett Black IPA but I enjoyed it.

As I already mentioned I have been brewing mainly NE styles lately so I wondered how a Black IPA would turn out if I applied some of those techniques. I decided to keep my previous grist fairly consistent except I substituted some of the base malt for flaked oats. I used my go to LAIII and kept my dry hopping schedule of approximately day 3 and day 7.

I was a little concerned prior to brewing that this would look like black mud in a glass due to the haze from a NE style. This did turn out hazy but it was surprisingly not murky which I’ve read can easily happen when your SRM gets too high using the techniques listed above.

I have found that a Black IPA can be a little fickle to brew, or at least for it turn out as you want it to. I like a little more bitterness than my usual hop forward styles and trying to balance the right amount of roast to hop character can be an issue. This beer did turn out pretty well, it was a bit more fruity than citrusy but still quite tasty. This could be in part from the choice of LAIII.

 

Recipe Targets: 5 gallons, OG 1.060, FG 1.014, ABV 6.1%, IBUs 72, SRM 31

Grain:

3.50 kg Pale Malt                                    69.8 %
0.80 kg Oats, Flaked                               15.9 %
0.26 kg Carafa II                                       5.2 %
0.16 kg Wheat Malt, Midnight               3.1 %
0.10 kg Crystal Malt -120L                     2.1 %
0.10 kg Acidulated                                   2.0 %
0.10 kg Carafoam                                     2.0 %

Hops:

10.00 g Polaris [21.00 %] – Boil 60 min                      25.7 IBUs
35.00 g Chinook [12.40 %] – Boil 10 min                    19.3 IBUs
28.00 g (CTZ) [10.90 %] – Steep 15 min                       9.3 IBUs                   28.00 g Centennial [9.00 %] – Steep 15 min                7.7 IBUs
28.00 g Chinook [12.40 %] – Steep 15 min                 10.6 IBUs
28.00 g Centennial [9.00 %] – Chiller                          0.0 IBUs
28.00 g (CTZ) [10.9%] – Chiller                                     0.0 IBUs
28.00 g Chinook [12.40 %] – Chiller                              0.0 IBUs
56.00 g Centennial [10.00 %] – Dry Hop *
56.00 g Chinook [13.00 %] – Dry Hop  *
56.00 g Citra [12.00 %] – Dry Hop *

* Dry hop additions were split. Half on day 3, the other half on day 7

Extras:

1 tsp yeast nutrient

Yeast:

Wyeast 1318 London Ale III

 

Brew day went as expected. Mashed in with 13L of 162F water to hit mash temp of 150F for 50 minutes. Mashed out with 7L of 204F water. Drained mash tun and batch sparged with 11L of 165F water. Pre boil gravity a little high at 1.055. 60 minute boil.

OG 1.062

FG 1.012

ABV 6.6%

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Appearance: Pours with a tan head, 1/2″ which fades to a thin layer. Deep black in color.

Aroma: Hop aroma in light to moderate intensity, fruit and citrus. Followed by slight roast.

Taste: Moderate amount of fruity hops, slight citrus as well. Followed by light roast and some very slight coffee and chocolate notes. Light bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Moderate mouth feel, medium carbonation. Finishes quite dry.

Overall: I’m quite happy with how this turned out. I ended up with more fruit character than I expected and less citrus which I prefer in a Black IPA. This could be partially due to the choice of LAIII. I like the level of roast, its present without being overbearing. I’ll likely tweak this again next year when I brew it prior to Christmas but I feel like this is getting dialed in to my preferences.

 

Brewing my first competition beer – NEIIPA

I have come to be a little obsessed with the New England “styles”. So much so that I really want to keep one on tap at all times. Recently I’ve brewed a pale ale and two iterations of an IPA, so it only made sense to brew a Double IPA next. The timing of this brew lined up closely to a home brew competition that was reasonably close for me to enter, the Big Spruce Home Brew Challenge.

As the title of this post mentions, I had never entered a competition before. Not because I didn’t want to, but because over the last few years the local competition styles haven’t been of interest to me. I’m not one to brew a style I wouldn’t normally just to enter a competition. I mean if I haven’t brewed it before or don’t really plan to brew and work on that style then what’s the point? Between family time and shift work my brew days can be difficult to fit in and so I’d rather use that time accordingly.

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Image sourced from http://www.trilliumbrewing.com/trillium-scaled-way-up-double-ipa

I’ve been fairly picky about the way I brew DIPA’s for the last couple of years. I generally want to keep the ABV between 7.5-8%. Once they start creeping towards the 9% range I find that malt sweetness is nearly unavoidable. Or at least it has been when I’ve brewed them in the past and that’s something I don’t enjoy at all. So I tend to keep the grain bill simple and the percentages fairly consistent with my IPA recipes. But push the OG just barely into the IIPA range. The downside to this approach is that if your OG is low at all you’re likely to fall out of the IIPA category if you like to stick by the BJCP guidelines. Normally I don’t concern myself with those guidelines (not that you should ignore them) when brewing hop forward styles. At this point I know what I like in a Pale Ale, IPA, IIPA and so I brew to those preferences.

Planning this recipe was fairly easy, use hops that I love, in this case Mosaic, Equinox, Simcoe and Amarillo. Keep the grain bill simple, mainly 2-row, Maris Otter and flaked oats which would make this more of a NEIIPA I guess. Use LAIII, my go to for New England styles and that’s it.

I’m sure I don’t need to go into detail describing these hops and what they bring to a beer. I love all of them, especially the Mosaic and Equinox. My only concern was that Mosaic, Simcoe and Amarillo have the potential to be dank. Which I love but combining all three had the potential to push the level of dank into a range some might not enjoy (understandably). More on that later. As usual almost all of the hops used in this recipe were late, steep and dry hop additions. With the latter being split, half on day 3 the other half on day 7 with plans to keg on day 11 or 12.

Brew day and fermentation went as planned and this turned out really well. The first week it was especially juicy and dank and delicious. Here’s the catch. Beer tasting can be completely subjective. Different people pick up on different characteristics in each beer based on their palate and preferences. I gave this beer out to my fellow beer geeks (including two who now brew professionally) and they loved it. I got nothing but great feed back, even from those I knew would be completely honest with me.

The score sheets I received back from the competition however were a different story altogether. The beer was evaluated by three judges, two BJCP certified, the other a Cicerone. They described the beer as astringent and sweaty with onion and garlic in both aroma and flavor. To be honest I was completely surprised and my confidence took a huge hit. Not because I was personally hurt. I have never taken offence to comments about my beer, I want nothing else but brutal and honest feed back. I believe it’s critical to improving your beer. I was surprised because I couldn’t pick up on any of those characteristics in this beer. When I relayed the comments to my fellow beer geeks they seemed equally surprised. I poured this beer day after day, analyzing and attempting to detect the slightest amount of astringency. I never could. Same for the onion and garlic aroma and flavor. I did find the level of dank pushed towards being sweaty once when I let the beer warm for twenty minutes before tasting. Unfortunately those score sheets took away from this beer quite a bit for me as I spent so much time picking the beer apart instead of just enjoying it. That’s a mistake I won’t make again.

As a result of the competition feed back it’s difficult for me to recommend this recipe. I do plan to brew it again with a different hop bill just to see how it turns out. As I mentioned I was really enjoying this beer up until the time the sheets came back.

 

Recipe Targets: 5 Gallons, OG 1.069, FG 1.012, ABV 7.5%, SRM 4.4, IBU 71

Grain:

2.60 kg     2-row (41.9%)

1.50 kg     Maris Otter (24.2%)

1.40 kg     Flaked Oats (22.5%)

0.26 kg     Acid Malt (4.2%)

Hops:

6 g     Polaris (21%)          @60min

28 g   Amarillo (9.8%)      @5min

28 g   Equinox (15%)         @5min

28 g    Mosaic (12.25%)     @5min

28 g    Simcoe (12.7%)       Steep 15mins

28 g    Mosaic (12.25%)     Steep 15mins

28 g    Equinox (15%)        Steep 15mins

28 g    Amarillo (9.8%)     Chiller (temp <180F)

28 g    Equinox (15%)        Chiller (temp <180F)

28 g    Mosaic (12.25%)     Chiller (temp <180F)

56 g    Amarillo (9.8%)      Dry Hop (half on day 3, half on day 7)

56 g    Equinox (15%)         Dry Hop (half on day 3, half on day 7)

56 g    Simcoe (12.7%)        Dry Hop (half on day 3, half on day 7)

Extras:

1 tsp     Yeast Nutrient

Yeast:

LAIII – Wyeast 1318

Brewed October 30th. Mashed in with 15L 160F water, mashed out with 9L of 205F water. Drained mash tun and batch sparged with 165F water. 60 minute boil. Fermentation temp capped at 72F. OG 1.067. FG 1.010. ABV 7.5%

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Apologies for the crappy cell phone picture.

I completely forgot to take a picture of this beer so here’s an image of an awesome beer by Foundation. Epiphany, a “Maine” IPA. Image sourced from: http://foundationbrew.com/beer/epiphany/

 

Appearance: Pours with a 1/2″ white head, dissipates to a thin ring withing a few minutes. Light orange in color, moderate haze.

Aroma: Intensely hoppy, quite dank with some fruit and tropical notes.

Taste: Follows from the aroma, dank followed by fruity and tropical hops.

Mouthfeel: Moderate mouth feel, medium carbonation, finishes dry.

Overall: As I mentioned earlier I really enjoyed this early on. Very juicy and dank, everything I look for in a IIPA. I’m interested to brew this with a different hop bill and get feed back again.

 

Brewing two NEIPA’s with a yeast comparison

Having just kicked a NEPA I enjoyed I really wanted to brew a NEIPA.  I happened to have a couple of keg lines free so I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to brew a double batch and ferment them with different yeast strains for comparison. Initially I had decided to make this the only differing factor between the two batches, but in the end I decided to change the dry hops up a little as well. I didn’t really want to end up with two nearly identical beer if the differing yeast strains ended up being more similar than expected.

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Left: LAIII. Right Funktown.

The first yeast strain was an easy choice, Wyeast 1318 London Ale III. It has become my house yeast strain if there’s such a term in home brewing. The other was one a friend had given me, Funktown Pale Ale from The Yeast Bay.  That was a strain I was inexperienced with, I knew it was supposed to have a blend of Conan and Brett Brux Trois therefore I was assuming it would express some peach and tropical fruit notes.

I won’t go into the fine details of recipe creation as I did that on my last post here on brewing a NEPA. My approach involved a simple grain bill with a hefty percentage of flaked oats (~18%), heavy late hop additions and dry hopping on day 3 and day 7 of fermentation. I’m not saying this is the best approach, simply the one that has worked well for me so far.

Normally I keep hops limited to two or three varieties at most. I like being able to pick out each hop, what they add to the beer and how they work with the other variety(ies) I’ve chosen. This time however I decided to use four (in the LAIII batch), I assumed this would still allow each hop to stand out without getting too muddled. For this beer I decided to go with Mosaic, Hallertau Blanc, Chinook and Equinox. I really enjoy all of them though the Mosaic and Equinox are definitely up there as a couple of my favourite hops.  I love how dank and tropical Mosaic can be, Equinox has the papaya/lime/green pepper thing going. HB is a hop I haven’t used much before but it’s supposed to have some tropical fruit, citrus, floral and herbal character. I was hoping Chinook would add more citrus and piney notes. I mean all that sounds like it would work well together, or at least for the most part. Dank, tropical, fruit and citrus combined with the mouth feel of a NEIPA and yeast strains that exude fruit character.

It did work well together, these were two of the best IPA’s I’ve brewed thus far. I was surprised at just how different they were and how each of them changed over time. Initially they were identical beer simply fermented with different yeast strains. Even early on in fermentation I could tell they would be quite different. The Funktown version was much more pale and beyond hazy, I would even say murky compared to the LAIII. This continued to be consistent through dry hopping, at kegging and right up to the time they kicked.

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Day 2 of fermentation. Left: Funktown. Right: LAIII.
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Day 3 of fermentation. Left: Funktown. Right: LAIII.

I tried numerous blind taste tests and I was able to pick out which beer was which every single time. The equinox dry hop addition for the LAIII really stuck out for me, presumably because I’m familiar with it and it has a distinctive flavor. The Funktown was slightly more acidic and the mouth feel was different, but both were very good in my opinion.

I shared this beer with a number of fellow beer geeks and I have to say it was mostly split on which they preferred. For me I seemed to enjoy the LAIII version just a little bit more. I liked what the Funktown strains brought to this beer but I will be sticking with LAIII for the foreseeable future. I can definitely recommend brewing either or both!

Recipe Targets: 8 gallons, OG 1.058, FG 1.010, ABV 6.3%, IBU 50, SRM 3.7

Grain:

5.40 kg     2-row (65.4%)

1.52 kg     Flaked Oats (18.4%)

0.78 kg     Flaked Wheat (9.4%)

0.38 kg     Acid Malt (4.6%)

0.20 kg     Rice Hulls (2.4%)

Hops:

7.00 g    Polaris [21.00 %] – Boil 60min                             11.6 IBUs
30.00 g  Chinook [11.00 %] – Boil 5min                              5.2 IBUs
30.00 g  Hallertau Blanc [8.00 %] – Boil 5min                   3.8 IBUs
30.00 g  Mosaic [11.30 %] – Boil 5min                                 5.3 IBUs
50.00 g  Chinook [11.00 %] – Steep 15min                         10.8 IBUs
25.00 g  Mosaic [11.30 %] – Steep 15min                            5.5 IBUs        50.00 g  Hallertau Blanc [8.00 %] – Steep 15min             7.8 IBUs        50.00 g  Chinook CHILL [11.00 %] – Boil 0min                 0.0 IBUs
50.00 g  Mosaic CHILL [11.30 %] – Boil 0min                    0.0 IBUs
25.00 g  Hallertau Blanc CHILL [8.00 %] – Boil 0min       0.0 IBUs

FUNKTOWN

25.00 g Hallertau Blanc [8.00 %] – Dry Hop Day 3
15.00 g Mosaic [11.30 %] – Dry Hop Day 3
25.00 g Chinook [11.00 %] – Dry Hop Day 3
30.00 g Chinook [11.00 %] – Dry Hop Day 7
20.00 g Mosaic [11.30 %] – Dry Hop Day 7
30.00 g Hallertau Blanc [8.00 %] – Dry Hop Day 7

LAIII

35g Mosaic – Dry Hop Day 3
35g Equinox – Dry Hop Day 3                                                             35g Mosaic – Dry Hop Day 7                                                                      35g Equinox – Dry Hop Day 7

Extras:

2 tsp   Yeast Nutrient – Boil 10.0 min

Yeast:

Batch 1 – Wyeast 1318 London Ale III

Batch 2 – TYB Funktown Pale Ale

Brewed September 24th. Mashed in with 21.5L of 161F water to hit strike temp of 150F. Mashed out with 12L of 202F water. Batch sparged with 13L of 165F water. Pre boil gravity a point low at 1.049, 60 minute boil. OG a few points low at 1.055. Wort chiled to 60F, split between two carboys.

Fermentation temp topped out at 70F. Dry hops added on day 3 and 7. Kegged on day 11. Force carbed and being served on day 13.

 

Funktown – FG 1.009   6.0%

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Appearance: Extremely hazy and even murky. Cloudy, pale straw yellow in color. Pours with a ¼” white head which dissipates quickly and leaves a slight ring.

Aroma: A big punch of hops, slightly dank, tropical, fruit and citrus.

Taste: Flavor is consistent with the aroma. Tons of hop flavor, mostly fruit and tropical. Very punchy.

Mouthfeel: Moderate mouth feel. Very slight acidity, finishes reasonably dry. Also seems to line the mouth.

Overall: I was surprised by how murky this beer was, especially early on. I didn’t mind but I could see how some would find it unsettling. Otherwise a great NEIPA, very juicy. I won’t be using this yeast strain combination to replace my LAIII any time soon but I would use it again.

 

LAIII – FG 1.010  5.9%

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Appearance: Pours with a ½” white head which fades to 1/8” eventually but persists. Light golden in colour, very hazy but no murk.

Aroma: Similar to the Funktown with tropical and fruit notes dominating. I could really pick out the Equinox early on.

Taste: Tons of tropical and fruit hop flavor. Tropical fruit salad would best describe it.

Mouthfeel: Moderate to full. No acidity present compared to the FT. Finishes similarly though, reasonably dry.

Overall: Though some preferred the Funktown version, this was the clear winner for me. Extreme haze without the murk. More pronounced fruit aroma and flavour, very drinkable. I’ll be brewing something similar again early in the new year with different hops.

Brewing a NEPA

New England styles have become quite a trend in the last couple of years, a very delicious trend. Many home brewers are attempting to brew this style which is great! It has caused a little tension in the hazy vs clear debates frequently found on social media. But I’m not bothered in the least by the super hazy appearance, in fact I get excited when I see a beer like that. Now I still haven’t had the pleasure of travelling to San Diego and enjoying all the super clear mega hoppy offerings they have. I have had a few from Firestone Walker, Ballast Point etc but let’s be honest. If they have to travel from coast to coast before I get to sample them, they’re likely not in ideal shape. I mean you really want to have Pliny the Elder on tap or a really fresh bottle at the very least, don’t you?

patina
Mmm Patina. Image sourced from http://www.austinstreetbrewery.com/patina-pale/

My trips to the US consist mainly of Portland, Maine. Which is one hell of a beer city. Bissell Brothers, Austin St, Foundation, the list goes on and on. My first glass of The Substance changed the way I looked at hop forward American styles. I’ll be honest, the haze didn’t bother me in the slightest and even if it had, once I tasted the beer I was sold on the “style”. Ever since, I’ve been looking for those hazy, super hoppy beer every time I head down. As far as the pale ale style goes, one of my favourite commercial examples so far has been Patina by Austin Street. I’ve had it on numerous occasions and its solid each and every time, especially when they release a double dry hop version. Locally, Trailway is making some damn fine examples as well such as D’under and Rype. But my favorite has to be Fort Point by Trillium. It was extremely hoppy, the very definition of hop juice. I was very fortunate a friend was willing to share a bottle. I’ve only had it that one time and I still hold it as the best example of a NEPA.

As far as brewing this particular style at home there are a few things to keep in mind to try to get as close as possible to those great beer I mentioned earlier. General guidelines call for a very light beer, too dark and you’ll end up with murk instead of haze. Low IBU’s, the lack of hop bitterness helps to accentuate the juicy quality of a NEPA. A fairly large percentage of oats and/or wheat to increase mouth feel and add to the haze of the beer. Most or all of the hops should be added late in the boil and at flameout, possibly with a steep or whirlpool. Heavy dry hop additions help to really punch the hop aroma and flavor to another level. Finally using a yeast strain that tends to finish hazy and provide some fruit flavor to compliment the hops chosen. I prefer London Ale III, others use Conan which is also a good choice. I’ve read that some claim you need specific water chemistry adjustments as well, but I’ve settled in on a profile that works for me for all hop forward styles. So I keep that consistent from batch to batch. I have heard of some brewers using flour to add haze. But adding an ingredient to mimic a hazy beer seems unnecessary. After all, I’m pretty sure I haven’t seen sacs of flour hanging around the Bissell Brothers brewery.

With all of that in mind writing a recipe is fairly straight forward. A simple grain bill with 2-row as the base malt, a fairly large percentage of flaked oats (~15%), and some flaked wheat (~10%). I’d love to try brewing with malted oats but it’s something I can’t get from my LHBS unless I buy a full bag at an unreasonable price. Mash reasonably low so the beer finishes a little dry. Choose punchy hops, those with tropical fruit, fruit and citrus character work really well. For this recipe I chose Equinox, Columbus, Centennial and Simcoe.

This turned out well aside from one glaring issue. Something I have been suspecting on numerous batches recently but it’s been very minimal. For this mash I tried changing things up and I ran a single infusion with a batch sparge. I ended up with a fair amount of astringency, not so much to ruin the beer but I wonder just how good it could have been without it. Not to say this mash and sparge method was the cause, I think it merely helped to accentuate the problem. I’ve since made adjustments to my mash and I’m happy to say I’ve not had the same issue again. Otherwise a great NEPA.

Brewed with my son Setpember 24th, mashed in with 10L of 164F water to hit target mash temp of 152F. Tried a different sparge method for this beer. Added the mash out volume to the sparge water. Batch sparged with 18L of 168F water. 60 minute boil. OG 7 points low at 1.043, I’m assuming this has something to do with the sparge method I tried. Dry hops added on day 3 and day 7. Kegged on day 11, FG 1.008.

Recipe Targets: 4.5 gallons, OG 1.050, FG 1.010, ABV 5%, IBU 51,             SRM 3.3

Grain:

0.11 kg     Rice Hulls (0.0 SRM) 2.9 %
2.59 kg    Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM) 67.8 %
0.60 kg   Oats, Flaked (1.0 SRM) 15.7 %
0.39 kg   White Wheat Malt (2.4 SRM) 10.3 %
0.12 kg    Acid Malt (3.0 SRM) 3.1 %

Hops:

14.00 g Equinox (HBC 366) [13.40 %] – Boil 5 min        5.5 IBUs
14.00 g Simcoe [13.00 %] – Boil 5 min                            5.3 IBUs
7.00 g Centennial [9.00 %] – Boil 5 min                         1.8 IBUs
7.00 g Columbus (CTZ) [10.90 %] – Boil 5 min              2.2 IBUs
28.00 g Equinox (HBC 366) CHILLER [13.40 %]             0.0 IBUs
28.00 g Simcoe CHILLER [13.00 %]                                0.0 IBUs
14.00 g Centennial CHILLER [9.00 %]                            0.0 IBUs
14.00 g Columbus (CTZ) CHILLER [10.90%]                  0.0 IBUs
28.00 g Equinox (HBC 366) [13.40 %] – Steep 15 min  13.6 IBUs
28.00 g Simcoe [13.00 %] – Steep 15 min                      13.2 IBUs
14.00 g Centennial [9.00 %] – Steep 15 min                   4.6 IBUs
14.00 g Columbus (CTZ) [10.90 %] Steep 15min            5.5 IBUs
28.00 g Equinox (HBC 366) DAY 3 [13.40 %] – Dry Hop Day 3
28.00 g Simcoe DAY 3 [13.00 %] – Dry Hop Day 3
14.00 g Centennial DAY 3 [9.00 %] – Dry Hop Day 3
14.00 g Columbus (CTZ) [10.90 %] – Dry Hop Day 3
28.00 g Equinox (HBC 366) [13.40 %] – Dry Hop Day 7
28.00 g Simcoe [13.00 %] – Dry Hop Day 7
14.00 g Centennial [9.00 %] – Dry Hop Day 7
14.00 g Columbus (CTZ) [10.90 %] – Dry Hop Day 7

Yeast:

London Ale III (Wyeast Labs #1318)

Extras:

1 tsp Yeast Nutrient

nepa-embrace-the-haze

Appearance: Pours with a white head, half finger which fades to a thin ring within a couple of minutes. Pale orange in color, quite hazy.

Aroma: Lots of punchy hop aroma. Fruit, citrus and some tropical character present as well.

Taste: Follows from the aroma with lots of great hop flavor, lime, mango and a mix of fruit. Unfortunately about mid taste astringency starts to come through, moderate intensity.

Mouthfeel: Medium mouth feel which dries considerably due to the astringency. Moderate carbonation.

Overall: A solid recipe. If not for that astringency issue (which has been corrected thankfully) this was likely the best Pale Ale I’ve brewed so far. It again solidifies LAIII as my go to yeast strain for hop forward styles. I would likely increase the oats next time and drop the wheat malt just to see the difference in clarity. If you haven’t tried brewing this style yet I suggest you give it a shot. Even if you’re an advocate for crystal clear hoppy styles, I bet you’ll enjoy how juicy these styles can be.