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.