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%

img_5470

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.

 

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