Monday, January 14, 2013

Dank Amber IPA #3 - San Diego Water

Participating in the recipe development process for Modern Times Beer has been a really interesting experience, and luckily I think Jacob and I are getting pretty good at it! Not to say that early batches weren’t tasty, but I think we are now honing in on beers that are not only delicious, but also more likely to translate well into commercial production.

Initially the goal was to brew our ideal beers, with no limitation on ingredients, process, equipment etc. Soon enough though we started to consider what sorts of requirements/restrictions our four year round beers would have when it came to production:

1. Two yeasts (total)
2. One base malt (ideally)
3. Hops we can get (or don't need) contracts for
4. No processes we won’t have equipment for (house-toasted oats, decoction mash etc.)
5. San Diego water (based)

Me, running the mill, grinding malt.That isn’t to say the restrictions on the first three won’t be lifted for seasonal and special releases, but each will require more effort and/or higher cost. For example if we choose to use a base malt other than what we have in the silo, we'll need to haul about 40 sacks of malt by hand. With yeast, there is a sweet spot for how often it is repitched (enough to maintain high viability), too many strains in house and we won't be able to use them frequently enough.

This Amber IPA, was partially inspired by Tröegs Nugget Nectar and as a result was based on Vienna malt, which added a nice background toastiness. However, in a beer so hop-forward, the switch to American pale bolstered by a moderate amount of Munich malt will serve equally well (I hope). I also eliminated the small amount of crystal 120 as I didn’t think it was adding anything beneficial. If the malt bill on this recipe doesn’t get us the flavor we want, we’ll keep tweaking until we find a combination of malts that does.

The only other major change to the recipe was the switch from Columbus to Palisade hops for post-boil and dry hopping. The rest of the hop bill, Nelson Sauvin and Simcoe, remained the same. We’re looking for the right earthier/danker hop profile that Columbus (surprisingly) failed to deliver. Columbus is now included in the bittering addition along with hop extract, a combination that has given us good results in other hoppy beers.

Up until now, I’ve been adjusting the water for these test batches based on the assumption that we’d have a reverse osmosis (RO) unit at the brewery to strip most of the minerals out of the San Diego water. This was one of the many items that Jacob had to make a tough decision on, cutting it from the initial budget. However, there are so many great hoppy beers brewed in San Diego that I’m really not worried! If we were planning on brewing an authentic Czech Pils, I'd be more wary.

The ingredients and equipment for water adjustment.For this batch I started with the yearly average San Diego water profile. From there I “added” gypsum and calcium chloride to boost the amount of calcium, sulfate, and chloride to my preferred levels for hoppy beers. This gave me a profile to target that included higher amounts of two minerals (sodium and magnesium) than I would normally add to a hoppy beer. However, since these are the minerals we’ll have in the baseline water profile at the brewery we need to know how they impact the flavor of our beer.

My next task was to transform my local water (Washington, DC) into a reasonable facsimile of that “San Diego, Hoppy” water profile I'd created. To do this I cut my filtered tap water with 35% distilled water to dilute the bicarbonate to the same level as San Diego’s. This is not as much as I would usually dilute for a hoppy beer (50% is my standard), but in an amber beer the higher bicarbonate shouldn’t push the mash pH too high. For paler IPAs, many San Diego area brewers (like Alpine) add a small amount of acid malt to lower the mash pH. So that is something we’ll keep in mind for other recipes.

I added water salts to increase the other minerals to the desired levels. This takes a few minutes to determine because each salt contains two minerals. My process is to start with the mineral I can only get from one salt, magnesium from Epsom salt, and then look at what I still need. In this case I knew I didn’t want to add more bicarbonate (baking soda or chalk), so my only option for sodium was kosher salt. Even with the sulfate added by the Epsom salt, I needed a substantial addition of gypsum to reach my target. This left me slightly short of calcium (despite the gypsum), and chloride (despite the kosher salt), so I added a small dose of calcium chloride. I wasn’t able to hit the profile exactly, but I was within a few PPM (mg/L) on all of the minerals. For additions this precise, a scale capable of .1 g resolution is a requirement.

We’ve had good luck so far when we’ve reached the third iteration of our recipes, so I’m excited to taste how this one turns out!

Blazing World #3

Recipe Specifics
Batch Size (Gal): 6.00
Total Grain (Lbs): 14.63
Anticipated OG: 1.065
Anticipated SRM: 13.3
Anticipated IBU: 141.7
Brewhouse Efficiency: 73 %
Wort Boil Time: 120 Minutes

78.6% - 11.50 lbs. American Pale Ale Malt
17.1% - 2.50 lbs. German Munich Malt
2.6% - 0.38 lbs. Crisp Pale Chocolate Malt
1.7% - 0.25 lbs. Table Sugar

1.50 oz. Columbus (Whole, 15.00% AA) @ 90 min.
5 ml HopShot (Extract) @ 90 min.
1.00 oz. Simcoe (Whole, 14.00% AA) @ 25 min.
3.00 oz. Nelson Sauvin (Pellet, 12.00% AA) @ Hop Stand
1.00 oz. Palisade (Whole, 8.30% AA) @ Hop Stand
2.00 oz. Palisade (Whole, 8.30% AA) @ Hop Back
1.00 oz. Simcoe (Whole, 14.00% AA) @ Hop Back
3.00 oz. Nelson Sauvin (Pellet, 12.00% AA) @ Dry Hop
1.50 oz. Simcoe (Whole, 14.00% AA) @ Dry Hop
1.00 oz. Palisade (Whole, 8.30% AA) @ Dry Hop

0.50 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 15 min.
0.50 Whirlfloc Fining @ 15 min.

WYeast 1056 American Ale

Water Profile
Profile: San Diego, Hoppy

Calcium(Ca): 84.0 ppm
Magnesium(Mg): 15.0 ppm
Sodium(Na): 64.0 ppm
Sulfate(SO4): 178.0 ppm
Chloride(Cl): 102.0 ppm
biCarbonate(HCO3): 104.0 ppm

Mash Schedule
Sacch Rest - 60 min @ 153 F

Brewed 1/6/13 with Garret and Andrei

Mash - 4 gallons filtered DC, 2 gallons distilled (used about 5 gallons)

Then add (per gallon) .8 g gypsum, .35 g Epsom salt, .45 g table salt, and .1 g of  CaCl. Mash pH 5.3 at room temperature.

Sparge water was treated similarly, although slightly more distilled water to reach my target dilution of 35% overall.

Collected 8 gallons of 1.050 runnings. Had to extend the boil and add a small amount of sugar to hit my target OG.

30 minute hop stand with mostly Nelson since it was pellets. Chilled to 60 F. Oxygenated for 60 seconds. Pitched the decanted 1 L stir-plate starter that I had made 48 hours earlier.

Left at 64 F to ferment. Good activity by the next morning. Moved to 60 F ambient to slow fermentation.

Despite the large bucket, a small amount of krausen came out of the airlock during days two and three.

1/11/13 Raised the temperature to 65 F to ensure fermentation finishes out completely.

1/18/13 Dry hopped, loose in primary. Shook 5-6 times a day for the first five days, then allowed to sit at 64 F to settle.

1/27/13 Kegged into a twice flushed keg and placed into the kegerator to carbonate. No keg hops this time. FG 1.014.

2/14/13 Tasting results, best of the Blazing World series so far. Really shows off the Nelson, the malt bill also survived the switch from Vienna.


Mark said...

Care to write about subbing Palisade for Columbus? Not what comes to mind.....

Omri said...

Can you post your average SD water report? My father in law just got into brewing (by way of me) and when we've brewed together, I've often wondered about his water. Additionally, I hope to be moving there next year and would like to know what I'm in for. Currently using Great Lakes water and don't have to do much of anything to it.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

What is your impression of the aroma characteristics of Palisades? Not necessarily looking to substitute for Columbus, but to add a complementary balance to the Nelson and Simcoe. I hadn't actually gone back to read it until now, but here is how I described the aroma of an Oat Pale Ale I brewed with Palisades: "The aroma is nicely hoppy with some herbal notes back up by a bit of spice. The character certainly leans European, but there is a hint of that dank Columbus flavor that reminds you that it is grown in the Pacific Northwest."

Here is what I got for the average over the course of a year (although month-to-month can change significantly):
Bicarbonate 104.3
Sulfate 102.5
Calcium 39.4
Magnesium 15.3
Sodium 64.3

Looks pretty solid for most beers to me, nothing too high. Calcium is a bit low, but close.

Kenneth Nygård said...

Hmmmm, and I thought that much chloride wasn't that good in an IPA. Why "so much" and what's the ideal amount?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Like most aspects of brewing, I think it is impossible to say what an ideal level of something is for everyone and every beer. I've been going up to the ~100 PPM range for most of my hoppy beers recently with good results. For example the West Coast IPA that just took second place of 42 beers in a local competition had ~95 PPM chloride. I think it rounds out the malt profile, but it is a subtle effect at most.

When we really get these recipes (malt, hops, yeast etc.) dialed in I'm interested to do some side-by-side tastings altering the water profile to really taste what the difference is.

Pash said...

Hmm, interesting. I know they have very hard water where they are. No drinking out of the tap is allowed. They have a RO system next to their sink, but it would take days to get enough water out of it for brewing. We brewed an IPA there and it ended up tasting just fine, so while I don't know what their exact profile is, it may be good enough.

I believe Stone uses half RO half tap, but then again, they're in Escondido.

Anonymous said...

San Diego Hoppy profile now added to my custom settings in BrunWater. I'm a big fan of Sculpin, so I'll have to give this profile a try sometime.

As far as Columbus and "dankness" goes, there is a lot of variability. Some Columbus has a lot of citrus in the aroma, and some smells danker than the upholstery in an old deadhead's VW van. I got a killer batch of the latter type from HopsDirect last year. It smells so good that I've switched to Chinook as my IPA bittering hop so I can reserve this for late additions.

Jordan said...

Has Modern Times really been able to secure some Nelson and Simcoe? These two varietals seem to be hard to come by at the moment.

Ivano Harris said...

I've been trying to pay more attention to water chemistry recently. Regardng Chloride, here's my primary takeaways at the moment. #1, Chloride/Sulfate ratio appropriate for bitterness charactersits. Less than .77 enhances bitterness and above 1.3 enahnces maltiness.
#2, Keep the ppm in the 0-250 range.

I've been complimenting beersmith with an excel Water chem template. I've used Bru'N water and EZ Water Calc and like that they take in the grain bill. I currently prefer EZ Water calc. I focus on RA & PH first and foremost, using a separate nomograph to get my target RA based on SRM. From there, I'm mostly keeping the other chemicals "within threshold" while adding as minimal amount as possible but haven't begun to dial in much.

Mike, are you using any helpers or just beersmith/promash?

Pat said...

I've been following this beer closely -- both because I can't wait to drive down to the brewery and try it when the time comes and because I want to brew it myself.

Unfortunately, as a home brewer, simcoe (especially) and nelson sauvin are about impossible to come by...

Tom C said...

Sodium levels are pretty high in San Diego and vary around 20ppm throughout the year. The last monthly water report had Sodium at 60ppm, and the July 2012 had levels at 75ppm. I've been trying to track down the cause of unexpected/unwanted sweetness in my pale bitter beers, and I'm pretty sure its due to the sodium levels.
Also, there are 3 water treatment plants in SD that provide water with much different mineral concentrations.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

We even got some 2012 harvest Simcoe, so we'll be able to brew some of these beers before the next harvest! Jacob was even able to score a contract for whole Nelson, something I haven't heard of any other American brewery using?

All the hops for these test batches have been bought through homebrewing stores though. Freshops still has Simcoe for $1.85/oz, and Rebel Brewer has Nelson on sale for $1.49/oz. Farmhouse Brewing Supply has both for ~$6.50/ 4 oz. Really not that bad, less than $20 worth of hops in this batch!

I never bought into the whole chloride-sulfite ratio concept. You can't tell me a beer with 10 PPM sulfate and 5 PPM chloride will taste the same as one with 200 PPM sulfate and 100 PPM chloride, even though the ratios are identical? For awhile I used John Palmer's RA sheet, but I didn't think it was improving my beers. I'm not sure SRM is a great way to predict RA. I just use ProMash now to figure out mineral additions. I've got a good sense of what different beers need with my water, and I check the pH and adjust if needed (pretty rare).

Jeffrey Crane said...

Good timing with your post. I asked Jacob this very question during the recent Modern Times tasting. He explained that you guys had taken that into consideration and I should have known since everything else has been so well thought through.

This Nelson Nectar was definitely a standout beer for me. The flavors worked very well together and was decently complex for such an easy drinking beer. I look forward to having it so easily accessible in the future.

Daryl said...

Hey Mike. Great blog, keep the posts coming.

When you do your hop stand, are you cooling your wort down to 170 to avoid isomerization of alpha acids and to minimize volatilization of hop oils? I find that when I've done hop stands I tend to get an increase in percieved bitterness, which for some of my beers has been an unwelcome result.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Chilling before the hop-stand certainly is an option, but I haven't played with it. I'm sure I get some isomerization, but I haven't noticed an overly bitter character in more delicate beers such as the Citra/Amarillo Wheat. I like to give the first dose of hops exposure to the near-boiling wort, but by the time I am ready to chill it is down to ~180-185 F. This gives the hops in my hop back exposure to slightly cooler wort, which should extract a different set of compound (and with the immediate chilling, hopefully preserve the most heat sensitive).

Adam Mc said...

Do you feel that ~30 min additions when your @ saturated IBU levels add more flavor than the same addition in sub 100 ibu beers? I only ask because the DIPA I just brewed had a columbus/magnum bitter and a columbus 30 min and there is a noticeable columbus character.

I suspect that when there is no more bitterness to be added, only flavor compounds are extracted in a 30 min add, making them more valuable than normal. Anecdotal though, only one beer.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I doubt the level of IBUs impacts the aromatic/flavor contribution of mid-boil hops, I’ve certainly never noticed it. As far as I’m aware, alpha acid isomerization and hop essential oil extraction are achieved through unrelated chemical interactions.

What were your finishing hops for that batch? It seems difficult to tease out exactly where a specific flavor is coming from in a saturated hop bill without brewing side-by-side batches with subtle changes. Early/large hop additions certainly contribute some flavors that carry through, and it may be that the danker notes from Columbus are more persistent than brighter/greener flavors from some other hop varieties?

Adam Mc said...

I did a 50:50 magnum columbus bitter to 120, a columbus 30 min for another 45, and finished with citra, cent, and chinook, essentially your brett trois IPA to DIPA strength.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, in a situation where you're adding 30 min as a way to add softer bitterness, but your not at IBU saturation, the flavor is balanced somewhat by the added bitterness. If your @ saturation, then you're (from the tasters perspective) extracting flavor only, so it seems more noticeable.

Again, just a theory. But the earthiness I notice is very columbus-like and layers nicely with the finishing hops.

Jay said...

For those interested in the San Diego water profile, I will post my water analysis (done by Ward Labs, received today 2/1/2013).

I live in the Clairemont/Kearny Mesa area. San Diego gets multiple water supplies, but I would assume it doesn't vary to any extreme.

pH: 8.1
TDS: 359
Cations/Anions: 5.8/5.4

Sodium, Na: 66 ppm
Potassium, K: 4 ppm
Calcium, Ca: 33 ppm
Magnesium, Mg: 14 ppm
Total Hardness, CaCO3: 141 ppm
Nitrate, NO3-N: 0.4 ppm (SAFE)
Sulfate, SO4-S: 25 ppm
Chloride, Cl: 71 ppm
Carbonate, CO3: 6 ppm
Bicarbonate, HCO3: 97 ppm
Total Alkalinity, CaCO3: 89 ppm
Total Phosphorous, P: 0.33
Total Iron, Fe: <0.01 ppm

Be aware of the Sulfate and Nitrate when you are doing your water profile calculations. You may need to throw in an adjustment factor (in Brunwater for example)

Also, the profile is a tad unbalanced. For the price that Ward Labs charges, well you can't expect pinpoint accuracy. I moved the sodium down to 63 ppm (value received from another person in SD from Ward Labs) in my calculations to balance it.

Anonymous said...

Been following this thread and thought I'd share. If anyone is looking to make a danky skunky (as in weed like) beer they'd do well to check out Comet hops. They're hard to find but there's nothing I've ever smelled or used that made such a dank and skunky beer.

I realize everyone says this about a certain hop but I'm telling you - Comet hops. I opened the bag and instantly was blasted by it. It literally stuck in the room for days and people who came over were giving me strange looks. That intense aroma stayed all the way to the final beer which people frankly went crazy over.

It has a serious bite for bitterness and a massive citrus aroma to go along with the skunk and dank. So if you're going the Citrus/Dank/Skunk route it's the hop you want to go with.

I understand they're not really grown commercially, but then neither was Simcoe and look how that turned out.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I've got a sour with Comet dry hops on tap now, although I find it more citrusy than dank. Always tough with year-to-year variation, and just the difference between plants/growers. I also had mine in the freezer for close to a year before using, maybe the character changes with time?

Anonymous said...

I live in Kansas City, MO. Our water is has a sulfate:chloride ratio out of the tap at something like 7:1. The yearly average is 174ppm on sulfate, but ranges from 90-220 with fairly low levels of everything else. It's moderately soft. I think the alkalinity is something like 20-25.

It's fairly shocking how much of an impact that much sulfate has on the perception of IBU. I have to really dial back the hops with straight tap water or beers seem very harshly bitter. On paper they just don't look hoppy. But then you brew something like an IPA with them and the bitterness is just grotesque.

I cut the tap water with 40% distilled and upped the chloride on a beer with 35 IBUs. This put the ratio closer to 1:1. The result was a bit disappointing in bitterness.

There's a balance there I've just not found, but the water chemistry plays a bigger role than people think. With the plug and play spreadsheets widely available to even noob brewers like me, there's really little reason to just take a shot in the dark anymore with your water.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Well said. Like many aspects of brewing figuring out what works for you palate/water makes a lot more sense than copying what someone else is doing.

Unknown said...

Seems like it's about time to taste this one Mike ;) I just somehow got a half pound each of Simcoe and Nelson Sauvin from NB and am thinking about trying this recipe myself this weekend. (Luckily already have the San Diego water profile flowing through my taps)

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

On it now, really happy with it, but we're already thinking Mosaic in place of the Palisade for batch #4.

Pat said...

Mike, if you were making this and didn't have a hop back, would you just add all of those hops during the hop stand?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I'd split the addition between the hop stand and right before you start the chiller. The second addition should preserve some of the more volatile aromatics driven off by the long steep near-boiling.

Good luck!

Pat said...

Thanks, I'll try that. Now if only I hadn't missed low on the mash temp for the first time ever. This is going to be a drier version of what you made I guess :)

Needless to say, I'm particularly looking forward to this beer being in production!

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Mashing a few degrees lower might not be a bad thing, depending on where you live. Modern Times crew west feels that the beer is sweeter/fuller than they want. The East Coast beer drinkers I've shared it with think it is spot on for an Amber IPA.

Shaun Hennessey said...

I see the water profile you're using is pretty high in bicarbonate still. What's your opinion on keeping everything the same on your profile with a bicarbonate level in the teens? Or is this just a result of the high bicarbonate levels in DC.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

San Diego has pretty high carbonates (averages ~104 ppm) from what I've seen in water reports. In an amber beer like this, it actually helps to keep the pH up with the pale chocolate adding acidity. If your water has lower levels I certainly wouldn't suggest adding chalk or baking soda to add carbonates unless your mash pH is coming in under the ideal range.

Anonymous said...


Just found your site and am trying to wrap my head around all of the water treatment info. I am in Carlsbad (San Diego).

This may be a dumb question, but where is everyone getting monthly San Diego water reports from? I get water from the Miramar plant. I am sure Jay's report from Ward labs is close, but he gets his water from the Otay plant if I am not mistaken. I am only finding the annual water quality report and that is from 2011. Where did you get the data for your average?
Thanks in advance to anyone that can help me out.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

The numbers I got were via Jacob, from a local brewery that tests their water regularly. An annual average is perfectly fine to have a general idea about your water.

kid plaster said...

Hi Mike,

Just got a chance to try your beer today. It was in a local market here in SoCal. I really liked it! A couple of comments. I frequent that store often and sometimes leave without a purchase due to seeing nothing that has the fresh hop punch that you have seemed to accomplish with your beers. If you have any tips on how you are maintaining fresh hop aroma and flavor I'd love to hear it.

I noticed that you are using Mosaic instead of Palisades. Seems a lot of newer breweries are finding Mosaic plentiful and are using it in their new beers. I have to say they work very well in your beer.

Thanks for sharing!

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Glad you enjoyed Blazing World! There are two parts to that, getting great hop flavor, and maintaining the hop flavor you've got.

Getting great hop charter isn't too tricky, it takes big additions of aromatic varieties in the whirlpool and hop-back, and lots of dry hops (both in the kettle, and in the hop-back used as a torpedo). At home I add lots of hops at flame-out and let them steep before chilling, then load up on dry hops in primary and then in the keg.

Preserving hop character is trickier. It requires minimizing oxygen contact (purging anything the fermented beer touches with CO2), keeping the beer cold (Stone, our distributor, picks up, stores, and delivers the beer refrigerated), and drinking it fresh.

Mosaic really added more punch to the aroma, the Palisades were too mellow.

rrenaud said...

I used your malt bill in an attempt at a dank amber. I got a sticky and resinous hoppy amber, but it's got no weed like quality. If I wasn't looking for something with a weedy character, I'd be happy with it. I bittered with a bit of Apollo, and then threw in a ton of Columbus and Chinook at flameout, at a hop stand at 185 and in the dry hop. As far as I could see from people flaming each other on brewing forums, Apollo, Columbus, and Chinook were all leading contenders for "dank" hops.

The recipe is here:

Do you have any hints for getting some weed-like flavor and aroma?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

The easiest answer would be to find the commercial beer that has the most character you associate with it, and see what hops they are using. I think having some Citra or Mosaic in there in place of the Chinook (which I think is more pine than dank).

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