Monday, August 29, 2011

Micro-IPA with Nelson Sauvin

First wort hops waiting for the boil.Don't get me wrong, I love big hop-saturated double IPAs, but is all of that alcohol a necessary part of a great hoppy beer?  There are some great session strength hop-bombs like Hill Farmstead Edward, but I'm talking even lower than its 5.2% ABV.  So light that you could drink half a gallon and still ingest less alcohol than there is in a single pint of the last DIPA I brewed.  Inspired by the description of Mikkeller's Drink'in the Sun, I set my sights below 2.5% ABV for this "Micro-IPA" (the least alcohol of any beer that I have brewed).

After draining the first runnings for my Riwaka hopped Hefeweizen, I reinfused the mash with 178 F sparge water, stirred, and let it sit for 45 minutes.  I suspect that this long/hot sparge-rest facilitated additional starch to sugar conversion favoring alpha amylase's production of unfermentable dextrins (a positive for a small beer).  Ideally a low gravity beer should be brewed as a no-sparge (with a hot saccharification rest) to maximize body and malt flavor, but I couldn't say "no" to free wort.  After the boil the original gravity measured a paltry 1.030 (after correcting for temperature).

OG reading 1.030, including the temperature adjustment.I hopped the low-gravity wort with a combination of Nelson Sauvin and Amarillo.  The only beer I'd brewed with Nelson before was restrained (.75 oz total in 3 gallons), but I enjoyed the white wine and pine aromatics that this New Zealand variety imparted.  Blending with Amarillo adds complementary citrus character while mellowing some of the aggressive notes.  The early boil addition provided moderate bitterness (going for the IBUs of a hoppy pale alem let alone DIPA, would detract from the drinkability).  With 6.75 oz of aroma hops I wasn't quite as aggressive as I have been with the late boil and dry hop additions, but I was still heavier handed than many recipes I see for IPAs.  In my experience the ratio of gravity to IBUs needs to be taken into account for balance, but I don't think the same is true for hop aroma.

After fermenting with American ale yeast the gravity only dropped to 1.014 (the same as my Pliny the Younger clone).  Alcohol is lighter than water, so the 1.028 residual extract of that 10.5% ABV behemoth was almost as high as the original gravity of this featherweight.  As a result of the lower residual extract this beer tastes much drier than a highly attenuated West Coast IPA, despite barely crossing 50% apparent attenuation.  This is an example of why final gravity and attenuation are not reliable indicators of how sweet a beer will be when evaluated in isolation. 

In addition to being able to enjoy two pints after work and still cook dinner, the other benefit of a low gravity IPA is that it has a quick turnaround (allowing you to enjoy the fresh/raw hop aroma).  Alcohol is responsible for extracting some of those great aromatic compounds from dry hops so I'm interested to see how well the keg hop addition works.  This beer is already being force carbonated, so I should be able to post a tasting this week or next.

Nelson Jr. Micro-IPA 

Recipe Specifics
Batch Size (Gal): 5.25
 Total Grain (Lbs): 15.75
Anticipated OG: 1.030
Anticipated SRM: 6.2
Anticipated IBU: 36.0
Brewhouse Efficiency: 26 % (74% including first runnings)
Wort Boil Time: 75 Minutes

63.5% - 10.00 lbs. German Wheat Malt
31.7% - 5.00 lbs. American Pale "2-row" Malt
4.8% - 0.75 lbs. CaraVienna

0.75 oz. Nelson Sauvin (Pellet, 10.30% AA) @ First Wort.
2.00 oz. Nelson Sauvin (Pellet, 10.30% AA) @ 0 min.
1.00 oz. Amarillo (Pellet, 10.00% AA) @ 0 min.
2.75 oz. Nelson Sauvin (Pellet, 10.30% AA) @ Keg Hop
1.00 oz. Amarillo (Pellet, 10.00% AA) @ Keg Hop

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

WYeast 1056 American Ale/Chico

Water Profile
Profile: Washington DC

Mash Schedule
Sacch Rest - 45 min @ 154

Brewed 8/6/11

Infused the mash for the Riwaka Wheat Beer with 6 gallons of sparge water at 178 F (added 6 g of gypsum to the water to boost the sulfate, and cut it with 2 gallons of distilled) and let sit for 45 minutes before vorlaufing and draining.

Second runnings, 6.5 gallons of 1.024 Really low gravity, interested to see if the fact that it is second runnings leaves it too thin or not.

Chilled to 65 F, pitched one fresh pack of yeast (no starter) and left to ferment at 63 F ambient.

Three days later raised the ambient temp to 65 F.

8/18/11 Fermentation appeared finished, so I racked to a keg with the dry hops and hooked up to CO2, and left in the kegerator to carbonate at 40 F.  Gravity only down to 1.014 (2.1% ABV, and not much more than 50% apparent attenuation, but that may not be a bad thing for this one).

9/1/11 Great hot-weather hop-bomb love those Nelson and the Amarillo was a great pairing.


Ed said...

Sounds awesome. I'm big in to the "Session IPA" idea; but, so far, have been too chickenshit to push it below 4% ABV. Excited to hear how this turns out for you.

Scott said...

Funny that you posted this Mike. I'm planning on brewing a session IPA next week. Something around 3% abv using Falconer's Flight hops and either Galena or Simcoe.

hiikeeba said...

I've been exploring session beers, and I think I have found my next recipe. Looking forward to the tasting notes.

CarlT said...

In my experience, lowering the gravity and abv to around 3-4% is a great way of actually pushing more aroma out of the hops. A little bit like adding water to whisky, it really brings out the fruits and flowers. The trick is to restrain the bittering enough. In addition, dry-hopping needs to be lowered somewhat, otherwise it tends to bring out harsh tones and unbalance the aroma towards pine resins. Less piny hops like Cascades and Riwaka works particularly well. Beers like this can easily come out way more hop-aromatic than a DIPA with 4x the amount of hops... but freshness is of paramount, use fresh hops and drink it fast.
Of course, this has been known in Brittain for a looong time now ;-)

pantsmachine said...

I think you will have a nice beer there. There are many beers on sale in UK pubs at 3.2% to 3.4% ABV range and they are bursting with flavour and aroma. Being big is not always clever! Hey, you may start a trend your side. :)

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Lots of good points, thanks for chiming in everyone. Luckily these were really fresh Nelsons (2011 harvest), and the aroma was really jumping out of the sample I had last night.

I think the problem most craft brewers have is that low gravity beers age so poorly and they can’t be sure how quickly the beers will sell. I think one of the reasons strong and sour beers tend to garner such high ratings/hype is that you can really abuse them and still have a great beer.

mc said...

Hopefully this beer turns out better than Drink'in the Sun—I had it a few weeks ago and all I got was a massive hop vegetal note from it without the nice citrus that I typically get from Amarillo.

Scott said...

To follow up on my post, I plan on doing all late hop additions, starting at 15 minutes. Hop Burst American Bitter

pantsmachine said...

Mike, I see from your blog post that you are kegging this brew. Have you given any thought to bottling a few and experimernting over a longer time line? I ask as i have had a few Lowish ABV(say 3.4 to 3.8%) that were good for at least 2 years. I think if you were stringent in your sanitation(and i have no reason to doubt you would be any other way)then you could have another experiment going off of one brew? I am continuing to be surprised by bottled beers that i made up to 3 years ago and they are magnificent(albeit changed entirely from the original 'fresh' versions).

Good on you for sticking with whole hops and not going with pellets. GL with the brew, i hope its a cracker! :)

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Those actually are pellets, although most of the hops I use are whole.

One of my least favorite beer flavors is oxidized citrusy hops. I was never completely happy with IPAs until I started kegging (which allows me to flush everything the fermented beer touches with CO2 and serve on keg hops). Without a way to bottle off a keg without introducing oxygen I wouldn’t hold out much hope for this beer over a couple weeks, let alone years. With that said, I have had good luck with low alcohol, bottle conditioned beers that were minimally hopped (like an anise flavored ~3% ABV Swankey that held up for a couple years with little reduction in quality).

pantsmachine said...

Ah, i will read the recipe more thoroughly next time! Apologies for that.

Anonymous said...

I think your going to be real happy with the hop combo. Nelson Sauvin and Amarillo together has so far made for some damn tasty IPAs around here. I tend to use almost equal additions of the two (lightly in favor of NS) because too much NS can become too "sweet" for lack of a better term. I think I'll have to give a super low ABV version a try. Good call man!

Haputanlas said...

Your Pliny Link goes to the Mikkeler site.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Fixed, thanks!

Scott Schluter said...

Cool stuff. I've dabbled with small sours similar to your methods. I do BIAB so after the primary brew, I pitched in the water and a pound of new grains and it sits overnight in a cooler. Then I heat up some sparge water and put it all in a pot for a bit then pull the bag. Usually get under 1030. I lightly hop those due to wanting the sour to be prominent. Very refreshing light bonus beer.

Unknown said...

The description says you started with second runnings. Does the grain bill for doing this recipe from scratch?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

You could use the percentages listed, but you would have to adjust the actual amount for your expected efficiency. The amounts listed were for the entire parti-gyle mash that produced two five gallon batches.

steve said...

Quick history: I've been following your blog on and off for about 4 years now, and it's been a big inspiration and source of knowledge for me. Thanks for the time you put into it, and sorry for commenting on an old post.

But anyways, this is pretty much an American Ordinary Bitter. I think it's a fantastic idea, and plan on incorporating a lot of your ideas into my upcoming brews. Cheers!

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I was just discussing what to call this “style” with a hard-core BJCP friend. He suggested American Bitter, but honestly I think there is too much hop character to compare it. Even though APAs have more hop character and ESBs, and American IPAs have more than their English counterparts, I just don’t feel like this sort of beer has a comparable balance to an Ordinary.

Glad the blog has been an inspiration, cheers!