Friday, January 4, 2013

Galaxy/Rakau DIPA Tasting

When I suggested brewing a double IPA recipe that featured about a pound of hops in five gallons (6+ lbs per bbl), split between Rakau and Galaxy, Jacob told me that it sounded like fun, but probably wouldn’t happen full-scale at Modern Times given hop prices/availability. Although it highlighted a question that we’ve been trying to figure out, how will the hop additions scale from my modest homebrew setup to the 30 bbl brewhouse currently being manufactured for the brewery? Bitterness will be relatively easy to scale once we determine the hop utilization of our kettle, but hop aromatics are a trickier matter.

As a homebrewer it is easy to buy more hops if I need more hops. With the demand for these oil-saturated varieties though, on a commercial scale we’re forced to lock-in amounts now with contracts for nest fall (or the next three years for varieties from Australia and New Zealand). Meaning that we'll only have a certain amount to use, so increasing the hops in a recipe means reducing the number of batches we’ll be able to brew of it until the next contract.

Jacob has been talking to craft brewers who brew hoppy beers he enjoys, and the general message is that we should be able to cut my dry hop amounts per gallon in half and still achieve similar results. Could I do that at home, or is there something more efficient about the way craft breweries dry hop? Is it the larger volume? The fact that many breweries circulate the beer to increase exposure to the hops? No answers yet, but I’m glad we are (if anything) over-estimating the amount of hops we’ll need.

For this Southern Hemisphere DIPA I was hoping to compliment the tropical fruitiness of Galaxy with Rakau, which I read has a more herbal/piney character plus a unique fruitiness of its own. My hope was this would achieve a balance similar to the one created by Amarillo’s fruitiness and Simcoe's mango-pine thing. The resulting beer is solid, but the balance of aromatics isn’t what I hoped for in a double IPA. Considering the high (absurd?) hopping rate late in the boil and split between two dry hop additions, the aromatics aren’t as bold as I wanted! The hops smelled great coming out of the package (unlike my first Galaxy-only DIPA), but that didn’t translate to the finished beer.

Southern Hemisphere DIPA

A goblet of Double IPA hopped with Rakau and Galaxy.Appearance – Medium-amber body, but the wide glass makes it appear darker than it does usually. The head pours dense and thick, beautiful once it settles, but it is time to turn the pressure down. Chill haze and two substantial dry hoppings have created a somewhat murky beer.

Smell – This beer hadn’t been wowing me, but served in a deep/curved glass the hop nose is much more pronounced. The Galaxy and Rakau provide a very deep fruit flavor. There is certainly a tropical aspect to it, but also a cooked pear and cherry. The pine and citrus most people expect in a DIPA are hardly detectable. There isn’t anything to dislike about this one, but it just doesn’t leap out of the glass and demand to be tasted like my favorite hoppy beers!

Taste – The flavor is reasonably well balanced between malt and hop. There are hints of toastiness poking through the fruity hops. The finish is firmly bitter, lasting for a few seconds before fading (the combination of HopShots and Columbus for bittering worked really well). Similar to the nose, the combination of hop oils doesn’t grab me, I enjoy the fruitiness, but it doesn't scratch my hop itch. The fermentation, from what I can tell, was very clean. There is a slight alcohol presence, about what I expect in a beer this strong.

Mouthfeel – Considering that this beer is 8.4% ABV, the body is relatively thin. This is what I want in a double IPA, much thicker and it would taste like an American barleywine. Solid carbonation enough to keep it light.

Drinkability & Notes – Very drinkable for a strong beer. Similar to the first DIPA I brewed with Galaxy, it is a solid, but doesn’t captivate me. I don’t feel like the Rakau is adding much to the aroma, as I enjoyed Galaxy by itself more.The strange thing is I was blown away by Hill Farmstead's Galaxy DIPA, not sure it is how I am using them, or the specific hops I'm getting.


Erik R. Wood said...

Great post! To date, I've had the same issues you've had using that many hops in an double IPA or even a single IPA. I can get bitterness down just fine, but aromatics lack substantially.

Have you tried hop standing, I'm going to do so this weekend with a KIWI IPA I'm doing using Nelson and Jade hops (I'm using just under a pound, sheesh the prices are high on those babies). I'm thinking Two massive additions at KO for roughly 60-90 minutes 170F and under, lid on.

I'll have to report back my findings.

If you find anything on how large breweries create those aromas using half the hops, I'd love to know.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I did a hop stand for this one. 1.5 oz of each for a 30 min at flame-out, and then another ounce of each when I started the chiller. I've gotten the aromatics I want for other hops with this general process, I blame the hops rather than the technique on this one.

I just got some Nelson and Jade in the mail, not thinking of using them together though. Interested to hear how it goes, equal amounts?

From what I know there is no magic techniques from the pros. Just good process, minimizing oxygen, thorough exposure to the dry hops, good quality hops etc. Just got Stan Hieronymus's new book For the Love of Hops today, looking forward to reading it for more tips!

Andrew said...

It might be your hop supply. I have been drinking my saison with 2012 galaxy (single hop).

.25 oz @ 35
.6 oz @ 10
.6 oz @ 5

At 0m immediate immersion cooling to 110F in 10 minutes, down to 80F by 20 minutes. No dry hop.

I found this beer to be incredibly galaxy forward, with the saison yeast playing a background role.

It could also be the yeast selection. I always find the belgian IPAs to be "hoppier" to my taste (BELGO, Tank 7, Cali-Belige). I have had better luck with their perceived freshness at bars.

Eric Branchaud said...

I've tried a bunch of NZ/Aus hops expecting the next big thing, and I've been disappointed in a lot of them. Most of them (including Rakau) have been "just OK" in my book. Nelson is the only one that seems like it could carry a big IPA on its own, although the vinous character seems to dominate other hops pretty easily to me.

Even the other NZ/Aus hops I really like (Motueka, Galaxy) don't seem powerful enough to carry an IPA on its own.

Anonymous said...

Have to agree with Eric. I purchased a lot of Galaxy based on the hype and while it is a decent hop, I don't find it to be the signature hop that it was advertised as. It blends well with Amarillo, Simcoe, etc. but I can't say that it is distinctive. Nelson on the other hand is unique and blends really well with some of the lower alpha Aussie/NZ hops.

James Poulter said...

A nice looking beer but I think you were expecting a little too much from the Rakau hops when used with Galaxy. I have used this variety a few times and they have always been on the subtle side. Really tasty flavours of tart fruits and lemon sherbert but never any pine notes for me. In my opinion they are best used on their own in a lower ABV beer like I did here

sweetcell said...

i had the pleasure of trying this DIPA this past sunday. it is a fine, serviceable beer but as the author mentions it wasn't particularly impressive. it's the first DIPA/IIPA i've ever had where the taste was stronger than the aroma. that alone makes it disappointing - i want to smell my DIPA from across the room. the IPA that was on offer, tho, was superb. easily one of the best IPA homebrews i've ever had. thanks again for sharing, oh mad fermentationist!

Anonymous said...

I've noticed you tend to use a large bittering addition and don't add hops again until 10 mons and in and even sometimes until flameout. Do you enjoy the hop character of the beers you employ this technique with?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I've had the best results brewing hoppy beers with a bittering addition, then nothing until flame-out. Holding those hops in the hot wort before chilling really gives the saturated hop flavor I was missing when skipping late boil additions previously.