Monday, January 5, 2015

Spruce-Grapefruit India Pale Gruit

What defines beer styles? Is it the process, ingredients, or maybe where they are brewed? For me it comes down exclusively to what is in the glass. How the beer looks, smells, and most importantly tastes. I'm not saying divorcing recipe from results is easy; congratulations if you are able to brew a delicious hefeweizen with a single-infusion mash, stout without roasted barley, or lambic in Milwaukee! What would happen then if you tried to brew an American IPA without hops, the source of its style-defining pine and citrus aromatics? I decided to find out, brewing a 10 gallon batch split between a "Real" IPA brewed with hops and a faux-IPA flavored with real citrus and spruce!

Spruce tips and skinless grapefruit.Even though there are probably a few aroma compounds shared by hops and their substitutes, there is no way to completely replace the flavor of Cascade with grapefruit zest or Chinook with spruce tips. Still, this basic idea was my inspiration for this India Pale Gruit. Rather than mix hops in and accent with the other aromatics, I wanted to taste how they performed on their own. Neither of these ingredients contribute the level of bitterness that hops can, so I resigned myself to that difference at least.

I've added citrus peel to numerous batches (e.g., Grapefruit APA, Lemliner Weisse), so I won't spend much time writing about the importance of using the aromatic zest without much of the bitter pith. While I have brewed with spruce once before, with Nathan in our Scandinavian Gruit Kvass, it deserves a bit more attention. While spruce can be foraged in many places (like Nathan did for Right Proper's Invisible City of Bladensburg), I decided to be lazy and order from the Internet. Spruce is said to be at its best in spring just as the papery covers fall away from the pale new growth. These young trimmings provide a mild and citrusy flavor, which is much less resinous than older growth clippings. Once harvested they can be vacuum bagged and frozen just like hops (without the need for drying).

Gordon Strong, in his underrated Brewing Better Beer, quotes Pete Devaris who suggests measuring spruce tips by volume. This is because the amount of water they contain can vary their weight, but won't significantly change their volume. I added one loosely packed pint of spruce tips near the start of the boil to extract sugars and as much of the character as I could. I then added more at flame-out to ensure some of the more delicate character survived (allowing them to sit hot for about 30 minutes before running the chiller).

Spruce beers often age well, so I wanted to brew it early enough that it would make a nice holiday beer as the combination of pine and citrus is certainly reminiscent of Christmas! It took the zest from a fourth grapefruit in the keg to get the citrus aroma where I wanted it. I had saved some spruce for a fermentor addition, but it proved unnecessary. The batch is on tap now, so expect tasting notes later this week!

Spruce and grapefruit zest in the kettle.Spruce-Grapefruit IPG

Recipe Specifics
Batch Size (Gal): 5.25
Total Grain (Lbs): 13.35
Anticipated OG: 1.061
Anticipated SRM: 3.8
Anticipated IBU: 0.0
Brewhouse Efficiency: 69 %
Wort Boil Time: 90 Minutes

60.0% - 8.00 lbs. Rahr Pilsener
30.0% - 4.00 lbs. Great Western Pale Malt
7.5% - 1.00 lbs. Weyermann Wheat Malt
2.6% - 0.35 lbs. Simpsons Golden Naked Oats

1 Pint (2.38 oz) Spruce Tips @ 60 min.
2 Grapefruits' Zest @ 5 min.
1 Grapefruit's Zest @ 0 min.
1.25 Pints (3.00 oz) Spruce Tips @ 0 Min.
1 Grapefruit's Zest @ Keg

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

White Labs WLP007 Dry English Ale

Water Profile
Profile: Washington, Hoppy

Mash Schedule
Sacch - 60 min @ 156 F

8/22/14 - Made a stir-plate 3 L starter with 2 tubes of WL007. Aiming for 450 billion cells. Crash chilled after 24 hours. Half for this batch

Brewed 8/24/14

5 g CaCl and gypsum added to the mash along with 2 tsp of phosphoric acid. Diluted with 2 gallons of distilled. Collected 7 gallons of 1.075 first runnings. Same treatment for the 7 gallons of 180F batch sparge water. Collected 7gallons of 1.035 second runnings. Mixed so there were 7 gallons of 1.055 runnings in each pot.

Spruce tips from Spruce On Tap. 1 pint (2 3/8 oz added at 60 min). Half what is suggested in Gordon Strong's book.

10-year-old Microplane zester broke after those two. Potato-peeler strips of zest from the final grapefruit added at flame-out along with the rest of the spruce tips. Allowed to steep for 30 min before chilling to 70F.

5 gallons at 1.064 post-boil, topped off with .25 gallons of distilled water. Left at 65F to ferment.

8/30/14 Moved to warm ambient basement to ensure complete fermentation.

9/9/14 Kegged. Put in fridge to wait for a tap to open up.

11/29/14 Added zest of one grapefruit at tapping.

1/7/14 Tasting Notes. Happy with the result, even though it isn't particularly IPA-ish. If that was your goal, bitter with 30-40 IBUs, and possibly add some whirlpool hops to give it some hop aroma.


Anonymous said...

Really interested to hear how this turns out!

You are certainly full of great ideas.

Pippin said...

Really awesome, can't wait to see the results.

Was this a typo? "Total Grain (Lbs): 26.69"

tim said...

Would a measured portion of the grapefruit pith replace the bittering of the hops in the same way. Understanding that like the aromatics it won't be the same compounds, but you might get similar or interestingly different results.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I still go back and forth on how I present split batches. 26.69 was the total amount of grain used that day for 10 gallons of beer. Cut it in half to better reflect what went into this batch. Thanks.

Citrus pith could add some bitterness (and what was attached to the zest certainly did), but at high levels it becomes harsh. Also remember that not all bittering compounds behave like alpha acids in terms of isomerization and time.

Justin Schmid said...

Well, that's a funny coincidence. I just brewed a one-gallon batch of gruit that's a modified IPA. I subbed the Warrior hops with spruce, ginger, mint and rosemary.

AB said...

I noticed those spruce tips look rather developed. Looks like there is even some more woody, stick stuff happening. How do you think that flavor would compare to the fresh, young light green buds?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Certainly not as young as they could have been, but they were still relatively mild compared to mature spruce. Likely I got more traditional "pine" flavor than you'd get from the just revealed tips, which are supposed to be more citrusy.

Thomas said...

Hi Mike,

Just brewed a recipe based on your one.
I used pine needles instead of spruce and I should say they were a bit to shy. Next time I am gonna use pine branches I think to add more citrusy flavors.

Bitterness was a bit low to, I was expecting a bit more.
It might be because I did not scratch the grapefruit peel but I peeled it.
However, I would use a little bit more of the white pith part next time even tought I have seen you don't recommande to use it excevily.

Something else I could improve was head retention.
Do you why head retention was really low on this one ?

Cheers Mike and thanks for your awesomes recipes. Really helpful!

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Glad to hear it went OK. No experiences using pine, but recently posted about a beer brewed with juniper branches that turned out nicely citrusy-fruity. Citrus pith will give you a harsher bitterness than hops, be careful with it.

Hops are head-positive. One of the 257 reasons they are so popular in brewing. Not sure if the resins in the pine were destructive, the oils in grapefruit could be as well.

Let me know how the rebrew goes!