Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Hop Juice - Northeast IPA Recipe

Inspired by my research into hop glycosides and yeast biotransformation for the July/August issue of Brew Your Own (subscribe here), I brewed an American IPA that showed off yeast-hop interaction. I love the aroma of raw right-from-the-bag hops, but I prefer a base of softer less-green/grassy aromatics. The science is a bit dry, but some yeast strains have the ability to free aromatics and convert certain compounds into more interestingly aromatic ones. From a sensory perspective, the result is a weaker aroma ounce for ounce of hops (requiring a higher hopping rate), but much juicier perception.

The North East has really been killing hoppy beers the last few years. Alchemist and Hill Farmstead started the trend, but newer breweries brewing wonderfully hoppy things include: Trillium, Tree House, Tired Hands, Other Half, and Fiddlehead. What unites them is a bit more yeast character than indistinct Cal/American ale, a wonderfully juicy/fruity/saturated aroma, soft mouthfeel, balanced bitterness, and less than spectacular clarity. A big change from what East Coast IPA meant five years ago: a malty IPA somewhere between American and English IPA.

For yeast, I selected Wyeast 1318 London III (alleged to be from Boddington’s). Not exactly the first strain you’d think of for an American IPA, but my friend Sean had good luck with it and it has been rumored to be the house strain at a hop-specialist brewery. If you are fermenting with WY1318, make sure you use a blow-off; I had never had to worry about 5.5 gallons of mid-gravity beer in an 8 gallon fermentor before!

I included flaked corn (because I had it sitting around) and wheat in the mash. These two adjuncts work counter, with the corn diluting the protein content of the wort while the wheat increases it. I’d read (somewhere) that the proteins in wheat flour are especially foam-positive even compared to flaked wheat, so I wanted to give it a try. I mixed the flour into the milled grain to distribute it, but even at this relatively low amount (half a pound in 10 gallons) the lauter was slower than I’m accustomed to.

The end of the boil brought on big dose of hops (Galaxy and Simcoe), allowing them to steep in the hot wort before chilling. The more hops added to the beer on the hot-side, the more of their water-soluble compounds (like glycosides) the yeast will be able to interact with. I added the first dose of dry hops midway through fermentation, again to allow more yeast-hop interactions. As a side-note, always smell each bag of hops before adding them to the beer; I had to throw away an ounce of Galaxy while brewing and dry hopping because they smelled less than fresh compared to the other packets.

The second half of this batch (pulled before the bittering hops) is well on its way to being an apricot sour – but more about that next week!

Soft and Juicy IPA

Appearance – The draft pour is more hefeweizen or wit than IPA (even extra-hoppy IPA). Translucent peach, I can barely make out my fingers on the opposite side of the glass. Cloudy/hazy side of muddy, but just barely (and this is after a few weeks in the keg!). A few flecks of hop matter in suspension. Pillowy white head, with unremarkable retention.

Smell – Juicy hops, mission accomplished! The Simcoe in the keg provides some hints of resiny pine, but the overwhelming impression is that of freshly squeezed grapefruit and mango. Everything a hoppy beer ought to be: bright, fresh, and vibrant. As I reach the bottom of the glass, just a hint of fresh grain.

Taste – Revitalizing nectar! Juicy ripe citrus and stone fruit. The bitterness is restrained, but present. The finish is long and slightly resiny compared to the front/mid palate. No weird yeastiness, and no alcohol hotness.

Mouthfeel – It has that softness of some of my favorite IPAs. It isn’t sharp at all thanks to the yeast, wheat, and chloride. Could be slightly fuller, especially in the finish. No corn next time?

Drinkability & Notes – Not sure if it was the yeast or the wheat that turned this into one of my cloudier batches. Despite that, one of a string of excellent mid-gravity hoppy beers. I’m not sure why I ever brew DIPAs? I’ll be trying WY1318 again without the flour to see if it really is that un-flocculant.

Soft and Juicy IPA

Recipe Specifics
Batch Size (Gal): 5.50
Total Grain (Lbs): 12.25
Anticipated OG: 1.058
Anticipated SRM: 3.7
Anticipated IBU: 57.3
Brewhouse Efficiency: 72 %
Wort Boil Time: 90 Minutes

81.6% - 10.00 lbs. Rahr 2-Row Brewers Malt
8.2% - 1.00 lbs. Flaked Corn (Maize)
6.1% - 0.75 lbs. Weyermann CaraFoam
2.0% - 0.25 lbs. Weyermann Acidulated Malt
2.0% - 0.25 lbs. King Arthur All Purpose Flour

1.38 oz. Magnum (Pellet, 11.50% AA) @ 60 min.
2.00 oz. Simcoe (Pellet, 14.00% AA) @ 0 min.
2.00 oz. Galaxy (Pellet, 12.00% AA) @ 0 min.
3.00 oz. Galaxy (Pellet, 12.00% AA) Dry Hop Primary
3.00 oz. Simcoe (Whole, 14.00% AA) Keg Hop

0.50 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 8 min.
0.50 Whirlfloc @ 8 min.

WYeast 1318 London Ale III

Water Profile
Profile: Washington, Hoppy

Mash Schedule
Sacch Rest - 30 min @ 154F

5/23/15 - 2 L stir-plate starter with a 3 month old Wyeast pack of 1318.

Brewed 5/24/15

Note: this recipe was actually double everything listed, half was run off after 30 minutes for souring.

Mash was 3 gallons of distilled, plus 4.25 filtered DC tap. 2 tsp of 10% phosphoric acid. 6 g each CaCl and Gypsum. Mash pH = 5.33 after 5 minutes of recirculation. 1 gallon of distilled added as a cold sparge. 120 PPM chloride and 140 PPM sulfate, including mash and sparge water.

Collected 6.5 gallons of 1.045 runnings. Boiled 30 minutes without hops. Topped off the boil with 3/4 gallon of filtered tap water.

Added flame-out hops. Whirpooled for 5 minutes, settled for 25. Down to 170F naturally. Thanks to warm-weather ground water only able to chill to 72F. Left at 62F to chill for five hours before pitching.

5/27/15 Added the 3 oz of Galaxy dry hops. Warmed to 66F to encourage fermentation to finish strong.

6/4/15 Kegged with 3 oz of whole Simcoe. Still very cloudy. Right into the fridge. FG 1.013.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Indië Wit (India White Ale) Recipe

There are flavors that just naturally work together. It’s no real challenge to add sour cherries to a sour brown, or coffee to a porter (although it can take skill to get these combinations to really sing). However, there are other combinations that take work to make even palatable. Belgian IPA falls into that category for me. Too often the phenolic yeast and citrusy American hops clash, or one gets in the way of the other. Too much bitterness with a really low FG or so much hop aroma the yeast is lost completely. There are examples that prove it is possible (e.g., Anchorage Galaxy IPA, Selkirk Infidel), but it has never been a "style" that I go out of my way to sample.

Rather than take an IPA recipe and swap out the American/English strain for an abbey, I started with a standard wit with WY3711 French Saison (which worked previously) and blasted it with late-boil and dry hopping. I went with a blend of hops (Citra, Mosaic, and Simcoe) that I used previously in Simcoe & Sons Pale Ale, which was fermented with Conan. I allowed the wit to cool uncovered for about 40 minutes before adding the hop stand addition. The lower temperature is supposed to preserve some of the more volatile hop oils (and avoid additional IBUs), however I was underwhelmed with the hop character before dry hopping.

In addition to the character of the yeast, I counted on the subtle spicing with the classic duo of coriander and orange peel to bridge the gap from hops to yeast. Each contains compounds that are also derived from American hops (like citronellol and linalool). I prefer the Fruit Pebbles character of Indian coriander (as I’ve talked about previously), rather than the standard supermarket variety. Rather than fresh zest, I added sweet dried orange peel from Penzey’s in place of the pithy bitter Curaçao variety usually sold for brewing (and added to many classic Belgian wits).

I may have gone overboard with the mash acidification. As I refine my mini-cold-sparge process on my new brew house I’m struggling to figure out what mash pH to target. I add about 90% of my water at the start of the mash, so if I target ~5.2 pH as I would in a more conventional setup it requires much more acid (owing to the more dilute mash). The result is a noticeable acidity in this batch. It actually works well here thanks to the low bitterness and citrusy flavors, but would be a disaster in a pale lager or even an IPA.

Indië Wit Tasting

Appearance – One advantage of bottling beers that you intend to serve yeasty is that you can always roll to resuspend the correct amount of yeast. Stored cold in a keg and most strains drop out after a few weeks. When I went to take a photo for this batch yesterday there was less beer and more yeast in the keg than I realized before I rocked it; instead of a slightly milky haze, I got a glass full of trub… Take two is much prettier with 24 hours to settle. Could be whiter (if I’d used Pilsner malt), but the head is rocky and substantial.

Smell – Citrus and stone fruit. The hops, yeast, and spices play a three-part harmony. No sharp edges. The hops have mellowed a bit, allowing the “wit-iness” of the beer (doughy wheat and yeasty spice) to display a bit more prominently. When it was fresh the aroma was IPA-forward. Still fresh, but mellowed.

Taste – Bright. I wouldn’t even call it tart, but the acidity adds a quenching/refreshing quality that is near perfect on a 100F day like today. The American hops provide a mixture of apricot and grapefruit. Retro-olfactory is the most prominent spot for the coriander and orange peel. The French saison strain mostly stays out of the flavor, adding to the citrus and enhancing the general “Belgian” leaning balance. Bitterness is mild.

Mouthfeel – Medium bodied, the proteins from all that wheat add some heft as does the texture of the yeast. Firm carbonation, but it is not as spritzy as the style can be.

Drinkability & Notes – Wit is one of my favorite styles for augmentation because the base is mild without being too crisp or clean. Add this hoppy combination to the list of those that work. It is always a good sign that I’m surprised that a keg is about to run out (compared to the ones that end up feeling like I somehow squeezed 7 gallons into a 5 gallon Corny). Might have to brew another batch of wit before the summer is done!

Indië Wit Recipe

Recipe Specifics
Batch Size (Gal): 6.00
Total Grain (Lbs): 11.38
Anticipated OG: 1.050
Anticipated SRM: 3.6
Anticipated IBU: 18.2
Brewhouse Efficiency: 73 %
Wort Boil Time: 75 Minutes

48.4% 5.50 lbs. Rahr Pale Malt
26.4% 3.00 lbs. Great Western Flaked Wheat
22.0% 2.50 lbs. Great Western Wheat Malt America
3.3% 0.38 lbs. Weyermann Acidulated Malt

0.44 oz. Magnum (Pellet, 11.80% AA) @ 60 min.
1.00 oz. Citra (Pellet, 10.00% AA) @ Hop-stand
1.00 oz. Mosaic (Pellet, 10.00% AA) @ Hop-stand
1.00 oz. Simcoe (Pellet, 14.00% AA) @ Hop-stand
1.00 oz. Citra (Pellet, 10.00% AA) @ Dry Hop (Primary)
1.00 oz. Mosaic (Pellet, 10.00% AA) @ Dry Hop (Primary)
1.00 oz. Simcoe (Pellet, 14.00% AA) @ Dry Hop (Primary)

0.50 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 15 min.
0.25 oz Indian Coriander @ 0 min.
6.50 gm Penzey's Orange Peel @ 0 min.

WYeast 3711 French Saison

Water Profile
Profile: Washington, DC

Mash Schedule
Sacch Rest - 60 min @ 158 F

Brewed 4/5/15

7 gallons of filtered DC water with 2.5 g of CaCl. .75 oz of Phosphoric acid. Measured pH 5.41.

1 gallon cold sparge with .25 oz of phosphoric acid. Collected 6.75 gallons of 1.044 runnings.

Let settle for 40 minutes with .25 oz each Penzey's Orange Peel and Indian coriander (coarse ground).

Added 1 oz each Citra, Mosaic, and Simcoe to steep for 20 minutes.

Ran off 5.5 gallons @ 66F and pitched remains from a one gallon saison experiment. Left at 65F ambient to ferment.

4/9/15 Dry hopped with 1 oz each Citra, Mosaic, and Simcoe. Allowed to warm to 70F to complete fermentation.

4/19/15 Kegged, force carbonation.

6/23/15 Tasting notes (above).

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Anniversary Beer Pairing Dinner

For our second wedding anniversary, rather than take Audrey out for a fancy dinner, I cooked. I used the meal as an excuse to open up a few bottles that deserved a memorable occasion. The problem with special bottles is that the older they grow the more special they become until there is almost no occasion extraordinary enough to open them. When you finally do, they often are way past their prime.

First Course: Roasted/chilled lobster and baby kale salad dressed with lemon vinaigrette (lobster rolls are a shared favorite, but I wanted to start with something light).

Pairing: 2008 Boon Mariage Parfait (after our wedding we shared a bottle of the 2004 vintage that happened to have been bottled on Audrey's birthday, this one was brewed the year we met). The strong gueuze mirrored the brightness of the dressing without overwhelming the delicate lobster.

Second Course: Medjool dates filled with mascarpone and Greek yogurt, roasted with olive oil and coarse salt (one of the ~10 stand-outs from the tasting menu at Komi - Audrey's present to me for my birthday last year). I'd made them once before, but the key insight was chilling before roasting (recipe), next time I might freeze them completely and roast them longer.

Pairing: 2009 Pelican Stormwatcher's Winterfest - the last bottle remaining from our Portland trip in 2010. I hesitated to serve such a strong beer so early in the meal, but I needed something substantial to stand up to such a rich dish. Luckily the beer had held up well (Audrey isn't a fan of aged-out barleywines), and the maltiness worked well with the creamy dates.

Third Course: Dry-aged New York strip basted with garlic/thyme butter served with pan-fried potatoes (a riff on the meal we cooked after I proposed).

Pairing: 2012 Bruery Sour in the Rye (a bottle I purchased that day, along with our celebratory Bière de Champagne - and actual Champagne). The acidity cut through the fat of the steak and potatoes. The dry-aged steak had almost a Parmesan-nuttiness to it that worked well with the aged sour beer.

Fourth Course: Chambord-chocolate mousse with rum whipped cream and raspberries, dusted with our raspberry-chocolate wedding cake (I also made chocolate mousse for her on our first date). I vacuum-sealed the top of the cake in two halves, this one got a bit over-compressed...

Pairing: Raspberry-Rum Sour Brown (I bought raspberries in this batch the day I proposed). The beer isn't assertively sweet or sour, so it helped to balance the rich dessert. The assertive raspberry flavor played off the light raspberry in the mousse.

Glad the beers all held up well in the cellar and I didn't screw up any of the dishes! I guess it's time for me to start hoarding bottles to do this again in a few years.