Wednesday, June 22, 2016

New England APA: Conan and London III

Baltimore’s HomebrewCon 2016 has come and gone. I posted a preview, but don’t expect to see a summary (if you missed out, get the scoop from Brülosophy, Ales of the Riverwards, Five Blades Brewing, or Brouwerij-Chugach). Also expect about five podcasts from Basic Brewing Radio with me, including tastings at my house, and discussions with Christian Layke at Gordon Biersch Rockville, Josh Chapman at BlueJacket, and of course Nathan Zeender at Right Proper's new production space!

I was in the midst of brewing and kegging samples for my talk about Hoppy Sour Beers (slides and audio will eventually be posted here for AHA members) when my friend Scott Janish suggested I brew a New England-style IPA to serve next to his at the DC Homebrewer's club booth. Being a native-New Englander and hophead how could I refuse that challenge? I used the same hop combination that I did for the three beers for my presentation: Simcoe/Mosaic/Citra (a personal favorite from Simcoe & Sons and Indië Wit). If you stopped by the DC Homebrewer’s booth on either Thursday or Friday night let me know what you thought in the comments! I really enjoyed Scott's rendition as well, a fun side-by-side with a bit more hop aroma and bitterness than mine.

GigaYeast Vermont IPAYou'll likely recognize the rest of the recipe: characterful non-phenolic yeast, moderate IBUs, 100-150 PPM of both chloride and sulfate, easy on the crystal malt, dry hopped during fermentation, and served super-fresh! The only significant twist on previous batches was that I pitched a blend of Wyeast London III and GigaYeast Vermont IPA (sounds like their isolate of The Alchemist's Conan). Conan has a tendency to walk all over aroma hops. While that can result in a delicious beer (juicy peach when it is on), it conceals the varietal character in a way that London III (Boddingtons) does not. My goal was to tame the classic Conan character without discarding it entirely!

While the recipe at the bottom of this post indicates 35 IBUs, that is from the 60 minute bittering addition only. Brülosophy has performed tests suggesting that blind tasters can't reliably distinguish between beers brewed with a 20 minute boil addition and a 20 minute hop-stand or hop stands at flame-out and in wort chilled to 170F. Of course you can't use the transitive property to imply that people wouldn't be able to distinguish 20 minute boil additions from a 170F hop stand! If I moved the hop-stand addition move to 20 minutes, ProMash estimates it would total 108 IBUs. I don't think it tastes that bitter, but it is also well over 35 IBUs (what you would get if you steeped the hops below alpha acid's isomerization temperature). I suspect the perceived bitterness is somewhere between the two, perhaps 55-65 IBUs.

Simcoe & Daughters

Smell – The Conan stone fruit leads with lively grapefruit zest following. Minimal “true” nose-in-the-hop-bag aroma – it has actually gotten less green with extended contact to the keg hops. What it lacks in variety it makes up for in intensity; I can smell the hops when someone is drinking a glass next to me! Nothing unappealing at all.

Appearance – In the narrow glass this is more hazy-than-cloudy – on the clear end of the New England “style.” Yellow gold, with the opacity makes it appear a couple shades darker than the estimated 4 SRM would suggest. Much more appealing than my last, murky/gray, attempt at a NEAPA. Stellar retention from the airy, stark-white head.

Taste – Before it was fully carbonated I was worried that I had undershot the bitterness, but it has balanced out nicely in the three weeks since. Enough IBUs to bring citrus zest to mind, orange and grapefruit especially. It isn't harsh or lingering. As it has sat the hops have evolved towards fresh peach rather than the rawer flavor they contributed initially. The Conan seems to be expressing itself despite the cold storage temperature. Just a touch of grainy malt and bready yeast in the finish.

Simcoe & Daughters NEAPA in my back meadow.Mouthfeel – Carbonation is moderate, nice. Really soft mouthfeel, no harshness from excess sulfate, carbonation, IBUs, or raw hop punch.

Drinkability & Notes – It is difficult to top a really good homebrewed hoppy beer: no issues with age, heat exposure, aroma scalping, or filtration!

Changes for Next Time – Not much to adjust on this one. At this point I’m not sure how much the WY1318 in combination with the GigaYeast really accomplished. When it was first kegged the Conan was muted slightly compared to the isolates I've used from The Yeast Bay and East Coast Yeast, but it reminds me more and more of a pure Conan beer. There are always new hop varieties and combinations to try out, but the base is stellar as is! Eventually I’ll have to try adding some honey malt which is a popular option, Golden Naked Oats might be nice too!

Simcoe & Daughters

Recipe Specifics
Batch Size (Gal): 12.00
Total Grain (Lbs): 27.50
Anticipated OG: 1.062
Anticipated SRM: 4.0
Anticipated IBU: 34.6
Brewhouse Efficiency: 74 %
Wort Boil Time: 90 Minutes

85.5% - 23.50 lbs. Rahr 2-row Brewer's Malt
14.5% - 4.00 lbs. Flaked Wheat

1.75 oz. Ella (Pellet, 10.20% AA) @ 60 min.
3.00 oz. Citra (Pellet, 11.50% AA) @ 30 min Hop Stand
3.00 oz. Mosaic (Pellet, 13.00% AA) @ 30 min Hop Stand
3.00 oz. Simcoe (Pellet, 13.00% AA) @ 30 min Hop Stand
2.00 oz. Citra (Whole, 11.50% AA) @ Dry Hop
2.00 oz. Mosaic (Whole, 13.00% AA) @ Dry Hop
2.00 oz. Simcoe (Whole, 13.00% AA) @ Dry Hop
2.00 oz. Citra (Whole, 11.50% AA) @ Keg Hop
2.00 oz. Mosaic (Whole, 13.00% AA) @ Keg Hop
2.00 oz. Simcoe (Whole, 13.00% AA) @ Keg Hop

1.00 Whirlfloc @ 5 min.
1.00 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 5 min.

WYeast 1318 London Ale III
GigaYeast GY054 Vermont IPA

Water Profile
Profile: NE IPA

Mash Schedule
Sacch Rest - 45 min @ 155F

5/21/16 Made a 1 L starter with WY1318 on the stir-plate. Added the GigaYeast Vermont IPA to the same starter when I started brewing just to get it acclimated/oxygenated.

5/22/16 Brewed by myself

7 gallons of distilled with 9 gallons of filtered DC tap water. 12 g each CaCl and gypsum. 1 tbls 10% phosphoric. pH=5.48, a bit high so I added an additional teaspoon of phosphoric. Cold sparge with 2 gallons of distilled water. Collected 14 gallons of 1.053 runnings.

18 month old pellet hops added to the whirlpool immediately at flame-out. 15 minutes recirculation, 15 minutes settling. Chilled to 66F, then allowed to settle for 20 minutes. Ran off into two 8 gallon fermentors, oxygenated for 30 seconds with pure O2. Pitched half of the starter into each. Left at 62F to ferment.

5/25/16 Dry hopped each fermentor with 1 oz each of Mosaic/Citra/Simcoe (bagged and poorly weighted). Occasional agitation. Temperature up to 66F ambient.

6/1/16 Racked to two kegs with addition of bagged/weighted identical dry hop additions. Immediately into the kegerator and onto 20 PSI to carbonate quickly. FG 1.017, final pH 4.47.

I get a commission if you click the links to MoreBeer/Amazon and buy something! 


  1. The conference is a tough environment to serve beer, with the kegs jostled and not necessarily at the desired temperature. I preferred yours to Scott's (both good however), largely because his had some bitter particles from keg hops that found their way into my pour. My pin-lock NE IPA with hanbanero was not well served as the jockey box was hardwired with barbed ball locks.

  2. We both had bagged hops in the keg, mine were whole (not sure about his). I enjoyed yours, but didn't realize what the flavor was for about 5 seconds until the heat kicked in!

    Mine was pouring pretty slow by the end, but I was glad all four beers I brought ended up without any major service issues.

  3. I've read about the growing popularity concerning dry-hopping after 3-4 days pitching yeast, which is what I assume you mean by dry-hopping during fermentation. My problem is that whenever I use London Ale III - which I love - it often takes 10-14 days for the krausen to settle. Should I be throwing in the dry-hop addition (pellets) despite the fact that there's a 2-3 inch-thick krausen on the beer?

  4. I see that after you keg hopped, you put it on carbonation and then stuck it right in the keezer. I currently have a London Ale III beer fermenting now and was thinking of keg hopping as well. Do you think that by sticking the keg in the keezer right after you added the hops, that this may mute the aroma more than if you were to leave the keg to sit around 68-72 degrees for a few days before refrigerating it?

  5. I bag and weight my dry hops and drop them right through the krausen! If you wait for any strain to completely drop it'll be later than ideal for yeast-hop interactions.

    Certainly you'll get faster extraction with warm contact, but that isn't what I'm looking for. They have plenty of time to extract while the beer is carbonating and pouring. It is more about extending the hop-life than upping it. Otherwise, I would consider dry hopping in one keg warm and then pushing to a serving keg.

  6. Hey Mike- Why the 90 minute boil?

  7. The slightly longer boil was what I needed to hit my target OG and volume. No reason to boil 90 minutes if that isn't your situation.

  8. Could I sanitize a grain sock and marbles to drop dry hops down into the fermenter or keg? Use fishing string to drop it down there?

  9. Sure, I do something similar. It takes a surprising amount of marbles to hold 3-4 oz of whole hops submerged! Also make sure to tie it into a loop if it is so long that even the marbles at the bottom would allow the hops to float to the surface.

  10. Any reason for whole hops during primary rather than pellets?

  11. Use whatever hops you can get your hands on that are fresh (harvested within one-to-two years) and smell great! I think it is difficult to beat really terrific whole hops, so that's what I tend to use for dry hopping... but pellets are easy to work with (no need to bag) and infuse quickly. I've been using them more recently for the dose in primary. I usually stick to whole hops in the keg because of the extended contact time.

  12. I just brewed this yesterday while on staycation. I used 16 gallons for mash and sparge and got 13gallons total. I boiled for 60 min and got just under 12gallons. 1.073. Already smells like a juicy hop bomb. I have not had an APA yet so I am super excited to see what this tastes like. I used some old hops for my buttering addition; Even mixture of simcoe, cascade, amarillo and mosaic. 1.75oz total.

  13. This looks awesome just one far as the hop stand is concerned. Do you add them at flame out and wait 30 min or do you cool to 170 then add hops for 30 min?

  14. My recipes specify if the hop stand is at anything other than starting right at flame-out (in this case, from the notes "hops added to the whirlpool immediately at flame-out"). I find the hot temperature gives me what I'm looking for in a beer that doesn't have any late-boil additions. I tend to only pre-chill if I want to reduce bitterness (a hoppy sour for example).

    1. I was also noticing you kegged this beer in just 10 days. I would like to hear your thoughts on conditioning.I would also imagine that the addition of o2 and a healthy batch of yeast contribute to your ability to keg so quickly

  15. Fermentation should be done by day four or five (assuming a healthy pitch of yeast), so another five days should be plenty for dry hopping and warm clean-up. Once it is kegged I allow it to sit cold under pressure for a week or two before I start drinking, plenty of time to drop the yeast and any hop particulate while it carbonates.

  16. Oh my gosh. This recipe is a killer. Thanks for that, here's the result: Mad NEAPA

  17. Glad the recipe worked for you. Beautiful beer!