Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Milkshake IPA: Mango Vanilla Hopsicle

Despite the excessive amount of homebrew I have on tap and in bottles, I still drink commercial beer. It’s been years since I lined up at for a bottle release or bought a case of anything, but I buy singles and flights frequently. Rarely do I go out of my way for a hyped bourbon barrel Russian imperial stout or a classic double IPA. The code has largely been cracked for both of these. Made well they are delicious, but it is rare that I have one that is better than any I have had before. Not saying there aren't similar beers like a Spanish brandy barrel RIS or honey DIPA that aren't deliciously unique! What gets me excited is the interesting takes, surprising ingredient combinations, and passionate focus on a neglected style or process. If the results aren’t to my tastes, nothing lost, but sometimes I get to enjoy something that I wouldn't have brewed.

The “milkshake” IPA concept pioneered by Omnipollo and Tired Hands is just such an idea. NEIPA taken to the logical extreme with fruit and vanilla. The water treatment, hop varieties, yeast strains, and resulting biotransformation used for NEIPAs often produces a flavor and appearance reminiscent of juice. Occasionally a hint of vanilla from the yeast too (RVA 132 Manchester especially). That said, the concept seemed silly, luckily a sample of Tired Hands Mango Double Milkshake IPA at a tasting suggested otherwise. The fruit and hops worked together beautifully with a lingering tail of vanilla.

For the base beer I didn’t stray too far from my usual NEIPA routine, but I thought this would be a good opportunity to add honey malt. It was featured in an IPA recipe from Tree House head brewer Nate Lanie, and in this case the added sweetness and malty-oomph seemed like a match. I went up higher than I ever have on chloride (~200 PPM) to push body.

For hops I opted for Experimental Stone Fruit, which were hanging out in my freezer courtesy of Yakima Valley Hops. They didn’t provide a spec sheet, but the name and aroma both suggested peach and apricot (without that aspirin thing that often comes with Amarillo). I repitched Omega HotHead (from Summer Kveik) for orange aromatics, but tried to temper it by lowering the fermentation temperature. Fruit was frozen mango, the selection owing to my split batch on fresh and frozen. Finally half of a split vanilla bean three days before kegging. I debated adding a whole bean but I didn't want to overwhelm the other flavors.

I skipped flour and green apple puree in the boil. I have no issue with haze when it is created as part of the brewing process in the search for aroma/flavor/mouthfeel, but I didn't want to go out of my way to create murk. The original Milkshake was a tongue-in-cheek response to this review by Jason Alström.

Lactose is a common addition to this emerging style for mild sweetness and creamy body, but I wanted to share my creation with a couple vegan friends. I’d also been scared off by the intense sweetness of Aslin Mind the Hop with Passionfruit and Vanilla, one of the best aromas of any beer I've tried, but the flavor was too saccharine for me. If you want lactose, save it to add to taste at kegging. To replace the lost creaminess I’m pouring it on beer gas! Here's a homebrewed Orange Milkshake IPA with a pound of lactose from the fantastic Meek Brewing Co. blog.

The other half of this batch fell off a cliff, so I won't subject you to a full write-up/tasting. It was identical through run-off, but received WLP007 and three 2 oz dose BRU-1 for dry hops. The color darkened compared to this one and tasted stale two weeks after brewing. It was the first batch fermented in my SS Brew Bucket. I glazed over the fact that the “periodic” passivation was supposed to include before the first use... "[I]ron ions can catalytically promote oxidative reactions.Brulosophy had a positive assessment of BRU-1, so I'm not totally writing the variety off! I have my second batch fermenting in the fermentor now with loads of Galaxy and Vic Secret after performing their prescribed acid treatment and air drying.

Mango Hopsicle

Smell – Mango and hops are balanced, more a hoppy fruit beer than a fruited IPA. Mango creamsicle nose. The fruit and citrus from the hops and yeast keep it from being mango alone. Glad I didn’t add a third dose of dry hops in the keg, it doesn’t need the final hit of raw/green hop aroma.

Appearance – Of course it turned out nearly clear. This is the first pale beer I’ve served on beer gas with the stout faucet. The cascading bubbles don't pop like they do against a dark background, sort of goes from hazy to clear. Nice dense white head.

Taste – Plenty of mango, with the vanilla giving it an almost sherbet flavor. Hops and yeast are somewhat tame, peach and orange. Lingering bitterness, might be better balanced if there were lactose. The vanilla adds some perceived sweetness, but it still comes across as a pretty dry beer.

Mouthfeel – A bit light after the creamy head disappears, not the rich-full body that some other examples of the style have. Light carbonation, no surprise. Happy with carbonating and serving on beer gas alone at 20 PSI.

Drinkability & Notes – It’s a fun beer. Despite skipping the lactose the vanilla plays surprisingly well with the fruity character. I’ll be revisiting something like this again eventually!

Changes for Next Time – Add lactose, up the vanilla bean (time or amount), and reduce or eliminate the bittering hop addition.


Batch Size: 5.5 gal
SRM: 5.4
IBU: 74
OG: 1.060
FG: 1.012
ABV: 6.3%
Brewhouse Efficiency: 71%
Boil Time: 100 Mins

79.2% - 10 lbs Rahr 2-Row Brewer's Malt
13.9% - 1.75 lbs Briess Red Wheat Malt
4.0% - .50 lbs Gambrinus Honey Malt
2.0 % - .25 lbs Bairds Carastan
1.0 % - .125 lbs Weyermann Acidulated

Sacch Rest - 45 min @ 157F

.50 oz - Columbus (Pellets, 13.00% AA) @ 60 min.
.50 oz - Galena (Pellets, 11.00% AA) @ 60 min.
1.00 oz - BRU-1 (Pellets, 16.00% AA) @ Whirlpool (30 min)
1.00 oz  - Experimental Stone Fruit (Pellets, 13.3% AA) @ Whirlpool (30 min)
2.00 oz  - Experimental Stone Fruit (Pellets, 13.3% AA) @ Dry Hop (Brew Day)
2.00 oz  - Experimental Stone Fruit (Pellets, 13.3% AA) @ Dry Hop (Day 3)

5 lbs Frozen Mangoes @ Primary (Day 6)
.50 Vanilla Bean @ Primary (Day 17)

12.5 g Calcium Chloride
4.5 g Gypsum


Measured by Ward Labs, after dilution with distilled and mineral additions.

OYL-057 Omega HotHead

Brewed 1/21/17

Extended boil because my gravity was a bit lower than expected.

Chilled to 63F

1.5 L decanted starter of Omega Hothead pitched into half with 2 oz of Experimental Stone Fruit hops. Left at 67F ambient to ferment.

1/24/17 Added second dose of dry hops.

1/27/17 Added 5 lbs of frozen 365 non-organic frozen mangoes to the Hothead half.

2/7/17 Added half of a vanilla bean, split lengthwise.

2/10/17 Kegged the Milkshake half.


Unknown said...

Why do you think it was lacking creaminess? Although withholding the lactose is the obvious culprit, I've had creamy NEIPAs that I assume didn't have lactose

Michael said...

Definite props for full consideration of your vegan friends. While lactose is an easy fix for the mouthfeel issue, is there another approach you could take that would increase the mouthfeel to the desired degree without it?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I was hoping the hotter mash would lower the attenuation more than it did. The fruit also added water and simple sugars, no help there either. Mouthfeel is a tricky subject to nail down definitively. An even hotter mash wouldn't hurt, and maybe oats instead of wheat. Last night I kegged a batch of NEIPA that was 85% pale 15% quick steelcut oats, much silkier body.

Anonymous said...

How did you treat the steel cut oats? I just used some in a porter but a friend say I should have done a cereal mash of the oats first. I just treated mine like flaked oats in a dark beer: toasted and added directly to the mash.

Rob H said...

It's too clear as well. If you want to boost the mouth feel then you'll need to add Calcium Chloride to your strike water. 5-6g for a 5 gallon batch should do the trick. Additionally, an NEIPA should have a huge dry hop charge add just after high krausen. That will get you the haze typical of an NEIPA. The mouthfeel in standard NEIPAs has nothing to do with lactose.

Unknown said...

Did you do anything to sanitize the mango or vanilla bean? Did you add the fruit frozen?

Unknown said...

I used the wort I picked up at the Surly AHA Rally last month to make a Milkshake IPA. (Surly wort details here:

Anyway, I fermented the wort with US-05, added 2oz of Nelson Sauvin & 6lbs of Frozen Mangos towards the tail end of fermentation. I then added 2oz of HBC438 (Ron Mexico) along with a whole Vanilla Bean soaked in Vodka once fermentation was over. I tasted it yesterday for the first time since kegging & carbing and the over-oaked flavor that was present in their "oaked & slightly tart" wort is mostly gone, but I feel like the Mango flavor & original "slightly tart" flavor is dominating. I'm looking for some suggestions on how I can balance out that tartness. Unfortunately, adding lactose is out since I'm severely lactose-intolerant. I almost think that adding more vanilla and/or some more dry hops might help. The other option I'm considering is steering into the skid so to speak and adding Brett.

Ideas? I'm open to just about anything. (Except the lactose thing.)

Unknown said...

I've seen a lot of people talking about how they soak vanilla beans in vodka before they add it. Any reason you opted not to do this step and instead put the bean straight in?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

The steelcut oats were a "quick" version from Bob's Red Mill. I added them directly to the mash and got my usual 74% efficiency, so no problems.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

No harm in making your own extract: easy to dose to taste, lower risk of any microbes tagging along. I'm lazy though and have never had am issue adding the bean directly. Just one less thing I have to do in advance.

Shawn said...

Thanks for the shout-out, Mike! I can say now that a full vanilla bean for a 5-gallon batch pretty much hits the sweet spot. A friend brewed a MIPA (can we use that acronym for this "style"?) after I brewed mine, and decided to go with a full bean based on my experience using half, and another friend of mine who used two beans. As expected, it was pretty much spot-on... definite vanilla presence, but not overwhelming at all. I'll definitely be using a full bean for my next batch (which I plan on adding watermelon to).

Also, I was a bit worried about the lactose as well, so I actually added a HALF lb of lactose powder, not a full pound. I think a full pound may tip the beer into the too-sweet category, based on how the beer turned out.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Thanks, I'll certainly be brewing a MIPA again!

Unknown said...

I know that Tired Hands uses flour in their Milkshake IPAs as well...that may help with body/creaminess.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I stated that in the post as well. I suspect the small amount of flour in the boil is for appearance rather than mouthfeel, although it wouldn't hurt!

Shannon said...

I am against secondary ferm unless necessary. I see no mention (unless missed) so I am assuming the fruit addition was added to primary? Was it pulled at any point or left in since addition until fermentation was complete? Curious to sanitation steps of mango and vanilla beans if you care to share. This recipe looks good as I am thinking of going with oats over wheat with a higher % addition to bill and kicking out the Galena addition

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

You are correct, the mango, vanilla, and dry hops were all added to the primary fermentor (another reason to use something with a wider opening than a carboy). They all stayed in until I kegged the beer. No additional sanitation (other than the bag the mangoes were in), although freezing the fruit reduces the bacteria. Given the alcohol, hops, and pH and that the beer is stored cold until served I wasn't too concerned.

Sounds perfect, let me know how it turns out!

Artemicion said...

Would you brew this beer with the same yeast or is the typical yeast like Wyeast 1318 or Vermont a better choice?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I think any of the above would work. The extra citrus from the kveik was a fun addition, but it'd work well with any yeast you'd use for a NEIPA!

Unknown said...

Did you denature the mango before adding?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I did not. I assume your concern is about proteolytic enzymes?

Anonymous said...

Your additions of mango and vanilla were all in the primary?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Correct. You could rack onto them, but I think the added risk of oxidation outweighs any risk of autolysis.

Steve said...

What were your specific water adjustments?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I usually don't miss adding those, fixed!

Unknown said...

Hello, when you stated reduce or eliminate the bittering hop addition. Is that on brew day or day 3?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I was talking about the 60 min boil addition with that comment.