That happened in 2012, while judging the DC Homebrewer’s Cherry Blossom competition, when I judged a fantastic hoppy-hibiscus beer. I’ve been thinking about brewing one since. It tasted and looked like ruby red grapefruit juice, bitter and aromatic, citrus and floral, finishing with a hint of tart brightness. Delicious and unique.
I took the other half of the Citra-Mosaic NEIPA I posted about last week and finally made it happen! It was the same wort through pitching the yeast. I used different dry hops, Ekuanot and Eureka, selected out of convenience rather than intention. Northern Brewer describes Ekuanot (formerly Equinox) as "In the midst of the bright citrus and melon there is a ribbon of green pepper. Or something like green pepper. It’s not green pepper in the eat-it-with-hummus-use-it-on-a-fajita sense of green pepper." Not exactly appealing. I was hoping that the mid-fermentation addition paired with the fruitiness of grapefruit zest 48 hours before kegging and a dose of hibiscus tea in the keg would lead to a fruity impression. Those are ingredient techniques I had used separately in a Grapefruit APA and a Hibiscus Wit (among others).
After brewing the batch I decided I should track down the brewers of the original "Pink Hoppy Bunny." I reached out to former DC Homebrewers President Josh Hubner and he revealed the brewers to be Pete Jones (of Lost Lagers) and Cody Gabbard. They responded that the base was a wit hopped with loads of Citra, with hibiscus and rose petals added directly to the fermentor. Turned out that batch won the category!
Ruby Red NEIPA
Smell – Mostly hops, dank, resiny, borderline green onion. Occasional tropical mango notes. Like Simcoe and Summit had a baby, and they pumped it full of steroids. Blocks out the citrus and hibiscus, but they help to temper it... a little.
Appearance – Red NEIPA! Oddly clearer than the other half of the batch, especially considering the beers looked similar before infusion/kegging. Maybe an effect of the lower pH? Nice slightly pink head, sticky lacing.
Taste – Really dank, Pacific-Northwest, resiny, fresh nose-in-the-hop-bag hoppiness. Firm bitterness, considerably higher than the NEIPA half. Likely a result of the lower final pH (4.05 compared to 4.57). Finally, in the finish a touch of grapefruit and cranberry-hibiscus comes through. Luckily what I don’t get is the green pepper that is a common descriptor for Ekuanot, a flavor I tasted in several beers brewed with the lupulin powder.
Mouthfeel – Thinner, crisper than the straight NEIPA. Not as rounded. The higher acidity again. Similar medium carbonation.
Drinkability & Notes – I'd hoped hibiscus and grapefruit would balance the dank hops, but they get trampled. I may try dumping in a bottle of grapefruit juice into the keg before it kicks. It isn’t a bad beer, just discordant with what I was trying to brew and how it looks.
Changes for Next Time – Fruitier, more grapefruity hops. Cascade, Chinook... Citra. Surprised that the early dry hop addition didn't "soften" the aromatics more. The vague memory of that two ounces of beer from the competition will continue to haunt me until I try this one again… luckily now I have the recipe! A 50/50 blend with the New Englandier half of the batch gets pretty close to what I wanted.
Batch Size: 5.50 gal
Final pH: 4.05
Brewhouse Efficiency: 71%
Boil Time: 60 minutes
58.8 % - 7.5 lbs Rahr 2-Row Brewer's Malt
20.6% - 2.625 lbs Weyermann Carafoam
20.6% - 2.625 lbs 365 Old Fashion Rolled Oats
Mash In - 60 min @ 155F
1.25 oz Columbus (Whole, 15.5% AA) @ 15 min
2.00 oz Citra (Pellet, 12.00% AA) @ 30 min Whirlpool
2.00 oz Mosaic (Pellet, 12.25%) @ 30 min Whirlpool
4.00 oz Eureka (Pellet, 18.00% AA) @ Day 2 Dry Hop
4.00 oz Ekuanot (Pellet, 15.00%) @ Day 2 Dry Hop
0.50 oz Ekuanot Cryo (Lupulin, 26.00% AA) @ Keg
2.00 oz Eureka (Pellets, 18.00% AA) @ Keg
10.00 g Calcium Chloride @ Mash
8.00 g Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) @ Mash
1.00 tsp Phosphoric Acid 10% @ Mash
.50 tsp Lactic Acid @ Mash
Omega British Ale V (OYL-011)
Recipe was originally 11 gallons, split with a standard NEIPA. Values represent the batch tasted here.
24 hours before pitching fed a cup of harvested slurry (~1 month old) from, 2.3% IPA ~2.5L of starter wort.
Mashed in with 4.5 gallons filtered DC diluted with 3 gallons of distilled.
pH of mash originally read 5.51 at Mash temperature (~5.7 at room temperature) with salts and phosphoric. Rest of phosphoric down to 5.36. Lactic (ran put of phosphoric) got down to 5.26/5.46.
Sparged with 1.75 gallons of distilled, cold. Collected 7.00 gallons @ 1.053.
Chilled to 75F left at 65F to cool for a few hours to 70F before pitching.
Fermenting well after 12 hours. 67F internal.
6/20/17 Down to 1.026, dry hopped FV2 with 4 oz each of Eureka and Ekuanot.
6/26/17 Added the zest from two ruby red grapefruits loose to the fermentor. Dunked in StarSan, zest removed with a vegetable peeler, and pith scraped off with a spoon.
6/28/17 Kegged with bagged hops, purged. .5 oz of Ekuanot Lupulin powder, plus 1 cup of hibiscus concentrate (5 min soak with 1.5 cups off-boiling water and 1 oz of hibiscus from TPSS Coop). Attached to gas and left in the kegerator.
6/30/17 Added an additional 2 cups of hibiscus tea made with 2 oz of hibiscus, color and flavor weren't there.
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