Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Rings of Light - Hazy Pale Ale

Cleared by the final runnings.

My homebrewing-rate has slowed dramatically the last couple months, not coincidentally we brewed our first batch at the brewery around that time (House Saison brew day). Part of that is brewing 10 bbls about twice a week, the rest is how much time I spend at the brewery doing other stuff. My plan for The Mad Fermentationist is to keep up the same style of post, with recipes and tasting notes for occasional Sapwood Cellars beers. I'll still document homebrew batches when I can, mostly test batches or experiments with impractically weird ingredients.

The first beer I wanted to cover is my favorite of the initial four clean batches, Rings of Light. For those interested the name, is a subtle The Fellowship of the Rings reference: "They watched the pale rings of light round his lanterns as they dwindled into the foggy night." It is exactly the sort of beer I love drinking, moderate alcohol (4.8% ABV), but with a huge hop flavor and aroma and a surprisingly luscious mouthfeel. Luckily Untappd reviews have been pretty positive, and it is our tasting room's top seller so far!

You'll likely recognize most of the elements of the recipe as things Scott and I have been doing for years. Golden Naked Oats, Chit malt, Boddington's yeast (RVA Manchester), moderate-high chloride and sulfate, less expensive hops in the boil (Cascade and Columbus), and Citra dry-hopping. We added mid-late fermentation additions to several of our other batches, but this one was soft-crashed to 58F before dry hopping so we could harvest the yeast for re-pitching into an IPA (Cheater Hops) and DIPA (Uncontrollable Laughter). 

Scott dry hopping Rings of Light.

The process tweaks have mostly been to account for the differences related to the physics of working at scale. For example, usually I'd add a small dose of hops at 15 minutes to up the bitterness, but in this case the extended contact after flame-out makes that unnecessary (between whirlpool, settling, and run-off near-boiling wort is in contact with hops for more than a hour). In fact, we added one barrel of cold water at flame-out to lower the whirlpool temperature to reduce isomerization. Beersmith 3 includes the capability to specify the average temperature of the wort during the whirlpool, still the estimate seems to be wildly higher than the perceived bitterness. I wonder if the hops settling, mixing with the proteins in the trub-cone slows the isomerization rate?

It has taken a little time to dial in our Forgeworks brew house. We achieved slightly lower efficiency and attenuation on this batch than expected for example. We've made a few mistakes and miscalculations along the way, but given neither of us had brewed frequently at a commercial scale I'm happy to report that things have been relatively smooth. Our biggest issues have been with the durability of the equipment itself. For example the rakes in the mash tun detached from the motor twice, and our burner shorted after a boil-over. What is taking the most effort to optimize is our cleaning and sanitation regimen. 

Kegging pale ale.

Thanks to everyone who came out to our grand opening last weekend! I didn't expect as many fans of the blog to drive from an hour or more away to try the beers and say hello. Either Scott or I will be there most of the time we're open, so let us know! Happy to show you around and talk brewing. For those further away, I'm also running the brewery's Twitter and Facebook accounts for now (Scott took Instagram because I couldn't figure it out).

Rings of Light in the tasting room.

Rings of Light

Smell – Pleasantly mango-melon hop aroma. As it approaches room temperature I get a slightly toasty-vanilla-richness thanks to the yeast playing off the Golden Naked Oats. Otherwise a pretty clean/fresh aroma.

Appearance – Pleasantly hazy yellow, glowing in the right lighting. I guess we did an adequate job avoiding oxygen pickup during transfers and kegging as it hasn’t darkened! We certainly pulled some hop matter into the bright tank, but it mostly settled out and stayed behind when we kegged, as I don’t see any particulate in the pour. Head is really thick, but could have better retention.

Taste – I really love the flavor on this, really saturated with juicy hops. Similar to the aroma, the tropical flavors from the Citra dominate the Cascade and Columbus. We were surprised how hop-forward it was even before dry hopping (perhaps thanks to the deep kettle slowing the evaporation of the oils?). Bitterness is pleasant, but restrained. Well below the estimated 70+ IBUs, more like 40-50 to my palate.

Mouthfeel – Full bodied, especially for a  sub-5% beer. That is thanks to the oats, and low attenuation (which allowed for more malt for the given alcohol). As usually the substantial texture of the head from the chit malt really enhances the perception of creaminess.

Drinkability & Notes – Glad this beer ended up as an early-fall release. It is a little full for a quenching summer pale ale, but it is perfect for temperate weather. The hops are well balanced, and provide enough interest to demand each additional sip. The malt mostly stays hidden, while providing adequate support.

Changes for Next Time – We’ve already got a new batch of this fermenting with the same grist and kettle-hops, although given the tweaks (higher original gravity and different yeast: Lallemand New England and S-04) it may receive a different name.


Batch Size: 315.00 gal
SRM: 4.9
IBU: 73.7
OG: 1.052
FG: 1.018
ABV: 4.8%
Final pH: 4.54
Brewhouse Efficiency: 68%
Boil Time: 60 Mins

75% - 495 lbs Rahr 2-Row Brewer's Malt
16.7% - 110 lbs Simpsons Golden Naked Oats
8.3% - 55 lbs Best Chit Malt

Mash In - 60 min @ 153F

11 lbs Cascade (Pellets, 7.20% AA) - Steep/Whirlpool 75.0 min
11 lbs Columbus (Pellets, 15.70% AA) - Steep/Whirlpool 75.0 min
22 lbs Citra (Pellets, 12.00% AA) - Dry Hop Day 10

40 g Whirlfloc G @ 15 mins

200 ml Phosphoric Acid 75% @ Mash
1.00 lb Calcium Chloride @ Mash
0.70 lb Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) @ Mash
50 ml Phosphoric Acid 75% @ Sparge


RVA Manchester Ale #132

Brewed 8/29/18

Collected 315 gallons of water.

All salts and 100 ml acid right after mash-in. Ran rakes for 15 minutes, started recirculation 10 minutes after mash in. After 10 min of recirculation, measured temp at 152.8F.

Measured mash pH at 5.42, add 50 mL more acid. 5.39, add 50 mL more acid. 5.34.

Sparge water 183F, pH 6.47 with acid addition - more next time

Start of boil with 11 bbls of 1.055 runnings.

Added 1 bbl of cold water at the start of the whirlpool. Combined temperature 196F, added hops.

Run-off started at 66F. .5L/min of O2 through in-line stone.

Ended up with a wort temperature of 64F. Set tank to to 66F. By the next morning the glycol chiller had popped the breaker and the tank was at 69F... Reset and lowered to 67F.

8/31 Raised set-point to 69F to ensure finish.

9/3 Fermentation appears nearly complete from lack of CO2 production. Tastes good, better hop aroma than expected. Up to 70F to ensure it is done before soft crashing.

9/6 Harvested yeast. Left blow-off open so no dissolved CO2.

9/7 Dry hopped with 22 lbs of Citra through the top port while running 25 PSI of CO2 and blow-off arm closed. Closed everything and add 5 PSI as head pressure.

9/8 Pushed 15 PSI through racking arm for 1 minute to rouse, 18 hours after dry hopping. Dropped temperature to 54F.

9/9 Pushed 15 PSI through racking arm for 1 minute. Dropped temperature to 50F.

9/10 Crashed to 36F.

9/12 Moved to bright tank. 3 L/min of CO2 set to 16 PSI got to ~11 PSI at 36 F. 2.6 volumes of CO2 prior to kegging.

9/15 Kegged, 17 kegs with the last almost full.

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Micha said...

About whirlpool: I may be mistaken, but it seemed to me that loads of new microbreweries were jumping onto the hop back train. The rationale, pointed out by some research, is that it nullifies the need for whirlpool, provides a better control and efficiency, and results in beer with a greater shelf life. Do you plan to integrate a hop rocket in your system? Thanks for keeping the blog alive; even for homebrewers without an inch of pro intentions, that's a very interesting read. Cheers!

Unknown said...

What pushed you to change the yeast in the next batch? Also, I have always wondered, is there a difference between using chit malt and flaked barley other than enzymes?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

My experiences with a hop-back (both at home and at Modern Times) were underwhelming. Just didn't seem to provide much hop character compared to whirlpool additions.

We weren't ready to do another run with RVA, and decided it was worth trying something different. We have a lot of hoppy beers on, and want to have variety in terms of yeast (not to mention strength, malt bill, hops, balance etc.). We just got a fresh pitch of Manchester today that will go into the second batch of Cheater Hops next week... with Mosaic and Nelson!

Damo said...

What is the reason for the temp change during dry hopping. Is it to reach a target aroma profile or to restrict yeast activity and avoid dry hop creep. Great to see the brewery up and running. Scott, can't wait for the book.

Volstead Brewing said...

Just a general comment. I cannot wait to come down and check out the brewery. Hope this or the variant is on tap when I can make it down there!

Unknown said...

Best beer you had on tap on club night. Exactly what I love about the style huge hop flavor with big malt backbone. I'm surprised to see your cloride to sulfate ratio so low I would have thought with that body that it would have been 2 or 3 to 1.

Jeff said...


Considering the 1BBL of cold water you added during the whirlpool, how did you adjust your recipe to account for the resulting dilution? I would like to try this method at home, to lower the whirlpool temp. I use beer smith and can't find a way to adjust for this on the front end, during recipe development. By tinkering with the dilution tool, I can see how many OG points I will lose if I do add the water to my kettle, but again, I am trying to account for this upfront.


The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

We wanted to harvest the yeast, thus the initial crash. Once it was low, we wanted to keep it there to avoid hop-creep. Dropping a few degrees made that safer as 58F still have some chance of activity.

Cheers Frank! I usually don't think about chloride and sulfate as a ratio because the raw numbers are so important. That is to say, 150:100 is different than 15:10 despite both being 3:2. I think the amount of chloride is key, not to mention the other factors working in favor of this batch.

I believe there is an option for kettle-top-up, but that may figure at the start of the boil? You'll probably need to drop your efficiency a little, instead of final runnings at >1.000 you'll be adding water at 1.000.

Kyle said...

Mike - Can't wait to make it down to Sapwood soon - not far from where I am in PA.
Whirlpool seems to be a hot topic here - one more question. Are you concerned at all about DMS production with such a long whirlpool and knock-out? If not, is it because you're relying on the 2-Row not to produce as much DMS as Pils? I've been experimenting with longer whirlpools (30 mins) at ~175 Degrees lately and experiencing some serious DMS bombs.

Looks like you guys are getting off to a great start down there - see you soon!

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

The 60 minute boil should be enough to convert most of the SMM to DMS and drive it off. The long whirlpool is pretty typical on a commercial scale and a big reason that DMS is a bigger issue than for homebrewers. I'm surprised you're having issues, make sure you've got a solid rolling boil.

Richard said...

I would love to home brew this - can you recommend quantities for scaling the recipe to 5 gallon?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

It'll depend on your effiency and system, but a general conversion at 70% efficiency would be around:

7.5 lbs of Pale
1.5 lbs GNO
1 lb Chit (or Carafoam)

Each 11 lbs of hops at this scale works out to ~2.75 oz in 5 gallons. Adding the hops without pre-chilling for a 30 minute hop stand should be close. You can use WY1318 if you don't want the added cost of the RVA strain.

Best of luck!

Richard said...

Much appreciated! Will let you know how I get on... Looking forward to tasting it!

Unknown said...

Hi Mike! I reached out to RVA to see if I could get the RVA yeast strain used here. Would do you think is the next best option if I'm unable to get it?

Thanks for everything you do! Would love to send you some homebrews sometime if you would accept that :). Coworker and I are opening a brewery of our own in SoCal within the next 2 years and love feedback :)


The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I'd go 1318, maybe up the mash temperature by a few degrees in that case.

I barely have time to drink my own beers at this point...

Unknown said...

Was able to get in touch with RVA and am going to give the Manchester Ale a go! Thanks mate :)

Unknown said...

Is there a reason you guys decided to soft-crash this beer? Is it for slowly adjusting the yeast to much lower temps?

When you double dry hop, are you generally removing the first addition of dry hops before adding the 2nd dry hop?

Thanks guys, you're posts and responses to questions have helped my brewing process immensely!


The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

The soft crash helps get a good harvest and removes yeast which can strip hop compounds. Cool also helps slow the enzyme that leads to hop creep, but too cold can slow hop aroma extraction.

We'll dump the cone before dry hopping a second time, but that often won't remove all that much hop matter.


Zach Dixon said...

If I'm going to DDH, would you recommend I soft crash at the same time I am adding my second DH addition?

Any possibility of getting a grassy/peppery/astringent flavor from free pitching and not removing the hops if they are in the fermenter for 3-4 days?


Anonymous said...

"Sparge water 183F, pH 6.47 with acid addition - more next time"

Did you acidify your entire HLT? If not, what is meant by this? Thanks.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

We've played around with timing for DDH, sometimes we'll add the first dose at the tail of fermentation others after soft crashing. For whatever reason the earlier additions don't seem to impart as much character on this scale as they did at home.

Correct, we acidify the sparge water. We didn't want to overdo it, but a pH of 6 is our target. Our HLT is filled for the batch as we don't brew enough to justify keeping it filled/hot constantly yet.

Unknown said...

Thanks for keeping the blog alive; even for homebrewers without an inch of pro intentions, that's a very interesting read. Cheers!

Unknown said...

Be built the recipe around a full sack of Chit!

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Of course! I don't know why any brewer would build a recipe any other way. We'll go down to half-sacks of crystal and dark malts if needed, but we do our best to work in whole sacks when possible.

Unknown said...

What percentage of chit malt do you generally use in your ipas?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

A little less than this. So far we've stuck to 1 bag (55 lbs) per 10 bbl batch, so it just depends on how much total grain there is. Usually around 5%. Next DIPA though we're stepping up to 2 bags though to see the results.

Unknown said...

Hi Mike,

my query covers my kettle of 5 BBL, my current method, is to put out the fire, add 3 gr / l of blend of hops for my sessions ipas and I do whirlpool for 30 min, then I start to transfer (my problem is that my exchanger of 2 stages, it does not cool enough and this takes me 40-50 min more), so if add hop in the fire stage we add a lot of bitterness. For thi I decide until fix the temperature tranfer remove any bitter / flavor hops with the fire step. By do you say, maybe add water to be below 85 ° C. Do you see it viable? in this case, should I add hops in the hot stage? also by less sparging my brewhouse eficiency decress and take to add more malt.

Robert Cantu said...

Was there specific non-alpha-acid hop oil considerations when choosing Cascade and Columbus or was that just a cost/flavor/availability factor? I love the grist base for a hazy pale ale and the hop schedule but wondering if choosing different hops would adversely affect haze and aroma stability. I know Scott talks about some hop varieties over others. Would you keep the whirlpool the same and experiment/change the dry hop or are all the hops fungible?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

AA% is part of it, in a lower gravity beer the Cascade helps to lower the bitterness. It also contains 4MMP, geraniol, and linalool. Columbus has some of the most "available" oils, in that it imparts them quickly and efficiently. Doesn't hurt that both varieties are widely available and inexpensive.

You're certainly welcome to play with the whirlpool additions, our most recent batch of Rings of Light was all Idaho 7 in the whirlpool and we're really happy with it.

Unknown said...

Did you see any benefit from going with 10% Chit as opposed to 5% from your most recent Snip Snap? Cheers

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I think of the contributions of chit malt more on a per-gallon basis rather than a percentage. In this case 1 bag per 10 bbl batch should have the same effect on the head. We did use double that rate in Cryovolcano, and I don't notice the head being appreciably better than any of our other beers.

Unknown said...

I've made a 5g version of this beer with great success here FG 1.009 but came out crisp, tropical and hoppy.

But then I made a second version with a few more tweaks and it sucks major chit malt. I changed my dry hops to equal parts El dorado and Amarillo (i thought it seemed like a good sub) and I changed by yeast to Imperial juice. FG this time stayed higher at 1.016. It came out cloyingly toffee sweet as if the GNO is way too dominant and its missing all bright citrus elements and instead has the over ripe fruit flavors. What the heck? I couldn't believe it came out soo differently!

Do you think this recipe or a similar excellent beer really requires citra in the dry hop?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Changing the yeast and dry hops is really two-thirds of the character of the finished beer.

You can certainly make a great beer without Citra, might just require other tweaks. We've used a similar base for an all-Mosaic beer (Danger of Light), and on tap now Galaxy-Mosaic-Citra (Lord of Light).

El Dorado can be hit or miss for me, it does have more of that cherry thing that can weigh down a beer. Amarillo sounds like a good pairing for it, but I guess it didn't work out.

Unknown said...

Great to know you’ve done mosaic with the same ~15%+ of GNO with success. I guess my take away is really to be careful el dorado, it just did not play well in this recipe like I thought it might. Thanks for entertaining my experiments, your original recipe that I copied in the homebrew scale really turned out excellent. Any suggestions for what other cheapter dry hops might work with this grainbill? Simcoe? Azacca?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

We've had good luck with Citra-Azacca (Pillowfort), haven't done much with Azacca alone. Simcoe could certainly work well alone or in combo with Amarillo.

Anonymous said...

Sorry if I missed it in the comments and or the article but I just put this recipe into beersmith just as you have it and the IBUs are reading 108.5! I know you said 70+ but that does seem high. Is that normal?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Are you accounting for the lower whirlpool temperature? Even then I don't trust the output, the whirlpool hops just don't taste as bitter as the estimate suggests.

Unknown said...

When I scale this recipe it calls for 6ish lbs or dry hop. After reading Scott’s book I’m considering reducing that number.


The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

6 oz in 5 gallons? You certainly can reduce the rate, but if anything we are dry hopping our pale ales at a higher rate than we did at first.

Unknown said...

Thanks! I was lead to this post from the Instagram post of Hallow Bright. So I took the recipe for Rings of Light and subbed in all Citra, bumped grains for 6.5%ish. I’m using Imperial A20 citra. Plan is to dry hop 6 oz for 5 gallon around day 10.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Best of luck! For what it is worth our dry hop rate for Hallow Bright is 50% more than Rings of Light. Otherwise sounds like you are on the right track!

Paul Adair said...

Thank you for the tip! Maybe I'll bump my dry hop up to 9 oz.

I am hoping to make it to Sapwood this summer along with Old Westminster Winery.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Cheers, we're brewing a second collab with Old Westminster in February!

Steven! said...

Just brewed this. Switched out the citra for calypso and the chit malt for carafoam. Used wy1318 as suggested. Fantastic beer with loads of flavor. Finished out drier than I wanted at 1006 though which really amps up the hops. Mashed temp was 152. Maybe next time go with a higher mash temp like 156 to prevent it from drying out as much?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I might even mash higher than that, it's a beer that works really well with a higher FG (~1.020).

Unknown said...

Hi Mike, first, I apologize for writing in this old post. at the moment,put my brew-o-matic software aside and install beersmtih 3.0.8. I charge your parameter I undestood (1100 Liter batch size, 68% bH efficiency, 60min of boils) and I put the recipe that you mention in this article, when I go to the hops it gives me: 43.2 ibus (5 kg) de cascade 7.2aa whirlpool 91 ° C 75 min and 72 ibus de columbus (5 kg) 12aa whirlpool 91 ° C 75 min. it´s a lot of ibus in my system!!!. if I did not do the math wrong, it gives me 9 gr / liter in whirlpool (10 kg/1100Liters)
What software do you use to calculate ibus in whirlpool?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I don't trust IBU calculations, especially at sub-boiling temperatures. I think the beer tastes closer to 40 IBUs despite what BeerSmith suggests. I'd suggest adjusting whirlpool temperature based on your system and target bitterness.

Unknown said...

Are you guys still doing two dryhop additions when doing a DDH? I know you previously stated you soft crashed the beer, extracted yeast, then pitched in the hops, is that still your procedure? How long of a contact time do you leave the DH in the beer and how many times do you bubble it? Cheers!


The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Generally we do dry hop twice post soft-crash. Burp once a day for three days before dropping the cone.

Marcos Junior said...

I'm pretty happy with the outcoming from this recipe.
I did a little tweeks considering hops in stock: centennial instead cascade, and dry hopping idaho7 and citra. Wheat malt instead chit and cheat and london ale III.
Awesome beer for sure, thank you for sharing it!

Unknown said...

First off thankyou for sharing this recipe. I've brewed this at least 5 times now,it's always on tap an always the first to kick when friends are around...
My question is have you Gents made many adjustments to this recipe since the first batch ? I always struggle with my yeast over attenuating 1.014 I mash high at 68c. Anyway just wondering if you have learnt any new tricks with this tasty brew.

Cheers Chris .

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Chris, no harm pushing your mash temp a few degrees higher if you are getting higher attenuation than you want. We've tweaked the recipe slightly a few times (things like hot-side hops) but have pretty much come back to the original just with a higher dry-hopping rate.