Tag Archives: Citra

The Blood Of Revolution

Rossa

Legendary Brewer Rossa O’Neill Announces the Winners. Picture by @galwaybrewers

 

Ireland has just had its first full scale, multi category brewing competition. Organised by the National Homebrew Club, there were about 350 entries over 8 categories. I managed to enter all but the Cider/Perry category, and some of my results shall forevermore be passed over in silence (my Weiss got such a low score it must have exploded in the judges’ faces).

Nonetheless, my well hopped American Amber beer won first place in the Pale Ales and IPAs (BJCP Styles 8,10,14)! I was told it was one of the largest categories, with over 90 entries, so I’m quite delighted. I called it “The Blood of Revolution”, since it was quite red, and it reminded me of the famous quotation from Thomas Jefferson, that

“Occasionally the tree of Liberty must be watered with the blood of Patriots and Tyrants.”

All the organisers and stewards from the NHC did a great job, and although I had to leave just before the announcements, I’ve been told there are some goodies from Eight Degrees waiting for me, so thanks to them for sponsoring that category! Congrats to Reuben from http://www.taleofale.com/ with his silver medal winning “Dark Stranger”, I remember drinking an ancestor of it (Cloaked Stranger) many moons ago at an ICB homebrewers’ meetup. It was narrowly pipped to the Stout Gold Medal by the eventual overall winner, Belfast Brewer Chris Todd.

In any case, for those of you who are interested, here is the recipe, it’s not too busy or complicated. Using such a large proportion of crystal malt was something of an experiment, and I mashed at a middling temperature to reduce the potential heaviness. Although the IBU should theoretically be near 80, I don’t think it was, since the Green Bullet I used were a little old, and not vacuum stored. The Cascade and Galaxy were also old, but well stored so I expect they contributed less IBU than the calculations supposed. The Citra however, was straight off the bine! I dry hopped twice in the corny keg, I removed the first dry hop bag after 5 days and added the second. Obviously your water treatment is your own business, but I went for a fairly balanced chloride/sulfate addition on the calcium front.

"The Blood Of Revolution" OG 1.060  FG 1.017

Pale Ale Malt  59%
Crystal 60L    26%
Munich Malt    15%

Mash at 65C 60 mins

Green Bullet, 60 mins for 40 IBU
Galaxy, 15 mins for 35 IBU
Cascade, 2.5G/L 5 mins
Cascade  2.5G/L Steep

British Ale/Ringwood Yeast (WLP005)

Citra Dry Hop 3G/L 5 days
Citra Dry Hop 2G/L 3 days
Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Recipe

Hoptimum (tasting notes)

Hoptimum

Hoptimum has not (officially) hit Europe yet as far as I know, though maybe it has just got to Britain, my local awesome beer shop owner assures me he’s going to have some soon. In the meantime though, I sent a friend of mine who was just trying to have a quiet San Franciscan holiday halfway across the town so he could bring me back a bottle, which he did God bless him, so here I am, ahead of the game. Feels odd. Since this was a special occasion I sat down and took some notes.

Hoptimum clocks in at 10.4% abv. It’s clearly trying to get in on the hop-head-and-proud trend that seems prevalent in the US. Essentially this is unashamed ‘geek-beer’, of the geeks, by the geeks, for the geeks. It comes out of  Sierra Nevada’s Geek Beer Camp, and as their blurb says,

A group of hop-heads and publicans challenged our Beer Camp brewers to push the extremes of whole-cone hop brewing. The result is this: a 100 IBU, whole-cone hurricane of flavor. Simply put —Hoptimum: the biggest whole-cone IPA we have ever produced. Aggressively hopped, dry-hopped, AND torpedoed with our exclusive new hop varieties for ultra-intense flavors and aromas.

I had seen this before tasting it and I was expecting something like a beefeed up Torpedo, but that’s not what this is. I didn’t find it nearly as aggressive (despite the spiel) as I expected. What I had expected was a big aroma to greet me out of the glass, but no, I struggled to get that familiar SN waft. Instead the body was to the fore. The colour was unremarkable, it was indistinguishable from Torpedo or the like. As I said, there was a big body, similar perhaps to SN Bigfoot, certainly the extra alcohol was noticeable; SN are right that this is their biggest IPA. In many ways the body was something bock-ish, with a saccharine character, and little of the caramel toffee flavour possessed by many American IPAs that I have become obsessed by lately. But what about the hops? A very resiny hop character dominates the middle taste, I guessed something like Simcoe, which was subsequently confirmed by the website, Simcoe features as an aroma and a dry hop, along with a “new proprietary variety” whatever that is. There was little of the citrus I had expected. The real bittering came with the aftertaste. I wondered was Magnum (hop) playing any role here, and frankly I wasn’t sure what to make of the beer, so in the interests of having something to compare it to I opened a Torpedo

My initial thoughts about the aroma made a lot more sense after that. Torpedo has quite a rough aroma. Swirl the glass and it jumps out at your face. That just wasn’t happening with Hoptimum. But there was something going on I though, it was a faint delicate but quite pleasant tangerine aroma, nowhere near as intense as Torpedo. This was strange, because as I found out later they both use SN’s torpedo device, whereby the finished beer is pumped through a cannister containing whole cone hops. repeatedly, untill all the flavour has been stripped. Both use the new hop ‘Citra’ for this process, but Torpedo pairs it with magnum, while Hoptimum couples it with Chinook. Who knows what accounts for the aroma difference, it could be the differing bodies, of the companion hop, or the level of hopping. The comparison also shed light on the body, Hoptimum is very sweet, the extra 3.2% makes a big difference, when you drink them side by side Hoptimum makes Torpedo seem dull and thin. Hoptimum coats the tongue, leaving an almost spicy hop flavour which is entirely missing in Torpedo.

Geekery aside, I think this is a lovely beer, though I think for true hop-heads 10.4% might be pushing abv a little too high. I think beers with the body that goes with the sort of 7.5% range showcase hop character better as fas as I can see than something this strong, the bock-like body just takes over. These geeks need some more moderation to ranch them in a little it seems. It’s probably like letting a bunch of six-year-olds take over a sweet factory.

1 Comment

Filed under Beer, Beer Review, Hops, Uncategorized

Brewing a “Black IPA”

A wonderful new oxymoron from our American cousins, but as Ron Pattinson pointed out last year this ‘innovation’ was already brewed by the brewers at Burton, home of hoppy IPAs at least as early as 1888. The passage from the old brewing book that Pattinson pulls out hits the nail on the head as to what this ‘new’ style is supposed to bring us, basically it will look beautiful and black like a stout, but it will taste like an IPA. Faulkner in “The theory and practice of modern brewing” says

while I can example this by referring to the black beer produced at Burton, which has been universally described as a mere black pale ale—i.e., though black in colour, its palate taste reminds one very strongly of the pale beers produced by Burton firms.

The Grain Bill: Pale, Crystal and Carafa

He is not a fan. But Kev and I were intrigued enough to give one a go. The style that the Great American Beer Festival recognise as “Cascadian Dark Ale”, “India Black Ale” or “Black IPA” seems like a bit of fun. But why is this not just a heavily hopped stout or Porter? Well the key is to get the thing black without giving it a burnt or coffee bitter roast character that a stout might have. The key to this is to use dark caramel malts like dark crystal, and “Carafa®”, a proprietary malt from Weyermann. Carafa is de husked roasted malt, and by removing the husks you remove a lot of the bitterness. Of course the Continental Europeans have long been at this, i.e. brewing black beers (schwarzbier) which taste just like lagers, that is they do not have the roasted character, but they are very dark brown or black. Faulkner in the cited passage basically says this about the Burton example: ‘it might be ok for the euro-types, but it’s not what I expect from a stout”

It will be quite understood that I am not decrying this article; it may and does suit many palate tastes, and is thought a great deal of on the Continent, but at the same time it differs very widely from the accepted standard quality of a black beer as specified

Plenty of Hops

So basically the point was to make an IPA, but add some Carafa malt to turn it black. Here’s what we came up with:

“Black IPA” : 40L : Mash Efficiency 86% : OG 1.076 : ABV 7.2% : 78 IBU : 34 SRM

Grains: 9KG Pale Malt, 1KG Munich, 750G Crystal (55l), 750G Crystal (150l), 500G Carafa® III

Hops: 60 mins: 65G Magnum, 20 mins: 40G Chinook,40G Cascade, 5 mins: 25G Chinook, 30G Cascade, End of Boil: 40G Amarillo, 20G Chinook, Dry Hop: 100G Citra

Yeast: Wyeast West Yorkshire (1469 PC)

We mashed at 66c for 60 minutes, and sparged with 80c water. We treated the water roughly for the “porter” profile on the following calculator with some

Recirculating the mash: Don't disturb the grain bed!

CRS and some Calcium Chloride. We used a mixture of Bairds Maris Otter and Weyermann Pale Ale Malt as the base malt. We are accustomed at this stage to using Magnum as a nice clean bittering hop, and as for the rest, we thought that the sweetness of Cascade would be tempered by Chinook, which I regard as a bit of a ‘rough’ flavour, but rough in a good way. I think Stone brewing Co. use a lot of Chinook in their IPAs, and I once made an all Chinook IPA that was one of my favourites. Amarillo has to my mind a more pleasant aroma to Cascade, so we stuck it in at the knockout. As far as the Citra goes, well, we were already brewing the latest fad from America so Citra, a proprietary hop recently developed for Sierra Nevada (and the talk of the town, where that town is exclusively populated by hopheads) seemed apt. It is used as a dry hop in their beautiful “Torpedo”, in fact it is dry-hopped using the device of the same name, a vessel that is filled with hops while the already fermented beer is pumped through it repeatedly to strip every ounce of flavour from them. I’m really looking forward to it, it is supposed to be very similar to Amarillo, on the orangey side of citrus.

In fact, we realised half way through the brew that we were brewing very trendy; combining the hop-du-jour, Citra, and the latest style from the Pacific Northwest. The July-August edition of Brew Your Own magazine devoted an article to it, “Birth of a Style: Cascadian Dark Ale”. As Kev leafed through it he looked at me, horrified, and said “Do you realise that we’re really brewing to style  here?”, as the article waxed lyrical about the “unexpected flavours” revealed by the interaction between the classic Northwestern hops like Cascade and Amarillo, and the debittered dark malts. I’m looking forward to those!

We mashed a total of 12KG, which is about as much as my mash tun can handle, though I have noticed that my efficiency rockets when I brew this amount.

The blue one is dead. The rest are healthy, but they are very sad. This is like a little yeast funeral.

Last weekend Peter and I brewed a clone of Goose Island IPA (recipe to follow shortly) and my efficiency was up towards 80%. For the Black IPA I calculated it as 86%, which I imagine is down to the increased grain bed depth, I have read that correct grain bed depth is important to efficiency. I recirculated 2L as usual, we ran it off, and had to sparge twice for about 44L pre-boil volume. I added about 2 or 3L extra during the boil to keep it topped up, and I had enough to make a 5L batch of 2nd runnings at about 1.045 OG.

Lately, inspired by Chris White (of Whitelabs) and Jamil Zainasheff’s wonderful book Yeast, I got the old microscope down out of the attic. I had a starter on the go of West Yorkshire yeast from Wyeast, and so I plated up a diluted sample of it, and I added the pigment “methylene blue”, which is used to check the vitality of your yeast cells. The dead cells stain blue, because they cannot metabolise the dye. I’m still waiting for my Hemocytometer to arrive in the post, it’s basically a microscope slide that

Because this beer was such a great idea we decided to ferment it in a giant lightbulb that Kev found.

has a tiny grid etched on it, so you can do a yeast count, and estimate upwards based on how many cells there are in a microscopic square, to how many millions of cells there are per ml. But at least this showed me that very few of my cells were dead, and so the yeast was healthy. It was surprisingly easy to take a picture, I just held the camera up to the eyepiece and twirled the knob until it was in focus.

Our Black IPA is fermenting away strongly now, and as soon as it gets near the final gravity I plan to introduce it to 100G Citra, and they can have a little chat about who is trendier.

Happily fermenting away

6 Comments

Filed under Beer, Hops, Recipe, Uncategorized, Yeast