Tag Archives: Torpedo

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.

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Randy Williams IPA

This is the story of my latest brew, called Randy Williams IPA. For a long time I’ve been looking to get back in touch with my American side, and do a massive strong multi-american-hopped monster. I want to change my name to Chuck, Randy, or Duke. I’m getting the urge to chest bump people and rock out, and to greet every misfortunate event and depressing situation with an inexplicably optimistic can-do attitude. I’ll need Randy Williams for this.

Malt Sack

There are two immediate antecedents to my glorious conclusion (Randy Williams). The first is that  homebrew stockist new kid on the block Donal, of bestbrew suddenly out of the blue was offering 25KG sacks of Munich malt, kilned by the famous Bamberg Maltster Weyermann for only €26! Couple that with his free shipping at the moment! Couple that with €5 discount if you become a friend on facebook (yes I am now friends with a shop). Only 21 clams! I can’t turn down a bargain. They must have fallen off the back of a truck. But what is a Weyermann truck doing in Athlone? It’s a long way home to Bamberg, and that is a mystery for another post.

But what was I to do with all this munich malt I asked myself? I already had all the malt a boy could want, after the recent massive barrel related purchase from Bairds in England, and this included an unopened bag of Munich. What was I doing with so much specialty malt anyway? Then I remembered that Munich ist kein specialty malt, it’s just a darker, sweeter base malt. Base malt is any malt that is capable of self converting, that is, it contains enough enzymes to convert its starches to fermentable sugars. The more you roast or stew a malt the less of this it has, so you couldn’t brew a beer of all dark malt. Base malt makes up 70-90% of the malt bill in a beer, sometimes 100%. Even in a stout, pale malt can male up 80% or more of the grain bill. The palest malt is Pilsener malt, at about 2 srm. Then Pale malt such as Maris Otter is about 3 srm. Munich on the other hand is about 5 srm, at least my Munich from Bairds is, there are different grades. So it shouldn’t be much darker than a normal pale beer.  Randy Williams should clock in at about 8.5 srm

Odell IPA

The second antecedent is that the other night I picked up my first ever bottle of Odell IPA. Up until then I had thought Dogfish Head’s 60 minute and Sierra Nevada’s Torpedo were the pinnacle of US IPAs, but I was wrong. They are fine beers, but Odell was something really special. It’s true of course that I had been amassing certain american style hops with a thought to making an Epic IPA, and so I decided I needed to find out what was in Odell and make something similar. I trawled the internet and I hope that what I came up with from the various tips and speculation won’t be too far off the mark.

Munich Hopper Randy Williams

At the same time I thought, why not do an all Munich grain, extremely hoppy american beer? And so that’s what I did. The body that the munich malt gives it should be more than a match for my massive american hop schedule.

And Who is Randy Williams? He won gold at the 1972 Olympic games, for the long jump. So you could say it’s a gigantic American hop in Munich.

Here’s the recipe, and some pictures from the brew

It seems 12KG is just about my upper limit for mashing

Randy Williams IPA, 35L, OG: 1.077, 8% ABV, 68.4 IBU, 8.5 SRM

  1. Munich Malt  10KG
  2. Carapils            1KG
  3. Acid Malt       400G

The hopping is immense.

  1. Magnum 35G   60 mins
  2. Chinook 35G    30 mins
  3. Centennial 25G, Chinook 25G, Cascade 32G, 10 mins
  4. Simcoe 25G, Columbus 25G, 5 mins
  5. Amarillo 30G, Centennial 25G, Knockout
  6. Simcoe 50G, Columbus 50G, Dry Hopped

the 5 hop additions ready to go

Yeast is two packets of Safale 05. I added 1tsp of gypsum and 1/2 a tsp of magnesiumto the mash. The mash was 1hr, 65c, PH was 5.4 (due to the acid malt)

A Tun of Steaming Mash



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