Friday, March 23, 2018

What even is Double Dry Hop anyway?

The year that was 2017 was my lightest homebrewing year in nearly a decade, I brewed a handful of 10 gallon HopWards batches to maintain beer on tap but very little worth posting about. To be honest, the beer that spawned this post was planned to be more of the same. It was brewed out of necessity, this time for my son's birthday, with hop selection based on what I had on hand. However, something interesting resulted which I talked about on social media but felt it might be worth documenting on this shitty blog.

My son's second birthday party at our house was fast approaching so I had to quick turnaround a 9 days. So I threw together a 10 gallon batch of New England style pale ale, in the same vein of HopWards, this time using a blend of White Wheat, Flaked Oats, and Flaked Spelt to the tune of ~35% of the grain bill. While I had water heating up on the day I figured I should take a look in the freezer to see what I would be hopping with, Centennial, Simcoe, Lemon Drop and Galaxy, nice that'll do. With a starter of Imperial Organic's Juice spinning on the stir plate I hoped that in 9 days I would have a nice fluffy, juicy pale ale for sustenance to chance 2 year olds around all day.

As some tend to do in this style I dry hopped during primary, but this time that method was out of necessity in order to get the beer ready in time. I added 1 lb of dry hops on day 3 of fermentation. That's right, an entire pound for 10 gallons. What? Too much? Anyway, the beer fermented out quickly and I kegged all 10 gallons the night before and burst carbonated the keg to be served for the party. Since I was already flying by the seat of my pants I figured I could get cute with the second keg since it didn't need to be ready the next day anyway. An additional 6 oz of dry hops in the keg would suffice, for all the Math majors out there that's just under 1 lb of dry hops for this 5 gallon keg.

Hazy (SDH) vs Murky (DDH)

This wasn't meant to be anything scientific, just freestyling and working with what I had on hand, and if we ended up with leftover from the party keg I would get a little variation on the taps. The first keg, from here on known as Single Dry Hopped (SDH) drank good at the party, nice and soft on the bitterness, silky smooth body, moderate hop aroma, refreshing and quaffable on an afternoon chasing around 2 year olds. Bonus for me, we didn't kick the keg on the day.

The following weekend I tapped the Double Dry Hopped (DDH) version and pulled a pint, immediately I noticed a huge difference from the SDH on appearance alone. It was super duper murky, where SDH had only a subtle haze. I thought maybe DDH needed a little longer cold crashing but it never really "cleared" up as much the SDH did, not that I care. Another visual difference was the head on the beer, the SDH had a really "tight" (like a tiger) head, with small firmly clinging bubbles. The DDH had an almost soapy head, with large bubbles floating atop throughout the glass. Both versions had good head retention and lacing, as you expect from a highly hopped beer with 35% adjuncts. 

Unsurprisingly the DDH version was way more aromatic, hitting all your classic juicy NEIPA notes, a real mixed fruit cup aroma. DDH also boasting a bigger, smoother body as well when compared to the SDH, and weirdly had a slightly more bitter/astringent finish, though not unpleasant. The SDH came across one dimensional when tasted alongside the DDH. The DDH's finish was more bold, and interesting, with an aftertaste of passionfruit and guava while the SDH had a very quick finish, albeit very refreshing, it didn't leave you with anything to write home about after drinking. 

I posted a photo on Instagram and it sparked some fun discussion about this accidental experiment. It was suggested that I do a triangle test to see if my opinions might be skewed due to the massive difference visually. Now I am no Brulosopher (Where is the Umlaut key?) so you won't see a ton of data from me, just this dork from NJ's results from trying this triangle test only twice. I had my wife pour me them in opaque cups labeled A, B, C to ensure visual impairment. Here are the notes the first time I tried the triangle test.

A: big aroma, very fruity very juicy, passion fruit, orange Guava. Creamy body no bitter, lingering bitterness in finish. Pretty sure this is DDH
**Drank water** 
B: muted aroma, nice but subtle fruit notes. Slightly creamy, prickly carb on the tongue, finish is smooth but dry
**Drank water**
C: aromas similar to B, flavors are similar as well, but then again its all starting to taste the same, aromatics stand out on A. This was harder than I thought. I’m generally not good at these. I got it right, probably by accident.
Mugz on mugz

I was able to pick out the DDH beer both times but to be fair, the aromatics on these two beers were very distinctly different. Its definitely possible I got lucky, but one of these two beers received a ton more dry hops. I will say though that these blind tests get harder the more you smell and taste, the first pass through I was able to pinpoint aromatic differences but flavor wise it was hard to differentiate after the first 2-3 sips.

Anyway, what does any of this even mean? The hell if I know, ask Scott Janish he's the hop wizard. I just found this pretty fun and interesting, especially the haze difference. Here's the recipe if you're into murky beer.

Recipe Specifications:
Boil Size: 13.00 gal
Post Boil Volume: 12.00 gal
Batch Size (fermenter): 11.00 gal
Bottling Volume: 10.00 gal
Measured OG: 1.058 SG
Measured FG: 1.011 SG
ABV: 6.3%
Estimated IBU: 37.5 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70.00 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

63.5% - 15lbs 10oz Pale Malt
16.2% - 4lbs - White Wheat
12.2% - 3lbs - Flaked Oats
 8.1% - 2lbs - Flaked Spelt

First Wort Hop - 1.50 oz CTZ [16.00 %] 
Boil: 15min - 1 Whirlfloc Tablet
Boil:  5min - 2.00 oz Centennial 
Boil:  5min - 2.00 oz Simcoe  
20 Minute Whirlpool - 4.00 oz Lemon Drop 
20 Minute Whirlpool - 3.50 oz Centennial 
20 Minute Whirlpool - 2.50 oz Simcoe 
Dry Hop #1 During Primary: 16oz Simcoe (all 10 gallons)
Dry Hop #2 in keg: 6oz Simcoe (DDH version, only 5 gallons got this)


Mash: Full volume BIAB
Sacch rest - 60 min @ 154.0 F 

Misc: 30 seconds of pure O2. Cherry Hill, NJ Tap water. Mash pH 5.31, Water Profile ~2:1 Chloride:Sulfate ( 132ppm Ca, 19ppm Mg, 7ppm Na, 197ppm Cl, 96ppm SO4). Some Lactic acid was used to lower the mash pH, your water profile may vary.

Notes: Fermentation temp was 66f for 4 days then bumped to 70f for another 5 days, on the 2nd day of active fermentation 16oz of dry hops were added directly to primary, one keg was packaged that way (SDH version), another keg received 6 additional oz of keg dry hops (DDH version).

Friday, December 8, 2017

NEIPA: Spelt and Age Old Brewing Candi Sugar

Remember back in late 2015/early 2016 when the internet was all "Ewww gross, why is that IPA so murky" and some of us were all "Stop being so butthurt, its good AF"? Well, those days are long gone, now hazy/murky beer is the norm more than I think anyone could have imagined. Of course not every brewery in the world is brewing NEIPA, but its so widely available that it seems like everyone is, at least around me anyway. But now that so many breweries are doing it and doing it well that its difficult to stand out within the style. You could go the Milkshake/Lactose/Fruit route, the Oat Milk route, or whatever your little heart desires. Or you could just brew beers like HopWards and sate your (well actually my) desires for aromatic drinkable beers, I don't even care what you do, really.

Candi makes you dandy.
A while back Jesse from Age Old Brewing Candi reached out to me about trying out some of his hand made Candi sugar, how could I say no? He sent me a couple samples he had including his Grapefruit candy sugar which I thought would be a perfect match in NEIPA and fit the mold for some variation on the style. I realize this isn't a super exotic experimental beer but I like simplicity, and some subtle variation here and there. 

Jesse infuses his candi sugars with various fruits and spices, all done by hand, by him, seemingly in the Appalachian mountains? I don't know, but that's what it looks like to me. Candi sugar made by hand by a mountain man.I tasted the grapefruit sugar before brewing with it and can confirm this is high quality, flavorful stuff. 

I went with a grist of Pale Malt and Spelt, since I had some Bob's Red Mill Rolled Spelt on hand, in an 80/20 ratio. Jesse told me all his products are 100% fermentable so I wanted to be sure that the candi sugar would dry, or thin the beer out too much. Though %20 Spelt is a fair bit, I bumped the mash temp up to 156F in hopes of combating that further. Other than that all things were pretty standard on this one, so I'll keep the ramblings short and sweet. I added the candi sugar at flameout, added an offensive amount of hops in the whirlpool and dry hop and then drank the hell out of the keg. Below are some rambling tasting notes for "Arsenal Fan On a String", with the recipe below.

Arsenal Fan On a String:

Its hazy, its yellow, has a white head, yadda yadda yadda, I drank it all.

As you can see its your classic straw yellow, hazy, mess of a beer. Wispy, soapy, bright white head that lingers throughout with lacing on the glass reminiscent of sea foam at the Jersey shore, minus the sewage. Aromatics are much lighter than normal, but the grapefruit comes through really well. Its not a smack you in the face hop aroma but a nice solid blend of the Grapefruit and some subtle lemon, mango things bouncing about.

First sip of a glass of this you get that unmistakable nutty spelt character that's then smacked away by light hop bitterness. The body is a little thinner than I would have liked, but that results in a super quick beer that's shoots across your tongue super quick. Once again the hop character is light but the grapefruit notes I got from tasting the candi sugar carries through, its subtle but adds to the complexity.

Overall this beer drinks good, but something weird happened to all that late and dry hop character. In a way thats a good thing, because the candi sugar is more prominent as opposed to a supporting note. But I wanted something bigger on the hops with an underlying grapefruit candi sugar background. I think with the beer drying out as much as it did things really thinned out a little more than I wanted, or expected. Maybe the mash temp was off or I need to bump up the Spelt for any subsequent batches.

However, I think if I used flaked oats, an ingredient that I would normally use in a beer like this, I could have combatted that a little easier. Or at least it would have been a better test for the candi sugar being that I am very familiar with that 80/20 Pale Malt/Oats grist. All that said, this beer was quite good, and was one I was able to slam back 3-4 without blinking. A highly drinkable beer, something which I am always looking for and happily would have on tap again. I am excited to use more of Jesse's candi sugars, possibly in some small experimental batches at Kelly Green Brewing Co.

Recipe Specifications
Boil Size: 7.00 gal
Post Boil Volume: 6.25 gal
Batch Size (fermenter): 6.00 gal
Bottling Volume: 5.00 gal
Measured OG: 1.058 SG
Measured FG: 1.008 SG
ABV: 6.6%
Estimated IBU: 37.5 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70.00 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

80.0% - 10lbs CMC Pale Malt
20.0% - 2lbs 8oz - Bob's Red Mill Spelt
1Lb - Grapefruit Candi Sugar at flameout.

First Wort Hop - 0.25 oz CTZ [16.00 %] -  13 IBUs
Boil: 15min - 1 Whirlfloc Tablet + 1 tsp Wyeast Yeast Nutrient
Boil:  5min - 1.00 oz Cascade 
Boil:  5min - 1.00 oz Centennial 
Boil:  5min - 1.00 oz Simcoe  
20 Minute Whirlpool 185f - 2.00 oz Cascade 
20 Minute Whirlpool 185f - 2.00 oz Centennial 
20 Minute Whirlpool 185f - 2.00 oz Simcoe 
Dry Hop:  2.00 oz Cascade
Dry Hop:  2.00 oz Centennial 
Dry Hop:  2.00 oz Simcoe

*Dry hops were split evenly into two additions, half in primary during fermentation and half in a dry hop keg*


Mash: Full volume BIAB
Sacch rest - 60 min @ 156.0 F 

Misc: 30 seconds of pure O2. Cherry Hill, NJ Tap water. Mash pH 5.32, Water Profile ~2:1 Chloride:Sulfate ( 132ppm Ca, 19ppm Mg, 7ppm Na, 147ppm Cl, 74ppm SO4). Some Lactic acid was used to lower the mash pH, your water profile may vary.

Notes: Fermentation temp was 65f for 6 days then bumped to 70f for another 5 days, on the 3rd day of active fermentation half of the dry hops were added directly to primary, the other half was added in a dry hop keg on the 11th day. Tapped 18 days from brewday.