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.

Friday, June 9, 2017


Dafuq dis?
A couple weeks ago I got the opportunity to chat with Drew Beechum for an episode of Experimental Brewing's "The Brew Files series". It was a super fun chat about NEIPA's ranging from what the style is all about, their construction, my shitty opinions and my unhealthy Tired Hands obsession. It was super fun, and a really fluid conversation since Drew and I are like minded in our NEIPA affection, especially when using Oats. At some point in the conversation I make mention that I don't brew a lot of weird beers, and try to keep things simple. But the thing about making definitive statements like that when the recorder is running, there is a good chance you shoot yourself in the foot and make a liar out of yourself. I'd make a crap politician, or maybe a good one, flip-flopping is good right? Give the episode a listen anyway, I only somewhat make a fool of myself.

Right, so about shooting myself in the foot on not brewing weird beers. I've seen a couple commercial breweries adding Oat Milk to their hoppy beers in place of Oats in the mash, so I figured I would get weird and give it a try, I love Oats after all. The first brewery I saw using Oat Milk was a collaboration The Veil and Omnipollo (The co-inventors of the Milkshake IPA with Tired Hands, always getting weird with the collabs) in an instagram post, but unfortunately I never got to try the beer. Then I saw a fella named Joe in my local homebrew club brewing with it, so I decided to jump in and give it a try myself. To be honest it sounded kind of gross at first, actual milk in a beer? I was intrigued though, but first I wanted to figure out what the hell Oat milk even was.

Oat milk is all the rage in Sweden apparently, so makes sense Omnipollo is using it, it is non-dairy so no worries there. Essentially whole oat groats are soaked in water for some period of time, that porridge is then blended and strained to give you a thick milk like product with an intense oat flavor. I drank a glass of it before using it and the flavor is super potent. I've been chatting with Brian Hall of Brouwerij Chugach about using it in NEIPA and he suggested dosing a finished beer with it, which we both did and were pretty blown away by the result.

So I bought a bunch of Oat Milk, seems the brand Pacific is the most common in both grocery stores in the states and online, through The Veil used Oatly. I wasn't totally sure how much to use, and though its probably wiser to start small and go up from there I ignored other folks advice and went heavy on the milk for my first batch. Joe, the fella from my homebrew club, measured the gravity of this Oat milk as ~1.046 so when I was formulating my recipe I took that into consideration and added it as an extract in Beersmith. I chose to use 96oz of Oat Milk in a 5 gallon batch, which by my calculations would make up about 14% of my fermentables. As if that weren't enough, and since I like layering Oat varieties these days, my grain bill also consisted of 18% Thomas Fawcett Malted Oats, with Pilsner as my base only because I had it on hand. 

Straight murk.
So 96oz is a large volume in a 5 gallon batch, to avoid ending up with an abnormal finishing volume with a possible low gravity i subtracted the 96oz (0.75 gallon) from my total sparge volume and added the milk at flameout. It seemed to have worked out pretty well in that respect, as I hit a 1.054OG and the exact volume I wanted. I added the milk right from the fridge, though it doesn't require refrigeration prior to opening, the cold milk dropped my wort temp right down to 185F which was a happy accident as I wanted to do a whirlpool hop addition and rest at that temperature anyway. Yay for less chiller water!

I should take a moment to mention the hops, this is a NEIPA after all, though I think most people can gather what hops work well in this style already. I have a lot of hops on hand in my freezer, and chose to use Azacca, Citra, Centennial, Mosaic and Amarillo in this batch. Why? Because those hops are awesome of course, and I am really liking using a wide variety of hops in this style for a more complex fruity, tropical, juicy, hop profile. For this beer I wanted a super low bitterness so only boiled 0.5oz of CTZ with the next addition not happening until the whirlpool, but of course a heavy dry hop was added.
Rabbit food.
For this beer I started a new pitch of yeast, I've been using Wyeast 1318 for some time now but chose to mix it up a little. Something that's always intrigued me was blending a couple of the popular NEIPA yeast strains, and Conan has always been a candidate for that for me. I enjoyed it years ago but the strain is fickle at times, but that peach-y-ness you can get from it is magic. Derek from Bear Flavored and Kent Falls Brewing once joked, "Only the pure of heart can get Conan to behave", I must not be pure of heart. So I blended two Imperial Organic strains, Barbarian (its Conan obv) and Juice (rumored to be similar to 1318), best of both worlds I am hoping. I will use this blend for my next handful of batches, I'm sure it will drift but that's the fun of it.

I always pull a glass of the post boil wort to sip, measure gravity, and visually inspect. Normally there isn't much to write home about, but this was one ugly looking glass. Without a doubt the murkiest glass of wort I've had going to the fermentor since my first batch of the HopHands clone. Tons of solids dropping to the bottom, most of which I am attributing to the milk. It was super creamy though, very, very oat heavy, so nailed that bit yea?
Break material, Oats, whatevs, I knew this would be a hazy\murky one.

I am pouring this beer at the Memphis Taproom Homebrew and Hot Dog Extravaganza for Philly Beer Week, without a doubt the best event of beer week every year. SO if you're local, come give this weirdo a try. Some of it will likely show up at HomebrewCon this year as well. So here it is, my Oat Milk NEIPA...

Better than Özil

Appearance: Absolutely hideous beer, the ugliest beer I have ever brewed, no doubt about that. It is totally opaque and almost white in color when seen in the right light, I'm blaming the Pilsner malt on the lighter color, I prefer it more orange but who cares. Carbonation is still light but there is a bright white thin head on top, fades a bit.

This photo doesn't do the white-ish color justice, I'm just such a damn good beer photog now, soz m8.
Aroma: Huge aromatics coming off this beer, a massive bouquet of Guava, Mango, Peach, and White Grapes. About as tropical and fruit like in the aromatics as you can get, I hope it never fades.

Flavor: Bitterness is virtually non-exsitent up front, but the body is pure silk, more so than many batches in the past. It explodes in your mouth with fruit flavors, Guava and Mango jumps out at me, its so reminiscent of a fruit smoothie that its almost un-beer like. The oat flavor is on full display, not overpowering but its unmistakable in my opinion. As the beer leaves your palate there is a bitterness that creeps in, almost too late but it just saves the finish from being one note.

Final Thoughts: I can't say I would be able to guess this beer was brewed with Oat milk, but the oat flavor is strong in this one. Not so much more than in the Alien Church clone I brewed earlier this year with both malted and rolled oats, flavor wise the oats are pretty similar actually, and that beer didn't look so murky. 

This was a super fun beer, its weird and a bit shocking to look at. I will experiment with Oat milk again in this style but I don't see myself using it as a replacement for malted or rolled Oats with any regularity. I wonder though how it would work out in a Stout where that appearance isn't so shocking, might be worth a shot. 

Recipe Specifications
Boil Size: 7.00 gal
Post Boil Volume: 5.82 gal
Batch Size (fermenter): 5.50 gal
Bottling Volume: 5.25 gal
Estimated OG: 1.055 SG
Measured FG: 1.012 SG
ABV: 5.5%
Estimated Color: 3 SRM
Estimated IBU: 32 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70.00 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

67.8% - 7lbs 4oz - Swaen Pilsner
18.2% - 2lbs - Thomas Fawcett Malted Oats
14.0% - 0.75 gallons - Oat Milk (Flameout addition)

First Wort Hop - 0.50 oz CTZ [14.00 %] -  27 IBUs
Boil: 15min - 1 Whirlfloc Tablet + 1 tsp Wyeast Yeast Nutrient
20 Minute Whirlpool 185f - 1.25 oz Amarillo [12.90 %] 
20 Minute Whirlpool 185f - 1.25 oz Mosaic [12.90 %] 
20 Minute Whirlpool 185f - 1.25 oz Citra [12.70 %] 
20 Minute Whirlpool 185f - 1.25 oz Azacca [14.70 %] 
Dry Hop:  3.00 oz Citra [12.70 %]
Dry Hop:  1.50 oz Centennial [10.00 %]
Dry Hop:  1.50 oz Mosaic [12.90 %] 
Dry Hop:  1.00 oz Amarillo [9.00 %]
Dry Hop:  1.00 oz Azacca [14.70 %] 
*Dry hops were split evenly into two additions, half in primary during fermentation and half in a dry hop keg*

1L Starter of Imperial Organic's A04 Barbarian + A038 Juice blended together in equal portions

Mash: Full volume BIAB
Sacch rest - 60 min @ 152.0 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, 147ppm Cl, 74ppm SO4). Some Lactic acid was used to lower the mash pH, your water profile may vary.

Notes: Fermentation temp was 64f for 4 days then bumped to 72f 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 12th day. Tapped 15 days from brewday.