Tuesday, March 4, 2014

HopWards: Tired Hands Brewing HopHands clone

Nestled in a renovated old physician's office, on a not so quite street in an affluent town on the Main Line just outside of Philadelphia lies a "Brew-Cafe" that is all the rage these days. If you have visited Philadelphia in the last 2 years and have not made a stop at Tired Hands Brewing Company then you did yourself a severe disservice. 

Owner/Head Brewer Jean Broillet and the Tired Hands crew pride themselves on brewing small batch "Beautiful, Forward-thinking, and Strange Beers", sourcing local ingredients, all while taking inspiration from both classic French/Belgian farmhouse brewers and the modern American brewers that have paved the way. Wether you're sampling something hoppy like HopHands and The Light That Spills Out Of the Hole In Your Head, or something from the "Saison Dungeon" (as Jean likes to call it) like HandFarm, you are sure to have your mind blown with bright, bold, and interesting flavors.

From the beginning Tired Hands has vowed to have their two flagship beers on tap at all times, HopHands and SaisonHands (formerly FarmHands), while the rest are a rotating array of one off's and experimental "weird" beers. On every visit to Tired Hands I leave with a growler of HopHands, its session-able, vibrant, hoppy, citrusy and satisfying. On a recent visit I tried to pick Jean's brain on their approach to brewing hoppy beers to get an idea on how to clone HopHands, although he is a bit tight lipped on their recipes he did divulge some useful information. Here is the description of the beer from their website.

HopHands: Our Exceedingly Aromatic Pale Ale. 4.8% Brewed with oats and hopped with a blend of Amarillo, Simcoe, and Centennial.
                  -Notes of  lush citrus, fresh cut grass, under-ripe kiwi, and slight pineapple.

I spoke to Jean for a moment a few months ago while my wife and I had lunch and a beer. One thing he mentioned is that they never brew an IPA/PA over 60 IBUs, which didn't surprise me because their beers tend to be more bright, and citrusy, rather than bitter, dank hop bombs. I asked him how he hops his IPAs/PAs, heavy late additions, whirpool? He said they do late kettle and whirlpool additions but its more about the massive dry hopping rates they employ instead of heavy hopping in the kettle. I wanted to get an idea about the yeast strain they use but all he would say is that he gets it from a "friend in Vermont". I may have offended him a bit when I pressed on but he did confirm that it is not Conan (we talked about that strain for a moment) and deflected when I asked if it comes from Sean Hill. He recommends an expressive English strain, fermented cool to suppress esters, and that homebrewers have gotten close on clones by using Safale S-04 in the past.

I didn't get specific about a HopHands clone but figured the info he gave me coupled with their description on the menu/website would be enough to get close for now. A lot of their beers are a very pale color, I took a glass of HopHands and put it up against an SRM scale I printed out and it was somewhere between 4-5 SRM, leaning closer to low 4. I am assuming because of the color and because there isn't much sweetness to the beer that they are not using Crystal malts or anything for color. Scrounging through pictures on their Facebook page I saw them delivering Pale Malt so I will use that as my base. This is actually my second time with this grist, the last beer had ECY29 attenuation issues and was hopped differently, the first time I went with 10% Oats and I didn't get that silky mouth-feel you expect with HopHands so I doubled it to nearly %20, this does feel a bit heavy handed but we will see. So Pale Malt and Oats in a ~80/20 grist, simple, done.

I probably shouldn't be submerging that probe so far.
He never mentioned if they bitter with a different hop then they list in the description but I would guess it is something clean like Magnum/Warrior or something with high AA% like CTZ, I chose to go with CTZ because I had it on hand and could do a small 60 minute addition to get most of my bitterness from there. We do know they hop the beer Amarillo, Simcoe, and Centennial but at what ratio? None of the three seem to dominate the flavor or aroma to me so I went with an even blend of all 3 throughout, this may require tweaking in subsequent batches. I realize the kettle hops seem a little bit low, but I am hoping to make up for it with a huge dry hop as Jean says they do, 6oz per 5 gallon keg. I do believe, however, that this will get me reasonably close, but I expect to have to tweak this a bit as I am working almost completely from scratch and this is the first attempt at this clone, it will most certainly need to be tweaked

I dry hopped one keg with 6oz of the blend mentioned below, while the other keg got an active 500ml starter of ECY19 Brettanomyces Custersianus from a culture that Jeffrey Crane sent me quite a while back. If all goes well, I may pour that keg alongside a fresh batch for an event during Philly Beer Week this summer. Tasting notes to follow in the coming days, I am going to drink this one very fresh and brew it again soon.

Tasting Notes: HopWards vs HopHands (updated with Link to reply from Jean at Tired Hands)

Update: This beer took 2nd place in Best Of Show in the Philly Homebrew Cup!


Brew day: 1/20/2014
Kegged: 2/8/2014 
Sample while racking to the fermentor.
Lots'O Proteins.
-(dry hopped in keg for 7 days at room temp)

Recipe Specifications
Boil Size: 13.25 gal
Post Boil Volume: 11.50 gal
Batch Size (fermenter): 11.00 gal
Bottling Volume: 10.50 gal
Estimated OG: 1.048 SG
Measured OG: 1.050 SG
Measured FG: 1.016 SG
ABV: 4.7%
Estimated Color: 4.5 SRM
Estimated IBU: 33 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70.00 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

80.4% - 16lbs 8oz - CMC Superior Pale Ale Malt (3.1 SRM)
19.6% - 4lbs - Flaked Oats

Boil: 60min - 0.50 oz CTZ [14.20 %] - 16.3 IBUs
Boil: 15min - 2 Whirlfloc Tablet + 2 tsp Wyeast Yeast Nutrient
Boil:  5min - 1.00 oz Amarillo [8.50 %] - 3.1 IBUs
Boil:  5min - 1.00 oz Centennial [10.00 %] - 3.6 IBUs
Boil:  5min - 1.00 oz Simcoe [13.00 %] - 4.7 IBUs
20 Minute Whirlpool 185f - 1.00 oz Amarillo [8.50 %] - 1.4 IBUs -
20 Minute Whirlpool 185f 1.00 oz Centennial [10.00 %] - 1.7 IBUs
20 Minute Whirlpool 185f 1.00 oz Simcoe [13.00 %] - 2.2 IBUs
Dry Hop: 7 days - 4.00 oz Amarillo [8.50 %] 
Dry Hop: 7 days - 4.00 oz Centennial [10.00 %]
Dry Hop: 7 days - 4.00 oz Simcoe [13.00 %]

2 packs Safale S-04 - rehydrated in 90f sterile water

Sacch rest - 60 min @ 152.1 F 

Fly Sparge 12.23 gallons 170f

Misc: 60 seconds of pure O2. Filtered Philadelphia Tap water, Baxter Plant, 4 grams Gypsum + 1g Baking Soda in the mash.

Notes: Quick start to fermentation at 64f, fermentation was held steady between 64-66f for the duration for fermentation. I then crashed the beer to 55f for the last 3 days before transferring to the kegs. I dry hopped one keg with 6oz of the blend mentioned above, while the other keg got an active 500ml starter of ECY19 Brettanomyces Custersianus.


  1. Looks interesting...

    Speaking of really hoppy APAs fermented with English strains, I just brewed one myself last week. I decided to use a strain I hadn't before, Wyeast 1275 Thames Valley. Sounded interesting on their site. I may culture the slurry and use it for a possible re-brew of my Hill Farmstead James clone.

    1. It is very close to the original, I need to either dial back the oats a tad, up the bitterness or both in the next batch but the aroma, body etc is spot on.

      I have heard good things about that strain, can I assume you'll blog about it?

  2. Hey I am also in Philly and usually hit up Home Sweet Homebrew and Keystone Homebrew for my supplies. Do you remember where you got the CMC malt?


    1. It was from a group buy coordinated by a homebrew friend/soon to be pro brewer. It is just plain old continental Pale Malt, you can change it out for 2-row Pale Malt from any other maltster, its not important to the recipe.

  3. I'm often confused by what people mean by "Pale Malt" in recipes. I keep stock of both Maris Otter 3.5L (Pale Malt) and 2-row 2L. So would you suggest using Maris Otter for this recipe or just plain old 2-row?

    Also, based on your first attempt, how much would you pull back on the oats, and what might you mash at?

    Looking forward to giving this a try soon. Thanks for all your investigative work!

    1. Pale Ale Malt is 2-row, it is just kilned slightly more and gives you a slightly darker color and more complex malt profile, nutty, biscuit, bready etc. Marris Otter is a type of Pale Ale Malt a little darker and even more characterful, its the UK version grown in the UK obv, so its a slightly different grain thats grown. Thats about the depth of my malt knowledge, all that being said, I think this beer would be great with Marris Otter! Could be a touch darker but would taste awesome.

      Cheers, let us know if you brew it with MO.

  4. I put two and two together last February when it comes to Tired Hands and their amazing hoppy beers that can be so hoppy, juicy and yet still ever drinkable. They poured me a growler of an IPA and at home on the final pour a cascade of what I could only consider dry hop sludge came rushing out. It looked like they failed to rack off an immense dry hop, and it got me thinking: kill the bitterness and dry hop the daylight out of my next IPA batch. Ok, I have a double IPA in primary, let me add an additional 2oz to my planned dry hop and keep the carb volume below 2.0 (because all of their beers seem to come modestly carbed) and see how it goes. Sure enough it had a similar character. I then brewed a rye pale ale with oats keeping the IBUs low and viola: very drinkable and hoppy and Tired Hands inspired.

    6 mos later I google Tired Hands clone and you're at the top of the list. Reading on I see a little more insight but mostly I was correct: huge dry hop, low IBUs. I've used West Yorkshire for some time for my ipas to see about a similar ester profile to Heady Topper and am growing tired of it, looking for something more citrusy, and now I see this post and am thinking about Thames River Valley Ale Yeast, because there has to be a way to hide the dry hop astringency and polyphenols, and my guess is a combination of non-barley grain residual molecules and a flavorful yeast character. I don't think TH filters or fines but I may be mistaken. (Some day I will keg my beer and I think that will also help).

    Anywho, cheers! You are now on my daily reading list.

    1. Great minds think a like, its really an amazing approach to juicy palatable hoppy beers. Heavy dry hopping and light bittering paired with Oats makes for heaven if you ask me, its how I approach every hoppy beer I make these days. Glad to hear others have been doing it as well, and having success. Cheers, and thanks for reading.

  5. How do you calculate whirlpool ibus? Is it dependent on temperature and time?

  6. As an extract brewer, what would be a good way to mimic this recipe? Is there any way to get that same Tired Hands balance and mouthfeel without being able to use the oats in an extract brew? Or is there a way to do that?

    1. I've never tried to brew this as an extract beer but I think you could go two different ways to aacheive it, you could use Maris Otter LME (or Pale DME) and some wheat DME to mimic the use of the Oats and get that creamy mouthfeel. Or all Maris Otter LME and try steeping some portion of Oats at 150f for 15-20 minutes, not sure if that will work or not though.

    2. Thanks for the reply man! I actually came to that conclusion myself with a bit of help from Reddit. It seems that, for the color and ABV, using something like Pale DME or Golden Light DME with a pound or two of wheat DME gets me exactly where I want to be.

      I have seen that usually oats NEED to be mashed to appropriately get the benefits of using them, unfortunately. I wasn't quite sure how fast you would respond, so I did some heavy Googling at work and found that usually steeping oats isn't what you want to do.

      One more question though if you don't mind. Why the use of not one but two dry yeast packets? wouldn't one re-hydrated packet be enough? Or is there some special reason as to why you used two?

      Also, again, thank you very much for your reply. From one Philly-area native to another, your recipes are awesome :P

    3. I think the case of steeping Oats all depends if you care about converting the starches to sugars, steeping them without some 2-row would still add some mouth feel and a bunch of unfermentables. Which might not be great since extract can be less fermentable than an all grain batch.

      I used 2 packets in this batch because it was an 11 gallon batch, I needed more cells than what one packet get you.

      Cheers man!

    4. Hi Ed,

      I'm going to brew this up on the weekend, haven't had the original but I'm really excited for this recipe! Couple of questions if you don't mind helping me out.

      1. How important do you think water chemistry is in this? Do you think the oats are the deciding factor in the mouthfeel or should I be building my water?

      2. How do you think Galaxy would go instead of Amarillo? Clearly a different beer but I'm thinking it might be good. We just got a fresh crop down here in Australia so it's a possibility...

      Thanks a lot for the recipes, I'm gonna brew a couple of yours I think!

      Cheers, Mick.

    5. Hey Mick, its a great recipe I hope you enjoy it. I will be posting an update on this recipe today that covers these topics. I think water is pretty huge for this beer. At the time of this posting Jean told me all they did to their water was adjust for mash pH, since then I have dove into water pretty extensively (still a newb even after 2+ years), but Ive found that a 1:1 Sulfate to Chloride ratio is a pretty important component. There is a post on Bear-flavord.com about it but I cannot find it for some reason.

      Ive subbed the hops in this recipe a few times, Galaxy would be awesome in it I am sure. I played with Mosaic in this beer a bunch, was great.