Wednesday, July 9, 2014

HopWards Batch #2 Tasting Notes and Recipe Tweaks

Normally when I'm trying to adjust a recipe to get it to where I want it to be I will change only one variable at a time so that I know what each change has brought to the finished product, and if that change got me closer to my goal for the beer. But in a constantly evolving brewing world with new Yeast strains/Hop varieties etc. it can be difficult to stay the course. For batch #2 of HopWards I caved a little bit and changed two variables from batch #1, so shoot me.

In the first batch of HopWards, my Tired Hands HopHands "clone", was damn near spot on to the original and just about how I want my own version of an "inspired by HopHands" beer to be. The late hopping was perfect, it had a uniquely creamy body from the use of the Oats, it was bright citrusy and very refreshing. If there were"flaws" in that beer it would be that the Oats were a bit over powering at 20% of the grist, and that it could use slightly more bitterness. The high % of Oats resulted in a beer that I felt needed to be a bit more dry in the end, not by a lot but enough that may even help to accentuate the bitterness. 

For Batch #2 I decided to lower the percentage of Oats to 12.5%, I had planned for 15% but I came up a bit short on what I had on hand with no time to run out to get more. I figured that by using a smaller amount of Oats ( I also mashed just a little bit lower at 150F to help here) I should achieve a drier beer that I hoped would show off the bitterness more without having to increase my 60 minute hop addition (16-17IBUs) from batch #1.

The last change to the beer was to go from using Safale s-04 to The Yeast Bay's Vermont Ale, aka Conan, which I have a history with dating back to late 2012 when I cultured from a can and re-pitched it for nearly a year. I have a had a love/hate relationship with the strain, I had a lot of hits with my can culture but the ECY29 was a bit of a mess for me. So I am hopping that I can have better success with Vermont Ale, but maybe Derek is right when he says "Conan will only ferment cleanly and attenuate for those with the purest of hearts".

Flocculate much Conan?

HopWards 2.0 Tasting Notes:

Extremely hazy, hay like color, very pale, almost looks like a hefeweizen, which has always been the case for me with Conan. Thin bright white head that faded slowly but leaves significant lacing on the glass, easily mistaken for a freshly pour glass of OJ.

Aromas of Peach, orange, and many other citrus fruits. When this beer was young I was getting a distracting phenol, but after a few weeks this has seemed to fade, green beer? Maybe, but maybe not as I got the same phenol when I used ECY29 in the past, but in those beers it never dissipated.

Soft bitterness but a nice tingle on the front of the tongue, smooth across the middle of the mouth then a pleasing hop astringency on the back end. Citrus, mostly orange, mango, peaches, pretty much any tropical fruit you can think of. I get something different with every sip, its a pretty fantastic hop profile but not entirely different from the s04 batch. There is an interesting aftertaste, or maybe its after breath, thats not entirely unappealing, it could be a fermentation flaw but I cant really put my finger on it.

It's definitely very similar to batch #1 but the body is a little bit thinner, and the oats aren't as noticeable but still there, which was a goal in this version. Actually I think this is may even be a bit too light on the oats. But the bitterness level is just about where I wanted it to be, a slight bitterness upfront then giving way to hops and creamy oats. In the end I like it just fine but it may have been just a bit better with s04, which is really surprising. 15% Oats are where its at in this beer.

As for Vermont Ale, it is significantly better than what ECY had put out, the attenuation is solid, you get those Peach-y notes that Conan can throw off and The Yeast Bay can get you a super super fresh healthy vial. There is something about Conan that has always been a steroid for hops, and malt actually, and this is no exception. I might prefer s04 in this particular beer at the moment but I plan to keep using Vermont Ale for quite some time.

HopWards 2.0

Brew day: 5/31/2014
Kegged: 6/14/2013 
-(then dry hopped in keg for 5 days at room temp)

Recipe Specifications
Boil Size: 7.50 gal
Post Boil Volume: 5.50 gal
Batch Size (fermenter): 5.50 gal
Bottling Volume: 10.50 gal
Estimated OG: 1.048 SG
Measured OG: 1.048 SG
Measured FG: 1.014 SG
ABV: 4.5%
Estimated Color: 4.5 SRM
Estimated IBU: 33 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 71.00 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

87.5% - 8lbs 12oz - Pale Ale Malt (3.1 SRM)
12.5% - 1lbs 4oz - Flaked Oats

Boil: 60min - 0.25 oz CTZ [14.20 %] - 17.0 IBUs
Boil: 15min - 1 Whirlfloc Tablet + 1 tsp Wyeast Yeast Nutrient
Boil:  5min - 0.51 oz Amarillo [8.50 %] - 3.1 IBUs
Boil:  5min - 0.51 oz Centennial [10.00 %] - 3.6 IBUs
Boil:  5min - 0.51 oz Simcoe [13.00 %] - 4.7 IBUs
20 Minute Whirlpool 185f - 0.51 oz Amarillo [8.50 %] - 1.4 IBUs -
20 Minute Whirlpool 185f 0.51 oz Centennial [10.00 %] - 1.7 IBUs
20 Minute Whirlpool 185f 0.51 oz Simcoe [13.00 %] - 2.2 IBUs
Dry Hop: 7 days - 2.00 oz Amarillo [8.50 %] 
Dry Hop: 7 days - 2.00 oz Centennial [10.00 %]
Dry Hop: 7 days - 2.00 oz Simcoe [13.00 %]

500ml starter - The Yeast Bay Vermont Ale

Sacch rest - 60 min @ 150.1 F - Mash PH 5.42

Fly Sparge 5.60 gallons 170f

Misc: 30 seconds of pure O2. Filtered Philadelphia Tap water, Baxter Plant,11g Gypsum + 2.2g Baking Soda, 8.4g Epsom salt, 4ml Lactic Acid in the mash.

Notes: Smooth brewday, nothing really to note, fermentation was quick and as expected.


  1. So I have a vile of Vermont also in the fridge. I really don't know what to do with it. I might steal your recipe and tweak it a little.

    Also BTW the Farmer in the Rye clone I did with Wallonian turned out bad. I think I recieved a bad vile. I'll have to do the recipe again.

    1. I actually want to try Vermont Ale in something very simple, just Cascade and Pale Malt or something, see how complex it can be with cheap easy ingredients. More of a lightly hopped Blonde ale I guess, but I like a lot of hops so thats not likely to happen :)

      I kind of figured something went wrong since I never heard about it again, thats really ashame, Wallonian has been amazing for me all year. Did you reach out to Nick? I am sure he would help.

    2. I used it (mailed to me Conan strain) about a year ago in Ultra Session APA. It was a great beer but not as simple as your referring to.

      As for the yeast, its not a big deal, just kinda bums me out. It has a gas phenolic taste. Almost burnt rubber. I'll brew it again soon and see what happens sometime later this summer.

  2. I also have some vermont ale that I've yet to use. This is number two on my list now, but I'll be doing it with Maris Otter b/c that's what I've got on hand. Was the extra whirfloc/nutrient to help the vermont to floc better? I think I usually use about a quarter of that amount for a 5 gallon batch. looking forward to this one!

    I've also got some Wallonian in the fridge to try out that 'Merica clone. Hope my vial is alright! Going to whip up a starter tonight.

    1. I think Marris Otter will work out great, might even be better depending on what youre going for.

      Whoops, that whirlfloc/nutrient was a typo, I fixed it.

  3. I tweaked this recipe for a recent club comp and used Perle Malt with 12% oats, a new hop from Hop Products Australia, and Conan. It did not floc. Not one bit. Even after 3 weeks cold crash it's still just sitting there saying, hey you, i ain't going nowhere.

    I was intrigued by your after taste comment as mine has something that i can't quite put my finger on. It's kinda like a heat from spice, which is gradually fading. I'm going to brew it again but use a pale malt rather than the English malt and use the 2nd gen of Conan.

    1. I have never used Perle Malt, but John Kimmich raves about it and uses it in Heady Topper so I imagine its fantastic. I once found and old blog post on their website where he compares batches brewed with a bunch of different British Pale Malts and why Perle was the best for the recipe. I'll dig it up and pos it, great read.

      Spice might be a good way to describe it, when it was young it was a little bit distracting, but its nearly gone after a month in the keg.

    2. I've just ordered a bag of Perle and figured i'd get to know it. I'd love to see the article if you can locate it.

    3. Hi Ed,

      My beer inspired by you delievered a respectable third at our club competition last night. Overall i was really happy with the result! One question we were discussing was how best to use oats when brewing. I used quick oats and just popped them in the mash but several fellow home brewers said they always boil their oats first. How do you go about adding the oats?


  4. I'm sorry if this comes in twice, I think my previous post got stuck somewhere somehow...

    Anyways, greetings from Finland, I've been reading your blog for over a week and have already made this beer last tuesday because I had been looking for oat pale ale recipe. Little sample I had yesterday was already really tasty, I have high hopes for this.

    Only thing I need to ask is that what carbonation vol would you recommend for this, maybe 2.0ish? I will be bottle conditioning.

    1. Thanks for reading Topi! Glad you are enjoying the recipe so far, the dry hop really takes this beer to the next level. For carbonation I like to go on the soft side, somewhere in the 2.0-2.2 range should be perfect, should give you a nice pillowy head and subtle carbonation for a mouthful of chewy Oats and hops.

    2. Thanks, I'm glad to see that my hunch was on the spot! I'll report back after I it's done :) Thanks again!