Friday, May 19, 2017

Tired Hands Alien Church Clone-ish kind of thingy

The title here is misleading since this didn't exactly start that way, but after nearly two years of playing with a recipe inspired by the venerable Alien Church from Tired Hands Brewing Company I've landed on something that's a little bit me, and a little bit Ardmore PA. 

The line of Milkshake IPA's from Tired Hands garner all the attention, and while I think those are culinary masterpieces, they drink more like a cocktail than a beer to me and are a single serving beer for me. The hoppy beers that excite me most are the ones that are exceedingly drinkable, refreshing, capable of blowing your mind, all the while maintaining the ability to be an everyday beer worth a few pours in a sitting. For me, among many other beers, Alien Church ticks all those boxes. Sometimes I drink it and marvel at the pungent aromas, or the silky smooth body. Other times I realize i've thrown back 3-4 without thinking about it as I am thoroughly content and enjoying the moment...I love Alien Church.
Ed's keg pour on the left, and the Alien Church can pour on the right. Hazy, not murky or turbid, no tricks.

So now that I've expounded on my love affair with drinkable beer, how did I arrive at the recipe below? As I mentioned earlier, I originally set out to make a clone recipe for Alien Church but after 8-10 iterations of the recipe and coming to grips with the fact that I have literally zero inside info on the beers production, I started dialing it in on my own preferences. That all said, this beer is very very similar to Alien Church, see photo below for lack of color differences, whatever the hell that's worth. My version is brewed with Oats, hopped with Mosaic, Citra, Chinook, Centennial and Columbus, just like Alien Church. It's fermented out with London Ale III, it'
s ~7% ABV, same (we think) as Alien Church. Similar ingredients, it tastes similar, smells similar, and looks identical to Alien Church, why isn't it a clone? Meh, I suppose it is to an extent but I made a few personal tweaks that I am pretty sure Jean at THBC does not do, but the end result is very Church like so maybe it is a clone.
As homebrewers, we need a better source for Thomas Fawcett Malted Oats by the sack.

The major difference in my recipe and what I believe THBC does with Alien Church is the type of Oats used. Over the course of the many iterations of this recipe the percentage of Oats, and the type of Oats, have changed a bunch. Ratios and timings of hops have changed as well but those tweaks never proved as noticeable as the Oats. Last summer Jean revealed on an episode of Steal This Beer that THBC uses Thomas Fawcett Malted Oats (TFMO), which are awesome, but when I started this I didn't know for sure that they used them so I started with Flaked Oats. 

Yittle bit a dis, yittle bit a dat.

In my experience there is a threshold where too much flaked oats can dominate a beer's flavor profile, on the other hand, the malted oats you can use at much higher proportions. When using only Pale malt and TFMO in the grist I feel the beers body is a little less full/creamy, and the flavor contribution from the flaked oats is missing for me. So after brewing batches with %30 Flaked, 50% Malted, 20% Flaked, etc etc, I found myself a nice little balance when using a Pale Malt base and both Flaked and Malted Oats. As I mentioned before, I have no insiders information on this beer, so Alien Church might have more than just Pale Malt and Oats (kinda doubt it) but this base is perfect to smash hops into.
Oh yea, I am full on BIAB at home now. I'll never go back, I hate wort making, love the cold side.

Alien Church has been out for a few years now, and after the many different batches I've tasted I always had a tough time pinpointing any one of the hops the stand out as predominant, as if thats an easy thing to do. But it kind of makes me think it fluctuates, or has fluctuated, a little but I'm just guessing. The below hop schedule is what I've used over the last 3-4 batches and has resulted in a solid Alien Church-esque bouquet and flavor profile. To the point that you could be tricked into thinking its is AC, both exuding tropical fruit aromas and a restrained but balanced bitterness. One thing I have found is Alien Church has a slightly more dank character than a lot of NEIPA style beers, something I have been able to hit with a small amount of CTZ in the dry hop and whirlpool. I've played with it in this recipe and others and I really like the subtle dank character it adds in the finish and aroma.

Both beers are littered with tropical fruit aromatics, while mine has a slightly stickier ickier aroma. Upfront bitterness on the two are very similar, it hits the tongue then wafts away, both beers finish with a slight bitterness but mine is more pronounced and heavier handed. The silky smooth body of both mine and AC are very similar, though I like to tell myself mine is fuller bc of the flaked Oats, but I can't say I can pick that out in a blind tasting. But I do taste the Oat difference in the two, maybe I'm using more Oats than THBC but I kind of doubt that. Overall the beers are very similar, but mine does stray into its own zone at times, with mine being a little more bitter. Both insanely drinkable beers, perfect this time of year, especially now that its 90F on the east coast.

So here it is, this is not the best clone in the world, this is just a tribute. 

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: 1.067 SG
Measured FG: 1.012 SG
ABV: 7.2%
Estimated Color: 5 SRM
Estimated IBU: 63 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70.00 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

67.8% - 9lbs 8oz - Pale Ale Malt
14.3% - 2lbs - Thomas Fawcett Malted Oats
14.3% - 2lbs - Flaked Oats
  3.6% - 8oz - Table Sugar *late boil addition*

First Wort Hop - 0.75 oz CTZ [14.00 %] -  22 IBUs
Boil: 15min - 1 Whirlfloc Tablet + 1 tsp Wyeast Yeast Nutrient
Boil:  5min - 2.00 oz Mosaic [12.90 %] 
Boil:  5min - 1.50 oz Chinook [12.00 %] 
Boil:  5min - 1.00 oz CTZ  [14.00 %]
20 Minute Whirlpool 185f - 1.75 oz Citra [12.70 %]
20 Minute Whirlpool 185f 1.75 oz Mosaic [12.90 %]
20 Minute Whirlpool 185f 1.25 oz Centennial [10.00 %]
20 Minute Whirlpool 185f 1.00 oz CTZ [14.00 %] 
Dry Hop: 5 days - 1.50 oz Chinook [12.00 %] 
Dry Hop: 5 days - 1.50 oz Centennial [10.00 %]
Dry Hop: 5 days - 1.50 oz Citra [12.70 %]
Dry Hop: 5 days - 1.50 oz Mosaic [12.90 %] 
Dry Hop: 5 days - 1.00 oz CTZ [14.00 %]
*Dry hops were split into two additions, half in primary during fermentation and half in a dry hop keg*


Mash: Full volume BIAB
Sacch rest - 60 min @ 152.0 F 

Misc: 45 seconds of pure O2. Cherry Hill, NJ Tap water. Mash pH 5.27, 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 5 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 14 days from brewday.


  1. That's a crapload of hops... beer sounds amazing! I should try to make it down to PA sometime this week. You know, while Trump is away. :D

    1. What does Trump have to do with beer and you being there.

    2. Trump makes beer taste bad... and he's been in PA too often.

  2. Two points I strongly agree with:

    "The hoppy beers that excite me most are the ones that are exceedingly drinkable, refreshing, capable of blowing your mind, all the while maintaining the ability to be an everyday beer worth a few pours in a sitting."

    Using Columbus to evoke that amazing dank element in a NE IPA.

  3. Two quick questions : 1 what bag r u using and 2 are you firing the kettle to keep temp?

    1. Im using the bag from, my kettle now has a Blichmann boil coil and a Wort Hog controller. Amazingly easy little system.

  4. Nice Write up.
    With so many hops are you bagging any of your additions?
    Are you throwing all dryhops in atthe same time, or splittignthem up into separate additions?

  5. Just curious... I've put this recipe into Beersmith and it's coming up with 140 IBUs. How did you come up with 63? Different software or calculation?

    1. I use Beersmith, but the calculation that it gives you for whirlpool hopping is bogus in my opinion. I calculate 10% of what Beersmith calculates for the whirlpool additions.

    2. On the same note regarding IBU calculations in Beersmith, I'm getting 37.4 IBUs for the first wort hop addition of CTZ at the rate and acid concentration you have noted (0.75 oz. and 14% AA). Are you doing a different calculation there?

      Not trying to nitpick, just trying to make sure I'm not doing something weird. Thanks!

    3. I'm having the same thing using Brewersfriend. Getting 39 IBUs on the first and getting close to 170 for total recipe. when you say 10% of what beersmith uses, do you mean "1% utilization"? Meaning each whirpool addition only adds about 2-3 IBUS each and not 20-30 IBUS?


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  7. Hey Ed thanks for sharing this new recipe !

    Got a quick question, the only malted oat I Am able to get here in Spain is the GNO version which as I understand are darker colored and slightly sweeter. As I never used malted oat do you think it could substitute the regular malted oat or shall I dial down and use slight more flaked oat/malted wheat to balance?


  8. So I made this.. and made a few errors.. First - I just noticed I totally forgot to add the table sugar! Whoops. Might account for my low ABV's.. It was delicious however - but I got ZERO haze. Amazingly clear in fact. Gorgeous. Do you want Whirlfloc in this case? I've never had the original Alien Church, perhaps it's not hazy? I also was (according to Beersmith) high on my pH at 5.69 and I lacked a pH meter at the time. I got got pretty poor efficiency likely as a result. Still the flavor was wonderful and the aroma... omg.

    1. Not to answer for Ed but I may can help out as I'm working my hazy IPA brewing as well. When did you add the first dry hopping? What I've learned is that it has to happen when yeast is still in suspension and active fermentation is going on. I've done one side by side ferment and one beer came out clear as a bell and the one that I dry hopped during fermentation was hazy.

      You may have already figured it out since this was an old post.

  9. Did this one a few days ago but with lemondrop instead of citra. Also a bit fewer hops. Looking forward to it :)

  10. Curious about how you avoid hop burn in a beer with this much oats and hops turned around so quickly. My attempts have always needed about three weeks from brew day before the infamous throat-burning particles/yeast completely dropped out.

    Maybe I'm mistiming my dry hop additions or not being careful with transfers, but I use a shortened dip tube and cold crash with dry hops in that keg. I don't get any leafy bits, just dusty particles that I can see if I swirl the glass. Do you use any fining agents?

  11. Saw this and got super inspired so I decided to give it a go.
    My results might not be spot on, but it sure is friggen delicious and has a great color/aroma.
    I did make a few small mistakes and would love some input on some issues I came across.

    I do not BIAB, I have a brew pot and use gravity to transfer at the bottom of the boil kettle so a LOT of trub carried over into my fermenter, which looked like a Guinness settling out for an hour or so, and eventually into my Keg. This resulted in my dip tube needing to be cleaned twice. I was debating cold crashing the fermenter at 13 days (night before kegging), but was not sure if it would affect the flavor of this style, so decided not to. Few particles in the beer but no biggie! Fermentation started dark, activated in 12 hours and brightened right up after 3 days.

    I also forgot to add the sugar late in the boil and decided to add it during my whirlpool.
    For my water - I am unsure what upstate NY provides, so I used Poland Spring water and added 1 tsp of CaCl.
    1 Day after kegging this had a reallllly bitter finish, after 6 days in the keg it was balanced and almost perfect.
    Aromas of lemon, grapefruit, mellon, and apricots. Beautiful haze and head after pouring.

    Thank you for an awesome post! Cant wait to impress friends/family with this beer and brew it again in the future.


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  13. Brewed this beer and it was amazing. Finished the keg and brewing it again today. For what it’s worth, below is the description on their website. Sounds like they don’t use centennial and do use cascade.

    “Alien Church:
    Reptoid IPA 7.0% Brewed with fluffy malted oats, and hopped aggressively with Cascade and Columbus. Dry hopped with a huge dose of the choicest Citra, Mosaic, and Chinook. This is the one.
    -Notes of ripe mango, blueberry gummies, floral lychee, pink grapefruit, and peach rings”

    1. I thought the same thing myself, but recipes change sometimes. On the older BA description (, cascade isn't mentioned and they list Centennial, while the new one doesn't. Also, in the newest description from TH (, they no longer list specific hops, only "a blend of our favorite American varietals". "This is the one", is always in the description, so I feel like it's just an ever evolving recipe. I could be wrong for sure, but just how I've interpreted it.

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