Dessert Beer: Humble Pie

No, I’m not really making a dessert beer NEIPA.  However, making a NEIPA that can stand-up to some of the great examples in and around town has been quite the challenge. My last brew was another round of corrections to address the overly-bitter result. Not Grapefruit Juice was a step in the right direction but it had several issues.

Before I get to that, I do have to mention that the past few NEIPAs that I’ve done have ended up getting a rather nasty diacetyl flavor days after kegging. I’m particularly sensitive to the off-flavor and really prevented me from drinking any amount of the beer.  I’ve several friends for whom the level was not something they could detect and they still enjoyed the beer and commented that it was an improvement over the previous version.  Tracking down this problem was quite the challenge.  I first attacked the keg and keg lines.  I didn’t find anything of concern and each keg is fully broken down, cycled with hot PWB via Mark’s Keg/Carboy washer, sanitized and flushed.  The keg lines use a recirculating PWB line cleaner followed by hot water rinse and sanitizer.  I really was stumped until I ran across this post out on Brülosophy where a long time friend of the site was tracking down a similar issue and worked out some experiments to track down the issue.  The discovery was that the ball-valves on the boil kettle weren’t getting direct heat due to the burner design.  This matched my setup, but I had recently switched to a new 30 gallon boil kettle with only a hand full of brews under its belt.  However I have two ball valves on the March pump used for recirculation.   I started the process of breaking those down and let’s just say it was *NOT* pretty.  I also broke open the pump itself and found bits of sponge.  I was quite furious with myself.  After switching to a new Chronical which requires a complete break down after each use I just couldn’t believe that I hadn’t applied that same effort to the post-boil path.

I don’t think the diacetyl flaw impacts the bitterness issue so I knew that after tasting Not Grapefruit Juice that something else was going on with the bitterness.  While I was scrubbing away at all of the post-boil parts I did quite a bit more reading on the recent studies around flameout and dry-hop additions imparting bitterness.  Reading through all of those blog posts and papers left me a distinct impression.  Massive dry-hops definitely have a bitterness impact in two ways.  First, additional dry-hopping can result in lower pH which increases perception of bitterness.  Second the non-iso-alpha acid components of hops can contribute actual IBUs to a finished beer.  A deeper look into those studies reveals that hops which do not store as well (these hops have a higher HSI value) result in more IBUs being imparted into the final product when used in dry-hopping.  With this new information in mind, I’ve put together three new NEIPA recipes to try out.  Taking in all of the change from Not Grapefruit Juice, the biggest change moving forward is a much reduced amount of dry-hop;  the rate of dry-hop previously resulted in bumping the final product by several tens of IBUs.  I’ve also continued to adjust the malt bill upwards, this time blending with Vienna and targetting 7.5% and a higher overall final gravity; this was featured in the very first recipe I tried.  The next two variants keep the same quantities of hops and gravity bill but will try two different things.  One will re-introduce cryohops but at a 60/40 split between pellet and cryo, accounting for the higher AA in cryohops.  Joe Mohrfeld at Pinthouse Pizza presented early results when using cryohops/powder and found that they get the best results with a blend of pellets and powder.  The last experiment looks to identify hops with fruity, tropical properties but have the lowest HSI value.  The expectation there is that these hops will further reduce the introduction of IBUs into the final product.

Lastly as a side-note I have been mostly avoiding use of Simcoe for quite some time.  Beers from five or six years ago had massive amounts of Simcoe and had a nice piney almost “cat pee” element.  These memories of flavors do not excite me and I’ve felt they don’t have a place in the softer, juicier IPAs I really like.  I’ve had several recent NEIPA beers which feature Simcoe as a hop that drives perception of Oranges and Tangerines and have not found these beers to have any of those piney or cat like qualities of the past.  I’m looking forward to giving Simcoe a place in a future NEIPA once I’m on the other side of this battle with bitterness.

Here’s the next experiment towards that pillowy soft and juicy beer I crave:

Recipe Details

Batch Size Boil Time IBU SRM Est. OG Est. FG ABV
15 gal 60 min 63.7 IBUs 5.7 SRM 1.068 1.016 6.9 %
Actuals 1.068 1.016 6.9 %

Style Details

Name Cat. OG Range FG Range IBU SRM Carb ABV
American-Style India Pale Ale 56 1.06 - 1.075 1.012 - 1.018 50 - 70 6 - 15 2.2 - 2.8 6.3 - 7.6 %

Fermentables

Name Amount %
Brewer's Malt, 2-Row, Premium (Great Western) 14 lbs 36.84
Vienna Malt (Weyermann) 14 lbs 36.84
Oats, Flaked 4 lbs 10.53
White Wheat Malt 4 lbs 10.53
Carapils (Briess) 1 lbs 2.63
Honey Malt 1 lbs 2.63

Hops

Name Amount Time Use Form Alpha %
Columbus (Tomahawk) 1.5 oz 60 min First Wort Pellet 15.3
Amarillo 2.5 oz 10 min Aroma Pellet 9.2
Citra 2.5 oz 10 min Aroma Pellet 14.4
Mosaic 2.5 oz 10 min Aroma Pellet 11.6
Columbus (Tomahawk) 1.5 oz 10 min Aroma Pellet 15.3
Amarillo 2.67 oz 3 days Dry Hop Pellet 9.2
Citra 2.67 oz 3 days Dry Hop Pellet 14.4
Mosaic 2.67 oz 3 days Dry Hop Pellet 11.6
Columbus (Tomahawk) 1.5 oz 3 days Dry Hop Pellet 15.3

Miscs

Name Amount Time Use Type
Calcium Chloride 7.30 g 60 min Mash Water Agent
Epsom Salt (MgSO4) 2.70 g 60 min Mash Water Agent
Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) 2.40 g 60 min Mash Water Agent
Phosphoric Acid 1.20 ml 60 min Mash Water Agent

Yeast

Name Lab Attenuation Temperature
San Diego Super Yeast (WLP090) White Labs 80% 65°F - 68°F

Mash

Step Temperature Time
Saccharification 156°F 60 min
Mash Out 168°F 10 min

Notes

Adjust cl:s04 to 1.5 ratio
Use columbus
Single dry-hop
1:1 GU:IBU ratio
Swap in 50% base with Vienna for additional malt backbone
Welcome Amarillo to the Hop Club
Gravity bump to 1.071

Dialing in my NEIPA hop process

I’ve about four of these under my belt and I’ve had mixed results.  My first attempt was really a huge hit.  My take was that it tended to be a little sweet for my tastes but was a crowd pleaser.  The recipe was a bit heavy on the malt with a 50/50 2-row/Marris mix, and Honey malt.  My efficiency was a bit high too so ended up north of seven percent ABV which isn’t bad, lots of NEIPAs are in that area; but I was hoping for something around six percent instead.

The second iteration modified the grain bill to match my Session IPA recipe but with modified hoping times and quantities to match the NEIPA style and I also tested out using a mixed-culture strain.  When young, this one turned out very well but was a bit extreme with the grapefruit hop; so not as juicy as I would have liked.  The Belgian phenols weren’t overly distracting but I prefer my NEIPAs with a clean yeast profile.

The third recipe resulted in even greater amount of hop bitterness; the exact opposite of what one wants with a NEIPA.  And at this point I started looking at what might have gone wrong.

  1. Don’t use Cyrohops like regular hops where you might get IBUs.
  2. Ensure whirlpool temp is below 180F
  3. The sweet-spot for whirlpool flavor and aroma is around 10 minutes
  4. Stirring the whirlpool provides extra extraction (and bitterness)
  5. Larger boil volumes have increased utilization

My first batch used zero Cryohops.  I ended up getting some for my second batch, but I used them in the whirlpool/hopstand which greatly enhanced the aroma and flavors but I’m positive due to the high temp (flameout, no chilling) it certainly extracted alpha acids and more than I anticipated due to a long 30 minute hold.  This embodies issues 1 through 4.   The last issue I only recently read about as I was searching for why some of my lighter styles, witbier and pilsner seem to have been over the threshold that I would like in the particular style.  It’s not entirely clear if there I’m actually seeing increased utilization in a 20 gallon boil for a 15 to 16 gallon batch, but I’m sure that in both of those recipes, version two will reduce the amount of hops I use but at least 10% if not 20.

Thus, today I brewed a batch hoping to remedy all of these issues.  Aptly named, Not Grapefruit Juice; which ultimately remains to be seen.  The grain bill adds back in some of the Honey malt, it provides a nice background sweetness independent of the finishing gravity and doesn’t taste to my palette cloying.  I’ve settled on roughly 50/50 flaked oats and white-wheat; the wheat gives a nice subtle toast and a touch of acidity to the base wort.  Finally, I’ve added some Carapils for head retention.  My previous batch attempted to address concerns over head retention through the elimination of use of Anti-Foamer, both in the starters and in the boil.  The result showed no difference in additional head retention over other batches I’ve had.   I’m super happy about that because taming both the 5L starter on the stove and the 20 gallon batch in the garage was intense.  A couple drops of defoamer in the wort and I’m totally relaxed.

I ended up with a 90 minute boil as the evaporation rate today was just super low.  A 5 minute edition and then flameout, chill to 175F before adding in the whirlpool hops, 10 minutes, then pump into the conical.  The taste of the wort going into the fermentation chamber was nice, hoppy but super mellow; almost no bitterness.  \o/

Recipe Details

Batch Size Boil Time IBU SRM Est. OG Est. FG ABV
16 gal 60 min 69.2 IBUs 4.6 SRM 1.063 1.012 6.7 %
Actuals 1.058 1.007 6.7 %

Style Details

Name Cat. OG Range FG Range IBU SRM Carb ABV
American IPA 13 2 1.056 - 1.075 1.01 - 1.018 40 - 70 6 - 15 2 - 2.8 5.5 - 7.5 %

Fermentables

Name Amount %
Brewers Malt 2-Row (Briess) 23 lbs 64.79
Oats, Flaked 6 lbs 16.9
White Wheat Malt 5 lbs 14.08
Honey Malt 1 lbs 2.82
Carapils (Briess) 8 oz 1.41

Hops

Name Amount Time Use Form Alpha %
Columbus (Tomahawk) 1 oz 60 min First Wort Pellet 15.3
Citra 2 oz 5 min Boil Pellet 14.4
Galaxy 2 oz 5 min Boil Pellet 14.8
Mosaic (HBC 369) 2 oz 5 min Boil Pellet 12.3
Citra 2 oz 10 min Aroma Pellet 14.4
Galaxy 2 oz 10 min Aroma Pellet 14.8
Mosaic 2 oz 10 min Aroma Pellet 11.6
Citra 3 oz 8 days Dry Hop Pellet 14.4
Mosaic 3 oz 8 days Dry Hop Pellet 11.6
Citra 3 oz 4 days Dry Hop Pellet 14.4
Mosaic 3 oz 4 days Dry Hop Pellet 11.6

Miscs

Name Amount Time Use Type
Calcium Chloride 8.50 g 60 min Mash Water Agent
Epsom Salt (MgSO4) 2.30 g 60 min Mash Water Agent
Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) 2.20 g 60 min Mash Water Agent
Phosphoric Acid 20% 1.10 ml 60 min Mash Water Agent

Yeast

Name Lab Attenuation Temperature
San Diego Super Yeast (WLP090) White Labs 80% 65°F - 68°F

Mash

Step Temperature Time
Saccharification 152°F 60 min
Mash Out 168°F 10 min

Notes

Boiloff was really low, like 10% instead of 18,
Added 30 minutes to boil. Had extra gallon of wort.

WLP090 Recommendations:
"Make sure you make a proper sized starter, pitch cool at 65˚F then set your
regulator to 66˚F, let it rock for 3 days, then raise the temp to 70˚F for a
couple days to encourage complete attenuation and reabsorption of
fermentation byproducts. At this point, I usually crash the beer to 32˚F for
a couple days then keg per my typical method, pouring the first pint a
couple days later."
-- http://brulosophy.com/2014/10/06/is-san-diego-really-all-that-super-a-yeast-comparison/

Everyday Drinking Pils

I can’t quite remember when but this hoppy pilsner, Real Ales’ Hans’ Pils somehow took over as my go-to beer on any night of the week.  It has a mild malt sweetness tempered with a heavy dose of an herbal Nobel hop, Tettnanger.  The rush of hops over the malt, peaking and then slowly fading for a long, dry finish is just fantastic.  And here is the clencher; it’s so reasonably priced that it is now my benchmark.  If I can get a 12-pack for a little over $1 a can; why would I pay double or triple that unless the beer is offering something new.

I’m not interested in replacing Hans Pils in my fridge; I’m pretty sure Real Ale is just going to keep knocking this one out consistently and I want to do my part to keep it coming, however I am interested in if some of my newer equipment and process won’t help me get pretty close to an excellent pilsner.   To that end, I’ve pulled in a few new things for me.  I’m giving the Brülosophy’s lager fermentation schedule a try.

I always use a yeast starter, so that part isn’t new.  But for this lager, I decided that I’d boost the pitch rate significantly.  My favorite starter tool is over at Brewer’s Friend.  I selected the Pro-brewer lager rate, or 1.75 million cells per mL per degrees plato.  What that meant was a two steps of 5L each, using 1lb of Dry Malt Extract each go.  I hope that the extra effort to increase the amount of yeast when pitching will result in a super clean yeast profile.

Here’s a walk through some of the brew day today.

After an uneventful 75 minute mash at 148F, I’m sparging with 180F water into the mash tun; I had already recirculated the mash to raise the temp to 168F to stop conversion.  When I lauter, I usually go fairly fast; I’ve never really wanted to wait that long and my efficiency hasn’t been so low that I’m looking for ways to increase things.

All pilsner malt comes into the boil kettle looking just perfect.

I measure pre-boil gravity, usually with both a refractometer and my hydrometer for comparison. Today the hydrometer showed 1.047 S.G and the refractometer had 1.049 S.G. Good enough for me.

One other change for me was to skip the use of my silicone-based anti-foamer both in the yeast starters as well as the boil. I’m seeing if this has a meaniful effect of head retention once the beer is finished. That meant I did have to wrangle the hot break at the start of the boil when I normally don’t even have to look once.

My favorite part of switching to a conical with glycol chiller is no longer having to recirculate ice water to get fermentation temperature. I just use ground water which gets me to 80F and then connect and start the glycol loop to bring it down to the target temperature. In this case, I’m pitching at 48F.

I’m really excited to see how this one comes together. Here’s my take on my favorite hoppy pils, Hans Pils:

Recipe Details

Batch Size Boil Time IBU SRM Est. OG Est. FG ABV
15 gal 90 min 44.3 IBUs 3.4 SRM 1.050 1.009 5.4 %
Actuals 1.055 0 0.0 %

Style Details

Name Cat. OG Range FG Range IBU SRM Carb ABV
German Pilsner 3 2 1.044 - 1.05 1.008 - 1.013 25 - 45 2 - 5 2.4 - 2.6 4.4 - 5.2 %

Fermentables

Name Amount %
Pilsen (BestMälz) 29 lbs 100

Hops

Name Amount Time Use Form Alpha %
Magnum 1 oz 60 min Boil Pellet 14.1
Tettnang 6 oz 30 min Boil Pellet 3.7
Tettnang 4 oz 5 min Boil Pellet 3.7

Miscs

Name Amount Time Use Type
Phosphoric Acid 20% 33.60 ml 60 min Mash Water Agent
Epsom Salt (MgSO4) 3.00 g 60 min Mash Water Agent
Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) 0.70 g 60 min Mash Water Agent

Yeast

Name Lab Attenuation Temperature
Copenhagen Lager (WLP850) White Labs 75% 50°F - 57.2°F

Mash

Step Temperature Time
Saccharification 148°F 75 min
Mash Out 168°F 10 min

Beer for bottling

Today’s holiday brew session is another round from the “light and hoppy” styles.  I’m pushing this recipe to pull in more farmhouse than North Eastern IPA.  I ran across a new-to-me hop, Jester, which is of UK origin but exhibiting some American Hop citrus and fruity characteristics.  That sounded really nice for a farmhouse hoppy beer.  Brewing NEIPAs though has definitely affected the hop process I used.  Normally I would include a bittering addition and something late, maybe a step but save most for dry-hopping but now I’m much more happy with using significantly more hops late and after flame-out.

I’ve also been a bit of a mix of bottling and kegging.  Kegging is *so* much easier.  So much so that it does tend to make me a bit lazy and skip the effort of bottling; much to my regret.  Many of the beers I’ve brewed in years past age extremely well so I’m planning on trying to keep more of it around longer.  I’m looking at simplifying my process of bottling with this batch.  I’ve got quite a few items that do help the process:  12 bottle rinsing system, drying racks that stack, a pneumatic bottle capper, and two different bottling wands.  The main effort is the standing and filling part.  I’ve had a Blichmann Beergun for quite some time.  I’ve had few issues with it.  I also picked up a Last Straw.  The Last Straw’s main improvement over the Beergun is how it is held; that helps remove the shoulder ache after filling 15 gallons worth of bottles.  The drawback (for me) is that I tend to bottle condition which means filling uncarbonated beer.  The diameter restrictions on both fillers slows the entire process down.  I recently picked up a wine auto-filler which I’m hoping will make things go a lot faster.  It utilizes a pressure switch to automatically stop the flow into a bottle.  This is quite effective.  My hope is that I’ll be able to hook up two or three of these to a manifold off of the fermentation vessel and then start each bottle which will then stop automatically allowing making it easier to grab the filled bottles, purge with co2 and cap while other bottles continue to fill.

Here’s the recipe for Hoats and Boes:

Recipe Details

Batch Size Boil Time IBU SRM Est. OG Est. FG ABV
16 gal 60 min 54.5 IBUs 3.2 SRM 1.030 1.006 3.2 %
Actuals 1.046 1.01 4.7 %

Style Details

Name Cat. OG Range FG Range IBU SRM Carb ABV
Session IPA 16 1.038 - 1.052 1.008 - 1.014 40 - 55 4 - 12 2.2 - 2.8 3.7 - 5 %

Fermentables

Name Amount %
Maris Otter (Thomas Fawcett) 16 lbs 88.89
Barley, Flaked 1 lbs 5.56
Oats, Flaked 1 lbs 5.56

Hops

Name Amount Time Use Form Alpha %
Centennial 2 oz 5 min Boil Leaf 10
Citra 2 oz 5 min Boil Pellet 25.2
Jester (UK) 2 oz 5 min Boil Pellet 6
Centennial 2 oz 20 min Aroma Leaf 10
Citra 2 oz 20 min Aroma Pellet 25.2
Jester (UK) 2 oz 20 min Aroma Pellet 6
Jester (UK) 4 oz 3 days Dry Hop Pellet 6

Miscs

Name Amount Time Use Type
Phosphoric Acid 85% 28.80 ml 60 min Mash Water Agent
Calcium Chloride 1.80 g 60 min Mash Water Agent
Epsom Salt (MgSO4) 1.80 g 60 min Mash Water Agent
Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) 1.80 g 60 min Mash Water Agent

Yeast

Name Lab Attenuation Temperature
French Saison (3711) Wyeast Labs 80% 65°F - 77°F

Mash

Step Temperature Time
Saccharification 152°F 60 min
Mash Out 168°F 10 min

Notes

- Lupu

One good NEIPA deserves another

Somewhere between Fall and Winter south Texas actually got some snow!  That’s probably the third time in nine years.  I know this because my oldest son keeps track of these things.  Now that the winter freeze is over and Texas Winter has returned us to the mid 60s F we can resume brewing.  The previous NEIPA batch was a huge success in a number of ways so obviously with all three kegs almost gone it’s time to brew another.

The previous batch dropped the gravity down to session levels around 4.6%.  I certainly don’t mind or even notice many of the higher ABV NEIPAs in the 6 to 8% range; well that is until I’m two or three pints in and then I’m wishing they were 4% instead so I could have a few more.  One challenge with sessions is retaining mouthfeel, however, given the huge amounts of oats and barley in the recipe that isn’t an issue.

The second experimental element in the previous batch was using a mixed-culture yeast that I typically reserve for sour beers.  However, it’s a faithful yeast which is known to ferment beers to complete (or nearly there) dryness.  I also figured that if the culture did turn a bit sour that wouldn’t be out of place for a NEIPA designed after “juice” anyhow.

Upon the first samples of the beer as it fermented it was quite evident that it was taking a sharp turn down grapefruit lane.  That worked out quite well but it did mean that for this recipe the hop bill was going to take a turn toward the more tropical and stone fruits.

Process-wise, no changes.  The critical part of brewing stage has been stirring the hops in the filter.  The 5-minute charge gets a stir after stopping the heat and then the hop stand gets multiple stirs, every 5 to 10 minutes.  While opening the lid means some of the volatile aromas escape the stirring overcomes that loss by extracting more flavors, oils and aroma by saturating the whole batch with the hops.

For this batch, I wanted to make use of some aromatic hops that I had around in smaller quantities so I have quite a few more varieties than last time replacing the Meridian and Cascade hops used previously.  I also recently had an Idaho #7 hopped beer at Pinthouse Pizza and whole-heartedly approved of those flavors and aromas and chose to have it come along for this NEIPA.

Looking forward to this batch!

Recipe Details

Batch Size Boil Time IBU SRM Est. OG Est. FG ABV
16 gal 60 min 92.8 IBUs 3.3 SRM 1.044 1.010 4.5 %
Actuals 1.044 1.01 4.4 %

Style Details

Name Cat. OG Range FG Range IBU SRM Carb ABV
American-Style Pale Ale 50 1.044 - 1.05 1.008 - 1.014 30 - 50 6 - 14 2.2 - 2.8 4.4 - 5.4 %

Fermentables

Name Amount %
Organic Brewers Malt 2-Row (Briess) 19 lbs 71.03
Barley, Flaked 3 lbs 11.21
Oats, Flaked 3 lbs 11.21
Caramel/Crystal Malt - 10L 1 lbs 3.74
Cane (Beet) Sugar 12 oz 2.8

Hops

Name Amount Time Use Form Alpha %
Azacca 3 oz 5 min Boil Pellet 15
Idaho #7 3 oz 5 min Boil Pellet 13
Nelson Sauvin 3 oz 5 min Boil Pellet 11.2
Azacca 3 oz 30 min Aroma Pellet 15
Galaxy 3 oz 30 min Aroma Pellet 14.8
Idaho #7 3 oz 30 min Aroma Pellet 13
Azacca 3 oz 3 days Dry Hop Pellet 15
El Dorado 3 oz 3 days Dry Hop Pellet 15
Idaho #7 3 oz 3 days Dry Hop Pellet 13
Azacca 3 oz 1 day Dry Hop Pellet 15
Ekuanot - Equinox (HBC 366) 3 oz 1 day Dry Hop Pellet 15
Idaho #7 3 oz 1 day Dry Hop Pellet 13

Miscs

Name Amount Time Use Type
Phosphoric Acid 10% 61.90 ml 60 min Mash Water Agent
Calcium Chloride 5.80 g 60 min Mash Water Agent
Epsom Salt (MgSO4) 1.50 g 60 min Mash Water Agent
Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) 1.50 g 60 min Mash Water Agent
Whirlfloc Tablet 3.00 Items 15 min Boil Fining
Yeast Nutrient 3.00 tsp 3 days Primary Other

Yeast

Name Lab Attenuation Temperature
London Ale III (1318) Wyeast Labs 73% 64°F - 74°F

Mash

Step Temperature Time
Saccharification 152°F 60 min
Mash Out 168°F 10 min

Notes

Nor'easter V2

- Really need the rice hulls with all of the rolled oats and barley
- Giving London Ale III yeast a try. Not sure about the sugar addtion or not.
I really do want a dry beer; so we'll see how gravity drops and if it gets sluggish
around 1.020 , I'll likely add some to keep the fermentation going and drop the
final gravity.
- Stirring the hop additions *really* makes a huge difference.