Fatal Flaw: Finish him!

The last brew was well on its way to being _the_ one.  A flawless brew day, no hiccups during fermentation.  I even used a forced diacetyl test and ended up raising the temp a few days during the last dry-hop (no thanks to hop creep) to clean things up.  

Hazy, juicy, crisp, with a hint of malt.  Exactly what I wanted.  Until…

 To package beer I used purged corny kegs, purged jop strainer and then force-push with CO2 to fill each keg.  Flawless process right?  Two days later this is what’s pouring from the tap…

Right side is sample from conical; Left side is two days in the keg.

What a huge letdown.  But I’ve seen this before.  Oxidation.   But from where.  I’ve brewed about 12 batches of beer with this equipment and I’ve only used the hop strainer (extra large one) on exactly two batches of Nor’Easter.  The previous one turned color which I assumed was related to the infection I found in my pump but with that now hyper cleansed the only remaining element is the strainer.  I also brewed a pilsner which turned out fantastic and it’s still pale as straw on the tap today.  What difference?  No dry-hop which mean no use of the strainer.   This is super frustrating, not to mention costly; hops for NEIPAs aren’t cheap. 

I did the only thing I could do: brew another batch and remove the fatal flaw.

Operation Hop Stand
Hazy Hop Particles
Here’s the next iteration, this time with a 60/40 split between regular T-90 pellets and pelletized CryoHops.

Recipe Details

Batch Size Boil Time IBU SRM Est. OG Est. FG ABV
15 gal 60 min 50.5 IBUs 5.7 SRM 1.068 1.014 7.1 %
Actuals 1.061 1.014 6.2 %

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 %
Cryo - Simcoe 0.28 oz 60 min First Wort Pellet 23
Mosaic (HBC 369) 2.1 oz 10 min Aroma Pellet 12.3
Simcoe 1.98 oz 10 min Aroma Pellet 13
Eukanot 1.83 oz 10 min Aroma Pellet 14
Citra 1.78 oz 10 min Aroma Pellet 14.4
Cryo - Mosaic 0.78 oz 10 min Aroma Pellet 22
Cryo - Simcoe 0.74 oz 10 min Aroma Pellet 23
Cryo - Citra 0.68 oz 10 min Aroma Pellet 25
Cryo - Eukanot 0.67 oz 10 min Aroma Pellet 25.5
Cryo - Citra 1 oz 3 days Dry Hop Pellet 25
Cryo - Eukanot 1 oz 3 days Dry Hop Pellet 25.5
Cryo - Mosaic 1 oz 3 days Dry Hop Pellet 22
Cryo - Simcoe 1 oz 3 days Dry Hop Pellet 23
Citra 1 oz 2 days Dry Hop Pellet 12
Eukanot 1 oz 2 days Dry Hop Pellet 14
Mosaic (HBC 369) 1 oz 2 days Dry Hop Pellet 12.3
Simcoe 1 oz 2 days Dry Hop Pellet 13

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 154°F 60 min
Mash Out 168°F 10 min

Notes

Adjust cl:s04 to 1.5 ratio
Use 60/40 pellet/cryo hops throughout
Single dry-hop
1:1 GU:IBU ratio
Swap in 50% base with Vienna for additional malt backbone
Welcome Simcoe to the Hop Club
Gravity bump to 1.071

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

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

A Nor’easter blowin in

I recently spent two weeks in New York City for work. One of my co-workers was coming in from the Boston area via train. This afforded him a really special perk: BYOB! That’s right, you can bring your own beer along for the ride. My friend was nice enough to bring some of the finest NorthEast IPAs that he could get his hands on including Trillium, Baby Genius, Industrial Arts Wrench and quite a few others.
I’ve recently brewed a NEIPA beer which turned out much better than expected for a first-time recipe. It was very well received and the only correction for my palette was the maltier character that came from a 50% Marris Otter grain bill. After almost drowning in NEIPAs in New York I have been craving to update my Session IPA done with the techniques and hopping rate used in Hop Candy. Today is that day. Here’s the recipe and follow along brewday below.

Recipe Details

Batch Size Boil Time IBU SRM Est. OG Est. FG ABV
16 gal 60 min 65.9 IBUs 3.2 SRM 1.041 1.007 4.5 %
Actuals 1.041 1.01 4.1 %

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) 20 lbs 80.81
Barley, Flaked 3 lbs 12.12
Caramel/Crystal Malt - 10L 1 lbs 4.04
Cane (Beet) Sugar 12 oz 3.03

Hops

Name Amount Time Use Form Alpha %
Azacca 3 oz 5 min Boil Pellet 15
Cascade 3 oz 5 min Boil Pellet 5.9
Meridian 3 oz 5 min Boil Pellet 6.5
Herkules 0.81 oz 5 min Boil Pellet 18.5
Azacca 3 oz 30 min Aroma Pellet 15
Cascade 3 oz 30 min Aroma Pellet 5.9
Meridian 3 oz 30 min Aroma Pellet 6.5
Azacca 3 oz 3 days Dry Hop Pellet 15
Cascade 3 oz 3 days Dry Hop Pellet 5.9
Meridian 3 oz 3 days Dry Hop Pellet 6.5
Azacca 3 oz 1 day Dry Hop Pellet 15
Cascade 3 oz 1 day Dry Hop Pellet 5.9
Meridian 3 oz 1 day Dry Hop Pellet 6.5

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
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

Calma Muerta Attempt #1

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/
Local grocery store as a new curbside pickup… hrm, I wonder if they fill 22 gallons of Reverse Osmosis water?  Guessing not.
You’re damn right that RO water is an Emergency Essential to my IPAs.
Crush em all!  Even the Flaked Barley and Flaked Oats!
Split the crushed grain into two buckets since I’m mashing in solo today.
Don’t forget to heat the sparge water… this time.
Transfer, sparge time.  Glad I remembered to heat the sparge water.
Look at that layer of sparge water over the grains.  I was surprised at how well the grain flowed without any rice hulls and all of the barley/oats which were pretty dang gooey.
Brew day requirement: special beer from the shed.  Today I pulled out a Jester King Biere de Miel Honey Sour Saison from 2014.  The story behind this beer is pretty neat. Garret of Jester King at the time related that this first batch was brewed in December here in Texas which has quite cool mornings but is nothing like fall or summer where at dawn it’s already 70F or 80F+.  The interesting part was that beer reached terminal gravity much faster than they expected despite the lower temperatures.  It turns out that the Jester King mixed-culture is somewhat unique in that at cooler temperatures the bacteria tends to take over if the sacchromyces isn’t warm enough and it resulted in a beer that’s pH was quite a bit lower than expected.  The result is this perfect balance of malt, honey sweetness and strong but soft lactic acidity.  Even after 3 years the beer holds up very well.
Oh right, *lots* of hops needed.  This is just the 5 minute addition and the steep. There are still two more rounds of this same size (~9oz) for two dry-hop additions. Also special Equinox Cyro-hop injection at steep time for shits and gigs.
That’s right, another massive does at steep time.  I decided to do a bit more hands on with the hops this time.  Normally I just leave the hops in the basket and  move along.  However this time I stirred the hops continuously to help distribute as much of the hop oils as possible.  When I added the hops for steeping I also stirred and then I lowered the hop basket to the bottom of the kettle and since the wort is not longer boiling it stays put exposing more wort to the hops.  Let’s see if that pays off.

Jackpot!