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New England IPA

June 17, 2018

Like many, I’ve become fascinated with the “New England IPA” fad. Also known as a “juicy IPA” or “hazy IPA” I expect this is really a “hey, we make good hoppy beers, too” situation, but at least it’s a neat innovation (when done properly).

Admittedly, I’m coming to the party late. This style has been around a while and I’ve only recently heard of it. Honestly, it really just sounds like a good idea: emphasizing fruit flavors of some hops. I haven’t had a lot of examples, and what I have had hasn’t been earth shaking. That said, I still wanna brew one, especially after finding a pretty neat-sounding recipe from Gordon Strong at BYO.

I don’t know when I might make it, but I want to post this to capture some thoughts I’ve had while they’re fresh.

Recipe

Recipe / Brewsheet

Notes

The following process does not quickly chill the wort. Most importantly, it lengthens the time >140 °F which is when DMS is formed. Given the 75-minute boil and highly modified malts, this is probably not a problem. It will also tend to reduce the effectiveness of the cold break, but this is fine for a beer that’s expected to be hazy.

0-minute Amarillo gets added at knock-out
Other 0-minute additions get added to whirlpool once below 180 °F. “Allow to stand for 20 minutes then chill to 64 °F (18 °C) and rack to the fermenter.” Based on these instructions, I think I should just leave the wort whirlpooling without turning on the hose for chilling until the <180 °F additions have been in the whirlpool for 20 minutes. In other words, start the whirlpool as usual, ~5 minutes before knock out. At knockout, add Amarillo. Once below 180 °F, add remaining 0-minute hops. After 20 minutes, turn on hose for typical chilling regime.

“Oxygenate, then pitch the yeast. Start fermentation at 64 °F (18 °C), allowing temperature to rise naturally as fermentation progresses. Mix the dry hops and divide into three equal portions. The first portion gets added after two days of active fermentation. The second portion gets added at the end of fermentation.

The third portion gets added three days after fermentation ends. Allow each dry hop addition to be in contact with the beer for two to three days, then remove.”

Brew Day (5/19/2019)

The plan for today was to eliminate all non-essential additions. Luckily a hazy IPA, particularly this recipe, was mostly fine with two big eliminations – Whirlfloc and my chiller. I have come to hold my chiller as the prime suspect in my off-flavors since that’s one of the only things that hasn’t been replaced and contacts chilled wort. Also, I tend to have off-flavors after each of our moves, and for a while after we settle somewhere, and the chiller is certainly something that could get a little bit of funk on it that’s hard to clean off during that process.

Pre boil: 12.67 brix (1.050 measured)

Periodic measure of the volume showed a rapid boil off, though it didn’t look too vigorous. Volume into the fermenter a little low in the end.  Forgot to take OG sample, but based on boil-off, it’s probably pretty high.  Hopefully not too high for the hopping.

Chilled via ambient without chiller for fear it was the source of the off flavor.

Pitched at 9:30.

Fermentation

Notes on dry hopping

I bought pellets since they work best in my kettle (I don’t have a strainer protecting the pickup tube) so will have to use them for dry hopping. I’m surprised not to read that pellets are a bad choice since they break down so fine. If I would have been thinking, I would have bought whole flowers for dry hopping since they’re easy to throw in a bag and know they’re going to stay in there. I also have a FerMonster so I don’t have to worry about a narrow opening.

Anyway, I have pellets and I think I’m just going to use some gelatin for fining in the fermenter. This should apparently work on the hops as well as the other proteins in the beer. I’ve never tried gelatin, since I’ve been pretty happy with Whirlfloc in the boil. As mentioned previously, I avoided any of my non-essential additions this time to try to avoid off-flavors. While a “hazy” IPA probably doesn’t really want any fining, the fact is, my beer is very cloudy, likely due to the flaked grains and intentional, but I don’t mind getting some clarity with fining because the haze is mostly a gimmick anyway.

Scratch the above.  Statement that “each dry hop addition to be in contact with the beer for two to three days, then remove,” means I should be able to remove them.  Given the long contact time the first would have, I think this is best, so I’ll have to get myself a fine-mesh bag.  Not sure if muslin will cut it, though.

Progress

24 hours: beginning to form krausen, low airlock (blowoff tube) activity.

<36 hours: full steam ahead.  Good krausen formation and steady airlock activity.

FG: 1.011

Dry Hopping

Dry hopping went as planned.  I bought a fine mesh bag since I inadvertently bought pellet hops for everything, including the dry hops.  It worked pretty well.  Once I added the first dose, I let each sit for 2.5 – 3 days and immediately put the next one in when I removed the previous.  All in all, about 7 or 8 days of dry hopping.

Impressions

My keezer died a while ago.  My last beer, I just siphoned off a growler or two at a time (I have 1 1-gallon DrinkTank growler and 2 half-gallon growlers).  It was a pretty bad beer, so I don’t think it suffered for it.  This time, I realized I could keg just fine and use my Blichmann beer gun to fill growlers and bottles at my leisure, even if they’re not cold.  The refrigerator can handle that.

Kegged ~6/1/2019 with ~4 oz. corn sugar, placed under 40 psi just to seat the lid.  I let the pressure stabilize down to 20+ psi.

First taste: ~6/5/2019

The aroma is awesome!  I missed out on 1 of the hop varieties (Galaxy, I think), and compensated with what was left over of others.  The aroma and flavor certainly didn’t suffer and I’d like to taste it with the proper selections some time.

The foam was very dense, almost like nitro.  The mouthfeel was velvety.  All in all, the mouthfeel was very much like a Guiness on nitro.  Very excellent.

Flavor was clean yeast, good maltiness; kind of sweet (shoot, I should take an FG reading…), but the malt takes a definite backseat to the hops.  Good, solid, balanced bitterness with a wealth of hop flavor.

Later impressions (6/7/2019)

The velvety smoothness has gone away.  It’s still fine, but the head is more typical and the mouthfeel, while still smooth and a little silky, is not nearly as smooth and mouth filling as originally.  I’m chalking it up to something about the initial carbonated poor and the subsequent head.  I still think the smoothness from the flaked grains (oat, at least; I honestly don’t know what flaked wheat is all about) is there, but it’s not as pronounced as the first pour.

Hop aroma is still excellent.  There’s a little bit of a bubble gum though, too.  Maybe it’s more of a gummy candy, though. (I recently had a Firestone Walker Luponic Distortion and was surprised to read the description – on the bottle – of “Strawberry Gummy”, along with “Honeydew, etc.  Apparently this isn’t an unheard of perception with modern hops.)  Either way, it seems pretty consistent with the style and I’m all for it.

One thing about this beer – ever since brew day – it’s very hazy.  I know that’s another name for the style (hazy IPA) but I think that’s stupid.  Hazy is not a good quality.  I’ll absolutely accept hazy if the flavor/aroma/mouthfeel/etc. are awesome (which this style has, for sure, in good examples), but to name it after an unfortunate byproduct of it annoys me.  Anyway, this beer is very hazy.  I’ll accept it, since I think major contributers to the haze – the flaked oats, the copious hops – add significant value to the aroma/flavor/mouthfeel.  Still, I’m surprised it’s so hazy.  If I wasn’t being paranoid about my process, and removing Whirlfloc, I’d like to see how clear I can get it and keep the other benefits.  Maybe some day…

Trying to Make Good Beer Again

As described above, this brew eliminated all non-essential elements in an attempt to remove and identify the source of off-flavors in my beers since moving to Oregon.  The only real removals were my chiller and whirlfloc.  And really, only the chiller had much chance of being an element since I’ve bought fresh whirfloc since moving here.  On top of that though, I re-pitched the harvested yeast from my last brew…

Ultimately – granted within the first week of kegging – this seems to be a pretty good brew, free of the off-flavors I’ve supposedly identified before.  Unfortunately though, having repitched yeast from a previous brew that was pretty horrendous, should really rule out my chiller – or any other modification – as the problem, since obviously, any flaw should propagate from the yeast to the new brew.

I wonder now if my tastes are the main culprit in my belief that my brews are bad.  Since coming to the west coast, and its propensity for IPAs – to the effective exclusion of other styles – has possibly trained me toward a specific flavor.  My malty english-style beers might now just seem flawed to me with respect to the clean, hop forward, malt-light beers that dominate the west coast offerings.

Maybe I should just transition to more appropriate styles for the region for a while and build up a process and confidence of good beer brewing before returning to those old staples.

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From → Ale, All-Grain, Brews, keezer

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