Tag Archives: Azacca

Brewing a tiny IPA in 7 days

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I was excited about the Super Bowl and invited some people over to watch it. I also decided that I wanted to make a beer specifically for the Super Bowl. The only problem was that I thought the game was later on in the month of February and I had plenty of time to brew a beer. I only had seven days (from brew day) to turn around a beer.

I’ve turned around beers in short time frames for competitions, parties, even just for the challenge. The challenge with this beer was that I (for once) had a beer in mind that I really wanted to replicate. I’ve been drinking a lot of Oskar Blues Pinner Throwback IPA since I moved down to North Carolina. I’m sure many people are familiar with Oskar Blues, which started as a brewpub in Colorado. They later opened production facilities in Austin, TX and Brevard, NC. They maintain a strong “local” presence here in the North Carolina market, at least from what I’ve seen at beer retailers.

The tricky part here, as I mentioned before, was time. Pinner clocks in at 4.9% ABV, and while that’s relatively low on the ABV scale, I felt using enough fermentable wort to get to 4.9% would take too long to ferment, clean up, and clear in one week. So I bumped it down and shot for 4.0%, similar to the English bitter styles I have turned around in short time frames. Another tricky aspect was that I found very little information in regards to recipe formulation for this beer. There were a few threads on some homebrew forums about people attempting clones but not much follow-up. I did come across an article that mentioned Pinner is possibly “dry-hopped with Mosaic, Citra, El Dorado and Azacca hops, for aroma and flavor”. El Dorado was the only hop I didn’t have, so I swapped it for EXP 1210. I don’t have much experience with El Dorado, but EXP 1210 seemed to fit well with the line up of hops for this beer.

Malt bill was another mystery, but I had to think (and brew) fast. Pinner doesn’t seem to possess any unique malt characteristics other than being slightly toasty. I remember being intrigued by Tasty’s Session Pale Ale, a very low ABV hoppy pale ale recipe I have seen online. He uses several base and crystal malts to layer flavors and create depth, which is needed in such low alcohol beers like this that can come across as thin or watery. I ended up only blending two base malts instead of three because it saved me a trip to the homebrew store.I’ve also read several corroborating reports about the importance of hops in relation to mouthfeel in session beers but with limited experience making hoppy session beers, I’d have to trust these hops to do the job.

I went with a high mash temp (more residual sugars for better mouthfeel), a larger-than-normal dose of fast fermenting and highly flocculating yeast (Safale S-04 FTW!), finings to clear the beer in the keg as quickly as possible, and a quick carbonation schedule (24 hours of 45 PSI of CO2 at near freezing temps). Also, there wasn’t enough time to do a proper dry-hop regimine, so I added the dry-hops 24 hours after pitching yeast, during high krausen.

I split this ten gallon batch between two fermentors so I could pitch Wyeast 1318, but allowed that portion to cold crash and carb longer because I wouldn’t need 10 gallons of beer for the Super Bowl. Tasting notes from that will be posted soon.

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S-04 MiniPin, Pinner, Pinner Can.

S-04 MiniPin (Pinner Clone)

I will include comparisons with Pinner in this tasting assessment

Appearance.  Copper to orange in the MiniPin that is very clear thanks to the finings, even after 7 days. MiniPin is darker in color, my guess is there is no caramel 40 malt (or higher) in Pinner. Probably a large dose of carapils used in Pinner. Pinner is slightly hazy.

Aroma. Pinner is more dank smelling and has notes of fruit salad. There is some dankness/marijuana in the clone but to a lesser degree. Clone is sweeter smelling, maybe strawberry/blueberry with slight dank. Both smell delicious, but Pinner is much more intense and aromatic.

Taste and Mouthfeel.  Very close on the mouthfeel. Both beers are somewhat thin, but not distractingly so. The clone would benefit from more body. Both are very refreshing. There is also diacetyl in the clone, but it doesn’t ruin the beer.

Overall Impressions. This is definitely not cloned, but it also wasn’t entirely intended to be. I shot for a much lower alcohol content in my beer (4% vs 4.9%) and didn’t actually compare SRM color estimations from Beertools with Pinner’s SRM which would have alerted me to the c40 issue. The mouthfeel discrepancy would be resolved with increasing the ABV and raising the mash temp one or two degrees. The abbreviated dry hopping also did not help the clone beer, as the aroma was weak early on and faded quickly after kegging. If there were more time, I would have dry hopped in two doses over 7 days and used El Dorado instead of EXP 1210. I also wouldn’t call it a “Tiny IPA” quite yet, at least until I can find a way to pack more hop aroma into this small beer in such a short time. This is a promising beer that was well received for the party, it just needs a few tweaks to make it great.

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Azacca Single Hop Beer

This past weekend I participated in the second annual Homebrew Jamboree hosted by Josh Bernstein.  The event featured NYC’s best homebrewers serving their wares to a standing room only crowd inside Jimmy’s 43 in Manhattan.  I thought this would be a perfect chance to do a single hop beer (again) and get some tasting notes on one of the numerous experimental and newly released hops taking up room in the freezer (which are pissing off my wife).  I chose to brew with Azacca (ADHA 483) which has been generating quite a buzz recently.

Homebrew Jamboreephoto credit: Josh Bernstein

I asked everyone who came to my booth for a sample to give me a descriptor of what they smelled, tasted, imagined and I got some pretty good responses.  I definitely was surprised by the reactions from most people and even more surprised by the repeat “customers” I had throughout the event.  Both novice and experienced tasters contributed to a gnarly (in a good way) list of positive attributes:

Azacca Descriptorsscreen shot game is on point

I believe I can safely say that “tropical” would be a good catch-all descriptor for this hop.  Goin’ hard in the tropical arena, dropping a triple-double no assists (I had to google that reference for my wife).  Super juicy.  One of the most interesting things I noted about this hop was its distinct lack of citrus flavor (even though one taster mentioned it), a hallmark of several American hop profiles.  I got huge pineapple that reminded me of Simcoe (without the resin/dankness), peach, and some coconut (piña colada).  Victory recently paired Azacca with Mosaic in their Hop Ranch Imperial IPA, and I wish I had thought of it first (though I’ve yet to try it).  I found this hop so jaw-dropping that after tasting the hydrometer sample of this beer post-fermentation, I switched out some hops from my DIPA recipe I was brewing that day and popped in some Azacca.  Tasting notes from that batch coming soon.

hop cone“I think a hop looks like a tiny pineapple” -AEBS

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