Tag Archives: homebrew

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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The Other Saison Strains.

Saison duel

The most enjoyable aspect of homebrewing for me is the ability to split batches and compare two different ingredients or processes.  Specifically, I love doing a batch and splitting the wort into two fermentors and using different yeast strains.  I am constantly scouring the internet, trolling forums, and asking other homebrewers about new yeast, hops, and to a much lesser extent, malt.  I believe there are tons of other homebrewers out there just like me and the recent explosion of new yeast companies and new hop varieties has me scrambling to keep up with my side-by-side comparisons.  Here is a look into one I did a while back.

After doing a bit of research on “standard” ale strains, I wanted to do some digging for a house saison strain.  I dabbled a bit with wyeast 3711 and Belle Saison (which I believe to be of similar origins), and half-heartedly explored the Saison Dupont strain, but I wanted something more unique to set my beers apart from the crowd.  My recent move to Pennsylvania gave me access to Tired Hands Brewing Co. (THBC), which has opened up my eyes to the possibilities of new and unique hoppy and farmhouse style ales.  After a bit of digging, I got a hold of what I believe THBC is using to make their delicious farmhouse creations, East Coast Yeast ECY14.  Of course I needed another strain to do this split batch, so when The Yeast Bay started production recently, I scooped up their Wallonian Farmhouse strain, picked a simple saison recipe, and went to work.

ECY14 Saison Single Strain:

Appearance.  Hazy golden straw with a slightly more persistent head than its Wallonian sister.  I guess it’s rustic looking.

Aroma.  First thing I notice is the distinct farmhouse aroma, earthy and minerally, with some bright straw/hay bouncing around as well.  Some lemon peel, and a little bit of black pepper.  Initially there was a nice herbal and spicy presence from the Sterling hops that has since faded.  Now there is an very slight hint of sulfur and banana once the beer warms that isn’t too much of a distraction.

Taste and Mouthfeel.  Medium body with a good carb (served on draft), silky smooth mouthfeel that coats the tongue and then the dry finish (1.004) smacks your gums .  Slight mineral bite with a lemon rind chaser.  Juicy and fruity come to mind as well.

Overall Impressions. Very nice strain that is nuanced, balanced, and sets a nice template for numerous farmhouse interpretations (barrel-aging, lacto souring, brett additions).  After several fanboy trips to THBC and one recent trip to Hill Famrstead, I think this is the clean Fantome strain they are using.  I recently brewed a Farmhands-inspired batch to test this theory that I will bring to the brewery.

The Yeast Bay Wallonia Farmhouse:

Appearance.  Same golden straw color but a bit clearer than the ECY.  Nice lacing left behind.

Aroma.  Very distinct farmhouse funk to this one, much more herbaceous but a similar stale hay aroma to the ECY (which means the aroma hops are playing a role but seem to be melding seamlessly with the strains).  Definitely get more earth, umami, mushroom from this strain in the nose.  I keep wanting to same “sharper” aroma but that’s hard to define.

Taste and Mouthfeel.  Similar but slightly less coating mouthfeel than the ECY, not a bad thing.  Lemonheads, bitter orange peel, mineral, funk, earthy mushroom, and mustiness bouncing around.  Very distinctly saison, where as the ECY strain might be able to pull off some double duty in the wit, Belgian blonde, and even trappist styles.

Overall Impressions.  Very enjoyable, nuanced and refreshing saison perfect for year round consumption.  I was surprised by the yeast character similarities between the two beers, which leads me to think that all of these saison strains may have originated from one central point, maybe Dupont?

I came across a bottle of Blaugies La Moneuse while at the local Wegman’s and decided to give it a go while enjoying lunch with the family.  A lightbulb went off as the same distinct rustic mustiness washed over my tongue that the Yeast Bay Wallonian Farmhouse strain must be from Blaugies, rumored to also be Wyeast 3726 Farmhouse Ale.  Some quick google geography cross-referencing seemed to confirm my hypothesis.

Blaugies Bottle Service

A real man would culture up that yeast and be done with this “truth is out there” crap

This was once again a very enjoyable experiment that still has me scratching my head as to what my house strain will end up being.  I have brewed subsequent batches reusing the yeast cake from both of these beers so stay tuned for more saison related nonsense and nerdy ramblings.

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The Great Yeast Search.

One of the first experiments I performed after setting up my new home brewery was to explore some new ale yeast strains.  The goal of this experiment is to establish my house strain for Haydts Brewing Co., the nanobrewery-in-planning I’ve been working on for the past few months.  I want to use a house strain that sets my brewery apart from the numerous other startups coming online.

There is the easy but not-setting-yourself-apart choice, the ubiquitous Cal Ale/WLP001/WY1056/US-05/Chico strain from Sierra Nevada that is used by a majority of breweries for American ales all around the country.  Relatively neutral, it allows the malt and hops to shine without getting in the way.  The Fuller’s strain (WLP002, WY1968), a more flavorful English strain, is also heavily utilized in American craft breweries (Lagunitas IPA, 3 Floyds, Deschutes) as well as the Whitbread Dry strain (WY1098, WLP007, S-04).  I’ve grown to love the Whitbread strain for its fast fermentation time, neutral flavor, extremely high flocculation powers, and its brew-at-the-last-minute availability in its shelf-stable dry form, Safale S-04.

Pale Ale Research Hophands, WY1318, and Vermont Ale trying to beat the near 100°F heat

So how do you find a great yeast strain that isn’t widely used?  Start by doing research on some of the highest rated American ales, and then go after those strains.  The Alchemist’s Conan strain (used in the world-class Heady Topper DIPA) is creating quite a buzz lately–which runs somewhat counter to my goals of setting Haydts Brewing Co. apart.  After running through a few test batches with the Yeast Bay’s Vermont Ale (the Conan strain for those of you who are unfamiliar), the buzz is somewhat warranted, putting out distinct citrus/peach esters that meld well with American hop profiles. Hill Farmstead makes some of the most highly rated American ales (really all of their beers are world class), and the brewery attributes this to special well water, technical prowess, and yeast.  No one seems to know what hidden gem of a yeast they use, though there is of course plenty of speculation.  Reading some of those speculation threads online I came across this:

Screen Shot Boddingtons Yeast

The succinctness of the post took me unawares.  Is this a person with insider knowledge?  Who knows.  But it did get me to the homebrew store to buy up all the Wyeast 1318 London Ale III, rumoured to be the Boddingtons strain.  Another peculiar thing I read over at Ales of the Riverwards is that Tired Hands Brewing also uses the same yeast, as the brewer mentioned he gets the yeast “from a friend in Vermont” according to an interview with the brewer at Tired Hands.  Since at the moment I can’t get up to Vermont to try the Hill Farmstead beers, I went to Tired Hands (twice in fact, because it was incredible) and picked up their Hophands for comparison’s sake. I brewed a ten gallon batch using the hops listed for HIll Farmstead’s Edward, with a dose of flaked oats (a nod to Tired Hands generous use of adjuncts) and split two carboys: one with Conan (Yeast Bay Vermont Ale) and the other with Wyeast 1318 London Ale III.

I also switched up on water treatment.  During my research, I was also influenced by info gleamed during John Kimmich’s Q&A.  There is a part where he discusses water chemistry and recommends “350 ppm hardness for a pale ale”.  This can mean several things to a brewer and I can’t fully wrap my head around water chemistry quite yet, but luckily the Bru’n Water excel sheet I recently switched to made it easy with the “total hardness” column.  I plugged in salts affecting Calcium and Magnesium until I hit 350 ppm and went from there.  This is different from my usual minimal salt regime, but whatever, why not change everything all at once: new water source, new water treatment, new brew system, larger batch size, new ingredients, new hop schedule and of course new yeasts.

Surprisingly, both batches came out great.  Of course, a few nit-picky things that I will fine-tune, but that always happens.

1318 vs Conan

WY1318 left, Vermont ale on right.  Mason jars make terrible growlers, buckled both lids during transport.


The Yeast Bay Vermont Ale Pale Ale:

Appearance.  Brilliantly clear orange with a persistent head that leaves beautiful lacing on the glass.  Much clearer than 1318.

Aroma.  Peach, citrus, mango, tropical fruits, some dankness.  There is a sweet flavor that seems to differ from the 1318, it could be a peach flavor but I just seem to perceive “sweet”.

Taste and Mouthfeel.  Very “American” is how I would describe this.  Great mouthfeel, oats seem to help with that, tastes very hoppy without being very bitter.  Flavors seem to bounce off the tongue, the words “light and airy” come to mind (although not as airy as 1318) which makes me think the elevated hardness has something to do with this character.  Similar in profile to the Chico strain ester-wise, with a little added oomph to the hop flavor and a sweet/peach/citrus note.  I probably should have also done a Chico strain as a control, but oh well.

Overall Impressions.  Very pleased with this beer.  Seems very traditional compared to the 1318, but in a good way.  This beer seems more popular with people who have tried both on tap, but I think that may be with the familiarity of the flavors.  I preferred the 1318 because of it’s “newness” and slightly more nuanced flavors, but I would gladly pay for a pint of this.


Wyeast 1318 London Ale III Pale Ale:

Appearance.  Standard copper/orange APA hue, although one of the unique things about this beer is that it never, ever cleared, as I’m reviewing notes and drinking what I believe is the last of the keg, there is still a haziness that I would guess isn’t yeast.  Chill haze possibly?  Or something to do with yeast/protein interaction?  Maybe my pH was too high going into the fermentor?  But then why would Conan clear and not this?  Still scratching my head.  BUT it looks like every Hill Farmstead beer I’ve seen (in pictures of course).

Aroma.  Peach, mango, citrus, and slight mineral in the background.  Very delicious and the aroma stuck around much longer (3+ weeks) due to a second CO2 tank I picked up for transfers.

Taste and Mouthfeel.  Peach and grapefruit.  Low astringency and very little bitter aftertaste.  This is where the yeast strains seem to deviate significantly.  This strain is very balanced malt and hop bitterness, nothing seems to jump to the forefront, everything in its place.  There is too much minerality (because it stands out), most likely from the water salts.  Mouthfeel is incredible, light and airy (things I heard of Hill Farmstead beers).  My wife described this beer as “sunshine in a glass”.  Tastes like fruit juice, not beer, in an awesome way.

Overall Impressions.  This beer is very similar to the growler of Hophands.  Hophands is much lighter (probably no crystal malt used) but the yeast character is almost identical.  My favorite of the two batches, I finished this keg first.  Nothing against the Conan variant, this was just a breath of fresh air.  Not sure if I would bet money that this is the Hill Farmstead yeast, but I’m just going with my gut, a gut that will need taste confirmation in the form of a Vermont trip soon.

In the end, though, I’m still undecided on the new house strain, so expect more experiments to come.

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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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Haydts Double Distelfink IPA

As I very slowly trudge my way through the commercial brewery planning process, one of the more exciting aspects is recipe formulation.  I tend to jump from one style to the next when brewing so honing a specific recipe seems to take an eternity and generally never happens.  There are maybe two recipes (that includes this one and my American German Pilsner) that I feel are spot on and ready to “go pro”.  I almost hate hearing the boring epithet about how simplicity is key in recipe formulation. But as you are forced to think of your process in commercially viable terms (cost, manual labor, product availability) you realize simplicity ain’t no joke.

With simplicity in mind, I have been methodically dropping malts from this recipe the past few times I’ve brewed this to really get at the essence of what I’m trying to get in the glass.  Buttloads of late-hopping (not a new idea by any means) and no crystal malts (even less new idea-ish) allows the newer American hop varietals (Meridian/Mosaic/El Dorado/Columbus) to really get their shwerve on.  I took the hop-bursting a step further after reading about hop oil flash points in a recent BYO article.  After adding a significant flameout addition and allowing it to stand for 30 minutes, I chilled the wort down 180F and added another dose of hops and allowed them to sit hot for another 20 minutes.  This technique apparently allows the more delicate hop oils that may be broken down/evaporated at higher temps to remain in solution and make it into the fermentor.  After only one batch (with a second fermenting as I type this) the results are purely anecdotal, but this batch for sure has the most aroma I’ve gotten into a hoppy beer.

Double Distelfink Glass

Don’t judge me for using my child’s alphabet letters to label my beers.  Just don’t.

Appearance.  Orange and copper hues with a slight haze from the dry hops.  Black backgrounds for beer color comparison are terrible but I’m sure you guys have great imaginations and know what a DIPA looks like.  That said, this beer is darker than I expected with the omission of all crystal malts and fits nicely within style guidelines.

Aroma.  Wow.  The aroma on this beer is nuts.  Not actually nuts (gross), like crazy nutz with a “z”.  This is the most powerful aroma I’ve packed into a pint.  Bright citrus, lemon peel, orange marmalade, blueberries, kiwi and cantaloupe that just never seem to give up.  Maybe I’m drinking these servings too fast but the aroma lasts until the final sip.
Taste and Mouthfeel.  Slight sweetness up front followed by a blast of citrus and berries.  Bounces right off the palate with a nice dry finish and begs for another sip.  Great.  Cold serving temp (36F) and lively carbonation make the bitterness pop in the best way.

Overall Impressions.  Nailed it.  This is one of the first batches that I’ve truly been content with.  There isn’t anything I would change about this recipe except to maybe make a larger batch.  And use less expensive hops.  I am usually itching to bring any and all homebrew I make to parties, club meetings, etc. but this batch I am hoarding like I’m never gonna brew again.  Held its own when compared to four week old Pliny (top-rated DIPA and consistently voted best beer in America by Zymurgy) that I carried back from my Sierra Nevada trip, but how can you really trust me if I’m hoarding all of it and it never leaves my kitchen?  Don’t worry–it’s definitely going to get out of the kitchen and find a home in my brewery-to-be.

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Brew n’ Chew VI This Weekend

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Attention New Yorkers, I will be participating in this awesome charity event tomorrow (Sunday 9/15/13, 3-5pm).  Homebrewers make a beer and food pairing and compete against other teams for votes.  It’s always a fun time and the Diamond Bar is a great venue.  Hope to see you there!

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Dry Hopping Miller Lite (Round 2)

Dry Hop Experiment in Fridge

Protected from Partygoers.

I performed another dry hop experiment for this month’s Brooklyn Brewsers meeting and wanted to report back with some of our findings.  Used some pretty interesting hops with some even more interesting aromas.

Galaxy: Strong aroma, floral, watermelon, pineapple, slight pear, touch of onion, pumpkin, cucumber, children’s vitamins, Overall: Good could be great.

Palisade: Mild Aroma, Huge Tea note, black tea, earthly tea, earl grey, herbal, some blueberry and a little strawberry, okra, not as pungent as Galaxy.

El Dorado: Strong aroma, lime, lychee, green mango, honeydew melon, kiwi fruit, sweet melons, juicy fruit bubble gum, orange. Very interesting and unique.

Wakatu: Somewhat weak aroma, kimchi, beets, grassy, slight lemon, not very exciting, maybe old hops not stored well?

Meridian: Full aroma but not powerful or overpowering, sweet, citrus, strawberry, rhubarb, strawberry daiquiri, blended fruit juice, lemon merigue pie.  Very nice hop.

Mosaic: Big Aroma, very complex, papaya, melon, some onion, juicy fruit, lemon rind, berries, chive.  Hard to pinpoint exactly what’s going on thus the “complex” and “true to name” descriptors we heard from the tasters.

This iteration was very fun and the next batch will hopefully be with some more classic varieties like Cascade, Chinook, Columbus so we can have some sort of baseline for all the unique new varieties and aromas we’ve been getting over the past two meetings.

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Golden Promise + EXP 6300 SMaSH Beer

GP/6300 SMaSH Beer

Hop Steiner recently released four experimental hop varieties (dubbed the EXP series) to homebrewers.  I picked up two of the more interesting (to me) hops and brewed a couple single hop batches with them.  For one batch I brewed Vinnie Cilurzo’s Hop 2 It single hop pale ale recipe (the subject of a future post), and for the other batch I brewed a single malt and single hop beer, a “SMaSH”.  I have never brewed a SMaSH before, but I’ve tasted quite a few at homebrew meetings.  The goal of a SMaSH beer is to learn what a specific ingredient brings to a finished beer without any extraneous flavors getting in the way.  For my SMaSH, I chose Simpson’s Golden Promise malt because I had two bags laying around and I really enjoy the clean, slightly biscuity malt flavor.  I use it often in my English bitter recipe and previously used it as the base malt for my house IPA before switching to American 2-row.  I would characterize Golden Promise as somewhere between standard American 2-row (very clean, neutral) and English Maris Otter malt (more biscuit, bready).  Because I had a good grasp on what the malt would taste like, I was better positioned to test out the new EXP 6300.  There would be very few interfering flavors, as long as I got a nice clean fermentation.

Appearance.  Nice copper hue with a bit of haziness.  Not sure where the haze is coming from as I usually don’t experience much chill haze and didn’t change my process for this beer at all.  Still hazy after being in the keg for over a month at near freezing temperatures.

Aroma.  Things got weird.  Most noticeable is coconut, pineapple, vanilla, and general tropical notes.  Smells sweet, the combo of coconut and pineapple makes me think of piña colada and suntan lotion.  Or the beach in general.

Taste and Mouthfeel.  Aroma of sweetness carries over into the taste, some grassiness, coconut and vanilla.  Not a very harsh hop, smooth bitterness.  Alcohol heat present, which is not the hop’s fault.

Overall Impressions.  This has lasted a while in the kegerator because this hop isn’t very enticing on it’s own.  I also let the fermentation rise too high and created a noticeable alcohol flavor that took a while to fade.  I haven’t done a SMaSH beer before, mostly because I feel single hop beers can’t really stand on their own, and this is no exception.  I had good luck with HBC 342 single hop, but the character of the EXP 6300 is too simple and just isn’t tasty enough to warrant going back for multiple pints.  I think pairing this hop with a standard citrusy American variety like Cascade would remind the drinker of a more classic hop profile and be easier to drink.  Or maybe something like Simcoe or Citra for a general fruit hop bomb.  Pairing with a more expressive yeast would be interesting, something like a German weizen yeast (banana, cloves) or saison (earthy, mineral, spicy) would make the beer more interesting by adding complexity.  I’ve still got the better part of a pound left of these hops, so maybe one of those ideas will make it into the brewing schedule.

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Dry Hopping Miller Lite

Brewsers Dry Hop Experiment

When I saw this dry hop experiment floating around on the internet, I thought it would be great to do with my local homebrew club.  The basic idea is use pellets to dry hop a commercial light lager in the bottle for a few days, cold crash it, and then do a sensory analysis (mostly olfactory) on the effects of different hop varietals.  Any light beer will work, so I bought a case of Miller Lite and dosed six sets of four, each with a different hop.  I used a combination of classic hops as well as some new experimental hops to see what kind of unique aromas we could find.  Here are a few of the descriptors I pulled from the homebrew club audience of about 25 people.

Dry Hop Experiment Bottles

Amarillo: Mild aroma, dill, flowery, slight onion, perfume, very slight tropical note.  This was the surprise of the bunch.  I ran a test prior to dry hopping the entire case on a six pack and found amarillo to be underwhelming.  Needs something to amplify it, possibly in combination with kettle hopping (which usually happens anyway) or paired with another varietal in the dry hop.

Centennial: (Older package) Not a great aroma, flowery, grassy, muted, semi-dull.  I think I will attempt this variety again because the hops I used were from a one-pound package from the 2011 harvest which I have slowly used over the past two years.  Loosely packed pellets created tons of floaties and was generally unappealing.

Simcoe: Powerful aroma, cat pee, tropical notes, fruit punch, nettles, pine, pineapple, nose-bomb.  This was the clear standout and my personal favorite.  I also did a pre-test with this hop and gladly drank the entire bottle after sensory analysis.  Made Miller Lite taste like a delicious craft beer.

Hop Steiner EXP 1210: Mild aroma, Pineapple, English cask like, light citrus, burnt orange.  This hop smelled delicious upon opening the bag and persuaded me to brew the Hop 2 It recipe to bring to this year’s National Homebrew Conference.

Hop Steiner EXP 6300: Suntan lotion, wet leaves, crab shells (?), coconut butter, oily, cinnamon.  Very weird hop.  I recently did a single malt and single hop (SMaSH) beer with this, and it definitely is a very unique hop.

Crystal: Mild Aroma, slight tea leaf, spicy, flowers, earl grey tea, herbal, noble like character.  Very nice, gentle hop to go against the other aggressive varietals.  This hop, with it’s thin, very densely packed pellets caused the only problem when dosing the beers.  Every time I would drop a pellet in it would cause the beer to foam out uncontrollably, losing a bunch of beer.  We were still able to evaluate the beer, but it was messy and generally sucked.

Overall, the experiment was received well and we’re planning to do another batch at the next meeting.  Stay tuned for those tasting notes.

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