Tag Archives: mosaic hops

Brewing a tiny IPA in 7 days


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.


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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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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Haydts Wheat Beer Test Batch (w/ food pairing)

Brew N Chew Paring

How many corn fritters constitute a full meal?

This batch performed double duty in my homebrewery.  It was initially a test batch for my brewery-in-planning, but it also served as a last minute entry into The Diamond Bar’s Brew ‘n Chew VI.  The idea behind Brew ‘n Chew is that teams of homebrewers each produce a batch of beer as well as an accompanying food dish.  The general public buys tickets and then votes on the best pairing.  Some of the ticket price goes back to reimburse the homebrewers, but a majority of proceeds goes to a charity selected by The Diamond.  It’s always a good time and it’s fun to challenge yourself to think outside the box with beer pairing ideas.  I paired a hoppy wheat beer with a sweet corn ricotta fritter with tomato-peach chutney.

Team Brass Wagon

Let’s put a deep fryer near a bunch of drunk people!  Plus a baby!

The brew is inspired by hoppy wheat beers (Three Floyds Gumballhead, Boulevard 80-Acre, non-wheat-using-but-hoppy Carton Boat Beer) that tread the line between wheat beer and American IPA.  I enjoy drinking these kinds of beers year round, not just their allotted Summer-seasonal release dates.  I began with a simple grain bill (50% American 2-row, 50% White Wheat malt) and wanted to use two varieties of hops, preferably easily attainable and affordable so brewing this recipe will be commercially viable.  I ended up using three hops, Bravo for bittering (because I have a few pounds in the freezer wanting to get used) and Centennial and Mosaic for aroma/flavor additions near the end of the boil as well as dry-hopping  I also threw in a small dose of Bravo in the dry-hop just because I thought it would add some complexity.

Appearance.  Hazy deep golden hue slightly fading into orange.  Wonderful pillowy head that left great lacing in the glass.  Nice looking beer.

Aroma.  Orange peel, stone fruit, peach, apricot, cotton candy, geraniums, some grassy resinous notes.  The Mosaic seems to play a complementary role rather than taking over the aroma, similar to how willamette hops work.  Very enticing nose.

Taste and Mouthfeel.  The hop forward nose continues into the flavor, with citrus being the predominant flavor.  The sweet peach notes also are present and follow behind.  For my tastes, the mouthfeel could be slightly more full, possibly with a caramel/crystal malt like caravienne or c-20 but more than likely with a water chemistry addition of calcium chloride for palate fullness.  Carbonation is actually spot on despite always-too-foamy mobile draft setup.

Overall Impressions.  Very close to what I was trying to achieve with this beer, although I feel that the hop nose was a bit “boring” for me.  By boring I mean that the classic centennial citrus/flowery nose isn’t as cutting edge hop-wise as I’d like to be.  I think I’m looking for something new, extravagant, and unique, which is a conundrum because the other goal of this recipe is to be commercially viable.  Mosaic was inserted into the recipe for uniqueness, but the cost per pound of this variety is so high that using it in much larger batches would be tough.  It also didn’t make my beer stand out from other brews as I would have liked, so I may lower the Centennial amounts used and switch out the mosaic for another newer variety like Meridian, Belma, or El Dorado.

Sweet corn ricotta fritter

Pairing Notes.  The wheat beer paired very nicely with the delicate sweetness of the sweet corn ricotta fritter and the sweet-and-sour flavors of the tomato-peach chutney.  The fritter was basically deep-fried batter so the sharp bitterness of the hoppy wheat beer cut through the fat nicely leaving your palate refreshed for another bite and had many people coming back for seconds (and thirds).  Even though my team didn’t win, there is not much I would change about the pairing, besides a few minor quibbles about the beer (personal preference really).

One hilarious side note about this event is that I mistakenly thought I used Glacier hops in place of Mosaic and discussed recipe notes and tips with brewers and non-brewers alike all day about the wonderful peach notes I was getting from the Glacier hops and how it really elevated an otherwise mundane hop profile.  Amatuer hour.

*Special shout out to Chris Prout for joining me at the last minute and lending a helping hand. Cheers!

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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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HBC 342 Single Hop Beer

HBC 342 Hop 2 It

The Brooklyn Brewsers recently did a single hop experiment in which everyone participating brewed the same American pale ale recipe but used different hops.  Everyone used the same amount of hops (1 oz.) for the 30 minute, flame out, and dry hop additions.  Other than the hop varietal, the 60 minute bittering addition was the only variable between batches.  The batches using hops with higher alpha acid percentages used fewer hops for bittering and those with lower alpha acid percentages used a bit more (we had a chart to help us out) with the goal being that all of the beers would be the same bitterness IBU-wise.  I chose the still unnamed HBC 342 hop that I picked up from Farmhouse Brewing Supply.  I had previously brewed with this hop in the Lagunitas Fusion 9  but we also used Citra and another experimental variety so it was tough to pick out exactly what HBC 342 brought to the table.

Appearance. Looks like an American pale ale, deep copper, brilliant clarity with a dense white head.  Really appetizing.

Aroma.  Dank, resinous, hoppy, grassy when poured.  Subsides after a bit and begins to open up into beautiful floral and herbal notes with some citrus.  A few tasters also suggested sweet mint.  Just a hint of tropical/berry something that is hard to put my finger on.  Maybe the watermelon aroma people seem to always reference in connection with this hop?

Taste and Mouthfeel.  Very smooth bitterness with a touch of lemon peel and minty herbal notes.  Very pleasant.

Overall Impressions.  At the single hop tasting, people were really blown away by this hop and it’s dankness.  I’d like to do some more late-hopping with this variety to see if I can really bring out the watermelon.  This beer has been a go-to with the warming weather even with all five taps on my kegerator pouring pretty good beer.  Super easy-drinking with a distinct but pleasant hop nose.

Everyone in the group did a great job sticking to the recipe and we got to sample some great hops.  My only complaint was that I wish we got to try more hops!  HBC 342 actually won the overall vote for most impressive hop (which I can’t take credit for) but Mosaic was another standout.  I was blown away by the peach and apricot bomb of Glacier.  I brew an all-Glacier bitter recipe that has never tasted that good.  This experiment was such a success and a great learning tool that I have planned two more Hop 2 It batches using some experimental Steiner hops that I just picked up.

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Lagunitas Fusion Ale 9 (NYC)

Just kidding, not an IPA but a rare Lagunitas Farmhouse Gueuze, in a metal cup nonetheless.

I recently competed in a homebrew competition put on by the Lagunitas Brewing Co. in Petaluma, CA.  The idea behind the event was to have all the homebrew clubs in New York City hold interclub competitions and the winners would compete against eachother in a best-of-show style judging.  The judges were numerous craft beer bar owners and the craft beer legend Ray Daniels. The only requirements of the competition were that the beer had to use an American style yeast and could not be a lager due to tank space.  The prize for winning was an all expense paid trip to Petaluma and the ability to brew your beer using the Lagunitas brewhouse.  Once completed the beer would be shipped out exclusively for the New York City market.  A slightly tweaked version of my Black IPA won top honors in both competitions and I flew out to Lagunitas last week to brew my beer.

I was accompanied on the trip with two of the judges chosen at random, Kirk Struble from 4 Ave. Pub in Brooklyn (among several others) and Carolyn Pinkus owner of the Stag’s Head in Brooklyn. The brew would be a collaboration between the three of us and the head brewer Jeremy Marshall would allow us pretty much free run of the place.  Upon entering the tap room I noticed that the previous group from Chicago made a Black IPA as the “Fusion 8”.  After a lengthy discussion, we decided not to do my recipe and do another black IPA but instead to go against the grain and make the lightest beer in Lagunitas history (12.2ºPlato or about 1.050 specific gravity) using roughly half Northwestern Pale malt, halt wheat malt, and five bags of flaked oats (which was maybe 5% of the grist?).  The real fun part was when we dosed it with a bunch of experimental and not-yet-named “ghost” hops for bittering and dry hopping.  One was the HBC-342 known as the “watermelon Jolly Rancher” hop in some circles and a variety so secret it didn’t even have a name or alpha acid percentage on the box.  There were just big bold letters “EXPERIMENTAL”.  We opened a bag and the first whiff was of the produce section in a grocery store followed by a distinct cotton candy smell.  We also used Citra to dry hop which is exploding in popularity right now.  After learning that these hops came from the Perrault Hop Farms, I jokingly coined the brew the “Perrault Assault” White IPA, even though we used the house English yeast that they use for their IPA instead of a Belgian strain typically being used in White IPAs.  We’ll see if that name actually sticks when the beer gets to New York.  The beer should arrive in the greater New York City area around July 30th and we’ll hopefully be throwing a release party at Brouwerij Lane if all goes well along with some of my homebrew on tap (!!!).

3/16/2012 Update:  Morebeer.com is selling the HBC-342 experimental hops by the ounce so grab some while you can.

Here is a crapload of random pictures from the trip to Lagunitas Brewery:

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