15 June 2013

posted by benjy edwards

To wrap up this round of brewing, we went with another IPA recipe, since we can’t get enough hops and also because we still have an abundant supply from last year’s harvest.  It seems like we have been brewing a lot of clones of beers we’ve never actually tried, and here is another one: Headhunter IPA from Fat Head’s in Cleveland.  This beer has won medals at the GABF, so it is certainly worth brewing.  My friend Brian in Oregon actually brought back a bottle for us from a recent trip, so there should be an opportunity to compare the homebrew clone and the commercial beer together.

The mash is about 50% domestic two-row, 25% Maris Otter, with the remainder carapils, light crystal, flaked wheat, and corn sugar.  We subbed in cane sugar instead of dextrose, and used malted wheat rather than flaked.  This beer actually gets mash hopped, so we used two ounces of Centennial in the mash, then Columbus for bittering at 75 minutes left in the boil.  Flavour and aroma hops are a combination of Centennial, Citra, Columbus, and Simcoe.  Target ABV is 7.5%, so I set a target original gravity of 1.071, and we hit an actual gravity of 1.070.  I thought the second runnings of this strong of a recipe would yield a small beer like a pale ale, so I planned on collecting four gallons and boiling that down to three gallons to put in one of our small corny kegs.  We capped the mash after the IPA wort was collected with a quarter of a pound of honey malt, to add some more malt character to the pale ale.  I had no real idea what to expect on the gravity, but the pre-boil reading of 4 Plato (1.016) surprised me by how low it was.  A vigorous 90 minute boil plus the addition of a pound of sugar brought the original gravity up to 1.040, however.

I had been wanting to experiment with a hop combination of Simcoe and Citra, which are currently my favourite bold American hops.  They are quite different in character, though, so the combination could be fantastic or a case where two great flavours clash.  I find Citra to be very tropical and assertive, with the pine-like Simcoe somewhat less bold, so I settled on a hop bill using .33 ounce additions of Simcoe with .25 ounce additions of Citra, at 30, 15, and 5 minutes left in the boil.  Belma was used for bittering at 60 minutes, with a total target IBU of 45.  Because the boil was so strong in order to yield a higher gravity, we ended up with about 2.5 gallons of wort, which will result in around 2 gallons of finished beer.   Interestingly, Simcoe is often paired with Amarillo, and the Kern River Citra Double IPA is mostly Citra with a bit of Amarillo, so since both hops go well with Amarillo, perhaps they will work well together.  A light pale ale should be a good base beer to showcase the combination.

The Dreadnaught and the Zombie Dust clones have been fermenting for a week, but since we only needed yeast from two primaries, I kegged the Zombie Dust today and left the Dreadnaught to condition for another week.  Mid-week I had dry-hopped the Dreadnaught with 1.5 ounces of Cascade in each fermenter, so the extra week will give those hops about ten days to work their aromatic magic.  A second dry hop will go in at kegging, after racking the beer off of the first dry hop addition.

Sampling the Zombie Dust was a treat – what a great beer!  The all-Citra hops are stunning, as expected.  There is a good reason that this beer is rated 100 on by both beeradvocate and ratebeer, as well as ranking 5th best beer in the world on beeradvocate.  The gravity was down to 1.010, so it should clock in right at 6.4%, which is the ABV of the commercial beer.  Two ounces of Citra dry hops were added to each keg and then force-carbonated, and we will condition the beer at cellar temperature for a week.

8 June 2013

posted by benjy edwards

I am a big fan of Three Floyds’ beers, so it is surprising to consider that of all their great hoppy ales, we have only ever brewed a clone of one of them, the classic Alpha King pale ale, although having brewed that beer almost twenty times somewhat makes up for the deficiency in variety.  Today’s double batch changes that, however, since we are going for not only a clone of their double IPA, Dreadnaught, but also a batch of Zombie Dust, their single-hop pale ale brewed with Citra.

The malt bills for the two recipes are not the same, which made it difficult to brew both from the same mash.  The solution was to change the malt bill for the Zombie Dust a little, by omitting the Munich malt which does not figure in the Dreadnaught, but keeping the carapils despite that it is not used in the Dreadnaught.  The other malts are Gambrinus pale malt for the base, plus melanoidin malt, which Three Floyds seems to use in most of their recipes.  The Zombie Dust has crystal malt in it, which we added to the mash after the Dreadnaught was run off, since crystal does not need to be mashed.  We used Briess crystal 40.

Sixty seven and a half pounds is a lot of malt, but it fits fine in the 26 gallon kettle with a liquor-to-grist ratio of 1 quart per pound.  The mash temperature was 154, which is lower than Three Floyds’ stated temperature of 159.  Mashing that high on our system will cause a very high finishing gravity, as we saw from the recent batch of Dark Ruby Mild.  The carapils will enhance the body without such a high temperature.  The brew day went well, except for loss of almost a gallon of wort when chilling the Zombie Dust, when Owen, our youngest son, accidentally knocked the hose off of the chiller.  Thankfully loss of very hot wort was the only casualty.

The original gravity of the Dreadnaught came in at 1.082, and the Zombie Dust at 1.060, both a couple of points shy of target.  As long as they finish dry, the ABV should be pretty close, however.  Needless to say, a lot of hops were used today, with Columbus and Simcoe for bittering the Dreadnaught, followed by additions of Centennial and Cascade for flavour and aroma.  Of course Citra was used throughout for the Zombie Dust.  IBU for the Dreadnaught should be about 100, and while Three Floyds says the Zombie Dust is 60 IBU, ours was calculated at closer to 100.  I’ve proven before that it’s not possible to over-hop a beer for my palate, so no need to worry about that.

The double batch from last week was kegged during the brew session, so the Blind Pig IPA clone was racked into kegs with a combination of Simcoe, Cascade, and Amarillo for the dry hop, while the Boathouse Bitter got more Belma, as the single hop used in the recipe.  Finishing gravities were low; 1.008 for the Blind Pig and 1.011 for the bitter.  We will probably brew once more with this pitch of yeast, most likely a single batch of an IPA.  With summer approaching (we hope!), the hoppy lighter-coloured ales taste best.