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.

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