15 August 2015

posted by benjy edwards

For the fifth pitch of this yeast, it is time to move on to higher-gravity beer.  One of my current favourite American IPAs is Shadow Ninja from Loowit Brewing in Vancouver, Washington.  Until just recently, very little information was available about the recipe, but when I search a couple of weeks ago I found a clone kit on the Bader Beer Supply website.  It turns out that Steve Bader used to write the “Replicator” column for Brew Your Own magazine, and he is highlighting breweries in the Pacific Northwest for his ingredient kits.  I am very happy that he chose to get the recipe for Shadow Ninja from the brewery.

It turns out that the malt is Maris Otter, Munich, and rye.  It is not surprising that it contains no crystal, as I prefer in my IPAs, but I am surprised that an American brewery is using Maris Otter for their American IPA.  Of course I use it a lot, but most often you’ll find domestic two-row in American IPA.  I chose to follow a 30-minute mash rest like last weekend, since it does not appear to make any difference to the extraction, and saves half an hour.

Along with the unusual grist bill, the hops used are also out of the ordinary.  I was expecting to find a lot of “C” hops in this beer, but it turns out that they use more traditional varieties: Crystal, Mt. Hood, Nugget, and then Cascade late in the boil.  Following the recipe, I used Nugget for bittering, then Crystal and Mt. Hood with 20 minutes left, and Cascade at 5 minutes.  The target gravity is 1.065, but based on my pre-boil gravity I realised that I was going to be too low, so I added a pound and a half of cane sugar with 10 minutes remaining.  This was perfect, as our OG turned out to be exactly 1.065.

The recipe calls for Safale US-05, but I am of course using Wyeast 1968.  We pitched at our usual 66F and will let it rise by a degree or two a day up until the low 70s by the end of the week.  This is critical to reduce the diacetyl level that this yeast produces.

The “Citra Ass Down” session IPA brewed last week was kegged, dry-hopped with more Citra, of course.  It tastes wonderful right from the primary, so it should turn out well.  We force-carbonated one keg for co2 dispense, and the other will naturally condition for serving via the handpump.  Gravity was down to 1.015, so should end up around 4.3% ABV after a further drop while conditioning.

We may brew with this yeast one more time, in which case it will likely be a double IPA.  Perhaps Hop Juju or Hop Venom.  It would be great to brew something similar to Breakside’s India Golden Ale, which is their double IPA, but it is hopped with Mosaic, El Dorado, and Chinook.  Of those, Chinook is the only one I have and obtaining El Dorado is problematic.  What I should do is make up a double IPA recipe using the hops I have most in supply, that way clearing out the stores for this year’s harvest.

8 August 2015

posted by benjy edwards

Today was an interesting brew session.  Because I had a bike race in the morning (third place, by the way), I couldn’t start brewing around 10 AM as we usually do, so by the time I got round to firing up the mash tun, it was 3 in the afternoon.  I didn’t want to be finishing up at 8 or later, so decided to speed things up a bit.  This involved shortening the mash and boil times.  I’d recently heard someone who routinely did 20-minute mashes, so I chose to cut mine in half, to 30 minutes.  We don’t do a mash-out before recirculation, so I reasoned that the mash would be longer than this anyway, as we recirculate the wort three times before collecting for the boil.  The grist was the same as for the Mosaic ISA we brewed a couple of weeks ago.  This batch, containing all Citra hops, is basically the sister to the all-Mosaic ISA, each brewed with my two favourite hops.

The target OG was the same, 1.048, but whereas we reached 1.049 with the Mosaic, I wasn’t surprised to see that we hit 1.046 today.  That’s not bad considering that the boil time was shortened to 75 minutes.  The extra couple of points could easily come from the extra 15 minutes of boiling, so I do not think that the shortened mash rest made any difference to the extraction.  Bittering was done at the usual 60-minute mark, but with Calypso so as to conserve the Citra for the later flavour and aroma additions.  I discovered that since I’ve been using so much Citra recently, that I only had 1 pound left, so had to trim back the quantities during the boil to ensure we had 4 ounces left for dry-hopping.  Three-quarters of a pound between 30 and 0 minutes should still be plenty, however.

The session did go very quickly, but without mishap.  By the time I finished the last task of cleaning the boil kettle, the BBC World Service was just striking the hour, in my case 7 o’clock.  An all-grain ten gallon batch in exactly four hours is very good!  I had time to keg the Harvey’s Best Bitter clone as well; it had attenuated nicely to 1.011 in one primary and 1.012 in the other.  It has a great Fuggle character to it, but the huge hop quantities are giving it quite a bit of tannin.  Perhaps that will fade during conditioning.  Next up is a first shot at cloning the Shadow Ninja IPA from Loowit Brewing in Vancouver, Washington, which is currently in my top three year-round IPAs.  I just received some Crystal and Nugget hops from Hopsdirect in order to recreate the hop bill.  It is a rye IPA, but I already have some rye malt on hand.  We shall see how close the clone recipe which I found is, as it seems doubtful that Cascade, Nugget, Crystal and Mt. Hood is really the combination that I find so tasty.  Where’s the Mosaic, Citra, or Amarillo?

1 August 2015

posted by benjy edwards

The third batch of the summer is a cask beer, and the thirteenth attempt at cloning Harvey’s Best Bitter.  I think the missing link is using the correct yeast, but on speaking with White Labs personnel at the NHC in San Diego in June, the closest yeast match is a seasonal strain only available in January and February, so until then we will use our house culture.  The recipe was changed only to add a touch more pale chocolate malt and hops changed based on our current supply.  Fewer East Kent Goldings were used, and the quantities of Fuggle increased.  Instead of the Styrian Goldings, we used more Fuggle.  I think the Fuggle contributes the signature hop character of this beer, so this batch will test that theory.

Target gravity is 1.040, and we reached 1.039.  Mash and sparge pH were accurate, and the brew went without any hitches.

The session IPA brewed with Mosaic last week was kegged, and tasted quite delicious from the primary.  Gravity was 1.014 so it should end up right around 4.8%.  Each keg was dry-hopped with more Mosaic, and this beer really smells and tastes like my favourite hop.

The next batch is likely to be another cask beer, perhaps a single-hop Citra pale ale or session IPA.  One keg can be served via handpump and the other force-carbonated and put on tap.

Post-script: Despite its modest gravity, the yeast really took off and as of Sunday morning, the airlocks had blown off and we had to fit blowoff tubes to each fermenter.  This usually only happens with higher gravity beers.