Apr 20 2012

American IPA Homebrew – Citra Ass Down

Like many homebrewers, my favorite style when I first started brewing was the American IPA (AIPA), and I’ve probably brewed more of them than any other style. But where once they were every third batch, nowadays I might only brew them once or twice a year.

Despite spending less and less time making AIPAs, I think I’ve gotten better at brewing the style. I’m sure that has everything to do with brewing other styles of beer that require a bit more finesse. More balance.

And, to have an adult moment, AIPAs are not the hardest beer style to brew. They are very, very forgiving and the amount of hops that go into what is now considered a standard AIPA will cover up a lot of flaws. Sure, late additions and dry-hopping won’t cover up a sanitation issue, but they will cover some obvious malt imbalance issues that might leave your beer too sweet or without a bready, toasty backbone at all.

So, if you have the AIPA dialed-in, congrats. I don’t want to diminish that accomplishment. Brewing a great beer is hard and that is a great desert island choice. But the brewing of this style of beer has become impractical beast created with blunt instruments.

The inspiration for this AIPA was a Citra APA that I made last year. I love the citra hop, but it has become increasingly hard to get. It is a high alpha, low cohumulone hop that throws amazing mango and pineapple aromas and flavors.

I loved the American pale ale (APA) I made with it, but the final beer straddled the line between an APA and an AIPA. I figured I would go ahead and make a full-fledged AIPA from the hop the next time it came my way. And I did.

This one is a strange in that the malt bill is really just a double pale ale. I wanted to see if an AIPA could work without crystal malts, but it wasn’t that big of a test, since Imperial IPAs use a similar malt bill. After having a few commercial, and homebrewed, examples of AIPAs lately where the beers ran over into Amber territory (which I love, as well, but that is a different style), I wanted to reign it in and make a clean, hoppy beer that wasn’t too heavy and sweet.

I was very happy with the final beer. As the years go by, I’m less interested in deeply bitter beers that only leave you wanting something different next for the next round. My citra AIPA left me thirsty for more, not full of the palate fatigue that I get from commercial examples that seem like they were designed around a dare.

 Citra Ass Down – American IPA

Starting Gravity: 1.071 (12/26/11) 68º F  -> 72º F
Final Gravity:  1.014 (1/13/12)
7.6% alcohol (by volume)
Apparent Attenuation:  79.3%
Real Attenuation: 65%

Mash (65 minutes ~152º)                           

12.00 lbs Maris Otter (2-row)
1.0 lb Victory Malt
0.75 lb Munich Malt
0.75 lb Wheat Malt

Boil(6o minutes)   

1.20 oz. Magnum Leaves 14.0% AA (60 min.)
1.0 oz. Citra Pellets 13.4% AA (10 min)
1.0 oz. Amarillo Pellets 8.2% AA (10 min)
1.0 oz. Citra Pellets 13.4% AA (0 min.)
2.0 oz. Citra Pellets 13.4% AA (Dry Hop) on 1/1/12

1 tablet Whirlfloc (Boil – 15 min.)
½ tsp Brewer’s Choice Wyeast Nutrient Blend (Boil – 10 min.)

Primary (68º F)  

Safale 05 – 1 packet (No Starter – Rehydrated in 90° wort)


Jan 11 2011

The Virginia Estate Ale Experiment

When a local farmer gave me a call about the grain he was growing, I was intrigued. It appears that Virginia Tech’s Small Grains Breeding Program had released a Thoroughbred barley variety.  So far, it seems to have only been used by Copper Fox Distillery (just an hour’s drive from me) to make whiskey. It is a 6-row malt, which I understand is better suited for the Virginia climate, and I can’t remember using anything other than 2-row in my homebrewing before.

The farmer was curious about using it for a beer, so he gave me about 5 pounds of the grains to play with. I initial thoughts circled around testing the quality and efficiency of the malt. How would the sugars I could mash out of the grain compare with the 2-row I normally use? Also, and this is the real bottom line, how would it taste?

When I received the grains they had already been malted and separated into 3 Ziploc bags. From what I understand from his process, he had malted and roasted them at different temperatures and times. Looking at the color of the grains and tasting them, they all seemed pretty similar to me. It looked like all of them were 6-row pale malt.

Since this was going to be a small batch, given the amount of grain he brought me, I set out to devise a simple recipe for this beer that would only feature this grain and some restrained hop additions. It, then, occurred to me that I could make a Virginia estate beer (a la Sierra Nevada’s Estate Ale). The grains would be the local farmer’s, the hops would come from my homegrown hop vines, and the water out of the local system. The yeast would be the rub, but used an American ale strain that I had gotten from Starr Hill. That yeast began in California, but it had surely gone through several generations at Starr Hill and then it had been used by me on several occasions. It was Virginian but nurture, if not by nature.

The brew session went quickly. I had decided to do an American Pale Ale and it would be very similar to a SMaSH brew (which is Single Malt and Single Hop beer). Only the 6-row grain and my homegrown cascade hops.

The grains were very normal looking and most of the rootlets had been spun out by the farmer.

The cascade hops were from last year’s harvest (2010) and I had dried, compacted and frozen them in a bags.

The original gravity of this brew was a 1.044 with an efficiency of ~70%. Given that this was a small batch, the batch didn’t go through my normal mashing process, I know efficiency was lost in that.

The yeast is pitched, and I look forward to tasting this Virginia beer. Definitely not the first of its kind, but maybe the beginning of a new, modern era.


Aug 11 2010

Homebrewed Citra Pale Ale

Citra is a hot, new hop that is used by Sierra Nevada to make their Torpedo IPA, and I finally got around to brewing with it a few months ago.  It is big in alpha acids (weighing in between 10% and 12%) and, although it is a citrus hop, Citra leans less towards the grapefruit and more towards the mango and pineapple side of the spectrum.

I decided to put it into an American pale ale, and to do some hop bursting at the end of the boil with Citra, as well as dry hopping a big dose of it to get a clearer view of its character. Although, as usual, I mixed in another hop to create a little complexity.  And I tried to kick up the malt by using Maris Otter, rather than the standard American 2-row malt that is common to the APA style.

The fermentation and bottling went uneventfully, and I was happy with how this batch turned out. The hop flavor and aroma from the Citra was firm and refreshing. Mangos, apricots (from the Amarillo, I suspect) and a background note of pineapple.

The only things I would look at if I were to revisit this recipe are the malt and the style. The malt didn’t come through as much as I usually like, so cutting back the late and dry hops would help. I might add a little more Munich malt, as well. Also, this one walked the line between an APA and an IPA. The previous reduction of late hops might bring it back into style….if you care about style. And I don’t.

All and all, a very solid beer.  Full of character and very refreshing.

The Recipe:

Citra Pale Ale

10-A  American Ale, American Pale Ale

Recipe Specifics

—————-

Batch Size (Gal):         5.50    Wort Size (Gal):    5.50

Total Grain (Lbs):       13.00

Anticipated OG:          1.058    Plato:             14.23

Anticipated SRM:           8.0

Anticipated IBU:          58.2

Brewhouse Efficiency:       65 %

Wort Boil Time:             60    Minutes

Grain/Extract/Sugar

   %     Amount     Name                          Origin        Potential SRM

—————————————————————————–

 80.8    10.50 lbs. Pale Malt(2-row)      Great Britain  1.038      3

  7.7     1.00 lbs. Victory Malt                 America        1.034     25

  5.8     0.75 lbs. Munich Malt                Germany        1.037      8

  5.8     0.75 lbs. Wheat Malt                   America        1.038      2

Potential represented as SG per pound per gallon.

Hops

   Amount     Name                         Form    Alpha  IBU  Boil Time

—————————————————————————–

  0.60 oz.    Magnum                    Pellets   14.40  33.8  60 min.

  1.00 oz.    Citra                            Pellets   11.10   8.7  10 min.

  0.50 oz.    Amarillo Gold            Pellets    8.00  15.7  10 min.

  1.00 oz.    Citra                            Pellets   11.10   0.0  0 min.

  2.00 oz.    Citra                            Pellets   11.10   0.0  Dry Hop

Yeast

Safale US-05

Mash Schedule

Mash Type: Single Step

Held 75 Minutes at 152°

Final Specs:

————-

Starting Gravity: 1.058

Final Gravity:  1.010

6.4% alcohol ABV

Apparent Attenuation:  82%

Real Attenuation: 67.2%


May 23 2009

Duck-Rabbit Brown Ale Review

This time around I’m trying the Duck-Rabbit Brown Ale.  Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery is located in Farmville, NC and they call themselves “The Dark Beer Specialist”.  

I tried a couple their beers while in the Outer Banks last summer, but I honestly wouldn’t have tried them if the owner of the shop hadn’t recommended them to me.  Word of mouth, or in this day and age good reviews on the internet, is still a huge factor in how we all figure what we want to try next.  The Duck-Rabbit symbol is the old image that was used by psychologists to reinforce that what we perceive is not only a product of our senses, but also our current mental processes and state of mind.

Honestly, it’s a cool concept that isn’t played up in the marketing I’ve seen.  And without that, just having that image and the packaging they use, the beers of Duck-Rabbit just don’t jump off from the shelf at me.  Luckily, I got some shop advice.

I remembered liking them, so it is good to see that they are expanding and now available in Virginia.  I picked up a few of their brews the other day and the first to get the formal review is the Duck-Rabbit Brown Ale.

It pours a half inch dirty, brown head which dissipates quickly, but clings nicely to the rim of the glass.  The beer is a deep red with cherry highlights. It is very clear for a brown ale and striking.

 

The aroma is slightly sweet, with hints of caramel and nuttiness that brings pecans to mind.  What really jumps out at you is the smell of the roasted grains.  Usually roasted grains come across in beers as a coffee flavor which can be complex, but mostly end up being overwhelming and boring.  This smells exactly like the actual roasted grains I use when homebrewing.  I taste everything I put in the mash and the pot, and to me roasted barley is warm bread with a slight astringency.  They nailed that, and I loved that smell.

The good news is that that pure roasted flavor comes across in the taste, too.  The mouthfeel is full and there is a hint of toffee.  The bitterness becomes sharper as the beer warms and seems to come from the grains as much as the hops.  Duck-Rabbit says they use Amarillo and Czech Saaz hops in this, but the presence of both was muted at best.  The citrus of the Amarillo was a no-show, but I did get some of the spicy of the Saaz.  Unfortunately, it seemed like the Saaz only helped to make the swelling bitterness even more pronounced.  I wish I had checked the bottling date on this one to see if it was an older bottle.

In the end, I liked this beer and thought the authentic roastiness was amazing, but it puts some wear and tear on your palate.  Solo, it would be really hard for me to drink this all night.  But, with the right foods, it would probably become amazing.  This brown ale with a thick burger, or ribs, or just about any red meat off the grill, would enhance those caramelized flavors and the meat, in turn, would mute the bitterness.  

Try this out, but do so with food.  The Duck-Rabbit Brown Ale is good, but it needs a copilot to really get off the ground.