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)


Dec 2 2011

Wet Hop Ale – Hopped Hard and Put Up Wet – Barlow Brewing

I’m horrendously behind on blog posts, so I wanted to get this one out about the wet hop ale that I brewed a few months ago.

The quick background on this is that hops are quickly dried after harvest to reduce their perishability. But they can be taken fresh off the vine and used immediately in a beer. The effect is that the beer will have a very, very fresh hop flavor and aroma. When one of the local homebrew stores extended the offer of wet hops, how could I say no?

So I ordered a pound of Amarillo, and a pound of Citra wet hops. When harvest time came around, they could only get in Amarillo hops, so I ended up getting 2 pounds of that. Having no idea what I wanted to do with them, I figured I could either make a American pale ale, in order to really maximize the effect of the hops, or I could make a malty IPA base in an attempt at a balanced beer. I decided to go with the IPA base but, in the end, that didn’t seem to matter at all.

So I went with my usual IPA base, Maris Otter, which I prefer over American 2-row for this style for a fuller and nuttier malt flavor, and some Munich and crystal malts. I wanted a firm bitterness, too, but I had to do that with pellet hops since the wet hops are only good for late additions to the boil. For that, I used an ounce of 13.1% AA Magnum hops for 60 minutes.

The Amarillo hops finally came in and the volume of hops, which I knew would be absurd, was…absurd. I’ve been growing my own hops for many years, but I’ve never used that much in one batch.


A few of the Amarillo wet hops


Back to the grind


In an attempt try to keep my system from clogging up forever, I put the hops into bags for the boil.

While weighing out the hops, I discovered that I had over 2 pounds of wet hops, so I threw 5 oz in the mash just for giggles. The rest of the hops were broken into two 14 ounce charges. One went in with 10 minutes left in the boil, for flavor, and the other at flame out, for aroma. It sounds like a lot, and it is, but weights are deceiving. It seems to be a given that 5 ounces of wet, and therefore heavier, hops equal an ounce of the dried cones.

The only real concern for me was the amount of wort that I knew the hops would absorb. To counteract that, I started with 8 gallons of 1.053 wort. In the end, that was still too little because after evaporation and absorption, I was only left with 5 gallons in the carboy. My only real screw up of the day was forgetting to put Whirlfloc into the boil, but this beer probably would have been insanely murky no matter what I did.


Check out the crazy oils just floating on the top of this beer.

The wet hop IPA in the glass

I tried to turn this around as quickly as possible since this type of beer diminishes quickly. I let it sit in primary for a little over 2 weeks, although I did cold crash it during the last three days, and then bottled it right out of primary.

How did it turn out? I really like this beer, and I’ve gotten very positive feedback from friends and other brewers about it. But it was nothing at all like I had expected. I knew there would be some grassiness in the beer, but the grass was big and dank. And I knew that hops and marijuana were closely related, but this beer removes all doubt.

My biggest takeaway was that the wet hops just laminated over my malt and bittering hops. The bitterness from the charge of magnum was non-existent, and all the delicious British malt that I put into the beer just disappeared, too. The hop oils took over and dominated the beer. But not in a deeply bitter, and hugely citrus American way. In a way that was earthy, moist, and dank. Strange, but strangely addictive. But it led to no munchies.

I’ll try to make another one next year. Perhaps on an APA base. Damn the torpedoes, and all.


Hopped Hard and Put Up Wet – (Amarillo Wet Hop IPA)
Starting Gravity: 1.065 (9/5/11)
Final Gravity: 1.012 (9/21/11) 16 Days
7.0% alcohol (by volume)
Apparent Attenuation: 80.6%
Real Attenuation: 66.0%

(60 minutes ~152º)
12 lb Maris Otter Pale Malt 2-row
1.0 lb Munich Malt
1.0 lb Crystal 20L Malt
4.0 oz Crystal 60L Malt

5.0 oz Amarillo Leaf Wet Hops (Mash)
1.0 oz Magnum Pellet Hops (13.1% AA) (60 min)
14.0 oz Amarillo Leaf Wet Hops (10 min)
14.0 oz Amarillo Leaf Wet Hops (0 min)
½ tsp Brewer’s Choice Wyeast Nutrient Blend (Boil – 10

(68º F) Crashed down to ~35F during the last 3 days
Safale 05 – 2 packets

( º F)

“WH” on caps

8 gallons of 1.053 collected pre-boil


Jun 26 2009

Victory Wild Devil Ale Review

I was pretty excited to hear about Victory Brewing Company’s  WildDevil Ale.  Victory makes a lot of great beers, and what they did with this one was brew up a batch of their HopDevil, a hophead’s dream of an IPA, and then ferment it out with 100% brettanomyces.  This sounded like a very interesting idea and a bold experiment.


I bought two big bottles of WildDevil and brought one to a party to share, and stowed one away for myself to review when I could give it my undivided attention.  When I tried it at the party, and shared it with friends, it was a letdown.  It was getting towards the end of the evening, after a good bit of Oberon and some of my homebrewed lambic, but it can across as strangely both dull and prickly.  I was hoping that tasting it under optimum conditions would change my opinion. 

No such luck. 

It was in a 750-ml bomber that was corked and caged.  The bottling date was April 22, 2009, and I poured it into a tulip glass.

Victory Wild Devil -

The beer was a glossy, stained wood brown with bold orange highlights.  The head was thick, but wispy sea foam in composition (not the color).  Each bubble was apparent and separate, and did not meld together into a creamy top.

The nose of this was a perfumey sourness, with citrus and lemon zest.  A mild brett character slid through occasionally.

The taste was all over the place.  There was little of the barnyard character, but it was mired in an unfortunate amount of dryness that drags the off-flavors to the forefront.  There was a soapiness delivered on a dry aspirin platter than made this one hard to get through.  Sometimes a beer is undrinkable, or you just want to call it a day and walk away.  This one wasn’t quite that bad, but every time I put it down, it was easily forgotten.  It wasn’t that I didn’t want to drink it, but rather than there was nothing in it to make me want more.  It was an absent-minded chore to get through this bottle.

I cannot recommend this one, and I’ve having a hard time believing that laying this one down for a few months will help improve it. 

The mouthfeel made the Victory WildDevil unsessionable (because I have to make up at least two or three words in every review).  It is nice experiment gone awry.  A potentially cute girl with lots of pointy elbows.  Spooning a porcupine.  But I digress.

I look forward to Victory’s next brett experiment.  I believe in you, but let’s put this one behind us.