Cryo Hop Pale Ale – Recipe & Review

Cryo Hopped Pale Ale

Don’t let the condensation fool you, our Cryo hopped pale ale turned out nice and bright.

One of the best things about the National Homebrewers Conference is getting to see new products. At this year’s trade show, I was excited to see Yakima Chief Hops (YCH) debuting a new product called Cryo Hops. Not only was YCH pouring several professionally-made beers using Cryo Hops, they were also giving away samples of the product.

Cryo Hops are created through a proprietary process that uses liquid nitrogen to break apart and separate the hop lupulin glands from the leafy bract material. This separation allows Cryo Hops to contain a much higher proportion of hop resin and essential oils, typically double what you would see in a pellet (by weight). This is a key point of interest for brewers as, in theory, it allows you to get the same hop effect in your final beer while putting less physical plant material into the beer. This should not only cut down on kettle losses, but also perhaps some of the more grassy harsh notes that hops can impart on a beer.

In addition to trying out the Cryo Hop product, I also wanted to test out fermentation hopping. There has been a lot of talk lately about the biotransformation of hop compounds that takes place in the presence of yeast. It seemed intriguing to try and add Cryo Hops to the fermenter early on in primary fermentation to see what the sensory impact would be. In some ways, Cryo Hops are perfect for this as they have less leafy plant material than normal hops. In theory, this means they can withstand the longer contact time needed to get through fermentation and cold crash without the beer becoming grassy—a problem typical of extended dry hop periods.

This recipe contains only a small bittering charge of traditional pellet hops. All hop flavor and aroma comes via fermentation hopping.

Cryo Hop Pale Ale Recipe

Specifications:
Size: 3.25 gal
Efficiency: 68%
Attenuation: 80.7%

Original Gravity: 1.052
Terminal Gravity: 1.010
Color: 12.37 SRM
Alcohol: 5.5% ABV
Bitterness: 38.7 IBU

Malt Bill:
6.25 lbs. (89.3%) Crisp Maris Otter
0.5 lb. (7.1%) Briess Special Roast
0.25 lb. (3.6%) Briess Carapils

Mash Profile:
150°F – 60m

Water Treatment:
Extremely Soft NYC Water
3 g. Gypsum (to mash)
2 g. Calcium Chloride (to mash)

Kettle Hopping:
14 g. Ekuanot (13.6% AA) – 60m

Fermentation Hopping:
Added during high krausen on day 2 of the primary fermentation. Left in fermenter for approximately 10 days until fermentation and cold crash was complete.

2 oz. Mosaic Cryo Hop (22.1% AA)
1 oz. Simcoe Cryo Hop (23.8% AA)

Kettle Additions:
0.5 ea. Whirlfloc Tablets (Irish moss) – 15m
0.5 tsp. Wyeast Nutrient – 10m

Yeast:
Wyeast 1056 American Ale

Tasting Notes

Judged as a BJCP 18B American Pale Ale

Aroma (10/12):
Very high hop aroma with tropical notes of mango and pineapple. Very bright and juicy. There is just a touch of white pepper on the nose, similar to the spiciness I sometimes get from eating actual mangoes. There is just a slight toasty malt component. Very clean with no real fermentation character or alcohol. No grassiness. Traditional brewing knowledge would lead one to think that a large portion of hop aroma would have been scrubbed by CO2 during primary fermentation. This beer seems to be an outlier from this typical assumption—perhaps the hop compounds metabolized and transformed during fermentation are less volatile?

Appearance (3/3):
The beer pours a deep gold with some slight copper notes. There is just a bit of light haze, topped with a very persistent off-white head. I was expecting much more turbidity given the amount and timing of the hopping. The beer is pleasantly bright.

Flavor (10/20):
The high hop aroma doesn’t seem to carry over to the same degree on the palate. The hop flavor is there, but not nearly as high as I would have expected based on the nose. It is hard to tell whether this is attributable to the lack of any real kettle hopping or the use of Cryo Hops. In either case, there is a certain amount of hop flavor I’d typically expect in a highly hopped pale ale that seems to be missing. The hop flavor is fruity, but a bit one dimensional. There is a nice maltiness to the beer that is toasty and biscuity. A medium bitterness accentuates what is already a very dry beer.

Mouthfeel (4/5):
The beer has a medium-low body with crisp carbonation. Dry. Refreshing. No astringency or heat.

Overall Impression (6/10):
This beer really shines on the nose, giving the pure essence of highly aromatic fruity hops. The flavor,vhowever, is a bit of a letdown considering the boisterous aromas. I like the malty components that are quite apparent, but may perhaps be a bit too flavorful for what was intended to be a very hop-forward pale ale. I think this beer could be improved with a large charge of traditional pellet hops in the whirlpool and perhaps cutting the Maris Otter base malt with a bit of Pilsner or standard 2-Row base malt.

Very Good (33/50)

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Cream Ale – Homebrew Recipe & Review

Cream Ale

Cream Ale, Refreshing, Crisp, Clean

Cream ale, for me, is a bit of a compromise beer. Within my circle of non-beer geek friends, I make no secret of my fondness for adjunct-laden light American lager. Within my beer geek and homebrew circles, however, I tend to be a bit more reserved in my endorsement for flavorless lager. This egocentric rationale is probably why I’ve never brewed the style myself.

Instead, I’ll often brew cream ale, which has the ability to fill my desire for a flavor-muted, low-alcohol session beer. It also seems to be a more respectable beer in the sense that there is a bit more flavor, as well as a good historic precedence. That said, I should probably just drop the self-consciousness, bite the bullet, and brew up some shitty American lager. Until then, here’s the recipe and review for my latest batch of cream ale.

Cream Ale Recipe

Specifications:
Size: 3.25 gal
Efficiency: 74%
Attenuation: 80%

Original Gravity: 1.051
Terminal Gravity: 1.010
Color: 2.84 SRM
Alcohol: 5.3% ABV (calculated)
Bitterness: 14.2 IBU

Malt Bill:
4.5 lbs. (72.0%) Weyermann Pilsner Malt
1.25 lb. (20.0%) Briess Flaked Corn

Sugar Additions:
0.50 lb. (8.0%) Corn Sugar (Dextrose)

Mash Profile:
149°F – 60m

Water Treatment:
Extremely Soft NYC Water
3 g. Gypsum (to mash)
3 g. Calcium Chloride (to mash)

Hopping:
28 g. Hallertaurer Mittelfruh (2.5% AA) – 90m

Kettle Additions:
0.5 ea. Whirlfloc Tablets (Irish moss) – 15m
0.5 tsp. Wyeast Nutrient – 10m

Yeast:
Wyeast 1056 American Ale

Tasting Notes:

Judged as a BJCP 1C Cream Ale

Aroma (8/12):
The aroma is quite subdued and mellow, letting a very low fermentation character with hints of apple, pear, and, perhaps berry ester, come through. There is a low corn character that features a touch of sweetness which is somewhat vanilla-like. The pilsner malt character provides some doughy bread aroma that may be a touch high for the style.

Appearance (3/3):
The beer is very clear with only the slightest hint of haze. There is a nice, foamy white head with great persistence.

Flavor (10/20):
Like the aroma, the flavor is very subdued. Initially, there is a pop of fresh round malt that is bready, slightly sweet, and just a touch grainy. A slight touch of corn flavor is present, but not as apparent as some judges may be searching for. The hop bitterness is very, very low and leaves the beer finishing just a touch sweet.

Mouthfeel (1/5):
Beer has a very light body with sparkling carbonation. The residual sweetness and lack of bitterness leaves the beer feeling a bit flabby. My guess is that this is accentuated by the beer finishing at a relatively high pH as well. Perhaps some addition of pH-lowering mineral salts would help brighten up future iterations of this beer.

Overall Impression (5/10):
This is a pretty nice beer, but lacks the crispness that I would expect in a cream ale. Additionally, the beer is perhaps a bit too characterful for the style and could benefit from a more toned down pilsner malt profile.

Good (27/50)

Chuck’s Mexican AKA HBC 438 Blond Ale

Chuck's Mexican Blond

Chuck’s Mexican Blond

Way back in 2015 at the National Homebrewers Conference held in San Diego, Jason Perrault of the Hop Breeding Company (HBC), Karl Vanevehoven of Yakima Chief Hopunion (YCH), and Vinnie Cilurzo of Russian River Brewing Company gave a great talk about a new hop variety called HBC-438. The hop is lovingly referred to as Chuck’s Mexican, having originated from Chuck Zimmerman, a breeder at the USDA, and sharing a genetic lineage to neomexicanus, a wild hop found in the southwestern United States. The history of how this hop has made its way into homebrewer’s kettles is fascinating and can be read here. Origin story aside, what intrigued me the most about the hop was its relatively high alpha acid (14-18%) and high oil contents (2.5-3.5 ml/100g). Additionally, I love the idea of using a hop with at least some of its lineage tied to the Americas.

At the conference, I was given a couple ounces of the hop which lived in the back of my freezer until nearly a year later when I got around to brewing with them. I was a little concerned about the freshness of the hops, but decided to go ahead and give them a shot in a single hop beer. Opening the vacuum sealed bags, there was no detectable cheesiness or other off-aromas so I was optimistic that the brew would turn out well.

Chuck’s Mexican Blond Ale Recipe

Specifications:
Size: 3.25 gal
Efficiency: 66%
Attenuation: 76%

Original Gravity: 1.050
Terminal Gravity: 1.012
Color: 7.82 SRM
Alcohol: 4.98% ABV
Bitterness: 0 IBUs (does not account for whirlpool addition hop isomerization)

Malt Bill:
6 lbs (83.1%) Weyermann Pilsner Malt
6.5 oz (5.6%) Briess Victory Malt
6.5 oz. (5.6%) Weyermann Rye Malt
6.5 oz. (5.6%) Rahr White Wheat Malt

Mash Profile:
152°F – 60m
170°F – 5m

Water Treatment:
Extremely Soft NYC Water
4g Gypsum (to mash)
2g Calcium Chloride (to mash)

Kettle Additions:
0.5ea Whirlfloc Tablets (Irish moss) – 15m
0.5tsp Wyeast Nutrient – 10m

Whirlpool Hopping:
2 oz. HBC-438 (16.6% AA) – 20m

Yeast:
Wyeast 2565 Kölsch

Tasting Notes:

Judged as 2015 BJCP Category 18B American Pale Ale

Aroma (5/12):
The beer has a medium to medium-high fruity character that seems to be equal parts hop and expressive yeast. There is a moderate berry character—maybe blackberry as well as some overripe, almost rotten mango notes. The yeast is slightly sulfury / eggy, which may dissipate with some extended cold storage. There is a weird, almost savory / herbal note that seems to be hop-derived. In the background are some nice toasty / biscuity malt aromas.

Appearance (3/3):
Deep gold with good clarity. Just a touch of light haze. The beer is capped with a big fluffy white head that shows excellent persistence.

Flavor (9/20):
Medium to low malt sweetness upfront with some great toasty malt flavors. The beer is a touch oversweet and could benefit from some more hop bitterness. There is a touch of mineral / seltzer water character on the finish. Again, there is a bit of a weird herbal / savory hop flavor that my palate doesn’t enjoy.

Mouthfeel (5/5):
Medium body with a great roundness / silkiness provided by the rye. Medium to medium-low carbonation. Very pleasant.

Overall Impression (4/10):
I’m pretty surprised at how hoppy this beer is considering the low hopping rate and age of the hops. I can say unequivocally that HBC-438 has a very unique profile. Unfortunately, for me, it contributes an unwelcome melange of overripe berries and savory herbs, which don’t quite jive with my tastes.

Good (26/50)

Tropical Corn IPA – Recipe and Review

Tropical to the max, not so sexy in the glass.

Tropical to the max, not so sexy in the glass.

If you’ve followed the various IPA recipe posts on this site, you’ll know that my IPA preferences lean towards increasingly lower levels of malt while pushing hop flavor and aromatics towards absurdity. A big part of this rational is that I honestly believe IPA is at its best when it becomes a pure expression of hops. “Balance”, an often proselytized descriptor among beer geeks, is becoming increasingly meaningless to me, especially when applied to contemporary American IPAs. At the risk of sounding irreverent, finding “balance” in a beer, often defined as the counterbalance between competing forces (malt sweetness vs. hop bitterness vs. acidity, etc.) should not be sought in IPA. Instead, creating as light of a body as possible while providing enough sneaky alcohol to both extract the hop goodness and leave you feeling immersed in a hop halo is a priority. While hop choices and technique are fundamental (and often the focus of recipe creation), providing the right malt canvas for alcohol creation should be equally as important.

It is in the realm of creating minimally flavored alcoholic liquids that I think we can learn from our distant brewing cousins from the world of industrial lager. Frequently, corn or rice is used as a medium for creating highly fermentable worts with very little residual body or sweetness. Craft brewers often use refined dextrose in their beers. For this beer, I thought it would be fun to introduce both the refined product (dextrose) and its pre-gelatinized source material (flaked corn) into an IPA recipe and see if I could push further, the lean body I am looking for.

Tropical Corn IPA Recipe

Specifications:
Size: 3.25 gal
Efficiency: 77%
Attenuation: 82.7%

Original Gravity: 1.060
Terminal Gravity: 1.010
Color: 3.15 SRM
Alcohol: 6.56% ABV
Bitterness: 50.7 IBUs

Malt Bill:
5 lbs (70.8%) Weyermann Pilsner Malt
1.25 lbs (17.7%) Briess Flaked Corn
13 oz. (11.5%) Corn Sugar

Mash Profile:
149°F – 60m
170°F – 5m

Water Treatment:
Extremely Soft NYC Water
4g Gypsum (to mash)
2g Calcium Chloride (to mash)

Hopping:
15g Warrior (17.9% AA) – 90m

Kettle Additions:
0.5ea Whirlfloc Tablets (Irish moss) – 15m
0.5tsp Wyeast Nutrient – 10m

Whirlpool Hopping:
34g El Dorado (13.2% AA) – 20m
68g Galaxy (16.1% AA) – 20m

Yeast:
Wyeast 1056 American Ale

Dry Hopping:
34g Azacca (10.3% AA) – 2 Days
100g Galaxy (16.1% AA) – 2 Days

Tasting Notes:

Judged as 2015 BJCP Category 21A American IPA

Aroma (8/12):
Bright tangerine, ripe mango, honeydew melon, and pineapple leap from the glass accompanied by a touch of lemon, grapefruit pith, and light pine resin. Fruit salad in a glass. There is a very subtle, bready malt note hiding somewhere in the background. There is almost no malt at all—just a lot of punchy hops. As it warms, some ethanol heat is apparent.

Appearance (1/3):
Very hazy, bordering on murky. Big white head with awesome, super clingy white foam that persists.

Flavor (13/20):
Super juicy hop punch flavor. Lots of tropical aromatics—mango, melon, pineapple, and some grass. The beer has a firm hop bitterness that I find refreshing in comparison to many underbittered, nouveau IPAs. There is a pretty obvious alcoholic heat that is not pleasant. The beer is very dry, but there is some implied sweetness derived from the mind’s association between the fruity hop flavors and their real world counterparts. Malt really has no role in the flavor composition, except perhaps in lending just a deft touch of soft breadiness to the finish.

Mouthfeel (3/5):
Medium to medium-low body. Carbonation is slightly low. The body has a softness that I often associate with heavily hopped beers packed with hop oils.

Overall Impression (7/10):
This beer is an excellent showcase for newer tropical hop varieties. Time will tell whether these flavors stand on their own merits or if they’re simply novel. I think it’s the latter. The hops are allowed to shine in this almost austere beer; although, finding a way to temper the alcoholic heat is vital for this to really be a fantastic beer.

Very Good (32/50)

American Red Ale (IPA) – Recipe and Review

American Red AleAmerican Red Ale, Red IPA, Hoppy Amber Ale, taxonomy aside, I think it’s a great style of beer, especially as a fall seasonal.

As the days get shorter and the leaves turn to hues of red and orange, it seemed befitting to create a hoppy beer that has a nice toasty malt flavor and a little more heft than I typically like in my hoppy beers.This sounds infinitely more appealing than the overly spiced pumpkin beers that tend to corrupt the season. It is also a great opportunity to clean out the freezer of last season’s hop crop in anticipation of the upcoming harvest. This is truly a harvest beer as it pertains to the ingredients found in typical beer. Huh, maybe Harvest IPA is the right classification.

Mind you, this should absolutely not be a sweet beer. Nor should it have too many deep caramel flavors that are better suited in beers where hops are not playing the leading role. This recipe focuses on the toasty and biscuity flavors imbued by melanoidin rich malt rather than leaning heavily on crystallized caramel malts. The beer finishes very dry, giving the beer a high level of drinkability as well as the requisite ability to warm you from the inside out (a key requirement for the fall season).

American Red Ale Recipe

Specifications:
Size: 3.5 gal
Efficiency: 67%
Attenuation: 81.3%

Original Gravity: 1.060
Terminal Gravity: 1.011
Color: 14.26 SRM
Alcohol: 6.3% ABV
Bitterness: 78 IBUs (does not account for whirlpool addition hop isomerization)

Malt Bill:
8 lbs (88.3%) Briess 2-Row Brewers Malt
0.5 lb (5.5%) Briess Victory Malt
0.5 (5.5%) Weyermann Carared
1 oz. (0.7%) Briess Midnight Wheat

Mash Profile:
149°F – 60m
170°F – 5m

Water Treatment:
Extremely Soft NYC Water
4g Gypsum (to mash)
2g Calcium Chloride (to mash)

Kettle Additions:
0.5ea Whirlfloc Tablets (Irish moss) – 15m
0.5tsp Wyeast Nutrient – 10m

Kettle Hopping:
16g Warrior (15.4% AA) – 60m
1 oz. Mosaic (12.3% AA) – 15m

Whirlpool Hopping:
1 oz. Mosaic (12.3% AA) – 15m
1 oz. Citra (13.7% AA) – 15m

Yeast:
Wyeast 1056 American Ale

Dry Hopping:
1 oz. Galaxy (16.1% AA) – 2 Days
2 oz. Mosaic (12.3% AA) – 2 Days

Tasting Notes:

Judged as 2015 BJCP Category 21B Specialty IPA – Red IPA

Aroma (10/12):
Medium to high tropical fruitiness—overripe mango, pineapple, Juicy Fruit gum. There is a very low caramel malt nose, much less than the color would indicate. Underneath the hops, there is perhaps a touch of lightly toasted bread. The hop combination is primarily fruity / tropical with just a hint of pine resin. Very clean fermentation. No alcohol.

Appearance (1/3):
Medium brown with a reddish tint, though I’d really like the color to pop with a more saturated red tone. The beer is hazy, but not milky. The beer has a great tightly bubbled tan head that persists until the pint is finished.

Flavor (15/20):
There is quite a bit of nice malty character on the palate that is slightly sweet with some nice toasty / biscuity flavors and just a touch of toffee. Somehow, given the high level of attenuation, there remains just a touch of sweetness. The beer has a very firm bitterness that is tempered by this slight amount of residual sweetness.

Mouthfeel (4/5):
Medium body and medium-high carbonation with a fair amount of creaminess / softness on the palate. I am becoming more and more of a believer in the ability of hop compounds to produce a certain lusciousness in mouthfeel for a beer. The bitterness is just a bit astringent / biting.

Overall Impression (8/10):
I had a great time finishing this keg of beer. When super fresh, the beer hits you in the face with awesome bright hop aromatics. Over the period of about a month, the beer dropped bright, much of the punchy hops settled down, and the beer became more of a showcase in balance and malt. It aged quite gracefully; not becoming less of a beer, just a different style of beer. I actually preferred the beer most after about a month of cold storage.

Excellent (38/50)