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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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)

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale Clone – 2.0

Another blog post, another Sierra Nevada Pale Ale clone. The Verdict: Not Cloned.

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Commercial beer on the left, homebrew on the right.

That said, we’re getting close.To start, here is the recipe that I brewed.

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale Cone 2.0 (Not Cloned)

Specifications:

Size: 3.25 gal
Efficiency: 68%
Attenuation: 80% (measured)

Original Gravity: 1.051
Terminal Gravity: 1.010 (measured)
Color: 10.86 SRM
Alcohol: 5.4% ABV (calculated)
Bitterness: 37.7 IBU (calculated)

Grist:

6.75 lb (94.7%) Briess 2-Row Brewers Malt
6 oz (5.3%) Briess Caramel 60L

Mash Regiment:

152 °F – Sacc Rest – 60min

Water Treatment:

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

Hopping:

9 g Magnum (12.6% AA) – 60 m
8 g Perle (8.7% AA) – 30 m
8 g Cascade (6.9% AA) – 10 m
72 g Cascade (6.9% AA) – Whirlpool 15m

Kettle Additions:

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

Yeast:

WYeast 1056 American Ale™ Starter on stirplate to achieve 1 million cells per milliliter of wort per degree Plato. Use Mr. Malty to determine proper starter sized based on age of yeast package. Pitch into 60°F wort and allow to free rise to 64°F. As fermentation begins to slow, raise temperature to 70°F.

The Results

While there are some recipe changes in store for the next iteration, this beer primarily misses the mark on technical merits. Most noticeably my beer has a touch of honeyed oxidized malt character with perhaps a faint hint of diacetyl that is not present in the commercial beer.

I am typically very careful to limit O2 exposure, especially in fermented beer. In some ways, the oxidation of this beer is welcome as it is making me look critically at my process and think of ways I can limit O2 pickup. The biggest risk for oxidation in my process comes at two locations: the cold crash and packaging.

When I cold crash my beer, there is usually some suck-back of air into the fermenter due to a vacuum being pulled as the liquid’s volume decreases as it cools. I typically put a little CO2 head pressure on my beers as I cold crash in order to prevent this. With this beer, I got lazy and skipped this step. Nevermore!

The second biggest opportunity for O2 pickup is when I rack finished beer to my keg. I always purge the keg, but perhaps I am not always as careful as I should be in gently racking the beer and purging the racking cane or fermenter head space once it is opened up. In a perfect world, I would be doing a completely closed transfer — this is something I’m looking into and hope to implement in the future.

In terms of recipe, I believe the malt bill I am using is nearly perfect. There is a slight color difference between my beer and the commercial example, but I believe this has more to do with some yeast being suspended in the homebrew, and not a dramatic miss with the malt bill. I may bump up the crystal malt ever so slightly in the next round — perhaps only by a couple ounces.

The biggest recipe difference that I need to implement for the next round is in regard to flavor and aroma hops. The commercial beer has a substantial grapefruit pith and slightly spicy / herbal hop character. While this character is present in the homebrew, it is not nearly as intense. The homebrew’s bitterness level is spot on, but the aroma and flavor needs to be dramatically increased. For the next iteration of my recipe, I intend to boost the amount of late hopping at least by an order of 2 or 3 in order to get closer to the commercial beer.

Cloning Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

Somehow, I’ve managed to never make a true attempt at cloning a commercial beer. This is somewhat regrettable as attempting to reproduce a reliably consistent commercial product is an opportunity to not only test your process controls, but also gain a true understanding of how certain ingredients and techniques can impact a final beer. Personally, no beer would be better for a clone attempt than Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. Not only is this a beer that was very formative in my journey towards craft beer, it is also reliably available, fresh, and consistent.

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale on the left, homebrewed beer on the right.

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale on the left, homebrewed beer on the right.

The first step is researching the beer you’re trying to clone and establishing a set of specifications for that beer. In the case of Sierra Nevada Pale, their website provides a good starting point in terms of gravities, bitterness, and base ingredients. From there, a number of other websites and forums provide additional anecdotal stories and recipes that can inform your own formulation. With the research complete, I formulated the following recipe.

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale Clone Attempt (not Cloned)

SN Pale AleSpecifications:

Size: 3.25 gal
Efficiency: 68%
Attenuation: 75% (measured)

Original Gravity: 1.053
Terminal Gravity: 1.013 (measured)
Color: 11.79 SRM
Alcohol: 5.1% ABV (calculated)
Bitterness: 38.2 IBU (calculated)

Grist:

6.75 lb (93.1%) Briess 2-Row Brewers Malt
8 oz (6.9%) Muntons Crystal 60L

Mash Regiment:

153 °F – Sacc Rest – 30min

Water Treatment:

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

Hopping:

9 g Magnum (12.6% AA) – 60 m
8 g Perle (8.7% AA) – 30 m
8 g Cascade (6.9% AA) – 10 m
26 g Cascade (6.9% AA) – Whirlpool 15m

Kettle Additions:

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

Yeast:

WYeast 1056 American Ale™ Starter on stirplate to achieve 1 million cells per milliliter of wort per degree Plato. Use Mr. Malty to determine proper starter sized based on age of yeast package. Pitch into 60°F wort and allow to free rise to 64°F. As fermentation begins to slow, raise temperature to 70°F.

The Results

An important part of the cloning process is a critical review that involves consuming the beer side-by-side with the original, preferably blindly. This allows you to note critical differences which can be projected out to future recipe iterations. Unfortunately, my first attempt clearly did not result in a clone. This however is not a failure, as it allows me to make process and recipe changes to hopefully create a clone in future iterations. Below I’ve outlined the critical differences between my beer, and commercially available Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and the changes I plan to incorporate into the next version of the beer.

Aroma:

  • The homebrew version of the beer has far more yeast character than the commercial beer. Specifically, my beer has a distinct floral and fruity ester (pear and berry) not present in the commercial beer. In future iterations, I plan to pitch a larger starter and provide additional oxidation of the wort to discourage the production of yeast esters.
  • The commercial beer has a brighter grapefruit pith and slightly herbal hop aroma. I plan to dramatically increase the whirlpool addition of cascade hops in my beer.
  • The homebrewed beer has a distinct dark fruit, dark caramel malt aroma. My original intention was to stick with American crystal malts, but was forced to substitute out British crystal malts due to availability. This had a huge impact on the final beer. I will stick to American maltsters in the next iteration.

SN Pale Ale CloneAppearance

  • My beer appears a shade darker than the commercial beer. My beer has better head retention than the commercial beer. In the next recipe iteration, I will dial back the amount of crystal malt to lighten up the beer color.

Flavor

  • Again, my beer has a much richer, darker crystal malt character. This is the by-product of using British crystal malt. The choice of crystal malt made an enormous difference in the final beer. For the next version, I will stick to American maltsters.
  • My homebrewed version is lacking in the fresh cascade hop grapefruit pith flavor. I will dramatically increase the Cascade whirlpool addition in the next iteration of this recipe.
  • My homebrew is sweeter than the commercial version. The commercial beer attenuates to approximately 79% apparent attenuation. My version only attenuated to 75%. I will mash lower for the next version of the recipe to attempt to further dry out the beer.
  • Sierra Nevada Pale Ale has a slightly grainy / tannic finish. This is likely a byproduct of high levels of sugar extraction. I will attempt to boost my extract efficiency for the next version of the beer.
  • My homebrew is less bitter than the commercial version. Increasing my whirlpool additions should bring the beer closer in line with the commercial version.

Honey | Orange Pale Ale – Recipe and Review

_DSC1871Synergy between ingredients is something that I often seek out when writing a new beer recipe. In this particular case, I started with the premise of wanting to use orange blossom honey in a beer. Orange blossom honey has a delicate orange flavor as well a soft floral honey bouquet. Building a beer recipe around these attributes, I started with a Belgian Pilsner malt base which I’ve found to produce a honey like sweetness in my beers. From there, the base malt was accented with a small amount of Gambrinus honey malt to emphasize the honey character. Additionally, I delicately hopped the beer with Mandarian Bavaria hops which I’ve found to have a pronounced sweet orange (not pith) character that would be delicate enough not to overpower the honey.

Honey | Orange Pale Ale Recipe

Specifications:
Size: 3.75 gal
Efficiency: 68%
Attenuation: 80%

Original Gravity: 1.050 SG
Terminal Gravity: 1.010 SG
Color: 6.07 SRM
Alcohol: 5.28% ABV
Bitterness: 20.3 IBU

Malt Bill:
5.5 lb (72.1%) Pilsner Malt (Dingemans)
0.75 lb (9.8%) Munich TYPE I – (Weyermann)
6 oz (4.9%) Honey Malt – (Gambinus)

Mash Profile:
146 °F – 60m
168 °F – 5m

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

Hopping:
16 g Mandarina Bavaria (7.2%) – 90 m

Note: After boil was complete, the kettle was topped up with cold water to lower temperature to 180°F.

2 oz (43.8%) Mandarina Bavaria – 180°F Steep – 15 m
1 lb (13.1%) Orange Blossum Honey – 180°F Steep – 15 m

2 oz (43.8%) Amarillo® – Hop Back (Blichmann Hop Rocket)

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

Yeast:
WYeast 1056 American Ale™- Starter on stirplate to achieve 1 million cells per milliliter of wort per degree Plato. Use Mr. Malty to determine proper starter sized based on age of yeast package. Pitch into 60°F wort and allow to free rise to 64°F. As fermentation begins to slow, raise temperature to 70°F.

Tasting Notes:

Judged as a BJCP Category 23 Specialty Beer

_DSC1966Aroma (10/12):
Low to moderate floral honey notes. There is a medium to medium-high sweet citrus / orange / tangerine hop aroma. Some soft candy-like malt sweetness is in the background. No alcohol, DMS, or diacetyl. The is a touch of grassy hops in the background.

Appearance (2/3):
Color falls somewhere between a light copper and a deep blond. There is a slight haze to the beer. Fluffy white persistent head.

Flavor (17/20):
Moderately high hop flavor that is like sweet or candied orange. None of the pithy bitter citrus flavors that are often associated with traditional types of citrus hops. Honey is strongly present and quite floral. Malt is soft and bready with a light crackery character. The hop bitterness is medium-low and leaves behind just a hint of malt sweetness. There is a wonderful honey flavor that persists through the finish.

Mouthfeel (3/5):
Crisp with a medium to medium-low body. Quite balanced. No astringency. Beer has a medium-high carbonation which is slightly biting.

Overall Impression (8/10):
This is a very nice balanced pale ale that showcases the honey content. The beer is exceptionally balanced with layer of flavors; none of which stick out or feel out of place. Very well crafted beer.

Excellent (40/50)