Brew Day: 3/17/18 West Coast IPA with Citra and Vic-Secret hops

I’ve been kind of quiet on this blog lately and that’s really just because our past two brew days have been unmitigated disasters. Brown Eye Woke v4 was mashed too high only fermented to 1.030, I added a starter culture to try and drop it down even just a bit more to no avail. We don’t know what to do with the leftover wort… Josh and I were debating on pitching some Brettanomyces and turning it into “Brett’s Brown Ale” but we are unsure. It may be going to dump city USA soon.

Our other planned brew day was for this West Coast IPA, we originally “brewed” it on 03/03/18 and again had temperature problems. Big ones. We heated the strike water to 167F (it was raining and pretty cold outside) and when we preheated the mash tun everything seemed to be fine, however our mash temperature was only at 145F. Panic mode! We decided to just do a batch sparge instead of a fly sparge as we normally do. Long story short, the water at its peak reached about 148F. Not high enough for an IPA, of course.

We decided to just boil as usual and make a Berliner Weiss or Gose. It was at that point we remembered we adjusted the water profile for an IPA… not exactly ideal for a soft bodied sour. We ended up dumping the batch and saving the Hops and Yeast for another brew day. That day was on the 17th. We used the same recipe and hoped everything went well this time … spoiler alert … it did!

Grain Bill Estimated Original Gravity Mash
10#   2-Row 1.050 – 1.054 60 Mintues  @ 151F
1#     C-10 Actual Original Gravity  
  1.054 Boil
Hops & Schedule Estimated Final Gravity 60 Minutes
.5 oz Vic-Secret @ 30 mins 1.010 – 1.012  
.5 oz Citra           @ 30 mins Actual Final Gravity Mineral Additions
1 oz  Vic-Secret @ 10 mins   5.8g Gypsum (Mash)
1 oz  Citra           @ 10 mins Estimated Alcohol by Volume 3.5g Epsom Salt (Mash)
2.5oz Vic-Secret@ Flameout 5.24% – 5.76% 1.9g Calcium Chloride (Mash)
2.5 oz Citra         @ Flameout   4.6g Gypsum (Boil)
1 oz Vic-Secret   5 Day Dry Hop   2.8g Epsom Salt (Boil)
2 oz Citra             5 Day Dry Hop   1.5g Calcium Chloride (Boil)
Yeast   Yeast Energizer @ 15 mins
A24 “Dry Hop” Imperial Yeast   Whirlfloc Tablet@ 15 mins

This grain bill actually turned out more of a Pale Ale, but we hopped it like we normally would an IPA, we expect the balance to be perfect. We mashed in at 150F and some change, a little under our target temperature but not the end of the world (hopefully…). We have been having issues with our mash temperature and it’s pretty frustrating. I’m having trouble comprehending why we spent so much money on a SS Brewtech Mash Tun if it won’t hold temperature any better than the $50 cooler we converted. I’m sure we are overlooking something dumb and this will turn around, soon. Ugh.

This may not be a traditional West Coast IPA, it’s more of a hybrid. We have been experimenting with these types of styles for a few months and we are continuously making tweaks to the recipes and to the brewing process. The main components we have been exploring has been the hop schedules and water profile. The most recent pale we made (Medusa-Oblongata) used a softer water profile, sort of like a New England IPA. It came out delicious, but it was lacking a bit of crispness you get from a pale ale. With that said we decided to add a bit of Epsom salt to this batch, to emphasize the hop character.

Anyhow, we mashed out and collected 7.2 gallons of sweet wort and started our boil. We added our first hop charge at 30 minutes we wanted to give this one a bit more bitterness than the most recent batch that used only late addition hops (10 minutes, 5 minutes, flameout). It wasn’t a huge charge, only 1 oz total, but it should be enough to impart some of the bitterness we are looking for.

After our boil we ran our wort through the plate chiller into our carboy. We collected about 4.5 gallons of wort, aerated it for 30 seconds, and cooled to pitching temperature. Our plate chiller brought it down to about 75F, it wouldn’t have mattered if we pitched at that temperature, but we still brought it down to 66F before doing so. I was expecting a bit of a quicker start from the Imperial Yeast “A24 Dry Hop” because of the higher cell count, but it took about ~22 hours for activity to start.

We are going to dry hop on 3/26/18 and bottle that Saturday. That is also our next brew day. What a coincidence! We are planning to rebrew Brown Eye Woke (call it version 4.5?) if the last batch is as dead as I believe it to be. There is a bit of schedule for our upcoming brews as well, and I’d like to share it with you.

Upcoming Beers:
3/30: Brown Eye Woke – Coffee Brown Ale, Gose – kettle soured (splitting into 4 separate fruited batches; hand picked prickly pears, cherry & hibiscus, raspberry, and strawberry kiwi).

Dates TBA:
West Coast Pilsner – Hoppy Pilsner style lager
Porter – Robust porter with Apple Brandy oak cubes and coconut
Idaho 7 Pale Ale – Idaho 7 New England inspired pale ale
Grant Us Eyes – Nelson and Mosaic New England IPA

These beers should keep us busy for next couple of months. Definitely looking forward to the porter, I’ve been looking to make a coconut beer for quite some time. Actually “Brown Eye Woke” was originally brainstormed as a coffee and coconut brown. Then it became a coffee and vanilla brown ale. We all know now it is a coffee brown ale, sometimes less is more. Cheers.


Grant Us Eyes V3 Taste Test

I just couldn’t wait and had to open up a bottle of “Grant Us Eyes,” our hazy IPA with Nelson & Mosaic hops. It hasn’t quite been two weeks in the bottle, but it is developing very, very nicely. I did a carbonation and taste test yesterday (1/31). Here are the results:

Bottle date: 1/20/2018                  Carbonation: 2.4 Volumes

Aroma: Fruit medley; apricot, mango, and grapes up front with a nice passion fruit and peach aroma on the backend of the smell. It’s very tropical and it’s a very dense smell. A lot going on, but you can definitely smell each distinct hop aroma.

Appearance: A hazy golden orange, really nice color.

Body: Probably the softest or “cloudiest” beer we’ve ever made. I think we nailed the water profile for this one. Incredibly smooth and keeps you coming back for more… or to use one of my favorite words: crushable.

Taste: This is where the beer shines (thankfully). Huge notes of grape (white wine?), apricots, and mango up front. Then on the backend you get this juicy flavor of peaches mixed with berries. There is a distinct grapefruit and passion fruit flavor as you swallow. Very well rounded and you can taste all of these hops upon drinking it.

Overall, extremely pleased with how this beer came out and hopefully everyone else will be when we are serving it our Super Bowl party. Cheers.

Brew Day: 1/6/18 “Grant Us Eyes” V3.0

First brew day of the New Year, so let me get this out of the way and say “Happy Brew Year,” ok, that’s my only terrible pun in this post… maybe… no promises. Anyhow, for our first brew day we are brewing one of more “well-known” beers. “Grant Us Eyes” is a NE style IPA with Nelson and Mosaic hops. This will be the 3rd iteration of the beer and I tweaked the recipe a little bit to hopefully bring out the vibrant character of the hops a little more.

With the start of a new year, it’s good to set goals for yourself. This year we are going to attempt to do a few things we haven’t before:

  1. Blending beers
  2. Water chemistry
  3. Kegging

If you follow this blog, you’ll know that we have been starting our water chemistry with pre-weighted additions. This year, we are going to do away with that and calculate the water profile and mineral additions ourselves. We decided to use this brew as our taking off point.

Mash:                                                                                   Boil:
152F       60 Minutes                                                         60 Minutes

Grain Bill:                                                                             Hops:
11#         2-Row                                                                     6 oz        Nelson
.5#          Cara-pils                                                                 6 oz        Mosaic
.25#       Honey malt
1#           Flaked Oats

Mineral Additions:                                                           Yeast:
3.6g        (CaS04 – Gypsum)                                             Wyeast 1318 London III
7g           (CaCl2 – Calcium Chloride)

Estimated Original Gravity:                                          1.058 – 1.060
Estimated Final Gravity:                                               1.014 – 1.012
Estimated ABV:                                                                 5.96% – 6.29%

Actual Original Gravity:                                                  1.060

Goal: Hazy IPA with notes of grape, grapefruit, and citrus. Soft body that encourages drinkability.

Perfect day to brew.

It was a beautiful day for a brew day this past Saturday; a brisk 74F with a nice breeze and slightly overcast. You can’t ask for better weather during the first brew day of the year. We started off by heating our strike water up to about ~164F. We have been having trouble with the SS Brewtech Mash Tun holding temperature so we opted to pre-heat it this time, especially with the type of weather outside. It started off at 151F and some change, but eventually heated to 152.3F and held for the full hour. We weighed out our strike water mineral additions and dissolved them in while it was heating up.

Mineral additions for strike water (ignore the dirty table)

We spraged out at 166F and collected 7 gallons of wort. We did mainly late additions with this batch, which is also a bit different than what we normally do with this beer. We did a 10 minute addition of 1oz Nelson and 2oz Mosaic. Once that was done we did a flameout/hopstand of 2oz Nelson and 1oz Mosaic. We are going to do a dry hop on 1/10/18 of 1 oz Nelson and 2 oz Mosaic, then another dry hop on 1/16 of 2 oz Nelson and 1 oz Mosaic. We got the cryo hop version of our Mosaic hops, so hopefully they pack a bigger punch.


Once the boil was over we chilled the wort through our plate chiller and pump (which is a real game changer) to about 77F. Next we added the yeast to the wort and put it in the fermentation chamber that was chilled to 66F. After about 18 hours there was already activity from the yeast, so they were obviously very happy.

Now that we have the inaugural 2018 brew day out of the way, we can start setting up for the next brew day! It will most likely be on 1/20.

Bottle: “Grant Us Eyes” V3.0
Bottle: “Destination: Terror” – Tart Saison with honey and lime zest
Brew:   “One with the Shadows” – Stout*

*Stouts have so far been our Achilles heel. We haven’t brewed one that we were 100% happy with as of yet. We are hoping to rectify that with our next brew day. I’m thinking we are going to make a huge starter this time to avoid stalled fermentation.

NE IPA: The Gathering Storm

New England IPA’s are the latest and greatest craze in the craft beer world and there is no denying it. They were started on the East Coast (as their name would infer) and focus on a different aspect of IPAs; a fruity, or even “juicy” side. Beers like Heady Topper, Sip of Sunshine, and Susan helped bring this style to life. NEIPA’s are typically unfiltered and have yeast that heavily flocculates giving the beer itself a “hazy” appearance. There is still a lot of research to be done regarding these hazy IPA’s, including why are they hazy? Yeast, Hop residue, and additives such as flour have all been cited as reasons for their appearance, and they all hold some merit. There is no “right” way to make a NEIPA, at least before you start dry-hopping.

One thing about NEIPA’s that are so polarizing is the fact that their very appearance goes against what most brewers are taught from the time they first start brewing: clarity is important. Some commercial examples of these beers look like the trub was dumped directly from the fermenter in your can or bottle. They aren’t particularly nice to look at, but they taste great. The typical west coast “dank” that IPA’s are commonly associated with is all but gone with this style. This is because of a ton of late hop additions in the boil to emphasize the hop flavor and not the bitterness. Typically you see NEIPA’s made with Galaxy, Citra, Mosaic, Denali, Huell Melon, and Amarillo hops—hops that are associated with tropical fruit tastes and smells.

That was a very long winded introduction, but I hope it was at least informative. With that said, this past weekend we re-brewed one of our NEIPA recipes “the Gathering Storm.” We changed things up a bit this time and instead of using Simcoe hops we opted for Mosaic. The first two times we brewed this it was a bit too bitter, and I suspect Simcoe was the culprit. We also changed all of our hop additions around—before we were using a half ounce of hops at first wort and then hopping everything else at 20 minutes, 5 minutes, and a whirlpool. For this iteration of this beer we did not use any bittering hops and waiting until 10 minutes left in the boil to start hopping, with much larger quantities.

Grain Bill:
77%        2-Row
10%        White Wheat
10%        Flaked Oats
3%          Honey Malt

5 oz        Citra (10 minute 1.5 oz, Flame out 1 oz, First Dry Hop 1.5 oz, Second Dry Hop 1 oz)
5 oz        Galaxy (10 minute 1 oz, Flame out 1.5 oz, First Dry Hop 1 oz, Second Dry Hop 1.5 oz)
4 oz        Mosaic (Flame out 1.5 oz, First Dry Hop 1.5 oz, Second Dry Hop 1 oz)

Wyeast 318         London III

Yeast Energizer @ 15 minutes

152F       60 Minutes

60 Minutes

EOG: 1.062-1.066              EFG: 1.014-1.016               EABV:6.29%-6.55%
AOG: 1.064

One other thing I’d like to note: this is the first time we have used WY1318 in any of our NEIPAs. We’ve used it in our Blonde (Dry Hop Naked) but not in the NEIPAs. Why? We always wanted to try something different and see if we can replicate the style with a less “traditional” yeast. We’ve used; WLP090, WLP023, WLP005, WLP644, and WY1335 all of which have had decent results (aside from the WLP023, that was a stinker). So we figured we’d give it a try this time.

Our new toy… SS Brewtech Mash Tun

We warmed our strike water to 163F and used our BRAND NEW SS BREWTECH MASH TUN. Man, it feels great to say that. We’ve been waiting to pull the trigger on it for so long and with the Cooler mash tun developing a leak (re: I broke it) it was finally time to splurge. It worked like a dream and held a constant 152 for most of the mash time. We had a bit of difficulty with the sparge arm but with a gravity set up it’s to be expected. We are going to do some test runs next time.

I’d say this brew day was pretty boring… I mean that because without any hop additions until nearly the end of the boil it gave us a lot of time to talk about future plans and upgrades. We added our first hop addition with 10 minutes left in the boil and it smelled incredible. We haven’t used Citra or Galaxy in sometime and it’s always a treat when they start boiling and releasing those sweet, sweet tropical fruit notes.

Once the boil was over we added our next hop addition as a hop stand. We dropped the temperature from 210F to about 185F and held it there for 30 minutes. Once that was done we got as much wort out of the hop spider as we could and began to chill the wort to pitching temperature.  The temperature was dropped from 180F to 68F in about 10 minutes, incredibly efficient. We pitched our yeast package (pre-swelled) right after and hit it with 20 seconds of oxygen. Put it in the fermentation fridge and let it rest. Our first dry hop addition will be 8/9 and the second will be 8/15. We are hoping to have this bottled by 8/17, which is the day before we leave to Oregon for the eclipse.

Some turbid wort, wouldn’t you say?

We are still waiting for our results from the brew competition held by Maltose Falcons, once we get them we will definitely update you! Cheers.