Getting Punk’d. Brewing up a Brew Dog Punk I.P.A….

Punk IPAA few of my beer drinking buddies have shed a few tears because we can’t get Brew Dog’s Punk IPA here in Ontario anymore. It showed up briefly at local LCBO’s and then vanished just as quickly, never to be seen again.

I remember trying it, and at the time, I thought it fairly easy drinking, but really neither here nor there. I must be clear though, that is in no way a comment on Brew Dog’s brewing, it’s because I’m not the biggest fan of Nelsen Sauvin hops, which they use a lot of. I know, some of you out there are cursing me as I say that, but it’s just my personal taste, nothing more.

I must repeat, my personal taste is in no way a reflection of my opinion of Brew Dog itself. Brew Dogs’ story is extremely inspiring. The way they were able to grow as a result of thinking outside the box in both marketing approach, and financing, have most start-ups drooling. Not to mention their videos are a blast to watch! Check out their take on Punk IPA:

They seem like a bunch of very fun dudes.  I seriously wish them nothing but a continuation of their already very successful trajectory.

So, back to our dilemma, since we have no Punk IPA in these parts, what to do? David Thompson, who was over a ways back to collaborate on a brew to clone Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout, brought with him a clone he made of Punk IPA. If I remember correctly, it tasted pretty spot on to what I remember the original tasting like. The signature obviously being the hop profile. I asked him to send me the recipe he had for future reference, which he kindly did. I’ve had it tucked it away all this time, and thought now would be a good time to give it a go as I hate to see tears on my friends faces when hey can’t get a beer they want. (haha, just teasing you Brewtal Honesty!)

photo 1

Looking to Brew Dog’s site for some verification, I tweaked the recipe slightly to match the information I was able to glean from it:

  • ABV: 5.6%
  • OG: 1053
  • IBU’s: 45
  • 100% Marris Otter Extra Pale Malt
  • Chinook, Simcoe, Ahtanum, Nelson Sauvin

David’s recipe had no 60 min addition in it, which I found interesting, so I opted to toss a tiny bit of Chinook in at 60mins just for fun. Maybe omitting the 60 min addition is part of the magic? I guess we’ll have to wait and see…

One other thing I don’t know is what kind of yeast they use. I usually start off with my old standby of US-05 first to see if everything else is in line, and then play with the yeast after I’ve established the general idea.

photo 2

A NOTE ON THE RECIPE: Having the last hop addition calculated at 1 minute puts the IBU’s high at 57, but having them at flameout drops them to 36, even though you’d still get some IBU’s while whirlpooling/standing to chill. I’m going by what David did originally, which was delicious, but to match the original, I may need to tweak this. Either way, the combo is going to provide that special Punk IPA profile.

Hoptomology’s Punk IPA clone

Recipe Specifications:
————————–
TYPE: All Grain
Boil Size: 6.31 gal
Post Boil Volume: 5.46 gal
Batch Size: 5.00 gal
Estimated OG: 1.054 SG
Estimated Color: 4.8 SRM
Estimated IBU: 57.5 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75.00 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes
————
Ingredients:
————————–
MALT:
9 lbs 8.0 oz       Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.0 SRM)
HOPS:
0.070 oz            Chinook [13 %] – Boil 60.0 min
0.700 oz            Chinook [11 %] – Boil 30.0 min
0.300 oz            Chinook [11 %] – Boil 15.0 min
0.300 oz            Nelson Sauvin [12 %] – Boil 15.0 min
0.300 oz            Simcoe [13 %] – Boil 15.0 min
0.650 oz            Ahtanum [6 %] – Boil 1.0 min
0.650 oz            Chinook [11 %] – Boil 1.0 min
0.650 oz            Nelson Sauvin [12 %] – Boil 1.0 min
0.650 oz            Simcoe [13 %] – Boil 1.0 min
1 oz  each           Chinook/Nelson Sauvin/Simcoe – Dry Hop 5.0 Days
YEAST:
1.0 pkg               Safale American  Ale  (US-05)
—————————-
Single Infusion Mash       152.0 F     60 min Batch sparge with 168.0 F water
Ferment at 68F for 10 days followed by 5 days for dry hopping
I’ll post results when ready.
Cheers!

Hop pellets vs. whole cone hops… what’s the effect on character?

Whole HopsBuilding on my previous hopping experiment where I set out to find The Effect of pH on Hop Character, I decided to try something that I’ve been wanting to explore for some time now, the difference in character between whole cone hops and pellet hops. Honestly, I’ve only ever used pellet hops. Probably because of their ease and availability. They’ve produced excellent results in some cases and less than excellent results in others.

Two of my favourite breweries, Sierra Nevada and Victory Brewing, both swear by using only whole cone hops. I’m going to heed their experience and agree that there must be something to it. But what exactly? I’ve heard the extra processing that goes into pelletizing does have an effect on the resulting character, but again, to what extent? Generally I’m of the mind that the less processing in anything food related, the better. Let’s see if this holds true for hops.

photo 1I brewed 2 batches over the weekend of my standard Sierra Nevada Pale Ale recipe, exactly the same, except I used whole cone Cascades for the 10 minute and flameout additions in one, and pellets in the other. (pellets were used for the magnum & perle additions in both)  Some of you may say that I should have used all whole cone and all pellets to really know the difference, but this is the stock I had on hand. If it doesn’t demonstrate the differences well enough, I will try it again with all whole cone hops. Knowing that the utilization is different for pellets vs. cones, I relied upon Beersmith to calculate the variation and adjusted my additions accordingly to have matching IBU contributions in each batch.

First thing I can say right off the bat, if you’re using whole cone hops for the first time, use a bigger pot, or adjust your batch size to match the pot you have. Whole cone hops are very bulky and will absorb a lot of wort. If in your software (such as BeerSmith) you have the ability to adjust the amount of wort lost to trub, then at least double it as a starting point. (I’d suggest 1 gallon) This will account for the extra wort lost to the whole cone hops.

The second thing I can say is save yourself the frustration of getting your chiller plugged up and use some kind of filter in your brew kettle. A few ways to do this would be to use a bazooka screen, a stainless steel braid, or a blichmann hop blocker.  I didn’t think of this beforehand and had to remove my hoses, clear the lines, sanitize everything (to be safe) and try again, 3 times!. Stupid me, what a pain! haha. As a result, I had a longer stand time than I would normally have before I chilled my wort down. I’ll have to keep this in mind when tasting the final beers as it may have contributed more IBU’s to the finished beer.

I’ll let you know what differences I detect in a couple weeks when they’re ready to compare.

Cheers!

UPDATE: Adding a relay to your temperature controller…

updateIt was brought to my attention by a reader of Hoptomology that it would be wise to add a relay to my temperature controller build. The reason being it will render the contacts on the controller safer and extend their life. They are only rated for 10 amps and a refrigerator or freezer may draw more than that for a split second when it kicks on. Up until this point I haven’t had any issues, but it never hurts to go the extra mile when it comes to wiring and electricity. Safety should always be your first priority!

Another thing that should always be observed when using electricity with liquids nearby, is plugging the unit into a GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) receptacle instead of a normal one. This way you have added protection for yourself should you accidentally come into contact with your beer or sanitizer etc. and then touch the controls. Any short circuit due to the moisture will trip the GFCI and save you from a nasty shock. I tried installing a GFCI in the actual controller box, but found that it tripped the circuit quite often when it turned on, leaving my precious beer and yeast to warm up until I was able to notice. Instead, just plug the unit into a wall outlet with a GFCI, and you’re set. (Thanks for your input Henry!)

relayI bought the relay (Part # PB321-ND) and relay socket (Part # PB642-ND) from DIGIKEY. socketIt cost me about $31 shipped to my door. I’m sure you could find somewhere else cheaper, like a local electronics store, but I’m guessing the connections may vary slightly. I thought I’d stick with what I know and get the parts that were suggested by Henry.

Here is the updated wiring diagram with the relay added into the circuit.

TEMPERATURE-CONTROLLER-WIRI

Good Luck!

Cheers!

 

The effect of pH on hop character – The Results

pH experimentThere’s been a lot of interest in the results of my experiment to find out the effect that pH has on hop character. I guess it’s something that’s been on some of your minds. Hopefully I can shed some light on what I’ve discovered.

I have to say, after kegging these two batches and carbonating them for a few days, I didn’t really notice much of a difference. But after letting them sit for another 10 days or so, the differences became obvious.

Here are the pH measurements I recorded during the process for reference:
High pH beer – Mash pH – 5.6 / Post Boil pH – 5.5 / Post Ferment pH – 3.98
Low pH beer – Mash pH – 5.3 / Post Boil pH – 5.25 / Post Ferment pH – 3.83
* All measurements were taken at room temperature.
 

Aroma

  • Low pH -
    • clearly defined Cascade character with some spicy notes from the 30 minute perle addition
    • light, balanced maltiness, very clean
    • light crystal malt aroma
  • High pH -
    • muddled hop character, no definition
    • slightly bready
    • low fusel alcohol character

Appearance

This is what surprised me the most. After leaving them for about 10 days, I pulled a pint from the low pH batch and BAM! An extremely clear pale ale. I’m not really sure of why that would happen, or the chemistry behind it, but there it was.Clarity

  • Low pH -
    • decidedly clearer
  • High pH -
    • as you can see from the picture, a haze remains

Flavour

  • Low pH -
    • crisp tasting with a defined bitterness
    • clear definition between hop flavour, malt and bitterness
  • High pH -
    • confused hop character
    • no definition between bitterness and aroma
    • malt character is flat

Conclusion

The beer with the lower pH was clearly a much more enjoyable beer. The flavours are more focused and there is a certain crispness to it. This would be an example to me of the difference between a “good” beer, and a “great” beer.

But hey, don’t just take my word for it, try it yourself!

The effect of pH on hop flavour & aroma… an experiment

pH StripsThe hop character of my beers is something I’ve tried to perfect since I started brewing. Sometimes it’s incredible, other times it’s very muted and dull. My IPA’s tend to have amazing aroma and character, but that’s easy to get when you dry hop. There are a lot of great beers out there with excellent hop character that don’t get dry hopped (think Sierra Nevada Pale Ale or Tankhouse Ale), but I can’t seem to get that definition to my hop character. Why is that?  I take it as a personal challenge to figure out, as it’s important to me. After all, this is ‘Hoptomology’ isn’t it?

I’ve recently tried ‘hop standing’, or allowing my flame out additions to steep in the pot (covered) for up to 20 minutes before whirlpooling. This technique has definitely imbibed some beautiful hop flavour, but the aroma isn’t where I’d like it to be. I’ve tried shortening that time by whirlpooling immediately after flameout, but that doesn’t seem to do it either. Don’t get me wrong, these steps do give you a certain quality, just not the one that I’m searching for here. I’ve recently built a hopback that I plan on experimenting with, using whole cone hops, but that will be a topic for another time.

There are some great podcasts on Brew Strong with Jamil Zainasheff and John Palmer about water chemistry and mineral additions. Most of the info is explaining how the different ions work in relation to brewing chemistry. The focus is usually on getting the pH in the mash in the appropriate range, which is important, I get that. What I don’t hear much about is how it affects the taste of the beer. Continue reading