Tag Archives: hops

Historic IPA recipe from Mitch Steele’s IPA

A few weeks ago I recieved a copy of Mitch Steele’s IPA: Brewing Techniques, Recipes and the Evolution of India Pale Ale. While a significant portion of the book is dedicated to the history of British brewing and IPAs, there are a number of recipes in the back of the book. These recipes are not only for historic IPAs, but also modern IPAs, including double and black variations.

I found that the historic sections of the book, as well as the historic recipes were most interesting, largely due to how insanely hoppy the IPAs of the 1700s and 1800s were. You have to wonder about a hoppy beer being aged in oak for 1-3 years, and still being hoppy — that’s a lot of hops in the beer.

I’ve had a stockpile of Fuggles for a while, and was wondering what to do with them (they aren’t exactly my favorite hop variety), when I stumbled upon a recipe in the book that uses a massive amount of hops — 1.54oz/gallon in the boil, and 0.25oz/gallon dry hopped, for a total of 120 IBUs in a 5.8% beer. Additionally, the grain bill is just British pale malt.

From IPA: Brewing Techniques, Recipes and the Evolution of India Pale Ale

“This is a moderate strength ale with a heavy dose of hops…. each recipe varies a bit, but this one epitomizes the theme. A single malt. A single hop. This beer is decidedly different from the ones to come later in the century. The hop flavor is truly through the roof. At nearly 5 pounds per barrel at a moderate gravity, saying this is hoppy is an understatement.”

Tasting notes: “Herby, hay-ey, grassy; ladyfingers crawl through the hop mist. Thoroughly, rippingly hoppy. Hops. More hops. Hop resins. Very long, dry, and crisp finish leaves a touch of malt sweetness shellacked and varnished with hops. Delicious hop burps. Hmmmmmmm…… hoppy.”

I did some calculations assuming loss in the kettle due to all the hops, as well as dry hopping, and also due to the fact that my Fuggles were lower alpha than what the book assumes, and so my recipe had slightly more hops than what I initially calculated.

Recipe: Fuggle IPA
Style: 14A-India Pale Ale(IPA)-English IPA

Recipe Overview

Wort Volume Before Boil: 8.75 US gals
Wort Volume After Boil: 6.50 US gals
Volume Transferred: 6.50 US gals
Volume At Pitching: 5.50 US gals
Expected Pre-Boil Gravity: 1.042 SG
Expected OG: 1.057 SG
Expected FG: 1.014 SG
Expected ABV: 5.7 %
Expected ABW: 4.5 %
Expected IBU (using Tinseth): 122.5
Expected Color: 5.2 SRM
Apparent Attenuation: 75.0 %
Mash Efficiency: 75.0 %
Fermentation Temperature: 68 degF

UK Pale Ale Malt 13lb 5oz (100.0 %) In Mash/Steeped

UK Fuggle (4.0 % alpha) 4.50 oz Loose Pellet Hops used First Wort Hopped
UK Fuggle (4.0 % alpha) 4.00 oz Loose Pellet Hops used 30 Min From End
UK Fuggle (4.0 % alpha) 4.00 oz Loose Pellet Hops used 15 Min From End
UK Fuggle (4.0 % alpha) 2.00 oz Loose Pellet Hops used Dry-Hopped

Yeast: Wyeast 1028-London Ale

Mash Schedule
Mash Type: Full Mash
Step: Rest at 156 degF for 60 mins

As per my usual MO, the 60 minute hops went in as first-wort hops, and in this photo, you can see the boil trying to break through the cake of hops floating at the top. Keep in mind this is only 33% of the kettle hops.


I’m glad that I scaled up the recipe, because there was a lot of hop goo at the bottom of the kettle, and I also had a massive blowoff during fermentation. It’s about 3 days from going into the keg, and I can’t wait to see what it tastes like.


Table Saison

OK, so, I’ve learned some lessons now after doing two saisons. First, Saison yeasts are highly attenuative. If you build a recipe like you would for an American yeast, or even worse, an English yeast, and then use a Saison yeast, you’re in for a shocker when it comes to ABV. Second, due to the really high level of attenuation, you need to watch your bitterness ratio. Bittering like an IPA is unnecessary, there’s no need for it. Keep the hops in the back end, and go easy on the bitterness.

Now that I’ve solidly learned (read: violated) those guidelines, my intention was to formulate a Saison as a table beer. Something between 3-4% alcohol, easy to drink, but lots of flavor from the Saison yeast and from the hops. The Saison strain that I’ve been using comes from East Coast Yeast, and has a brettanomyces strain as well. This is now the 4th generation, so it’s hard to say what the culture balance is, but it still tasted great on the last batch.

I also wanted to go for more of a rustic grain character on this batch, so I used unmalted wheat and munich malt, in addition to 2-row barley, malted wheat, and a small addition of C20.
table-saisonFor the hop bill, I opted to try a hop-bursting technique, which consisted of only a 20 minute, 5 minute and flameout addition. Despite the low utilization rate on these hops, they were all high-alpha hops (Nugget and Columbus), so I was able to achieve a respectably high bittering ratio with no more than an ounce at each addition.

My plans were all well and good, but I achieved an unexpected level of efficiency on this batch (87%), for which I was able to cut out a planned sugar addition, but I still overshot my gravity by 10 points. So, if it attenuates as planned, I’ll be looking at about a 5% saison. Not too bad, but I’m going to have to take my very high level of efficiency into account when formulating the next batch. My efficiency seems to increase with lower grain bill volumes.

Style: 16C-Belgian And French Ale-Saison

Recipe Overview

Wort Volume Before Boil: 7.75 US gals
Wort Volume After Boil: 6.00 US gals
Volume Transferred: 5.50 US gals
Water Added: 0.00 US gals
Volume At Pitching: 5.50 US gals
Final Batch Volume: 5.02 US gals
Expected Pre-Boil Gravity: 1.027 SG
Expected OG: 1.035 SG
Expected FG: 1.008 SG
Expected ABV: 3.6 %
Expected ABW: 2.9 %
Expected IBU (using Daniels): 32.7
Expected Color: 4.7 SRM
Apparent Attenuation: 77.9 %
Mash Efficiency: 75.0 %
Boil Duration: 90.0 mins
Fermentation Temperature: 77 degF

UK Pale Ale Malt 4lb 0oz (51.7 %) In Mash/Steeped
US Soft White Winter Wheat 1lb 4oz (15.9 %) In Mash/Steeped
UK Wheat Malt 1lb 0oz (12.9 %) In Mash/Steeped
German Munich Malt 1lb 0oz (12.9 %) In Mash/Steeped
US Caramel 20L Malt 8.00 oz (6.5 %) In Mash/Steeped

US Nugget (13.0 % alpha) 0.75 oz Loose Pellet Hops used 20 Min From End
US Nugget (13.0 % alpha) 1.00 oz Loose Pellet Hops used 5 Min From End
US Columbus(Tomahawk) (15.5 % alpha) 1.00 oz Loose Pellet Hops used At turn off

Other Ingredients

Yeast: ECY03 Farmhouse Brett

Mash Type: Full Mash
Step: Rest at 148 degF for 90 mins

Brewday: American Saison

I’ve had a long-term love/hate relationship with Belgian beers, but this year I fell in love with Saisons. They’re often everything you don’t find in a typical Belgian beer, hoppy, dry and bitter [Note: I know there are some Belgian beers like this, calm down]. I made a Saison last fall (2010) with the Wyeast 3711 strain, and found it enjoyable, but nothing like the ECY03 strain. I made an admittedly over-the-top Saison this summer (be careful with your ABV calculations with a beer that attenuates 90%+), which was really good once the heat of the summer went away, and since that keg kicked, I’ve been planning it’s return.

This summer’s Saison was around 8% ABV, which is too big for me, especially in the summer, so today’s Saison is targeted for 5.4%. The Saison I made this summer was bittered with Columbus hops, and dry-hopped with Centennial. Today’s was bittered with Centennial, and got a flameout addition of Centennial and Amarillo. I’m planning to keg-hop it with whole-leaf Cascade hops, but we’ll see about that when it comes time to keg.

Since East Coast Yeast is so hard to find, I made sure to save my yeast from this summer, and last week I washed it and made a starter. Sure enough, there was life in the starter after less than 24 hours. I crashed and decanted, then fed it with some cooled second runnings this morning to wake it back up. That yeast did not disappoint, and within an hour there was a krausen forming in the starter.

As there’s Brettanomyces in this particular blend of microbes, I’m not sure how long I’m going to let it sit in primary before packaging it, only my nose can tell. I’m looking for a little Brett character, but not too much.
american-saison-brewdayToday also marked the first brewday with outdoor temps below freezing. It was 10ºF outside when I started, and we peaked at around 20ºF mid-day, which didn’t do me much good, because by then, I was trying to use the outdoor ambient temps to cool my wort. A good reminder that I need to get a manageable hose set up indoors to run my wort chiller through the seemingly longest season of the year in Maine. The steam dumping out of the boil kettle is from wort that’s not even close to boiling yet.

Recipe: 2011 Saison w/Brett (ECY03)
Style: 16C-Belgian And French Ale-Saison

Recipe Overview

Wort Volume Before Boil: 7.0 US gals
Wort Volume After Boil: 5.25 US gals
Volume At Pitching: 5.25 US gals
Final Batch Volume: 5.0 US gals
Expected Pre-Boil Gravity: 1.041 SG
Expected OG: 1.051 SG
Expected FG: 1.010 SG
Expected ABV: 5.4 %
Expected ABW: 4.3 %
Expected IBU (using Daniels): 44.5
Expected Color: 5 SRM
Apparent Attenuation: 79.9 %
Mash Efficiency: 70.0 %
Boil Duration: 60.0 mins
Fermentation Temperature: 76 degF

German Wheat Malt 4lb 3oz (41.1 %) In Mash/Steeped
UK Pale Ale Malt 4lb 0oz (39.2 %) In Mash/Steeped
German Munich Malt 2lb 0oz (19.6 %) In Mash/Steeped

US Centennial (8.5 % alpha) 0.75 oz Loose Pellet Hops used First Wort Hopped
US Centennial (8.5 % alpha) 0.75 oz Loose Pellet Hops used 15 Min From End
US Amarillo (5.0 % alpha) 1.80 oz Loose Whole Hops used 1 Min From End

Yeast: East Coast Yeast 03 – Farmhouse Saison

Mash Schedule
Mash Type: Full Mash
Schedule Name:Single Step Infusion (66C/151F)
Step: Rest at 151 degF for 90 mins

12/25/11: Gravity reading of 1.004 (92.5% attenuation)
12/26/11: Kegged with 1/2 cup priming sugar

Last summer’s hop crop

hop-flowersI got called out for never doing any kind of follow-up on my hop growing last summer. To be honest, it’s because it was a lot of build-up and anticipation, but being their first year, they didn’t really produce much.

I had 7 rhizomes, 2 of which never sprouted, leaving me with 5 rhizomes. All grew into plants, with all but one growing over 10 feet tall. My Wilammette rhizome only grew about 4 feet in length.

My chinook plant was the only one to flower, but I got busy with some personal events around that time, and by the time I was ready to harvest the 1-2 ounces of flowers I would have gotten, they had dried too much on the bine.

I’m super stoked for this summer’s crop, they should all be juiced up and ready to go after establishing a good root system last summer, and I should start thinking about what I’m going to put into the two empty pots that I have left.

It’s still freezing cold here in Maine, but rhizome orders shouldn’t be far off, and with my indoor setup, I can get started pretty early.

First Wort Hopping with Dual-Use Hops

fwh-lauterI’ve been fascinated with the idea of first wort hops ever since I first read about it. To sum it up for anyone who isn’t familiar with the idea, the official method for first wort hopping (FWH) is to take 1/3 of your finishing hop addition, and add it to your first runnings as you lauter your mash. The expectation is that somehow, from steeping in the warm (but not boiling) wort, you will extract a significant amount of flavor and aroma that will not boil off during the boil (due to how it combines with the warm wort during the lautering process).

Exactly how this happens is less well explained, or even understood, and as a result, opinions on first-wort hopping vary widely.

What I began doing about a year ago, is to FWH using 100% of my bittering addition. I still use a finishing addition, but I rarely use a hop for bittering that I don’t like the flavor and/or aroma of. It has been my experience that I still get full utilization for bittering (due to isomerized alpha-acids), and that bittering seems to be very smooth. I also seem to get a nice subtle hop flavor from that addition if I happen to be brewing a beer with only a bittering addition (such as a Hefeweizen).

I don’t know if anyone else is doing their FWH addition like I am, but I’d be really curious to hear the results from what anyone else is doing.

First Year Hop-Growing

I’ve been interested in growing hops for quite some time. Last year, I wanted to get them from the local organic farming association, and found their website and catalog to be extremely confusing, and by the time I was able to contact someone, they were all sold out. So the project was delayed until this spring.

sproutsI made arrangements to get some hops through my friend Nate, but I was concerned about finding myself in the same situation I was in last year, so I ordered 4 rhizomes from FresHops.com. I ordered a rhizome of Magnum, Chinook, Nugget and Willamette. These hop varieties were chosen mostly for their vigor, the exception being Willamette, which was chosen because I like them.

I planted these 4 large rhizomes (each the diameter of a large carrot) in 20″ pots in my sunroom, filled with potting soil. Within 2 weeks I had hop sprouts breaking ground. I was ecstatic. I waited until the sprouts became long enough to begin to train onto twine, and then ran twine from the rafters in the sunroom down to each plant.

hop-vinesI learned one sad lesson in this part of growing new hops. If you try to twist them too forcefully around the twine, you break them. If you break them, the don’t keep growing. Good to know.

After a couple weeks of growing, the new rhizomes appeared from my friend. These were Magnum, Cascade and Centennial. These rhizomes were much smaller, about the diameter of a thick pencil, but I had about 4-6 of each variety. I again planted them in 20″ pots.

These smaller rhizomes do not have the same amount of stored energy that the larger ones had, and are taking much longer to break ground. To date, only the magnum have broken ground, but I know that the others are working hard to establish a root system, and hopefully they’ll all be happy next year.

My current challenge is to water them all enough to keep them happy, without overwatering. That and to temper my hopes for a decent harvest this fall from the larger plants.

Dry hopping your homebrew

Dry hopping can be a very effective method for getting that wonderful hoppy aroma and flavor in your beer. I began this practice a little over a year ago, and combined with a good bittering hop in the boil, provides a good balance of bittering, taste and aroma.


This past batch, the same hop variety was going in for flavor and dry hopping, and I purchased a 2oz. package of plugs.

What a mistake.

I failed to realize that the plugs were larger than the opening of the glass carbouys I use for my secondary, which made it quite difficult to get the dried hops in. I ended up using a butter knife to break the plug in half laterally, and then shoved it through the opening as best I could,  the thinner plug discs allowed for some flex to fit through the opening.

I have no idea how they will perform as far as the flavor and aroma go, but I do know I will make sure I have whole or pellet hops for my next dry-hopping.