Mistakes 

If we learn from our mistakes, then I am well on my way to a PhD in homebrewing. 

I talked last time about Hustle and Swagger, a concept so dumb only I could think it up (and hope it would work). Unsurprisingly, this beer isn’t the greatest IPA to ever be brewed.

But, perhaps surprisingly, it isn’t the worst either.

I made two major mistakes with Hustle and Swagger. The first I somewhat expected but chose not to avoid, and the second I should’ve expected but didn’t. First, I threw way too many hops I was unfamiliar with into this beer. The result is a pretty muddled mess, but not undrinkable. There’s hints of the exotic citrus, fruit, melon and whatever-else flavors from the Zythos, Pekko, and Equinox hops, but none of them really shine through. In fact, they’re hindered by my second mistake.

My second mistake was dry-hopping in the keg. This, in and of itself, isn’t a mistake, but I used stainless steel tea infusion balls instead of muslin bags. This allowed a lot of the hop particles to escape into the beer and therefore into the glass. The result was a strongly bitter flavor with some green, grassy flavor notes. The bitterness and grassiness overpower the sweeter, fruitier flavors.

All that said, the beer isn’t a total bust. It has a strong, pleasant aroma that showcases more of the fruit and citrus than the grass. The bitterness becomes more subdued after the first few sips and more of the flavors start to appear. It’s also kind of a pretty beer:


Ironically, before the in-keg dry-hopping this beer was crystal clear:


The yeast was also a bit of a failure. Despite building up a robust starter, the beer never fully attenuated. Given the high charge of bitterness from the hop floaties, that’s probably a blessing in disguise. The residual sweetness helps make the beer less biting.

The last bit of not-so-bad news: as the beer slowly ages, all its flaws are starting to mellow. It’s become gradually a better and better beer over time. Obviously there’s a point of diminishing return when aging an IPA, but more importantly there’s a point of diminishing return of leaving a beer in a needed homebrew keg.

I don’t foresee too many issues finishing this IPA, though I do wish it had turned out better. Live and learn. 

Getting Back After It

It’s been a busy month around here, but unfortunately not much of it has been spent brewing. Earlier this month, I traveled to Baltimore for Homebrew Con. Shortly after that I celebrated Harpoon’s 30th anniversary with some beer writers and tenured Harpoon employees (I’ll have an upcoming article on this for the Dig). And this past weekend was Sierra Nevada’s Beer Camp at Boston’s City Hall Plaza. So as I start to sober up and finish up the kegs from Beans N Brew, I realize it’s time to start brewing again.

I think it’s time to officially dub 2016 the Summer of IPA, because outside of a rebrew of Nelson’s Saison aka Classy AF, I’m focused on brewing a couple more IPAs in the near future. So IPA #3 and #4, what will they be?

IPA #3 will be a New England-style IPA, based on this recipe from Ed Coffey, brewed for a Brulosophy exBEERiment. The grain bill is fairly straight-forward: ~80% pale malt and 20% flaked oats, but with a fairly complicated hopping/dry-hopping regiment. I’m interested in trying the double dry-hopping technique again (I haven’t tried this in a while); I’ll probably alter the hops used but I’ll follow this recipe pretty closely (before I inevitably decide to fuck with it).

SWAG

SWAG

IPA #4 already has a name: Hustle and Swagger. This will be yet another variant on my Hustler recipe, using a lot of the free “swag” hops that I got from Homebrew Con. There’s some interesting hops in this recipe thanks to the good folks at YCH Hops and Yakima Valley:

  • Zythos – tropical (pineapple) and citrus tones with slight pine characteristics
  • Equinox – unique berry-and-fresh-pepper character
  • Pekko – clean, pleasant, floral, citrus, mint, herbal, mellow, pineapple, thyme, saaz-like cucumber, sage, touch of lemon

I’ll probably have to build up a starter for the Hansen Ale Blend from White Labs that I used for IPA #2. It’s been a while since I harvested the yeast from the starter, so I’m hoping it’s still viable. If not, I’ll augment it with some of the free yeast I received at Homebrew Con, probably Mangrove M44 West Coast yeast. If I’m using swag hops, might as well use swag yeast too, right?

I’ll post recipes along with the brew day recaps soon. I’m hoping to brew IPA#3 on Friday.

Sláinte!


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