My Hop Bines Have Arrived

In my 2009 Brew Year Goals post, I explained that I wanted to try growing some hops this year. I have been doing some research and making a list of potential varieties based on my taste in beer. I was talking with SWMBO about which ones I should try. She asked how much they were. I told her I was looking at freshops.com who had them at $4.50 each. She thought for a moment and said, “Why don’t you just get them all?” Before she could change her mind, I had the order placed. That was March 1. They were shipped March 4 and arrived here March 6. Now they are in the refrigerator waiting for the risk of frost to pass.

I got one of each of the following:

  • Cascade
  • Centennial
  • Chinook
  • Golding
  • Northern Brewer
  • Willamette
  • Zeus (a.k.a. Tomahawk, Columbus)

(12) Saturday, March 7, 2009 Brew Day

I was going to brew another batch of CJ’s House of the Rising Sun JPA today. I was going to use the yeast I harvested from my last batch. I made a starter with some of it earlier this week. When I could see stuff starting to grow in the jug, it was the wrong color. It was black. After a few days a nice layer of yeast started to develop, as well, but I was fairly certain it was contaminated. I wasn’t worried, though, as I had some S-04 for emergency use. This morning I decided to sample the starter beer. It was not bad. It was extremely dry, so I’m guessing that whatever the other inhabitant of the flask is, it is much better at converting sugars than the yeast is. It was an interesting flavor and might make a quite refreshing drink, but it was not beer. I decided to go ahead and use the dry yeast.

Then this morning, while I was gathering my brewing gear and ingredients, I wondered whether the strange taste and behavior of the starter was because I accidentally used the Wheat DME from the recipe rather than Plain Light DME. They both came in one-pound bags. They both look roughly the same. I madly searched through my stuff and found the half-used bag of DME. Luckily it was the right stuff. Unfortunately, I could not find the Wheat DME. I searched back through my receipts until I found the correct sheet, only to find that I had forgotten to order any in the first place. So, lacking one of the major fermentables, I will not be brewing what I planned today.

Fortunately, I am getting smart in my old age, or maybe just humble and recognizing that I am an idiot but with proper planning I can account for it. It turns out that I had two sets of ingredients in the brew queue, so today I will be doing a partial mash version of the McQuaker’s Oatmeal Stout recipe from Brewing Classic Styles.

I’m going to do this live-blog style, so look for updates throughout the day.

10:00 a.m. — Preheating oven to 300 °F so I can toast my oats.

10:04 a.m. — 1 pound flaked oats into oven on a sheet pan.

10:09 a.m. — Weighing grains. 8 ounces of Whole Roasted Barley (smells amazing, tastes a bit like coffee grounds). 2 pounds American two-row (smells grainy and tastes like a slightly sweet breakfast cereal). 8 ounces Crystal 80L (smells lightly malty, tastes grainy ands slightly sweet). 12 ounces of Victory Malt (smells lightly malty, tastes like popcorn husks). 12 ounces Chocolate Malt (smells nutty, tastes quite bitter like burnt coffee).

10:18 a.m. — Stirred oats in oven.

10:27 a.m. — Removed oats from oven.

10:36 a.m. — Added toasted oats to crushed grains.

10:42 a.m. — Heating 8.25 quarts of water to 165 °F.

10:56 a.m. — Immersing grain bag in mash liquor and stirring. Mash temperature is 154 °F.

11:28 a.m. — Mash temperature dropped to 150 °F. Heating to 155 °F. Off to set up the brewery.

11:52 a.m. — Heating another two gallons of water to 165 °F.

11:58 a.m. — Lifted the grain bag out of the first pot and let it drain for a minute before transferring it to the other and remixing.

12:08 p.m. — Removed grain bag and let drain and then discarded the grain on the compost pile. Added the wort from the first pot. Measured out 5 pounds 6.4 ounces of Marris Otter LME and added it to the pot and stirred to dissolve. Resulting in 3.75 gallons in my brew pot.

12:35 p.m. — Added 3.25 gallons to get to 7 gallons.

12:50 p.m. — Pre-boil gravity is 1.047 (11.6 °P). Started heating towards the boil. Gas on high.

1:00 p.m. — It‘s one o‘clock and it’s time for lunch. Tum te tum te tum.

1:18 p.m. — Measured out 1.8 ounces of English Kent Goldings (%AA unknown). Starting to re-hydrate dry yeast.

1:28 p.m. — Boiled (and now cooling) 0.5 cups water to use to rehydrate yeast.

1:34 p.m. — Wort is boiling. Added hops and started a 60 minute timer. Reduced gas to medium.

2:07 p.m. — Added dry yeast to the now cool water.

2:15 p.m. — 20 minutes remaining. Added wort chiller to kettle to sterilize.

2:20 p.m. — 15 minutes remaining. Added whirlfloc tablet.

2:25 p.m. — 10 minutes remaining. Added 0.5 teaspoons yeast nutrient.

2:35 p.m. — Flame out… and we’re chillin’.

2:49 p.m. — Chilled to 68 °F. Removed chiller, stir to whirlpool, and lid on.

3:09 p.m. — Transferring to fermenter.

3:45 p.m. — Transfered to fermenter. OG is 1.056 (13.7 °P). Shaking to aerate.

3:55 p.m. — Pitching yeast.

4:15 p.m. — Fermenter moved to fermentation chiller and blowoff tube attached. Temperature controller set at 67±1 °F. Time to clean up.

Update: 15 hours later — 7:00 a.m. the next morning — and we have active yeast.

Update: 2 weeks later — March 21 at 9:51 a.m. — Final gravity is 7.5 °P. With an OG of 1.056, that gives an FG of 1.013 (5.7% ABV, 233 calories per pint). Predicted FG was 1.016. Beer is ready to prime and package. Priming with 4.3 ounces of corn sugar boiled in 2 cups of water. This batch filled 44 pint bottles (5.5 gallons).

Update: 4 weeks later — April 5 at 2:34 p.m. — I’ve actually been sampling this for a few days now and it is definitely done. Very dark. Black (opaque). Thick, brown, long-lasting head. Very malty aroma smelling faintly of coffee ice cream. Very smooth. Very clean tasting. Most of the specialty malts are just noticeable as hints of flavors. Hints of coffee and chocolate. Slight bitterness. I will definitely enjoy this and make it again.

Brew Plans for This Weekend

The weather forecast calls for 51°F and partly sunny skies this Saturday. Looks like a brew day is in order.

I’ll be making another batch of CJ’s House of the Rising Sun JPA. I’m going to use some of the yeast that I harvested from the first batch, so I think I’ll go ahead and make a starter tonight. I have some dry yeast if it doesn’t work. I’ll crush the steeping grains Friday evening as well as measuring out the hop additions and getting the brewery ready.

Great Homebrew Recipes: Mike McDole’s Tasty American Pale Ale

Occasionally, I will try to document a recipe that appears to be popular amongst the Internet brewing community. As well as serving as a reminder of a potential future brew, it also gives me the opportunity to relate interesting points about contemporary brewers and their brewing practices.

Mike “Tasty” McDole recently chatted on The Brewing Network forums about his Tasty APA recipe and included a link to his recipe on Beer du jour. Apparently, through a combination of good luck, skill, friends, and some happy coincidences, Mike ended up taking a good bit of it to GABF ’08 and the crowd loved it.

I can only take credit for the recipe and to a lesser extent the brewing. The beer wouldn’t have been made without the good graces of the 21st Amendment Brewery and Shaun O’Sullivan. And I can’t fail to mention my friend and mentor Jamil Zainasheff who made it all possible by letting me take his ProAm spot at the 21A. I’m very lucky to know these guys.

Mike talked a little about where the recipe came from and what he was going for when he came up with it.

This beer [is] mostly about the malt bill so I recommend going to your stash of hops and coming up with a 33–38 IBU hop bill where one third of the IBUs are between 20 minutes and flameout. The hops I list are for what I call “Pliny Lite” but that’s just because the beer was conceived when I blended 3 oz of my Pliny The Elder clone with 9 oz of my Munich Helles… The goal of this recipe is a dry quaffable beer with IPA level hop flavor from an APA level (lower cost) hop bill. The goal is not a beer you can’t make because you can’t get the hops.

Also, although the beer definitely benefits from dry hopping, you don’t necessarily have to. The late additions should carry over enough and those hops could better be used for another batch.

So mix it up and change the name. Choose your favorite hops and make it your beer.

Mike has an advanced setup and normally uses a hopback for the final boil kettle additions. Here is what he had to say for folks that do not have a hopback available.

Frankly I have no real idea what the hop aroma contribution of the hopback is. On the rare occasion I don’t use it, I don’t notice a particular difference which is probably because I use plenty of dryhop. I use it when making lagers like Helles where I don’t dryhop and I (or judges) can’t perceive any hop nose. I think the prevailing wisdom is that the aroma probably gets scrubbed out during primary fermentation. I’m really just using the hopback as a trub filter and if I want more hop aroma I increase the dry hop.

So to answer the question, the reason I say half as much flameout hops as hopback hops is because I feel that would be the equivalent [amount] of hop aroma due to the better utilization in the kettle versus the hopback. Just my opinion, no science, and I’m certainly open to other ideas.

This beer doesn’t lack for hop flavor so I could also see dropping the hopback/flameout hops altogether.

Since I will not be using a hopback, I have already adjusted the hop schedule in this recipe to move the hopback addition to flameout at half the amount, as Mike suggested. Look at Mike’s original recipe for his version. You might also want to listen to the dry hopping episode of Brew Strong for some tips from Mike on how he gets so much hop character into his beers.

I have formulated this recipe to produce five gallons (19 L) of beer for packaging. I assume a loss due to trub of a half-gallon in the fermenter and another half-gallon in the boil kettle. That leaves six gallons (22.7 L) at the end of the boil. I assume a boil-off rate of about one gallon per hour, which means I need seven gallons (26.5 L) at the start of the boil for a 60-minute full-volume boil. I have adjusted the ingredient amounts accordingly to achieve the desired gravities, bitterness, and pitching rates. I assume the use of bagged pellet hops for all hop additions with the contribution of first wort hops at 35% of normal. I use the Rager formula for calculating bitterness and the Morey model for calculating beer color. I created the extract version of this recipe using Ken Schwartz’s method to convert from all-grain.

Recipe: Mike McDole’s Tasty APA

OG: 1.056 (13.8 °P)
FG: 1.013 (3.3 °P)
ADF: 77%
IBU: 37.9
Color: 6.1 SRM (15.1 EBC)
Boil: 60 minutes
Pre-Boil Volume: 7 gallons (26.5 L)
Pre-Boil Gravity: 1.005 (1.3 °P)

Extract Weight Percent
Light DME 5.5 lbs. (2.50 kg) 57.9
Pilsen DME 2 lbs. (0.91 kg) 21.1
Wheat DME 0.5 lbs. (0.23 kg) 5.3
Steeping Grains
Carapils Malt (2 °L) 1 lbs. (0.45 kg) 10.5
Crystal (40 °L) 0.5 lbs. (0.23 kg) 5.3
Hops IBU
Chinook 13% AA, First Wort Hopped 0.25 oz. (7 g) 4.5
Warrior 15.6% AA, 60 min. 0.25 oz. (7 g) 18.1
Simcoe 12% AA, 20 min. 0.25 oz. (7 g) 4.7
Columbus 15% AA, 10 min. 0.25 oz. (7 g) 3.8
Northern Brewer 9% AA, 10 min. 0.25 oz. (7 g) 2.3
Centennial 10.5% AA, 1 min. 0.25 oz. (7 g) 2.1
Simcoe 12% AA, 1 min. 0.25 oz. (7 g) 2.4
Cascade 5.8% AA, 0 min. 1 oz. (28 g) 0.0
Columbus 15% AA, Dry Hop 1 oz. (28 g) 0.0
Centennial 10.5% AA, Dry Hop 0.5 oz. (14 g) 0.0
Simcoe 12% AA, Dry Hop 0.5 oz. (14 g) 0.0
Yeast
White Labs California Ale WLP001, Wyeast American Ale 1056, or Fermentis Safale US-05
Fermentation and Conditioning

Use 11 grams of properly rehydrated dry yeast, 2 liquid yeast packages, or make an appropriate starter. Ferment at 68 °F (20 °C). When finished, carbonate the beer to approximately 2.5 volumes.

All-Grain Option

Replace the extracts with 8 lbs. (3.63 kg) American two-row, 3 lbs. (1.36 kg) Pilsen, and 0.5 lbs. (0.23 kg) Wheat. Use a single-temperature infusion mash of 60 minutes duration at 154 °F (68 °C). A mashout step is optional. Mash efficiency is assumed to be 70%. Mike uses Mosher’s “Ideal Pale Ale” water profile. Note that there is a typo in the online version of the recipe. The Mg level should be 18 and not 118.

Brewing Book List

I am keeping a list of brewing books that I have or hear about from others. Useful for gift ideas (for others to give to me ;)) or just for reference.

  • The Complete Joy of Homebrewing (Have)
  • Brewing Classic Styles (Have)
  • The Homebrewer’s Companion (Have)
  • How to Brew (Have)
  • Designing Great Beers (Have)
  • Radical Brewing
  • New Brewing Lager Beer
  • Brewing Up a Business
  • The Secret Life of Beer!
  • Beer School
  • Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers
  • The Brewmaster’s Table
  • Brew Chem 101
  • The Homebrewer’s Answer Book
  • Principles of Brewing Science
  • Clone Brews
  • The Compleat Meadmaker (Have)
  • The Theory And Practice Of Brewing
  • Beer Captured
  • Alewife’s Garden
  • Standards of Brewing
  • Microbrewed Adventures
  • Beer in America
  • Beer and Philosophy
  • Brew Like a Monk
  • Wild Brews
  • Farmhouse Ales
  • Barleywine
  • Smoked Beers
  • Wheat Beers
  • Extreme Brewing
  • The Homebrewer’s Garden
  • The Brewer’s Companion
  • Tasting Beer

Brew Plans for 2009

I am working on identifying recipes and gathering ingredients so that I am ready to brew when the opportunity arises. Here is what I am currently considering:

  • (Done!) An American IPA — CJ’s House of the Rising Sun JPA
  • (Done!) An Oatmeal Stout — Jamil’s McQuaker’s Oatmeal Stout
  • An American Brown Ale — Either Jamil’s Moose Drool clone or (Pending) Mike “Tasty” McDole’s Janet’s Brown Ale
  • An American Amber Ale — Jamil’s West Coast Blaster
  • An Irish Red Ale — either Jamil’s Ruabeoir or Bier Kitty Brewing’s Better Red than Dead
  • An American Pale AleMike “Tasty” McDole’s APA
  • An English IPA — Jamil’s Bière de L’inde

I think all of these beers would go over well in our household. I am also tempted by some other beers that SWMBO would probably not appreciate as much as I might. With all of the above available, I think there is room for some experimentation, so I would like to add these to this year’s plans:

  • A Weizen — Jamil’s Harold-is-Weizen, or simply an American Wheat like Kent‘s Hollow Leg (also from Jamil).
  • A Belgian Pale Ale — Jamil’s Antwerp Afternoon

That could makes eleven batches if I brew both of the ones where there is a choice. If I were to brew every other week starting as soon as the weather breaks — possibly mid-March — these could take me through the beginning of August. If I did not get started until the first day of Spring and only manage to brew once every three weeks, this could take me through Teach a Friend to Brew Day in November.

Update: I have decided I want to add an English Brown, as well. I have fond memories of reading the paper and sipping a Newcastle at The Old Swan. That would be a Northern English Brown. There are also Southern English Browns, with which I am less familiar but I would like to get to know better. So, I will add these two beers, as well, and a Cider, which should take me through the end of the year.

  • A Northern English Brown Ale — Someone’s Newcastle Clone
  • A Southern English Brown Ale — I will have to do some recipe research before I can say which
  • (Pending) An English Cider — I was happy with the outcome of my Red Cap recipe, so I may try that again

Update (again): You know… There is no Porter here. I think a Porter is in order. Perhaps a Brown or a Robust Porter?

  • A Brown Porter — The obvious choice would be a Samuel Smith Taddy Porter clone
  • A Robust Porter — I know less about these, but have heard good things about Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald Porter

Update (yet again): I cannot believe I missed an Imperial IPA! I also ended up making a Stone Arrogant Bastard Clone.

Great Homebrew Recipes: Pliny The Elder

Occasionally, I will try to document a recipe that appears to be popular amongst the Internet brewing community. As well as serving as a reminder of a potential future brew, it also gives me the opportunity to relate interesting points about contemporary brewers and their brewing practices.

This is, of course, the recipe that Mike McDole’s winning entry in the 2007 Samuel Adams® American Homebrew Contest is based on.

Vinnie Cilurzo is credited with developing the first commercial Imperial IPA at Blind Pig Brewery in Temecula, CA. In 1997 he became head brewer at Korbel Champagne Cellars’ Russian River Brewery in Santa Rosa, CA. He worked there for seven years before purchasing the brewery. At the American Homebrewers Association 2004 National Homebrew Competition in Las Vegas, NV, and again at the 2005 National Homebrew Competition in Baltimore, MD, Vinnie passed out a handout containing a homebrew scale recipe of Pliny the Elder which, in turn, got posted at ratebeer.com. Later, he worked with Brew Your Own magazine, to publish the recipe. The differences in the grain bill between the two may be due to different volume assumptions.

The small amount of caramel malt and the moderate dextrine malt are consistent with Vinnie’s tips on making better hoppy beers. Supposedly, Vinnie started introducing Dextrose due to mash tun volume limitations at Blind Pig. He found that his customers preferred the dry finish it provided. Also, they apparently no longer use mash hopping. The cows that eat their spent grains supposedly do not like it. Some say that they have switched to hop extract.

At 1:44:30 into the 06-26-05 episode of The Sunday Session, there is a lecture that Vinnie gave at the 2005 NHC called “Dry Hopping: Quantity, Time, Temperature, and Mixing,” including a discussion of this beer and how it came about and the dry hopping schedule at Russian River.

This is from the product page at Russian River Brewing:

Pliny the Elder was a Roman naturalist, scholar, historian, traveler, officer, and writer. Although not considered his most important work, Pliny and his contemporaries created the botanical name for hops, Lupus salictarius, meaning wolf among scrubs. Hops at that time grew wild among willows, much like a wolf in the forest. Later the current botanical name, Humulus lupulus, was adopted. Pliny died in 79 AD while observing the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. He was immortalized by his nephew, Pliny the Younger, who continued his uncle’s legacy by documenting much of what he observed during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius.

8.0% ABV, 1.071 OG

  • Gold Medal, 2006 World Beer Cup (Double IPA Category)
  • Gold Medal, 2005 GABF (Double IPA Category)
  • Bronze Medal, 2004 GABF (Double IPA Category)

I have formulated this recipe to produce 5 gallons (19 L) of beer for packaging. I assume a loss due to trub of 0.5 gallons in the fermenter and another 0.5 gallons in the boil kettle. That leaves six gallons (22.7 L) at the end of the boil. I assume a boil-off rate of about 1 gallon per hour, which means I need 7.5 gallons (28.4 L) at the start of the boil for a 90-minute full-volume boil. I have adjusted the ingredient amounts accordingly to achieve the desired gravities, bitterness, and pitching rates. I assume the use of bagged pellet hops for all hop additions. I use the Rager formula for calculating bitterness and the Morey model for calculating beer color.

Recipe: Vinnie Cilurzo’s Pliny the Elder

OG: 1.075 (18.2 °P)

FG: 1.013 (3.3 °P)

ADF: 81.8%

IBU: 261.3

Color: 5.9 SRM (14.3 EBC)

Alcohol: 8.4% ABV (6.6% ABW)

Boil: 90 minutes

Pre-Boil Volume: 7.5 gallons (28.4 L)

Pre-Boil Gravity: 1.054 (13.3 °P)

Extracts Weight Percent
Light DME (2.2 °L) 10.0 lbs. (4.5 kg) 80.9
Dextrose (0 °L) 1.1 lbs. (500 g) 8.9
Steeping Grains
Carapils Malt (2 °L) 0.94 lbs. (425 g) 7.6
Crystal (40 °L) 0.32 lb. (145 g) 2.6
Hops IBU
Warrior 15.6% AA, 90 min. 2.75 oz. (78 g) 167.9
Chinook 12.2% AA, 90 min. 0.5 oz. (14 g) 23.9
Simcoe 12% AA, 45 min. 1.0 oz. (28 g) 39.6
Columbus 14.3% AA, 30 min. 1.0 oz. (28 g) 30.0
Centennial 9.1% AA, 0 min. 2.25 oz. (64 g) 0.0
Simcoe 12% AA, 0 min. 1.0 oz. (28 g) 0.0
Columbus 14.3% AA, dry hop. 3.25 oz. (92 g) 0.0
Centennial 9.1% AA, dry hop. 1.75 oz. (50 g) 0.0
Simcoe 12% AA, dry hop. 1.75 oz. (50 g) 0.0
Yeast
White Labs California Ale WLP001, Wyeast American Ale 1056, or Fermentis Safale US-05
Fermentation and Conditioning

Use 16 grams of properly rehydrated dry yeast, 3 liquid yeast packages, or make an appropriate starter. Ferment at 68 °F (20 °C). When finished, carbonate the beer to approximately 2 to 2.5 volumes.

All-Grain Option

Replace the light extract with 13.3 lbs. (6.0 kg) American two-row malt. Mash at 150–152 °F (66–67 °C). Add 1.5 ounces of 13% AA Chinook hops during the mash.1


  1. To quote Denny Conn, “The difference, to me, is that [first wort hopping] adds hops flavor and smooth bitterness and mash hopping basically does nothing but waste hops.”