Although many of my IPAs have been on the session side, I do try to make a full strength version every once in awhile. In this recipe, I aimed for something highly drinkable and packed with hop flavor. Towards the first item, I mashed low and added some dextrose to keep things light. Towards the second end, I looped in some HOPBOX finds–Azacca, HBC 586, and Idaho Gem. Finally, I wanted to experiment with Lutra, a kveik strain that has a reputation of a quick and clean fermentation. It’s a bit of a kitchen sink beer, in order to use up some grains and hops, but it’s all with a purpose.
Big Hop Summer IPA
5.25 lb. Golden Promise malt (Simpsons)
5.25 2-row pale malt (Rahr)
1.75 lb. Vienna malt (Weyermann)
0.25 lb. Munich I malt (Weyermann)
0.75 lb. dextrose (added to boil)
0.75 oz. Bravo hop pellets (14.2% alpha), 60 minute boil
1 Whirlfloc tablet, 5 minute boil
1 oz. Azacca hop pellets (12.7% alpha), 15 minute whirlpool
1 oz. HBC 586 hop pellets (11.8% alpha), 15 minute whirlpool
1 oz. Idaho Gem hop pellets (14.2% alpa), 15 minute whirlpool
1 pkg. Lutra kveik (dry), Omega OYL-071
1 oz. Azacca hop pellets (12.7% alpha), dry hop in keg
1 oz. HBC 586 hop pellets (11.8% alpha), dry hop in keg
1 oz. Idaho Gem hop pellets (14.2% alpa), dry hop in keg
The beer pours as a hazy gold, with a persistent white head that leaves nice lacing down the side of the glass over time. I am surprised that the haze hasn’t dropped out, even after two months in the keg at temperatures below 40 degrees.
Orange peel aroma at the front; very citrusy character overall.
The balance is tipped towards the hops (no surprise), with a very citrusy and resin character. I also pick up a bit of stone fruit, which might be from the hops or perhaps from the yeast. There is a little bit of a “twang” of something somewhere in the background, which I suspect is from the yeast but I can’t be 100 percent certain. Even though Lutra is supposed to ferment clean, I’ve seen remarks that it is still a farmhouse-type strain, and they remain a bit rustic. As the beer sits on the tongue, I wonder if some of it is some citrus pith character. In any case, there is something that detracts a little bit from complete enjoyment of the beer by my tastes, but it’s not overwhelming, and it isn’t totally out of character for this kind of beer. The malt is in the background, as it should be, but provides a nice bit of body and a touch of malty flavor to balance against the hop bitterness.
Medium-light body, with moderate carbonation and a dry finish. It goes down super easy.
Would I Brew This Again?
I like the beer overall, but I might switch up the hop varieties. I tried Azacca years ago, it didn’t overwhelm me with awesome then, and I had a similar experience this time around. I think it’s just not a hop that does much for me. I’m surprised by how persistently hazy the beer has been, even after two months in the keg; the haze doesn’t terribly detract from the beer, but it’s just a bit more haze than I expected. Those remarks aside, this is a very drinkable beer, especially for something that clocks in at 6.7% abv. The combination of low mash temperature and dextrose addition likely contributed to keeping things on the lighter side.
This one was a total experiment for me! Experimental hops, experimental yeast, and experimental fermentation. My local homebrew shop had a new variety called Samba, with tropical characters that sounded pretty neat! So, I picked up a few ounces for a batch. I also had been meaning to try out Lallemand’s new dry Voss kveik strain, so grabbed some of those packets.
For this beer, I wanted a tropical/citrus character and fairly light drinkability, alongside a “full-strength” IPA. So, I combined Centennial, Samba, and Simcoe for a whirlpool as well as a dry hop addition.
Dance Party IPA
12.5 lb. 2-row Xtra Pale Malt (Viking)
0.75 lb. Carapils malt (Briess)
1 oz. Magnum hop pellets (10.6% alpha), 60 minute boil
1 Whirlfloc tablet, 5 minute boil
1 oz. Centennial hop pellets (8.1% alpha), 15 minute whirlpool
1 oz. Samba hop pellets (11.6% alpha), 15 minute whirlpool
1 oz. Simcoe hop pellets (12.7% alpha), 15 minute whirlpool
1 pkg. Voss Kveik Ale dry yeas (Lallemand)
1 oz. Centennial hop pellets (8.1% alpha), dry hop in keg
1 oz. Samba hop pellets (11.6% alpha), dry hop in keg
1 oz. Simcoe hop pellets (12.7% alpha), dry hop in keg
1.059 s.g., 1.013 f.g., 6.1% abv, 62 IBU, 4 SRM
Claremont tap water, with Campden tablet and 5 g of gypsum added at the boil, to bump up the bitterness
60 minute full volume infusion mash, 152°
I mashed in with 7.25 gallons of water at 159°, to hit a mash temperature of 152°. I added 6 mL of 88% lactic acid, to adjust the mash pH.
After a 60 minute mash with recirculation at 152°, I bumped up the temperature to 168° for a 10 minute mash-out.
Following the mash, I removed the grain basket and brought the kettle to a boil.
In total, I had 6.3 gallons with a gravity of 1.050, for 66% mash efficiency. I added 5 g of gypsum to the boil, to bump up the sulfate.
I boiled for 60 minutes, adding finings and hops per the schedule.
After the boil, I did a 15 minute whirlpool at around 195°, and then chilled down to 90° and transferred to the fermenter.
Starting gravity was 1.050. I brewed this beer on 27 March 2021.
I pitched the packet of yeast directly, and began fermentation at 90°. After 18 hours, I raised the temperature to 95°, and then raised to 100° at the 24 hours mark after yeast pitch. After 72 hours, I lowered the temperature to 90°.
I kegged the beer on 7 April 2021, with the dry hops floating loose in the keg and a screen on the floating dip tube to filter out hops.
Final gravity was 1.013, for 5.8% abv.
I didn’t have time to do a formal tasting on this one before the keg was kicked, but have a few general perceptions. First, the fermentation had a super clean character, and the kveik lives up to its reputation. I would totally do this fermentation profile again! Second, I really enjoyed the hop combo, but think that I probably overbittered it a bit, and the hops drowned out any potential malt character. There was a touch of astringency from the dry hops also, at times, which I think also detracted from the final flavor. So, if I redo this kind of IPA I might use a more character-rich base malt such as Vienna or Maris Otter and maybe a touch more of a crystal malt (e.g., crystal 20 or even crystal 40). That aside, the Samba hops did live up to their tropical reputation, and played well with the rest of the hops. It might be interesting to switch up the hop combos; I think this beer would be great with any combo of Samba, Citra, and/or Mosaic.
So…I would probably do this again, but modify things significantly. It was definitely worth the experiment, and I’ll likely dive into more kveik fermentations this summer! I give the beer itself a 5/10…not awful, but not quite where I want it to be either.
Way, way, way back in the innocent days of September 2016, I brewed a winter warmer. At the time, it was okay, but nothing great. I drank much of it right from the keg, and the rest got bottled. I sampled some back in January 2018, and it was aging nicely. After that, I forgot about the beer for awhile, and only just ran across my stash in the basement while putting away Christmas decorations. Being New Year’s Eve and all, I thought it would be fun to pull out a bottle and give it a taste!
Although I was tempted to review my recipe and brewing notes prior to opening the bottle, I decided to go into the tasting with minimal expectations. I vaguely recalled that there was some ginger in there, but that’s about it. My spouse shared the bottle (it was 22 ounces of beer, and I didn’t need to drink all of it myself!), and we talked over the beer as watched the southern California sunset from our yard.
Very clear, deep amber beer, which pours with a moderately persistent cream-colored head.
Raisins, light hint of leather, ginger, dried figs…very rich! No hop aroma noticeable.
Malty, with moderate bitterness. Lots of pleasant notes from aging, including dried figs, raisins, and a touch of spice (ginger). Yeast character was surprisingly clean, with no unpleasant aspects that I was afraid might seep in after a few years.
Big body, very smooth, moderate carbonation.
Would I Age This Again?
YES. Although I don’t recall this being an exceptional beer four years ago, it sure is something special now. Everything has just come together in a rich, flavorful way, and I can’t think of a better beer to enjoy as we close out 2020. I’ll brew this again soon, to have at least a little aging under its belt before next New Year’s Eve.
For Christmas this year, I wanted a special small-batch beer to sip on a cold, dark evening. I usually buy some barrel-aged commercial beers (Firestone Walker’s 2019 Old Man Hattan is particularly nice), so that flavor profile didn’t terribly appeal to me as a homebrew, especially not in larger volumes. After a bit of thought, I settled on a smoked ale. I’ve done a handfulof thoseover the years, trying out the porter and brown ale styles previously. For this iteration, something in the Scottish ale space was appealing. I could get plenty of malt and plenty of body, and it would (hopefully) stand up well to any smokiness. Thus, the Yule Log Smoked Scottish Ale was born!
The recipe is built around the Scottish Export Ale BJCP style, which according to my reading sometimes is made with smoked variants. My version was based in part on Brulosophy’s Short & Shoddy Wee Heavy Recipe. To add a bit of smoked character, I put in two pounds (~16% of the total grain bill) of Briess cherrywood smoked malt.
In the spirit of the Short & Shoddy series, I cut a ton of corners in the brew day. I only did a 30 minute, full-volume mash, and a 30 minute boil. I used some oldish yeast, which meant I needed three packages total.
Yule Log Smoked Scottish Ale
9 lbs. Maris Otter malt (Crisp)
2 lb. Cherry wood smoked malt (Briess)
5 oz. Biscuit malt (Dingemans)
5 oz. Caramel 120° malt (Briess)
5 oz. CaraPils malt (Briess)
4 oz. Crystal 75° malt (Bairds)
1 oz. Whitbread Golding Variety hop pellets (8.7% alpha), 15 minute boil
2 pkg. Tartan yeast (Imperial Yeast #A31)
1 pkg. Safale American ale yeast (US-05)
1.063 s.g, 1.019 f.g., 5.8% abv, 21 IBU, 15 SRM
3.25 gallon batch
Full volume infusion mash, 156° target temperature
Claremont tap water, with Campden tablet treatment to remove chloramines
I mashed in with 5.35 gallons of water at 165.5°, hitting a mash temperature of 155°. By the end of the 30 minute mash, temperature was down to 152°.
I vorlaufed and collected 3.75 gallons of wort with a gravity of 1.068, for 56% mash efficiency. This is a bit “thicker” than targeted, so I added 0.5 gallons of water to get 4.25 gallons of wort at a slightly lower gravity.
I boiled for 30 minutes, adding hops at the 15 minute mark. I then chilled down to 70°, transferred to the fermenter, and pitched the yeast.
Starting gravity was 1.066, on 24 November 2019. I fermented at 67°.
I kegged the beer on 10 December 2019. It had a final gravity of 1.014, for 6.9% abv.
Copper colored beer, moderately hazy, with a thin but persistent head.
Faint smoke aroma, but not overbearing. Slight caramel note, and very mild fruity esters as the beer warms up.
Modestly smoky, balanced nicely against the caramel and bready aspects of the malt. Bitterness is moderate, clean, and just about perfect for this beer. There is a very slight but pleasant sweetness to the beer. As I finish a glass, the smoke disappears behind the rest of the beer. On the one hand, it would be nice to smokiness be a bit more prominent, but on the other hand I think the drinkability would suffer. This is a rare smoked beer that can stand up to multiple pints!
This beer has a reasonable bit of body, and a medium-sweet finish. Carbonation level is moderate.
Would I brew this again?
I liked this beer pretty well! I find commercial smoked beers to be hit or miss, and I think the very moderate level of smoked malt I use paid off. Pretty much everything works about this one, and it’s a nice beer to enjoy on a cool SoCal winter day. I wish the clarity was a bit better at this point, but I never bothered to cold-crash the beer, nor did I use gelatin or even hot-side finings. I expect a combination of these would clear things significantly. I might also mash just a touch higher, as this beer would benefit from a slight bump in body.
For our October meeting, my homebrew club decided to do a hop comparison test, with members brewing the same grain bill and different hops. At a recent homebrew festival, I had sampled an IPA with Comet hops, and rather liked it. My choice of hop was decided!
Comet Pale Ale
10.5 lb. 2-row premium malt (Great Western)
0.5 oz. Caravienne malt
0.25 oz. crystal 20 malt (Briess)
1 oz. Comet hop pellets (8.2% alpha), 60 minute boil
1 Whirlfloc tablet, 10 minute boil
2 oz. Comet hop pellets (8.2% alpha), 10 minute whirlpool
1 pkg. Safale American ale yeast (US-05)
3 oz. Comet hop pellets (8.2% alpha), 5 day dry-hop
1.052 s.g, 1.012 f.g., 5.3% abv, 41 IBU, 6 SRM
Infusion mash, full volume
Claremont tap water
I mashed in with 7.5 gallons of Claremont tap water at 159°, to hit a 152.8° mash temperature. This was a full-volume mash.
After 45 minutes, I vorlaufed and collected 6.3 gallons of runnings with a gravity of 1.041, for 63.4% mash efficiency. This was a bit lower than I had expected even for a no-sparge recipe.
I boiled for 60 minutes, adding hops and kettle finings at the indicated times.
After flame-out, I added the whirlpool hops and let them ride for 10 minutes.
Starting gravity was 1.048; this is definitely below my target, but not terribly unsurprising given the low efficiency. I did an adjustment of my grain mill after this, and found that the gap had wandered a bit wide since I last set it.
I brewed this beer on 5 October 2019, and pitched the yeast immediately. Fermentation temperature is set at 68°.
After five days of fermentation, I added the dry hops on 10 October 2019, and cold crashed the beer on 13 October 2019. I kegged the beer on 15 October 2019, using a modified closed transfer. I purged the keg with CO2, and siphoned the beer in via the out port of the keg.
This is one of the fastest turnarounds I’ve ever done for a beer, with 12 days between brewing and the tasting at our club meeting. The beer cleared up surprisingly well, and was well received by my fellow homebrewers. I normally like to have a bit more time in my brewing process (it’s a hobby after all), but the challenge of producing a beer in limited time was a fun one.
Final gravity was 1.008, for 5.0% abv.
Light gold, clear but not brilliant; persistent white and fine head
Strong citrus aroma, sometimes with a whiff of resiney goodness.
Grapefruity/orangey citrus and grapefruit pith at the forefront, with a touch of pine behind that, for the hops. Bitterness is fairly prominent, perhaps just a bit too much so. There’s not much in the way of malt flavor for this one. It’s pretty clean, inoffensive, and squarely in the background.
Fairly light-bodied, moderately high carbonation. The finish is pretty dry, and there is a touch of astringency that detracts a little from the beer.
Would I brew this again?
I don’t think I would brew with the particular grain bill again (it’s just a little too lacking in malt character, which is fine for this experiment but not ), but I’m definitely going to be giving Comet more attention in the future. It doesn’t taste like a hop from 1974 (when it was released by the USDA)–it just as plausibly could be from 2014! It works pretty well in a single hop situation, and I bet would be really nice if paired up with Simcoe or Cascade. Some places I read referred to Comet as “Citra’s Little Sibling,” and I definitely can see that. Comet has a very prominent citrus character in the same vein as that of Citra; the main difference is that Comet has a bit of resiney harshness, where Citra is pretty smooth (to my palate). In the future, I might cut back the dry-hopping amount, or perhaps let it sit for 2 days instead of 3. I would also swap out the bittering addition of Comet for Magnum or another high alpha hop.
6.5/10. The main deductions are for the relatively “boring” malt character, and the slight harshness on the hopping backend.