Citrosaic Session IPA

This summer was incredibly hectic–both in expected and unexpected ways–and thus it was hard to fit in as much brewing as I would like. One of my precious brewdays was set aside for a session IPA…and because things were topsy-turvy, I decided to run with kveik.

The recipe itself isn’t based on anything in particular, beyond past experience. I wanted a beer that was flavorful in hops, highly crushable, and not too over-the-top in alcohol. Thanks to my regular HOPBOX deliveries, I had no shortage of IPA-worthy hops.

I built the recipe with a base of Golden Promise malt, and a touch of light crystal malt to keep things from being too dry or too thin. As I often do with my session beers, I mashed high. Instead of a massive whirlpool addition, I tilted the hops towards the final five minutes of the boil, and loaded in a few ounces of dry hops in the keg. Citra, Mosaic, and Eclipse were a natural combination. I hadn’t brewed with Eclipse before, but the description suggested it would meld well with the other two. As for yeast, Voss Kveik seemed like a good fit. I’ve brewed with it a few times before, and the citrus notes hopefully wouldn’t clash. Plus, I liked the idea of a yeast that I didn’t have to baby too much during summer weather.

Citrosaic Session Ale

  • 10 lb. Golden Promise Finest Pale Ale malt (Simpsons)
  • 0.25 lb. Cara 20 (Dingemans)
  • 0.25 lb. Carahell (Weyermann)
  • 1 oz. Citra hop pellets (12.8% alpha), 30 minute boil
  • 1 Whirlfloc tablet, 5 minute boil
  • 1 oz. Citra hop pellets (13.6% alpha), 5 minute boil
  • 1 oz. Eclipse hop pellets (16.8% alpha), 5 minute boil
  • 1 oz. Mosaic hop pellets (11.6% alpha), 5 minute boil
  • Voss kveik (Lallemand), 1 pkg. dry yeast
  • 1 oz. Citra hop pellets (13.6% alpha), dry hop in keg
  • 1 oz. Eclipse hop pellets (16.8% alpha), dry hop in keg
  • 1 oz. Mosaic hop pellets (11.6% alpha), dry hop in keg

Target Parameters

  • 1.046 s.g., 1.013 s.g., 4.4% abv, 66 IBU, 5 SRM
  • Claremont tap water, no adjustments
  • Full-volume mash, no sparge, at 156°

Procedure

  • I mashed in with 7 gallons of water at 162°, to hit a mash temperature of 156°. I held it here with recirculation for 10 minutes. I added ~7 mL of 88% lactic acid at the start of the mash, to adjust pH.
  • After 60 minutes, I raised the mash temperature to 168°, held it here for 10 minutes, and then removed the grains.
  • In total, I collected 6.1 gallons of runnings with a gravity of 1.043, for 69% mash efficiency.
  • I brought the mash to a boil, adding hops and finings per the recipe. After 60 minutes, I turned off the heat and chilled down to around 90°.
  • I brewed this beer on 11 July 2022. Starting gravity was 1.048.
  • I transferred the wort to my fermenter, pitched the yest, and let things roll at ambient temperature. Everything was rocking within 6 hours, and had slowed down within 18 hours.
  • Although I planned to keg this within a week or so, life got in the way (thanks, COVID), and it wasn’t until 13 August 2022 that I managed to get things transferred. I was a bit worried about flavor damage or oxidation, but it didn’t seem too awful.
  • I added the hops in a bag, at the time of kegging. Final gravity was 1.022, for 3.4% abv.

Tasting

  • Appearance
    • Medium-gold, fairly hazy, pours with a creamy and persistent white head.
  • Aroma
    • Fresh tangerine is prominent in the hop aroma, with a bit of passion fruit and other tropical notes; there is a touch of dankness as the beer warms up. And of course I get the class blueberry. Fermentation aroma is clean.
  • Flavor
    • Very bitter, with a slight hop “bite” and citrus pithiness. The very prominent hop flavor includes orange/tangerine, grapefruit, and a bit of blueberry. It tastes quite “juicy”! Malt is clean, with a slight hint of light caramel sweetness and graininess.
  • Mouthfeel
    • Medium dry, with a dry finish. Moderate carbonation.
  • Would I Brew This Again?
    • Yes! This is just a nice summer IPA, in the tropical/citrus tradition. I don’t want these flavors all the time, but I really liked this particular recipe. The kveik meshes well with the hops, and has a surprisingly clean profile. It just stays out of the way. I wouldn’t mind if the clarity was better (hence my lower rating), but in the end this is a highly crushable IPA, exactly what I wanted.
  • Overall
    • 8/10

Big Hop Summer IPA

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

Tasting

  • Appearance
    • 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.
  • Aroma
    • Orange peel aroma at the front; very citrusy character overall.
  • Flavor
    • 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.
  • Mouthfeel
    • 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.
  • Overall
    • 7.5/10

Spring Classic IPA

I just love the “traditional” northwestern IPAs, as mentioned numerous times before on this blog. So many breweries focus on the tropical fruit profiles, which I also love, but sometimes I just want pine and citrus and dank flavors in my IPA.

This latest batch doesn’t follow any particular recipes; I’m just aiming for a bit of interesting base malt character with a touch of crystal malt. So, I leaned on the two-row for about three-quarters of the grist, along with a bit of Golden Promise for interest, some crystal 40, and a bit of biscuit. The latter two used up my supplies, so it was good housecleaning.

The hopping was traditional with a twist. A recent HOPBOX had some of their hop extract, enough to add about 47 IBU. According to their website, it’s mostly CTZ-type hops with some other semi-random aroma varieties. That sounded like a perfect bittering base for my beer, and I have also wanted to try out some of these hop extracts for awhile. I elected to put the rest of my hops all in the whirlpool and dry hop additions. In this case, Amarillo, Centennial, and Cascade were perfect choices.

This batch was brewed while my Foundry was down for repairs, so I used the “traditional” batch sparge technique. I’m glad to say I still have the skills here, and hit my numbers really closely.

Spring Classic IPA

  • 10 lb. 2-row pale malt (Rahr)
  • 3 lb. Golden Promise Finest Pale Ale malt (Simpsons)
  • 9 oz. 40L caramel malt (Briess)
  • 4 oz. biscuit malt (BlackSwaen)
  • 10 mL Yakima Valley Hops CO2 hop extract (48.91% alpha), 60 minute boil
  • 1 Whirlfloc tablet, 5 minute boil
  • 1 oz. Amarillo hop pellets (7.8% alpha), 15 minute whirlpool
  • 1 oz. Cascade hop pellets (8.7% alpha), 15 minute whirlpool
  • 1 oz. Centennial hop pellets (12.5% alpha), 15 minute whirlpool
  • 2 pkg. American West Coast Ale dry yeast (Lallemand BRY-97)
  • 1 oz. Amarillo hop pellets (7.8% alpha), dry hop in keg
  • 1 oz. Cascade hop pellets (8.7% alpha), dry hop in keg
  • 1 oz. Centennial hop pellets (12.5% alpha), dry hop in keg

Target Parameters

  • 1.059 o.g., 1.010 f.g., 6.5% abv, 69 IBU, 7 SRM
  • Infusion mash to hit target of 148°, 60 minutes, batch sparge
  • Claremont tap water with gypsum added to to achieve 79 ppm Ca, 6 ppm Mg, 91 ppm Na, 172 ppm SO4, 85 ppm Cl, 144 ppm HCO3, 118 ppm alkalinity, 58 ppm RA

Procedure

  • I heated 4.6 gallons of water (with Campden tablet) to 159°, and mashed in with my grains to hit 149°. I added 6 mL of 88% lactic acid to adjust the pH. I mashed for 60 minutes before adding 0.75 gallons of 185° water. I let it rest, vorlaufed, and then collected the first runnings. Next I added 3.75 gallons of water at 185°, let it rest at around 170° for 10 minutes, and then collected the second runnings.
  • In total, I collected 7.6 gallons of runnings with a gravity of 1.050, for 75% mash efficiency.
  • While the kettle was coming up to a boil, I soaked the hop extract in hot tap water, in order to make it easier to add. That certainly did the trick!
  • I added 6 g of gypsum to the boil, to hit my water target.
  • Once the kettle was boiling, I added the hop extract and then added other items per the recipe.
  • After a 60 minute boil, I turned off the flame, added the whirlpool hops, and let it rest (with occasional stirring) for 15 minutes before chilling.
  • I transferred the wort to my fermenter and chilled it down to 66° before pitching the yeast.
  • I brewed this beer on 15 April 2022, and fermented it at 66°. Starting gravity was 1.059, right on target.
  • I moved the beer to ambient on 24 April 2022, and kegged it on 4 May 2022. I added the drop hops at this point, with a mesh bag inside the keg.
  • The final gravity was 1.011, for 6.4% abv. I’m very pleased on how closely I hit my numbers overall!

Tasting

  • Appearance
    • Pours as a golden, somewhat hazy beer, with a creamy white head that is very persistent. The head leaves gorgeous lacing down the sides of the glass.
  • Aroma
    • Orange and overall citrus notes, with a slight malty background. The yeast character is quite clean.
  • Flavor
    • A citrus, citrus pith, pine, and resiny hop bitterness at the front, with a clean malty presence and a light bit of candy behind that. The hop character has that “sticky” quality on the tongue that I really adore in a good traditional American IPA.
  • Mouthfeel
    • Medium body, with moderate carbonation and a dry finish.
  • Would I brew this again?
    • I feel like I’ve gotten my “traditional” West Coast IPAs down pretty well now. I know the hops and hop combos I like, and have found that perfect balance of crystal malt and base malt. I also have a few variations on recipes that work well. It definitely has a “hop haze,” which I suppose dings it a little bit in terms of my overall score, but I also expect that should be cleared out by the end of the keg. BRY-97 is my favorite IPA yeast now, too! Another thing I love about this beer is that I perceive it just a little differently every time I sample it. Sometimes the pine hits me, sometimes the orange, sometimes the resin.
  • Overall
    • 9/10

Pliny vs. Pliny

I recently brewed a Pliny clone, which turned out pretty well. By fortunate coincidence, a local store (the amazing Liquorama) regularly has Russian River products, including Pliny. As an aside, if you are in the general Claremont/Upland/Rancho area, and if you are a beer (or liquor) geek, I absolutely encourage you to check out Liquorama. They have an amazing local and regional craft beer selection, and they properly store their beer at cold temperatures. They very consistently have fresh Pliny (and other great RR beers like Blind Pig and STS Pils), which is an incredible treat. I always end up walking out with waaaay more than I intended to purchase.

In any case, I thought it would be fun to do a head-to-head comparison of my Pliny versus the actual Pliny. The real Pliny was bottled on February 4, which is three weeks before this tasting. My beer was kegged on 21 January, so mine is slightly older, but not by much.

So, let’s do a direct comparison!

Pliny vs. Pliny — my clone version is on the left
  • Appearance
    • My version is very slightly darker, and clearer. The Russian River (RR) version had a slight bit of hop debris (a common issue with their bottled beer if it has been agitated, as happened when I transported it home). My version had a slightly more persistent head.
    • Appearance Winner: The Clone
  • Aroma
    • The RR version is absolutely better, with a more “fresh” orange/citrus hop aroma at the forefront. I definitely pick up the Simcoe hops, which I don’t get from my version.
    • Aroma Winner: RR
  • Flavor
    • Both beers are equally smooth. Mine has a touch more malt character, but the RR version has a touch more citrus/Simcoe flavor.
    • Flavor Winner: RR (but it’s very close)
  • Mouthfeel
    • Both are pretty equivalent, in terms of body, carbonation, and mouthfeel.
    • Mouthfeel Winner: A draw
  • Overall
    • RR’s authentic Pliny has just a touch better hop aroma and flavor, so I give a slight edge to the “real deal.” It’s most apparent in the aroma (and slightly in the flavor), where the Simcoe is more prominent. If I were to do mine again, I would swap the quantities of CTZ and Simcoe. My version had 1 oz. Simcoe, 3 oz. CTZ and 1 oz. Centennial; for a future version, I would do 3 oz. Simcoe, 1 oz. CTZ, and 1 oz. Centennial, to (hopefully) better match the original.

There is a reason why Pliny the Elder is a classic, and it’s super apparent when I do this tasting. It is just a nice beer! My clone comes close, but doesn’t quite hit the mark. Time to rebrew, I suppose!

Pliny the Elder Clone: The MoreBeer Edition

I don’t often get beer kits, because I usually find it easier and cheaper to assemble a recipe on my own and also because kits tend to sit around on store shelves with pre-milled grains and old hops. However, I couldn’t resist getting the Pliny the Elder clone kit from MoreBeer, when it went on sale recently. I did a “homegrown” Pliny clone awhile back, and it was OK but not outstanding. So, I decided to give this recipe family another try.

I augmented the kit slightly, because the provided packages of Magnum were ridiculously low alpha–only 2.3% according to the package! I didn’t know that this variety even came so low, and I needed some “real” Magnum from my personal stash to augment things.

For this batch, I also decided to really pay attention to my handling of the beer. Every transfer was closed, and everything was kept either cool or cold, depending on the stage of the process. The end results were definitely worth it!

Pliny the Elder Clone: The MoreBeer Edition

  • 13 lb. 2-row malt (Briess)
  • 1 lb. Carapils malt (Briess)
  • 4 oz. Caramel 40L malt (Briess)
  • 2 oz. Cascade hop pellets (7.3% alpha), added to mash
  • 2 oz. Magnum hop pellets (2.3% alpha), 90 minute boil
  • 2 oz. Magnum hop pellets (10.1% alpha), 90 minute boil
  • 1 oz. Simcoe hop pellets (12.9% alpha), 45 minute boil
  • 1 oz. CTZ hop pellets (14.4% alpha), 30 minute boil
  • 1 lb. corn sugar, 10 minute boil
  • 1 Whirlfloc tablet, 5 minute boil
  • 1 tsp. yeast nutrient (WLN1000), 50 minute boil
  • 2 oz. Centennial hop pellets (9.9% alpha), 5 minute whirlpool
  • 1 oz. Simcoe hop pellets (12.9% alpha), 5 minute whirlpool
  • 2 pkg. American West Coast ale yeast BRY-97 (Lallemand)
  • 3 oz. CTZ hop pellets (14.4% alpha), dry hop in keg
  • 1 oz. Centennial hop pellets (9.9% alpha), dry hop in keg
  • 1 oz. Simcoe hop pellets (12.9% alpha), dry hop in keg

Target Parameters

  • 1.073 o.g., 1.011 f.g., 8.3% abv, 165 IBU
  • Claremont tap water, adjusted to achieve target water profile of 66 ppm Ca, 22 ppm Mg, 91 ppm Na, 204 ppm SO4, 85 ppm
  • Full volume mash, with 90 minutes at 151°.

Procedure

  • I mashed in with 7.1 gallons of water at 159°, to hit a mash temperature of 151°. I added 8 mL of 88% lactic acid, to adjust the pH. I held at 151° and recirculated for 90 minutes, before mashing out at 168° for 10 minutes. Then, I pulled the grain basket and sparged with 1 gallon of hot water.
  • In total, I collected 7 gallons of runnings at a gravity of 1.055, for 74% mash efficiency. For high gravity beers, a small sparge really makes a difference on the Anvil.
  • I added 5 g of gypsum and 5 g of epsom salts to the kettle, to hit my target water profile.
  • I boiled the runnings for 90 minutes, adding hops and finings and such per the recipe.
  • After 90 minutes, I turned off the heat and chilled to 65°, before transferring to the fermenter.
  • I pitched the yeast, and set the beer to ferment at 66°.
  • I brewed the beer on 27 December 2021. I pulled it to ambient (58 to 60°) on 8 January 2022.
  • On 15 January 2022, I did a closed transfer of the beer into a purged keg for dry hopping quickly popping the lid to throw in the loose hops. I used a hop screen on the floating dip tube.
  • On 21 January 2022, I transferred from the dry hopping keg into a purged serving keg, and then carbonated. I lost probably close to a gallon of hop sludge.
  • The beer started out fairly hazy, but was reasonably clear within a few weeks.
  • Starting gravity was 1.070, and final gravity was 1.013, for 7.7% abv.

Tasting

  • Appearance
    • Pours with a creamy, off-white and persistent head with very nice lacing. The beer is gold, with a very slight haze.
  • Aroma
    • Citrus at the front, with a light herbal and grassy character behind that.
  • Flavor
    • Hops! Bitter! There is a real orange hop quality, with in-your-face bitterness. Hops are quite high (as expected), with not much for malt character against the hops. The yeast character is very clean; I’m happy with the fermentation on this one.
  • Mouthfeel
    • Medium body, off-dry extended finish with very slight astringency. Moderate carbonation.
  • Would I brew this again?
    • Yes! I am really pleased with this…it’s a great double IPA. The hop character is excellent. I could do without the slight chill haze, but otherwise the beer is awesome, and not a bad approximation of Pliny. I could probably reduce the dry hop length to only two or three days (rather than six), to hopefully reduce the slight astringency.
  • Overall
    • 8/10