Centennial IPA

I’ve gotten bored with tropical fruity, citrusy, guava bomb IPAs; they’re fairly easy to nail at least half-way well, but come across as a bit one-note after awhile. I don’t have a huge interest in the hazy IPA trend, either–they’re nice to try from time to time, but I don’t really want or need a 5 gallon keg of IPA orange juice. So, it’s back to the basics for me!

Two years ago, I did a Centennial hop-centered IPA based on one of Gordon Strong’s recipes. The result was quite good, so I figured I would revisit the recipe. 

The new batch is fairly close recipe-wise to the old one, with the main change being in the yeast. I decided to give the Mangrove Jack Liberty Bell Ale (M36) a try; it’s supposed to be a strain good for English or American pale ales.

Centennial IPA

  • 9.5 lbs. 2-row pale malt (Rahr)
  • 2 lbs. Vienna malt (Great Western)
  • 0.5 lb. Caravienne malt (Weyermann)
  • 0.25 lb. Carahell malt (Weyermann)
  • 3.4 oz. acidulated malt (BESTMALZ)
  • 1 oz. Centennial hop pellets (9.3% alpha), 60 minute boil
  • 1 oz. Centennial hop pellets (9.3% alpha), 15 minute boil
  • 1 Whirlfloc tablet
  • 2 oz. Centennial hop pellets (9.3% alpha), 10 minute whirlpool
  • 3 oz. Centennial hop pellets (9.3% alpha), dry hop in keg
  • 2 pkg. Liberty Bell Ale dry yeast (Mangrove Jack’s #M36)

Target Parameters

  • 1.063 o.g., 1.012 f.g., 6.7% abv, 59 IBU, 6 SRM
  • Infusion mash to hit target of 150°, 60 minutes, batch sparge
  • Water built from 3 gallons of Claremont tap water, 3.5 gallons of RO water treated with 4.5 g gypsum, 1.5 g epsom salt, 1 g calcium chloride, to hit target of 74 Ca, 10 Mg, 14 Na, 120 SO4, 27 Cl, 129 HCO3, 47 RA.

Procedure

  • I mashed in with ~4.1 gallons of the RO water with minerals and the balance in tap water, at 161°, to hit a mash temperature of 150°.
  • After a 60 minute mash, I added 0.8 gallons of tap water at 185°, let sit for 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected the first runnings. Then, I added 3.5 gallons of tap water at 185°, let sit for 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected the second runnings.
  • In total, I collected 6.5 gallons of runnings at a gravity of 1.051, for 72% efficiency.
  • I brought the kettle to a boil, boiling for 60 minutes and adding hops per the schedule. After a full hour boil, I added the whirlpool hops and let them sit for 10 minutes before chilling, transferring to the fermenter, and pitching the yeast.
  • I brewed this batch on 18 September 2018, and fermented it at around 67°. Starting gravity was 1.058.
  • On 30 October 2018, I kegged the beer. Final gravity was 1.005, working out to 7.1% abv. The beer had a somewhat estery aroma and flavor on first taste (see below).

Tasting

  • The Basics
    • Original gravity = 1.058; final gravity = 1.005; abv = 7.1%; esimated IBU = 59
  • Aroma
    • Slight phenolic, citrusy aroma
  • Appearance
    • Fine white head that sticks around for awhile; the beer itself is light gold with a slight haze.
  • Flavor
    • This is a very hop-forward beer, with a firm but even bitterness that persists on the tongue. There’s not a ton of malt character, but that’s OK for what this is. The hops have a slightly floral and citrusy character, which is unfortunately swamped out by a bit of a “hot” phenol note.
  • Mouthfeel
    • This is a fairly dry beer. Carbonation is appropriate to style.
  • Would I brew this again?
    • The description for Liberty Bell Ale yeast mentions pear esters in the aroma, which will get out of the way of prominent hop and malt aromas. Sadly, I couldn’t disagree more. The aroma was an estery mess on this one early on–it smelled somewhat like my early homebrew batches fermented without temperature control. I checked my records on power losses at home, and couldn’t find any record of a power outage during the height of fermentation, so I suspect it’s just a flaw in the yeast strain relative to this recipe. It doesn’t really seem like an infection, either, although I suppose that’s not completely outside the realm of possibility (especially given the low finishing gravity). The off flavor has moderated a fair bit as the beer sits in the keg, but in any case, I won’t be trying this yeast strain again.
  • Overall
    • 5/10 — the off flavor overwhelms the positive features of this beer.

Beer Tasting: Centennial IPA

20160714_204030My Centennial IPA has been in the keg and cold conditioning/dry-hopping for nearly a month. Because I’m taking off soon for a few weeks, and because IPA’s are best fresh, now is as good of a time as any to do a tasting.

Centennial IPA

  • The Basics
    • Original gravity = 1.063; final gravity = 1.010; abv = 7.0%; estimated IBU = 59
  • Aroma
    • Very lightly sweet malt aroma, with a moderate hop aroma that is citrusy (slightly orange-hinted) and lightly floral.
  • Appearance
    • A hazy beer with a moderately deep gold color. The off-white head is fine and persistent, with modest lacing.
  • Flavor
    • As it should be, this is a hop-forward beer, with a smooth but assertive bitterness that fades in and then gently fades out. The bitterness has a piney note to it. The modest malt flavor tends toward the grainy side.
  • Mouthfeel
    • This is a fairly dry beer, with a relatively light body. Carbonation is moderate, as is appropriate for the style.
  • Would I brew this again?
    • This is a solid traditional American IPA–I would characterize it as squarely middle of the road; not in a bad way, just that it is tasty but not adventurous. In the original recipe, Gordon Strong noted that the recipe would be a solid base for any single hop American IPA; I agree! For this particular run, I feel like I’m getting a nice feel for what Centennial is as a hop. Compared to recent varieties such as Mosaic or Citra, Centennial is so “yesterday.” But, it has a character all its own that deservedly places it in the great pantheon of hops. I can’t say I’ll change much (other than hop variety) when I brew this again; it would definitely be OK with other American yeast varieties, but in terms of malt bill and brewing technique it’s spot-on.
  • Rating
    • 9/10

Centennial IPA

In preparation for my rather sporadic brewing during the summer months, I’m laying in a store of (filled) kegs for future tapping. Pannotia White IPA is going online shortly, so it seems a good idea to have another IPA waiting in the wings.

I’ve been playing a lot lately in the world of “East Coast IPA’s” (whatever those are), and three things moved me back west for this batch. First, I was getting a bit bored with the East Coast style (even though my recipe is definitely tasty!). Second, my Conan culture seemed to be wandering a bit, and I deemed it wise to dump it. Finally, I wanted to explore some classic hops–a full pound of Centennial hop pellets that recently arrived at my brewery provided incentive.

Centennial Hop Pellets

It’s been over three years since my last record of brewing with Centennial, and that seems like a bit of a shame. They are such a classic within the annals of American craft brewing (one of the “3 C’s” along with Cascade and Columbus), and I don’t really know them as well as I should. Time to rectify that with a single-hop brew.

The recipe is modified from one of Gordon Strong’s, in his excellent book Modern Homebrew Recipes. I’ve been really pleased with the beers from the book I’ve done so far, and wanted to try out another one. Ironically, this is his “East Coast IPA”–my main modifications have been in the yeast (Safale US-05 instead of Wyeast 1272 / White Labs WLP051) and also the hopping schedule. Given how the East Coast IPA “style” has developed, I can’t say I would consider his recipe to really be in the spirit of that right now. The hops and yeast are squarely West Coast (in my opinion), although arguably the malt bill could be East Coast (again, whatever that means).

Last year’s crop of Centennial from YCH Hops was on the low end of alpha acids for the variety (7.6% alpha vs. the 7 to 12% alpha considered typical for YCH). So, I modified the timing of the hop additions to get into the ballpark IBU for the recipe. Additionally, I will add a small dry hop charge (1 oz.) upon kegging, just to bump up the hop aroma a touch more.

Centennial IPA

  • 10.5 lbs. 2-row malt (Great Western Malting Co.)
  • 1.75 lbs. Vienna malt
  • 0.5 lbs. Caravienne malt
  • 0.25 lbs. Carahell malt
  • 1 oz. Centennial hops pellets (7.6% alpha, 3.6% beta), first wort hop and 90 minute boil
  • 1 oz. Centennial hops pellets (7.6% alpha, 3.6% beta), 15 minute boil
  • 1 oz. Centennial hops pellets (7.6% alpha, 3.6% beta), 10 minute boil
  • 1 oz. Centennial hops pellets (7.6% alpha, 3.6% beta), 1 minute boil
  • 1 oz. Centennial hops pellets (7.6% alpha, 3.6% beta), 5 minute steep
  • 2 oz. Centennial hops pellets (7.6% alpha, 3.6% beta), dry hop in keg
  • 0.5 tsp. gypsum (added to boil kettle)
  • 1 tsp. Irish moss (10 minute boil)
  • 0.5 tsp. BSG Fermax yeast nutrient (10 minute boil)
  • 1 pkg. Safale American ale yeast (US-05)

Brewing Targets

  • Mash temperature = 149°
  • Original gravity = 1.062 (actual = 1.048)
  • Color = 6 SRM
  • IBU = 59

Procedure

  • I mashed in with 4.3 gallons of water at 160.5°, to hit an initial mash temperature of 150°. The mash was down to 146.8° after 45 minutes.
  • After 60 minutes, I added 1 gallon of water at 200°, which brought the mash temperature up to 156°. I let this sit for 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected the first runnings. At this point, the first ounce of hops were in the hop spider.
  • Next, I added 3.75 gallons of water at 185°, to raise the mash bed up to 168°. This sat for 10 minutes, at which point I vorlaufed and collected the second runnings.
  • All told, I collected 7 gallons of wort with a gravity of 1.052, for 76% mash efficiency.
  • I started the boil, adding the hops and other ingredients per the schedule. The wort had boiled down to 6.1 gallons after one hour.
  • After the full 90 minute boil, I removed the hop spider, added the final ounce of hops (in a small hop sack), let it sit for a minute or two, and then started to cool the wort. Once it was down to 75°, I transferred it to the fermenter. I then cooled it down to 68° in the fermentation chamber (which took ~2 hours) and pitched the yeast.
  • I brewed this beer on May 28, 2016. The starting gravity is 1.063, and I am fermenting at 66°.