Beer Tasting: Countdown IPA

20170827_131705This recipe isn’t my best IPA, but it’s a pretty darned good IPA.

  • The Basics
    • 1.064 o.g., 1.011 f.g., 7.1% abv, 68 estimated IBU, 9 SRM
  •  Appearance
    • Light copper color with a slight haze, pouring with a dense white head that leaves lacing on the side of the glass as it subsides to a persistent ivory colored blanket.
  • Aroma
    • Moderately prominent dank, piney aroma; quite nice and classic! I could up the aroma a touch, but it’s generally OK.
  • Flavor
    • This beer is dominated by a smooth, piney bitterness, backed up by a smooth and doughy malt profile.
  • Mouthfeel
    • Moderately dry, with a smooth and extended bitter finish. Carbonation is moderate and appropriate for the style.
  • Would I brew this again?
    • Probably. This is a nice, middle-of-the-road American IPA. The hops are nice, although I should I say I don’t find the CryoHops notable one way or another. I was perhaps expecting a bit more hop character from them, given they were touted as providing twice the aroma for a given mass of hop. Maybe it’s more like 1.5x? I might up the aroma a touch, with perhaps a bit more Simcoe. As usual, the general base recipe is pretty solid.
  • Overall
    • 8.5/10

Countdown IPA

So named because we’re on the countdown to a new baby in the household…gotta brew while I can! This recipe is basically a minor tweak of my Centennial IPA, just mixing up the hops a little bit both for variety and complexity as well as to burn through a bit more of my stash. I also swapped in the US equivalent of the Belgian crystal malts, so that I didn’t have to buy more malt. Finally, I added a touch of Carafa Special II to deepen the color a bit.

Countdown IPA

  • 10.5 lbs. 2-row pale malt (Rahr)
  • 1.75 lbs. Vienna malt (Great Western)
  • 0.5 lbs. 20° caramel malt (Briess)
  • 0.25 lbs. 10° caramel malt (Briess)
  • 1.5 oz. Carafa Special II (Weyermann)
  • 1 oz. Amarillo hop pellets (7% alpha), first wort hop and 90 minute boil
  • 1 oz. Amarillo hop pellets (7% alpha), 15 minute boil
  • 2 oz. Amarillo hop pellets (7% alpha), 10 minute boil
  • 1 oz. Centennial hop pellets (7.6% alpha), 5 minute boil
  • 1 oz. Amarillo hop pellets (7% alpha), 5 minute whirlpool
  • 1 oz. Centennial hop pellets (7.6% alpha), 5 minute whirlpool
  • 1 oz. Ekuanot (HBC 366 aka Equinox) hop pellets (13.6% alpha), dryhop in keg
  • 1 oz. Simcoe LupuLN2 (23.8% alpha) cryohop pellets (23.8% alpha), dryhop in keg
  • 1 Whirlfloc tablet, 10 minute boil
  • 1 tsp. Fermax yeast nutrient, 10 minute boil

Target Parameters

  • Infusion mash to hit target of 149°. Batch sparge.
  • Claremont tap water with RO and salt additions to hit targets of 113 Ca, 22 Mg, 24 Na, 194 SO4, 42 Cl, 207 HCO3, 170 ppm alkalinity, 76 ppm RA.
  • 1.066 o.g., 1.012 f.g., 7.2% abv, 68 IBU, 9 SRM, 5 gallons into fermenter


  • My base water for this beer was all Claremont tap water. I added 3.2 g of gypsum, 1.8 g of epsom salts, and 0.6 g of calcium chloride to 4.3 gallons of mash water, along with 45 mL of 10% phosphoric acid. I used the same masses of salts for 4.75 gallons of sparge water, with 50 mL of 10% phosphoric acid there.
  • I mashed in with 4.3 gallons of water at 157.3°, to hit a mash temperature target of 149°. I mashed for 90 minutes; at the end, temperature was down to 145°. I collected the first runnings after a vorlauf, and then added 4.75 gallons of sparge water at around 185°. I let the mash sit for 10 minutes before vorlaufing and collecting the remaining runnings.
  • In total, I collected 7.2 gallons of runnings with a gravity of 1.052, for 78% efficiency.
  • I boiled the hops per the schedule, adding the kettle finings and yeast nutrients appropriately. After the full 90 minute boil, I turned off the heat, added the final hops, whirlpooled for 5 minutes, and began chilling.
  • Groundwater is pretty warm this time of year, so I could only chill the beer down to around 85°. I transferred to the fermenter and then let it chill overnight (~10 hours) down to 66°. I pitched the yeast, and things had begun to take off within 18 hours.
  • Starting gravity was 1.064. I brewed the beer on 14 July 2017 and pitched the yeast early on the morning of 15 July 2017. I’ll be fermenting at 66°.

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


  • 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°.