Byzantium IPA

With the summer months closing out, I wanted to do a final kveik batch. I targeted a 3 gallon yield, because I didn’t want to have a ton of higher-abv beer. Additionally, I made this a “quicker brew” session, by reducing the boil time to 45 minutes. I have no particular reason for the name, other than that it sounded cool.

Byzantium IPA

  • 8.25 lb. 2-row malt (California Select, Great Western)
  • 0.25 lb. 10L caramel malt (Briess)
  • 0.55 oz. CTZ (Columbus/Tomahawk/Zeus) hop pellets (15.8% alpha), first wort hop
  • 1 oz. Simcoe hop pellet (12.7% alpha), 5 minute boil
  • 0.65 oz. Centennial hop pellet (8.1% alpha), 5 minute boil
  • 1 tsp. yeast nutrient (WLN1000, White Labs), 5 minute boil
  • 1 Whirlfloc tablet, 5 minute boil
  • 1 pkg. Voss Kveik Ale Yeast (Lallemand)
  • 1 oz. Centennial hop pellets (8.1% alpha), 2 day dry hop
  • 1 oz. Simcoe hop pellets (12.7% alpha), 2 day dry hop

Target Parameters

  • 1.067 s.g., 1.013 f.g., 7.2% abv, 66 IBU, 5 SRM
  • 149° mash, 60 minutes, with 10 minute mash-out at 168°, and 1 gallon sparge
  • Claremont tap water with 3 g gypsum and 2 g epsom salt added at boil, to hit add 3 g gypsum, 2 g epsom salt to water just before boil, to hit 71 Ca, 21 Mg, 93 Na, 180 SO4, 105 Cl, 156 HC03, 65 RA, 128 ppm Alkalinity

Procedure

  • I mashed in with 4 gallons of water at 156°, adding 5 mL of 88% lactic acid. This hit a target mash temperature of 149°, and I held it here (with recirculation) for 60 minutes. After 60 minutes, I mashed out to 168°. I pulled the grain basket, and sparged with just under a gallon of hot water.
  • In total, I collected 4 gallons of runnings at a gravity of 1.057, for 73% mash efficiency. Nice!
  • I added gypsum, epsom salt, and the CTZ pellets, brought the wort to a boil, and added hops and such per the schedule. After 45 minutes, I turned off the heat and chilled to ~90°.
  • I transferred ~3.25 gallons of wort at a starting gravity of 1.064 into the fermenter, and pitched the yeast.
  • I brewed the beer on 21 August 2021, letting it sit at ambient, which was around 85°.
  • Fermentation took off quickly, overflowing the airlock (oops). I added the dry hops directly to the fermenter (with no bag) on 1 September 2021, and then kegged on 3 September 2021.
  • I kegged the beer using a semi-closed transfer, and the hops were quite a pain. I had some issues with clogged lines, etc. I probably should have cold-crashed to drop the hops out of the beer, or else bagged them in the first place. Ah well.
  • Final gravity was 1.014, for 6.6% abv.
  • To help clear the beer and hurry it towards serving, I added 0.5 tsp of gelatin in 0.75 cups water on 4 September 2021. At this time, I also agitated keg to finish carbonation.

Tasting

  • Appearance
    • This is a gold-colored beer with a slight haze; it pours with a quite persistent white head that leaves nice lacing on the side of the glass.
  • Aroma
    • The beer has a light citrus character for hops and a slight caramel malt aroma. There is no major yeast character, so the overall aroma is pretty clean. I would say it could use a little more hop character.
  • Flavor
    • The flavor is has a high level of bitterness, with a citrus pith character and a little bit of orange. The malt is in the background, with a slightly grainy aspect. There is a light…tartness?…in the yeast profile, that adds a bit of interest.
  • Mouthfeel
    • The beer has a medium-light body, moderate carbonation, and a dry finish.
  • Would I brew this again?
    • This is a worthy experiment…definitely better than the other kveik IPA I did, which suffered from clashing hops, malt, and yeast in initial tastings, and never quite came together even as it matured. I think the hop selection works better here, although as before I probably should use a more character-rich base malt such as Maris Otter. My hop handling also wasn’t great on this one, which I think dinged it a bit also. I should probably just add the hops in a bag next time. I lost volume as well as introduced a bit of O2 while messing around trying to clear clogs. That aside, it is a pretty beer.
  • Overall
    • 6.5/10

Pliny the Elder Clone

Pliny the Elder is probably one of the most highly regarded and sought-after beers in the US, but I think I’ve only had it once. I remember it being pretty good, but not mind-blowing…but then again, that was awhile ago. Even so, I thought it would be fun to make a clone to fill the “high ABV beers” space for a little while.

The clone recipe is from the Brew Your Own Big Book of Homebrewing, although various versions are fairly readily available elsewhere. I scaled it down to ~3 gallons, because I didn’t really want a massive quantity of something around 8 percent abv.

Pliny the Elder Clone

  • 7.75 lb. 2-row Xtra pale malt (Viking)
  • 4 oz. Carapils malt (Briess)
  • 3 oz. caramel 40L malt (Briess)
  • 9.6 oz. corn sugar (added to boil)
  • 2.55 oz. Magnum hop pellets (10.1% alpha), 90 minute boil
  • 0.3 oz. Chinook whole hops (13.1% alpha), 90 minute boil
  • 0.65 oz. CTZ hop pellets (15.8% alpha), 45 minute boil
  • 0.6 oz. Simcoe hop pellets (12.7% alpha), 30 minute boil
  • 1.35 oz. Centennial hop pellets (8.1% alpha), 15 minute whirlpool
  • 0.6 oz. Simcoe hop pellets (12.7% alpha), 15 minute whirlpool
  • 1 pkg. Safale American ale yeast (US-05)
  • 2 oz. Columbus (Tomahawk) hop pellets (14.2% alpha), dry hop in keg
  • 1 oz. Centennial hop pellets (8.1% alpha), dry hop in keg
  • 1 oz. Simcoe hop pellets (12.7% alpha), dry hop in keg

Target Parameters

  • 1.071 s.g., 1.010 f.g., 8.2% abv, 276 IBU (100+ IBU at best!), 5 SRM
  • Claremont tap water with Campden tablet to remove chloramine
  • Infusion mash at 150° for 60 minutes, with pour-over sparge

Procedure

  • I mashed in with 3.75 gallons of water at 159° and 4 mL of 88% lactic acid, to hit a mash temperature of 150° for 60 minutes, with recirculation after 10 minutes. Then, I heated to 168° and held there for 10 minutes. Then, I removed the grain basket, and sparged slowly with 1.6 gallons of hot water.
  • After the mash, I collected 4.75 gallons of runnings with a gravity of 1.054, for 79% mash efficiency. Sparging seems to be the ticket for great efficiency in these high gravity small batch mashes.
  • I brought the runnings to a boil, adding hops and finings per the recipe.
  • After a total of 90 minutes on the boil, I chilled down to 70°, transferred to the fermenter, and pitched the yeast.
  • I brewed this beer on 10 April 2021. Starting gravity was 1.072, right about where I wanted it! I fermented at 66°.
  • I kegged the beer on 23 April 2021, and dry hopped with a sack of hops in the keg. There was quite a bit of trub on the bottom of the fermenter!
  • Final gravity was 1.015, for 7.6% abv.

Tasting

  • Appearance
    • The beer has a rich gold color, with a slight chill haze. It took about two weeks in the keg before it dropped fairly clear. There is a low ivory head that is fine and fairly persistent.
  • Aroma
    • The aroma is hop forward, with an initial citrus and very slight tropical fruit character, and a light caramel malt quality. Fermentation profile is pretty clean.
  • Flavor
    • The flavor is very hop forward, with a high level of bitterness (no surprises). The bitterness has a citrus pith character, with slight grapefruit, and fairly clean. The bitterness is not quite as complex as I might like. The malt character is fairly low, with a slight doughy character.
  • Mouthfeel
    • The beer has a medium body with moderate carbonation, and an extended bitter finish that isn’t overly dry. I feel that the body could be a bit lighter on this one.
  • Would I brew this again?
    • The beer is okay, but the hops feel a bit one-note. This is a surprise, given the quantity of hops involved as well as the dry hop in the keg. I might switch in some more aggressively tropical hops next time, to make this a bit more interesting. I would also mash this at a slightly lower temperature, to dry out the final product a bit. Finally, I would adjust my dry hop strategy–this quantity of hops really generates a lot of detritus, even after sitting for awhile, and I think it would be better served by dry hopping in the fermenter with a careful transfer under CO2.
  • Overall
    • 5/10

Dance Party IPA

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

Target Parameters

  • 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°

Procedure

  • 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.

Tasting

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.

English IPA

Two years ago I made a down-the-middle English IPA, which was a super satisfying beer. I decided it was time to do a re-brew, with slight modifications for my upgraded brewing system as well as ingredients on-hand.

deep gold beer in clear glass

English IPA

  • 12 lb. Maris Otter ale malt (Crisp)
  • 10 oz. white wheat malt (Briess)
  • 8 oz. biscuit malt (BlackSwaen)
  • 6 oz. crystal 120 malt (Great Western)
  • 6 oz. crystal 60 malt (Great Western)
  • 1 oz. Magnum hop pellets (10.1% alpha), 60 minute boil
  • 1 oz. East Kent Goldings (EKG) hop pellets (5.0% alpha), 15 minute boil
  • 1 oz. Fuggles hop pellets (4.7% alpha), 15 minute boil
  • 1 Whirlfloc tablet, 5 minute boil
  • 1 oz. East Kent Goldings (EKG) hop pellets (5.0% alpha), 10 minute whirlpool
  • 2 pkg. Nottingham ale yeast (Lallemand)
  • 3 oz. East Kent Goldings (EKG) hop pellets (5.0% alpha), dry hop in keg

Target Parameters

  • 1.063 s.g, 1.016 f.g., 6.2% abv, 51 IBU, 12 SRM
  • Full-volume infusion mash, 154° for 60 minutes
  • Water built from Claremont tap water with mineral additions.

Procedure

  • I heated 7.5 gallons of water to 163°, adding 8 g of gypsum and a Campden tablet.
  • I mashed in with the grains, maintaining the temperature at 154° for 60 minutes. Next, I raised the temperature to 168° for the mashout.
  • In total, I collected 6.4 gallons of runnings with a gravity of 1.054, for 67% mash efficiency. This is pretty close to my target, so I’m quite happy with this result.
  • I boiled for 60 minutes, adding hops and kettle finings per the recipe. After the boil, I chilled and transferred to the fermenter.
  • I brewed this beer on 16 January 2021. It had a starting gravity of 1.064. I fermented at 66°.
  • I kegged the beer on 13 February 2021, putting the hops in a baggie in the keg. Final gravity was 1.019, for 5.9% abv.

Tasting

  • Appearance
    • Clear with a deep gold color; the thin white head is moderately persistent.
  • Aroma
    • Malt, light caramel character, with a low level of fruity yeast character. The hop aroma is a bit underwhelming, with little to speak of.
  • Flavor
    • Moderately high, slightly herbal bitterness, but not over the top. It is a moderately-high malty beer, with a bit of caramel and toffee in the malt character. The bitterness is really smooth, and very nicely balanced against the malt.
  • Mouthfeel
    • Medium-full body with moderate carbonation and an off-dry finish. The beer is very smooth for the level of bitterness!
  • Would I Brew This Again?
    • This is a pretty good beer overall. The color and clarity are gorgeous, as is the malt character. I would like a bit more hop aroma in the nose and a bit more hop flavor, beyond just the bitterness. I might try switching up the dry hop combination for future versions.
  • Overall
    • 7/10

Off the Rails Belgian IPA

One of my favorite local establishments is The Back Abbey, a little place in Claremont that has been a gathering spot to celebrate special occasions, and sometimes just to enjoy a nice meal (their fries are the best in the area). They also have a phenomenal selection of draft and bottled Belgian beers. When I want a treat, I’ll order a glass of Houblon Chouffe, a Belgian IPA. It has a cute gnome on the logo, and the beer is pretty good too! Because we’re not eating out much these days, I’ve been missing that beer. And the fries.

Thankfully, as a homebrewer I can fairly easily make a clone brew and enjoy my own version at home. I did a bit of looking around online, and found a clone recipe based on Houblon Chouffe that seemed pretty decent. The beer is fairly high octane, so I elected to do a 3 gallon batch rather than my usual 5 gallons. As noted below, I had to improvise a ton to hit my marks, so I dubbed this “Off the Rails Belgian IPA”. The improvisation made things a bit frantic, but also kinda fun.

The result was pretty great. It drank super easily, especially for something pushing 10% abv. The keg is drained, but here are the overall details and tasting for posterity’s sake.

Off the Rails Belgian IPA (Houblon Chouffe Clone)

  • 10.5 lb. Viking Pilsner Malt
  • 1.5 lb. white sugar
  • 0.55 oz. CTZ hop pellets (15.8% alpha), 60 minute boil
  • 0.25 oz. CTZ hop pellets (15.8% alpha), 20 minute boil
  • 1 tsp. Fermax yeast nutrient, 10 minute boil
  • 1 Whirlfloc tablet, 5 minute boil
  • 0.5 oz. Saaz hop pellets (5.3% alpha), 5 minute boil
  • 1 pkg. Belgian Ale yeast (WLP550)
  • 1 oz. Amarillo hop pellets (7.7% alpha), dry hop in fermenter

Target Parameters

  • 1.084 s.g., 1.009 f.g., 10.0% abv, 52 IBU, 5 SRM
  • Infusion mash, full volume, 144° for 30 minutes, 154° for 70 minutes, 168° mashout for 10 minutes
  • Claremont tap water, with Campden tablet to remove chloramine

Procedure

  • The night before brewing, I made a 1 liter shaken-not-stirred starter for the yeast. I also prepped the brewing water.
  • I mashed in with 5 gallons of water at 152° and 3.75 mL of 88% lactic acid, to target a mash temperature of 144°. It was a touch low at first (142°), so I extended the first mash rest to 30 minutes instead of 20 minutes as planned.
  • As the mash recirculated, I got a stuck sparge about 20 minutes in. It manifested as foaming in the mash, and a low water level outside my grain basket. Argh! I added two handfuls of rice hulls, which worked for a bit until it got stuck again. I hadn’t used the small batch adapter, so maybe that was the issue? Or perhaps it was the thickness of the mash? Either way, I had to watch things pretty carefully, and there definitely was some aeration (argh).
  • After 30 minutes at 144°, I raised the mash to 154° and held it there for 70 minutes, before finishing the mash cycle at 168° for 10 minutes.
  • I thought I had only put in 8.5 pounds of pilsner malt, but had actually put in 10.5 pounds. This led to a surprise gravity reading waaay above what I had calculated. With 1.067 after the mash and 1.080 after adding the sugar, I needed to thin things out a bit. So, I added 0.5 gallons of water to bring the gravity down to 1.072.
  • I boiled for 70 minutes, adding the hops as per the recipe. At the end of this, I ended up with 3 gallons, after discarding about a gallon of trub and a bit of extra wort. This brew session really went off the rails!
  • I brewed this beer on 12 December 2020. Starting gravity was 1.084.
  • I chilled the beer down to 75°, transferred to the fermenter, and chilled it to 65°. I aerated for 30 seconds with pure O2, and pitched the yeast (12 December 2020). I held the fermenter at 65° for 48 hours and then let it free-rise to 70° (starting 14 December 2020). I let it free-rise to 75° after 48 hours (starting 16 Decembe 2020). I held it at this temperature for a week, and then let it free rise to 78° (on 23 December 2020). After 24 hours, I let the beer drop to 70° (beginning 24 December 2020). I removed the beer from the fermentation chamber and brought it in to ambient (~65°) to finish fermentation, 19 days after brewing (1 January 2021). The gravity was 1.015 at this point, so I agitated the fermenter to rouse the yeast and hopefully help spur the last bit of fermentation.
  • I had steady bubbling in the airlock by the morning after pitching the yeast, and vigorous bubbling into a blowoff tube within 48 hours. I changed out the blowoff jar twice. The most vigorous aspect of fermentation was done by 19 December (one week after pitch), so I switched over to an airlock. The airlock had a crack, so tended to leak liquid…unfortunately, I think this means the fermentation got a little more latent oxygen than desirable.
  • I moved the beer to a ~64° location on 7 January 2021, adding the dry hops at this point. I cold crashed on 10 January 2021, and kegged on 15 January 2021.
  • Final gravity was 1.013, for 9.6% abv.

Tasting

  • Appearance
    • Medium gold beer, fairly clear; it has a pillowy and persistent white head.
  • Aroma
    • The aroma is wonderful! It is quite spicy, like gingerbread or spice cake, showcasing a really nice Belgian yeast aroma. The hops definitely faded a bit over time, starting out as herbal and slightly grassy, fading to a low herbal note towards the end of the keg. There is a light pear-like yeast character.
  • Flavor
    • Very clean! There is a wonderful hop/malt balance, with no boozy notes to speak of. Malt level is medium-low, with a cracker quality. Bitterness is relatively high, with an herbal and piney character, but that had faded a bit over time. There is a slight pear quality to the yeast, with spicy and peppery aspects more at the front.
  • Mouthfeel
    • Highly carbonated, medium-light body, with a medium-dry finish.
  • Would I brew this again?
    • Absolutely! I’m super pleased with the results, particularly in how well I nailed the yeast management. This fermentation schedule (gradual ramp up and gradual ramp down) seemed to do really well for WLP550, and I would absolutely use that again. I may have had some minor oxidation issues due to the mash problems as well as the airlock going dry, which resulted in a faster hop fade and slightly darker color than desired. The beer was definitely a deeper gold hue than I expected for 100% pilsner malt (with white sugar). I didn’t notice any sherry or cardboard or honey notes that I usually associate with oxidation, but I bet it would have manifested if I had let it age out a bit more. In any case, I’m super pleased with the overall result, and will give it another try someday when I want a high gravity sipper. I’ll need to reconfigure the malt and water quantities for a more carefully constrained future batch, but that should (hopefully) be trivial. I might also lower the second mash rest to 150° or so, to help dry out the beer a bit more. It finished a touch higher than desired, so I’ll mash a bit lower next time for the second step.
  • Overall
    • 9/10