Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Pale Ale Tasting

For the past few months now, I've had the chance to brew with a number of interesting hop varieties, some of which are experimental and haven't been released to the public. Others are like this hop, Columbia, which has been around for decades but has never seen the light of day. If your not familiar with this hop, there is a good reason why. Apparently, this variety was developed for AB back in the Seventies, in an attempt to create a cultivar that was similar to Fuggles; but it was shelved to obscurity when the AB brew master selected Willamette as their hop of choice. You can read more about the story of these two hops, here and here.

Anyways, a while back, I got a hold of few ounces of Columbia and having previously heard how nice, yet, unappreciated these hops are, I knew I had to use them in a solo-brew. After going back and forth over the recipe, I settled on a basic pale ale, using just Pale Malt (Durst) and around 5% UK medium crystal. Hopping was all Columbia, with additions at 60, 20, 10, and knockout. Yeast was WLP090 San Diego Super, which is fast becoming my favorite yeast for hop-forward, US style beers. In the end, I got a nice beer out of it.

Deep Water ain't bad either...
Columbia: American Pale Ale

Appearance - Pours a slightly hazy, light amber color with a thin, foamy head that leaves nice lacing.

Aroma - First impression is of an earthy and floral hop character with notes of lemon peel and pine needles. The malt is bready and sweet.

Taste - Somewhat restrained hops; sweet citrus, earthy pine, and herbs. The malt character is neutral-bready and has some caramel flavor. Bitterness is smooth, medium-high, and the yeast is clean. A well balanced beer.

Mouthfeel - Carbonation is low and the beer has a pleasant, medium mouthfeel.

Drinkability & Notes - Overall, just a nice and sessionable pale ale. The Columbia hops have a pleasant earthy-citrus character that is not unlike Willamette - no surprise there - but the intensity is greater and the flavors are more pungent. They don't have the same citrus character as the big "C" hops, although I could see them finding a special place among the myriad of hoppy craft beers. I would certainly use them again... although as part of a blend. I bet they would go great with Cascade and some of the floral, lighter flavored UK varieties. If you can find some of these hops, give them a try.

O:G: 1.048, F:G: 1.010. 5.0% ABV. 28 IBU. WLP090.

Monday, November 18, 2013

New Hop, Old Favorite

Back when I was drinking my way around the UK, one of the first English IPAs that I tried was Caladonia's Deuchars IPA. While most people these days would be hard pressed to consider anything under 6% abv worthy of the name IPA, back then Deuchars was a very nice beer with its floral, citrusy hops and diminutive 3.8-4.4% stature. For an evening spent at the pub, you could drink a lot of the stuff and the casks always seemed to be in good shape. That said, I always thought it tasted best after a few pints. Regardless, I've been wanting to brew an IPA along the same lines as Deuchars for a long time now and I'm finally ready to give it a go.

The recipe I am using is very simple, a mix of Maris Otter and Golden Promise with a small amount of torrified wheat and medium crystal. I want the beer to have a nice malt background, but without the heavy caramel flavors that many English IPA's seem to have these days. Also, as I will be keeping the gravity low (1.045), I want to keep the focus of the beer on the hops, which are a new UK variety from Charles Faram that had its first planting in 2012. Named Jester, this hop is supposed to showcase some of the fruity, citrusy, and "new-world" aromas and flavors found in American and Southern Hemisphere varieties. From what little info I could find, the only commercial beer that has been brewed with these hops so far (that I know of) was Moor's Empire Strikes Back and tasting notes from that beer indicate that it largely lives up to its intended character.  We'll see how it does in my beer. As for the yeast, I'll be using my favorite, WLP006 Bedford Bitter and using a fair amount of sulfate for the water, with a final profile around 150ppm sulfate, 30ppm chloride, and very low alkalinity. Should be good.
Galaxy-Nelson Session
Jester IPA: English IPA

Recipe Specifics:
Batch Size (Gal): 5.00
Total Grain (Lbs): 8.75
Anticipated OG: 1.045
Anticipated FG: 1.010
Anticipated SRM: 6
Anticipated IBU: 42
Efficiency: 70%
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

51.4% - 4.50 lbs. Pale Malt, Golden Promise
40.0% - 3.50 lbs. Pale Malt, Maris Otter
5.7%  - 0.50 lbs. Torrified Wheat
2.9%  - 0.25 lbs. Crystal 55L

0.50 oz. Challenger @ 60 min for 14 IBU
1.00 oz. Jester @ 20 min for 15 IBU
1.50 oz. Jester @ 10 min for 13 IBU
3.00 oz. Jester @ flameout

Yeast: WhiteLabs 006 Bedford Bitter
Mash 154F for 60 min
Brewed on 17 November