Sunday, May 14, 2017

Brew Day - West Coast Pale Ale

Whirlpool hop addition.
If anyone asks me why I love to brew, one of my top answers is the smells. I measure out my hop additions every brew day while my equipment is soaking in hot PBW. I purchase bulk quantities of hops and use a vacuum sealer / freezer combo to store them. Every time I brew I'm opening multiple vacuum sealed bags full of hops. On this particular occasion, I was opening bags of the following varieties: Apollo, Simcoe, Amarillo, Centennial, and Columbus. My sense of smell seemed to be heightened when Sunday morning rolled around, so I took some notes.

Apollo: 
Earthy, bold citrus. The aroma transported me to Bissell Brothers in Portland, Maine when I got a fresh pour of "Swish" Double IPA (probably my favorite hoppy commercial beer).

Simcoe:
This variety always stumps me. I think of it as hop perfume. Ripe fruit, pine needles, fresh flowers.

Amarillo:
Candied tropical fruit.

Centennial:
Earthy. Reminds me of wooded areas in the fall.

Columbus:
Quite possibly my favorite utility hop. It smells like a Cypress Hill concert (cheers to you if you got that reference). Last year I used Columbus in combination with Citra in a North East IPA. That keg kicked faster than anything else I've ever brewed.

The concept for this beer is centered around finding that perfect West Coast hop character: fruity citrus notes balanced by fresh pine and a touch of dank hoppiness. I've always had this idea in my head that Simcoe, Amarillo, and Centennial will compliment each other to create the ideal profile (somewhat due to my love affair with Pliny). If you haven't already tried it, give Alpine's Duet a try. It is the definition of Simcoe and Amarillo in perfect harmony. If you're from the Midwest, you've probably tried Bell's Two Hearted. This is a Centennial only beer that perfectly supports Centennial's floral, woodsy, and grapefruit character with a touch of sweetness from crystal malt. I'm using Columbus in the dry hop to evoke that delicious resinous hop character, but I'm using it sparingly as it is quite pungent.

Taking out the trash (spent grain).
Aside from hop selection, I made several recipe choices to make sure the beer highlighted the flavors and aromas of my favorite green plant. From a malt perspective, the majority of my malt bill is made up of Briess Brewer's 2-Row. This is easily my favorite base malt for American-style beers. It is clean, simple, and slightly sweet. I also added a touch of light caramel malt to add some perceivable sweetness in the finished beer. I am not one to advocate for caramel malt in hop-forward beer, but in this case I'm using it to ever-so-slightly to balance the hop punch. I chose a simple infusion mash at a lower saccharification temperature to make sure the beer will finish dry on the palate. And finally, I balanced the water towards gypsum, which should lend some crispness to the mouthfeel.

Heating the sparge liquor.
Recipe Specifications:
Estimated O.G.: 1.051
Estimated F.G.: 1.009
Estimated ABV: 5.4%
Estimated IBU: 45
Estimated SRM: 5

Ingredients:
Brewing Liquor:
100% Reverse Osmosis
0.2 g CaCl2/gal finished beer
1.0 g CaSO4/gal finished beer
10% Phosphoric Acid to acidify liquor to ~5.7

Malt:
89.1% Brewers 2-Row (Briess)
6.5% Caramel Malt 20L (Briess)
2.2% Flaked Oats (Briess)
2.2% Acidulated (BestMalz) (used to reduce mash pH)

Hops:
0.08 oz. / gal finished beer Apollo @ 60 min
0.2 oz. / gal finished beer Simcoe @ 30 min Whirlpool (directly after flameout)
0.13 oz. / gal finished beer Centennial @ 30 min Whirlpool (directly after flameout)
0.2 oz. / gal finished beer Simcoe @ 15 min Whirlpool (15 min after flameout)
0.2 oz. / gal finished beer Amarillo @ 15 min Whirlpool (15 min after flameout)

Dry Hops:
0.4 oz. / gal finished beer Simcoe @ 2 days, after active fermentation is complete
0.2 oz. / gal finished beer Amarillo @ 2 days, after active fermentation is complete
0.2 oz / gal finished beer Centennial @ 2 days, after active fermentation is complete
0.1 oz. / gal finished beer Columbus @ 2 days, after active fermentation is complete

Yeast:
1 pkg White Labs WLP007 Dry English Ale in a 2 L Starter - 1.5 days stirred (split this in half for pitching)

Process:
Mash:
1 hr @ 148 F
Pliny the malt beggar.

Batch Sparge:
5 mins @ 170 F

Boil:
75 mins
1 tsp Irish Moss @ 10 mins
1/2 tsp Wyeast Yeast Nutrient @ 10 mins
30 min Whirlpool

Cooling:
Cooled to ~65 F

Oxygenation:
1 min Pure O2

Fermentation:
Pitched 1 L White Lab WLP007 Dry English Ale Starter
Controlling temperature at ~66 F


Oxygenation sanitizer volcano.

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