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Debris Slide Fresh Hop IPA

We hit our hop harvest season again here in the Willamette Valley last month, so I did the proper thing and made another fresh hop IPA.  This one is based on last year’s model, but with a little more LME, a different yeast selection, and a different hop profile.  I tried to make it Saaz-forward again, but this year I didn’t get quite enough Saaz to use that hop exclusively in the mid- and late-boil additions.  So my [Golden] Nugget hops made up the difference where needed.  Still, I had a ton of bright green hops rolling around in the sticky, hop-oil-infused wort – a pretty sight!

Compared with last year’s version, this one has more of a heft to it (a good thing).  On the downside, there is a harsher bitterness to this one, especially at the finish – not to the degree that it’s bad, but I wish the edge wasn’t there quite so much; it seems to somewhat mask the fresh-hopiness of the flavor.  This sharpness could be due to the slightly longer boil time, but I suspect it has a lot to do with the weird “Golden Nugget” hops taking on more of the hop duties in lieu of the softer Saaz.  (I did keep the overall alpha addition schedule the same from last year, however.)

I’ve got no photos to share for this time around, so please enjoy the below link to the the namesake for this beer (note that this is, syntactically, a command and not a request):

Style: Fresh-Hop American IPA

Brew Date: Sunday, 9-22-13

Base Malt: 8.0 lbs. light LME

Steeping Grains: 1.0 lbs. Carapils, 1.0 lbs. Centennial-10, 0.75 lbs. Munich Light, 0.75 lbs Wheat, 0.5 lbs. Centennial-60 (all steeped for 35 minutes between 152-160°F)

Yeast: White Labs WLP001 English Ale (pitched at 73°F, started 3 nights before [Thursday night], conditioned on stir plate)

Hops:

  • [Golden] Nugget* at 11% α (estimated)
  • Saaz at 4% α (estimated)

Hop Schedule:

  • 1 oz. Nugget (dried) at 70 min
  • 12 oz. Saaz (wet) at 35 min
  • 3.5 oz. Saaz (wet) and 2.0 oz Golden Nugget (wet) at 0 min
  • 2.25 oz. Golden Nugget (dried): secondary fermentation stage dry hop (duration of secondary)

Gravity Schedule:

  • 1.054 at pitch 9-22-12, 3:00pm
  • 1.013 final (at kegging 10-14-13)

*We got this breed of hop (2 of our 3 hop plants) prior to my getting into brewing, just because we liked hops. This is an unfortunate hop to have as a brewer, as it seems to not have been bred especially for brewing, and the online homebrew community is peppered with not-so-definitive Q&A threads about this hop and what exactly it is, even.  Nonetheless, it has worked fine for me (as a bittering hop) so far.

My First Wet Hop Adventure

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As this is the first Autumn that I’m growing hops and brewing, I decided to go for a fresh (a.k.a. “wet”) hop beer.  And what better candidate for a fresh hop beer is there than the trusty IPA?

I love hoppy beers, but my wife doesn’t like them super hoppy, and as the two of us will be drinking most of this stuff, I thought I’d go for a nice even-keel IPA as a base design.  I therefore found a recipe for a clone of Lagunitas IPA — a beer we both enjoy.  I’ve found that there’s a lot of shooting from the hip when it comes to using fresh hops, which is another reason I started with a fairly mellow, balanced specimen of American IPA.  This will allow me more latitude for erring on the side of too many hops rather than not enough.

Because fresh hops (hops that are used straight off the vine and have not been dried) weigh more than dry ones due to water content in the hop cone, more hops are needed by weight to make up for this (and still get the same alpha acid contribution for your beer).  Opinions vary in the brewing community, but five times the wet hops by weight seems to be a safe middle ground for this correction factor.

Also, I’m not using the same hops that Lagunitas uses.  I have Nugget and Saaz.  Saaz, a more delicate noble hop known for excellent aroma and flavor, is what I’ll use primarily.  I like the idea of using Saaz because of its sought-after characteristics.  Low-acid hops like Saaz aren’t often used so exclusively in beer, partly because more of them are required, and the beer therefore costs more to produce.  However, I have way more hops than I’ll be able to take advantage of, even with vacuum-sealing and storing some of them.  I’ll use the (higher alpha) Nugget for my full-boil bittering hops only, mostly because they were harvested earlier and have had a chance to be dried, and fresh (wet) hops are not good for full-boil utilization (long boils of fresh hops result in grassy, planty flavors).

So, I have to account for 1) different hops and 2) wet hops as opposed to dry.  Thus, I have to make two corrections.  What I did was convert all hop quantities in the recipe to their equivalent AAU units.  Then, estimating the alpha acids of my hops (based on average ranges), I determined how much of that hop (dry) would be needed instead.  Then I multiplied by five to determine wet hop quantity.

My recipe is converted and ready to go, and so are my fresh Saaz hops.  The unfortunate thing is that it’s looking like it might rain, which will complicate my wet hop weight situation.  I’ve got to pull these hops and brew in the next couple of days, so hopefully things dry up soon.

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