Pliny the Elder Clone

>> Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Most beer enthusiasts have probably heard of Pliny the Elder from Russian River Brewing Co. It's known as one of the finer examples of a double IPA. I'm a big fan of hoppy beers and one of my favs is Hop Ottin' IPA from Anderson Valley Brewing Co. I've been wanting to try Pliny the Elder but it's not available in Utah and even on a recent trip to SoCal I wasn't able to locate any. So when a recent Zymurgy issue included a clone recipe I figured it was a good time to give it a try. I have started my yeast starter and will be brewing this batch in the next couple days.

13 lbs 4.0 oz Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM) Grain 87.17 %
9.6 oz Caramel/Crystal Malt - 45L (45.0 SRM) Grain 3.95 %
9.6 oz Carapils (Briess) (1.5 SRM) Grain 3.95 %
12.0 oz Dextrose (Briess) (1.0 SRM) Sugar 4.93 %
3.50 oz Columbus (Tomahawk) [14.00 %] (90 min) Hops 149.6 IBU
0.75 oz Columbus (Tomahawk) [14.00 %] (45 min) Hops 27.5 IBU
1.00 oz Simcoe [13.00 %] (30 min) Hops 28.5 IBU
1.00 oz Centennial [10.00 %] (0 min) Hops -
2.50 oz Simcoe [13.00 %] (0 min) Hops -
1.00 oz Centennial [10.00 %] (Dry Hop 13 days) Hops -
1.00 oz Columbus (Tomahawk) [14.00 %] (Dry Hop 13 days) Hops -
1.00 oz Simcoe [13.00 %] (Dry Hop 13 days) Hops -
0.25 oz Centennial [10.00 %] (Dry Hop 5 days) Hops -
0.25 oz Columbus (Tomahawk) [14.00 %] (Dry Hop 5 days) Hops -
0.25 oz Simcoe [13.00 %] (Dry Hop 5 days) Hops -
1 Pkgs California Ale (White Labs #WLP001) Yeast-Ale

Mash at 151-152 for 60 minutes.
Collect 8 gallons and stir in dextrose.
Boil for 90 minutes and chill to 67.
Pitch two packages of yeast or a yeast starter.
Ferment at 67 and rack to secondary after fermentaton subsides.
Add first set of dry hops in secondary (13 day addition).
On the 8th day, add the second set of dry hops (5 day addition).

Update: This was a fantastic IPA. I still haven't tried the commercial version but I took a growler of this to a beer tasting party and I had a lot of people tell me this was a spot on clone. I'll brew this one again for sure. The only con is the cost of all the hops can be a bit cost prohibitive as this batch cost about double compared to my typical brews. This one is definitely an A+, especially for hop-heads.


Watermelon Wheat

A little while back on AHA Tech Talk, a few brewers were talking about Watermelon Wheat recipes. To be honest it sounded disgusting to me at first, but several brewers raved about theirs so I figured I'd give it a shot.
I tried making a Raspberry Wheat a couple years ago and wasn't very happy with the results. I'd read that to make a good fruit beer, you need to take the amount of fruit you think you need to use, and at least double it. I figured it'd be a lot cheaper to use 6 pounds of watermelon than the same amount of fresh raspberries, blueberries, etc. So even if it turned out bad at least I wouldn't be out a bunch of money.
I basically stumbled upon the below recipe on Out of Key Brewing's blog ( and it's based on 21st Amendment's Watermelon Wheat. I gotta say it turned out awesome, so well done Brian.
I used a seeded watermelon and I purposefully used an over-ripe melon in order to maximize flavor. I've been told the best way to find ripe watermelon is to look where the stem connects to the fruit...the more brown the more ripe at harvest; the more green the more un-ripe at harvest.

6 lbs 8.0 oz Fruit - Watermelon
6 lbs Pale Malt (2 Row) US
4 lbs Wheat - White Malt
1.00 oz Hallertauer [4.80 %] (60 min) Hops 16.7 IBU
1.00 oz Hallertauer [4.80 %] (5 min) Hops 3.3 IBU
1 Pkgs California Ale (White Labs #WLP001) Yeast-Ale

Target O.G. is 1.050. Mash at 152 for 1 hour. Ferment in primary at low 60's for 1 week. Rack beer onto fruit puree in the secondary. Puree the fruit from a 10 pound watermelon. This should give you 6-7 pounds of fruit. Use a blowoff hose as fermentation will restart and should be active.

One interesting note, the reddish color in the melon meat seems to be comprised of solids that tend to settle out in the secondary. So the final product is a light straw yellow with a bright white head.

Update: This is another keeper. I took a growler of this with me to a December beer tasting. I think almost everyone had the same reaction as me when I first heard mention of a watermelon wheat. However, after tasting it most people seemed to really enjoy it including a few who said they really don't usually like fruit beers. The watermelon flavor is very noticeable here, not subtle whatsoever. Appearance-wise the brew was a straw color and was crystal clear with a bright dense white head. The aroma was very nice...almost perfume-like. I'm not a huge fruit beer guy, but I do enjoy a good one and I love watermelon, so I'd rate this one an A+