Experimental IPA 2017

>> Sunday, April 09, 2017

Today I'm doing a little bit of an experimental IPA. I got some hop hash a while back from Yakima Valley hops and I also picked up a used Blichmann HopRocket off the local classifieds.

For anyone that don't know, hop hash comes from what is essentially residue that builds up on the hammer mills during pelletization. It has a high concentration of lupulin glands and contains very low concentrations of vegetal matter. There isn't a ton of information out there regarding brewing with hop hash, but it seems most are using it for late additions and for dry hopping. I've read that some have had better results creating a tincture which was added at bottling time. I decided I'm going to try mash hopping with it and see how that goes (more on that below). I should mention, the hop variety wasn't specified when I ordered the hop hash, but allegedly it's Centennial.

In a recent The Session podcast featuring Julian Shrago of Beachwood Brewing, Julian talks about how for their IPAs, they add hops just about every chance they get during the brewing process. He talked a bit about mash hopping and how (due to the environmental conditions in the mash) it tends to lock in hop flavor that survives through the boil without adding hop bitterness. In other words, the acids from mash hopping are not isomerized during the boil and somehow they are bound in a way that volatile flavor compounds are retained. I decided this sounded like a good experiment for the hop hash. Assuming this works, I think the Centennial character will work well with the hop blend I'm using in this beer.

As I indicated above, the next part of the experiment involves using the Blichmann hop rocket. If you can't tell, I'm shooting for a very hop-focused American IPA. I had a hopback from Morebeer and while I liked the results I got from using it, I didn't use it very often. It wasn't a fully sealed hopback like the HopRocket, so you had to be very careful matching the inflow with the outflow so that you didn't overflow and lose wort out of the hopback. It required a lot of monitoring so it was kind of a pain to use. The HopRocket is fully sealed so matching flows isn't a concern. It is another piece of equipment to clean and sanitize, so I probably won't use it all the time. I'm going to use it inline between my pump and plate chiller. I'm also doing a smaller sized batch, approx 3 gallons and I'm still planning on whirlpooling. Some may say that whilpooling kind of defeats the purpose of using a hopback because you're returning the cooled wort to a hot boil kettle. With a small batch size, I'm able to drop the temps below isomerization temps very fast (hop stand range) so I'm thinking I won't lose much volatile flavor and aroma compounds before the temps drop.

Today's recipe is as follows:

This is for a 3 gallon batch
6# 5 oz Rahr 2-row
3 oz Crisp Crystal 60
2 oz Gambrinus Honey Malt
15.3g Hop Hash (mash hops)
1ml Hop extract (60 min) - I'm keeping this low in case the mash hops contribute bitterness.
30.8g Hop blend (15 minutes) - The hop blend consists of 7.7g of each of the following: Amarillo, Citra, Mosaic, and Simcoe pellets)
Yeast Nutrient
69.2g Hop blend (HopRocket, 0 minutes) - Same hop blend but in cone/leaf form, 17.3g of each
WLP001 California Ale
69.2g Hop blend (Dry hopping after primary) 17.3g of each

Mash at 150F, 90 min boil, ferment at 64F.

Water Profile - Tasty's

Brewing Notes
Just getting started but the mash smells amazing.
No real problems with this brew. My hop/trub filter got a little bit clogged with hop debris. Normally I would use my hop spider but I figured the hop rocket would filter out all the hop debris; I was wrong. Next time I'll use the hop spider to contain the pellet hop debris. The aroma coming off the wort is pretty nice. I really hope this carries through to the finished beer.

Hop Hash for Mash Hops
Update 4/30/2017
This beer was kegged yesterday and is currently conditioning.

Update 5/7/2017
I,m still evaluating this beer. I think it needs a bit more carbonation but I am liking it. Hop bitterness is about right, firm but not overpowering. I'd like a bit more aroma and flavor, but that might be aided by more carbonation.