Last Time (2014)
Our previous Fresh Hop IPA had a flavor we can only describe as “plastic”. We attribute that to two things. First, we picked the hops on a Saturday and brewed with them on a Monday. While the hops were stored in a cool, dry place during that time, they did begin to oxidize. Second, we used almost 5 pounds of fresh hops, which may have contributed a distinct grassy flavor. How can we do better this year?
This Time (2015)
This year we went back to the basics. A simple pale ale of just two-row, a touch of wheat, and a pinch of the lightest crystal you can buy. We used a good clean bittering hop at the start and all our wet hops at the end, allowing the wet hops to shine through in the flavor and aroma without too much malt interference. Commercial bittering hops will provide a known level of IBUs that we simply couldn’t estimate if we used our own wet hops.
We also picked the hops during the mash and pre-boil and ran them 30 feet back to the kettle to toss them in at the end of the boil. You can’t get any fresher than that.
Name: Wet Hop #2 Batch size: 5 gallons Expected OG: 1.051 (75% efficiency) Expected FG: 1.014 Expected IBU: 50 Mash: 90m @ 149°F 8.75 lbs Rahr 2-row pale 1.0 lbs Rahr white wheat malt 0.25 lbs Briess Crystal 10L 1.0 oz Warrior 14.7% AA @ 60m 3.5 oz Fresh picked Cascade @ 5m 3.5 oz Fresh picked Cascade @ 0m 1 hour hopstand 1 pack Wyeast 1272 American Ale II
This is a 5 gallon batch, but we brewed it on our 3 gallon system to a higher gravity and diluted with filtered water up to 5 gallons. Using the 3 gallon BIAB system meant we could brew outside, right next to the hops, enjoying the last gasps of fall before the long, cold winter.
The mash went well and we started our boil with 3.9 gallons at 1.068. We boiled down to 3 gallons, picking our Cascade hops right off the vine during the boil and throwing them in at the 5 minute and 0 minute marks. After a long hop-stand when the boil was done, we got a bit over 3 gallons of 1.083 wort and diluted that with 1.5 gallons of cold filtered water to a final 4.5 gallons of 1.055 wort.
After fermentation at 67°F for two weeks got the beer down to 1.008 for 6% ABV, quite a bit higher than we expected. But the beer was excellent, well balanced, and a huge improvement over last year.