Category Archives: Hops

Phillips’ Hop Box

IMG_20130118_191407The Hop Box, as the name suggests, is a 12-pack filled with IPAs. The box contains four different IPAs: Hop Circle IPA, Krypton Rye PA, Skookum Cascadian Brown Ale, and so-called “special guest” IPA. We don’t think these are the best IPAs in BC; however, a product that offers so many IPAs at one price should be purchased.

We reviewed the 4 beers: Hop Circle IPA, Krypton Rye PA, Skookum Cascadian Brown Ale, Chinook IPA. We put them all in the same type of glass (because the shape of the glass affects the aroma of the beer). Given the strong flavour of each of these beers, order of drinking the beer is important because the preceding consumed beer can influence the taste of the succeeding beer. With that being said, we didn’t care, and drank the beer in whatever order we pleased.

The only real problem this box has is writing on each of the bottles describing the beer. The ‘pithy’ little blurbs on the bottles tell us perfectly nothing about the beer, aside from the fact that somebody at the brewery hired an Liberal Arts student for a marketing internship. We’ve included all the descriptions of the beers for your own judgement.

IMG_20130118_191639
(From left to right: Chinook IPA, Hop Circle IPA, Krypton Rye PA, Skookum Cascadian Brown Ale)

Hop Circle IPA

“With a hop flavour that is out of this world, Hop Circle IPA will probe your taste buds and abduct your sense. The gravitational pull of this IPA will have you searching the galaxy for another close encounter of the thirst kind. Resistance is futile”
Appearance:
Dark golden with a quickly receding head. Very clear.
Aroma: The aroma reminded us of opening our bag of Centennial hops, but not quite as strong.
Taste: Opens with a grassy and slightly sweet flavour. It is not an overly bitter beer, and the bitterness does not last very long.
Overall: It is a fine IPA, but there is nothing that is overly noteworthy about it. It is balanced more towards the hoppy side. Unpleasant caramel taste.

Krypton Rye PA

“Better tasting than a speeding bullet, Rye PA will be hard not to drink in a single gulp. Spicy rye malt and big citrus hop flavours make Krypton the perfect IPA for your fortress of solitude. Hop, hop and away!”
Appearance:
Deep golden colour, with little head.
Aroma: Fantastic aroma of sweet hop juiciness. Floral and grapefruit
Taste: A very floral beer with the perfect amount of bitterness. It is like somebody dry hopped this beer with rose pedals. A slight spiciness you would expect from the rye. This beer sets the mood for a romantic evening.
Overall: A gift from the gods; this beer is floral, citursy, spicy and truly device. Our favorite from the Hop Box.

Skookum Cascadian Brown Ale

“Skookum from Chinook, West Coast North America. 1. A monster indigenous to the Cascade region. 2. Strong, reliable and/or hard working. 3. IPA with big, bold, characteristics and smooth, rich maltiness. 4. The unofficial fuel of the Cascadian revolution”
Appearance:
Dark brown, transparent when held up to a light. Very strong, thick head.
Aroma: It is like being at home over Christmas. Smells like hot chocolate, marshmallows, and a slightly spiciness.
Taste: Surprisingly not too rich and thick, yet still being smooth. Well hopped with good hop aroma and flavour (slightly spiciness), yet there is a strong dark chocolate flavour.
Overall: Coming in at second is the Skookum which is chocolatey, spicy and full bodied.

Chinook IPA

“Chinook: the only hop used in this beer. Bittering cariety with aroma characterics, bred by crossing a petham golding with the USDA 63012 Male; a high alpha acid hop with wonderful herbal and grapefruit like character”
Appearance:
Fairly clear, thin head, but it remained
Aroma: Not an overly strong aroma, but notes of pine, herbs and slight grapefruit (Robert actually inhaled some trying to detect more aromatic notes.)
Taste: A somewhat heavy body, fairly smooth with the hop bitterness coming in later. Not an overly fruity IPA, mainly limited to pine and herb flavour. Though citrus flavour does come through much later.
Overall: This is is not an overly complicated beer, but it showcases what Chinook hops smell and taste like. More breweries should make beers like this that educate consumers on the ingredients in the beers.

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199 White IPA

The Story

Generally, IPAs contain a certain amount of caramel malt to provide some sweetness to balance out the bitterness from the hops. Sometimes this is called providing a “malt backbone”.  But what if we didn’t add any other caramel malt to balance out sweetness? This is the idea behind out 199 White IPA.

The “white” aspect is a reference to the Belgian style of beer, a white ale or witbier (Hoegaarden is a classic example of a witbier). This type of beer is brewed with orange and coriander, as well as a special type of Belgian yeast. Traditionally, witbiers have very few hops and are very light in colour. A White IPA keeps the light colour, orange and coriander of a witbier, but adds more hops. Because of the lack of caramel malt in witbiers, it doesn’t require many hops to make the beer bitter enough to be considered an IPA.

The “199” refers to how many IBUs are in the beer. That comes from 12 ounces of hops in 23 litres of beer. Many beers only have 2-3 ounces of hops. Thus we went overboard on adding hops.

The Tasting

White IPA

Appearance: Very cloudy, yet very light in colour. Thick, bubbly head.
Aroma: Scent of orange and other citrus, with a hint coriander.
Taste: A very heavy body, likely as result of the wheat. It almost sticks to the tongue. A lemony taste that is very tart. A lot of different flavours from the hops: grapefruit, pine, orange, apricot, peach, mango, lemon. It’s like biting into a very flavourful grapefruit peel. The bitterness lingers for a very long time, where a little bit of the coriander taste can be noticed. The pine flavour also comes out more as the taste lingers.
Overall: Very bitter beer, but that was our plan for the beer, so let’s consider that a success. Since there is no sweeter malts to balance out the bitter and add different flavours, only the hops come through. It somewhat works in wheat beer, but you expect a bit more yeasty flavour in a wheat beer. The orange peel get lost in the hop flavour, though the coriander seems to compliment some of the hop flavour with a hint of spice.

The Process

Specifics: 23 litre batch, 55% extraction efficiency, ABV 4.9%, O.G. 1.047, IBU 199, single infusion mash at 68 Celsius for 40 minutes

Grain Bill
Normally you could never create such a mash without having a stuck sparge. Our mash tun is somehow magical and has never caused us a stuck sparge even when wheat makes up 87% of the grain bill. The high percentage of wheat was also a result of having very little Pale malt remaining in the homebrewery. Thus we made due with what we had.

Gambrinus Organic Wheat Malt: 12 lbs (to make a tangy, slightly acid and refreshing wheat beer)
Gambrinus Pale Malt: 2 lbs (to help prevent a stuck sparge)

wheat and hops

Hop Schedule
We upped the hopping rate, by a lot. Even if this beer had specialty malts and more alcohol to balance out the hoppiness, it would still be very hoppy. With a beer that has an O.G. of only 1.047, you are going to taste every one of those IBUs. All 199 of them.

75 min: 2 oz Chinook (Chinook is fairly piney, thus it adds more complexity to the beer)
60 min: 2 oz Columbus (Columbus is a rare bittering hop that actually keeps some of its flavour, thus we added it in addition to the Chinook to add a deep citrus flavour)
30 min: 1 oz Centennial, 0.5 oz Chinook
10 min: 1 oz Chinook, 0.5 oz Centennial
0 min: 1 oz Crystal, 0.5 oz Centennial (Crystal has a lovely fruity aroma that simply cannot be resisted)

Dry Hopping for 14 days: 1.5 oz Ultra (a hop similar to Crystal, less fruity though), 1.5 Cascade

Total hops added: 12 oz.

white ipa dryhop2
(199 White IPA after adding 1.5 oz Cascade and 1.5 oz Ultra for dry hopping)

Other Additions
To make a mildly proper white ale, we needed to add orange peel and coriander, thus we added 1 oz of each to the boil for the last 15 minutes. This is a long time to boil these additions (normally you would only add them for 5 minutes), but we wanted some of their flavour to come through all the hops.

Fermentation
Fermented on a Cooper’s Ale yeast cake from a Vienna ale. Not proper Belgium yeast for a white ale, but we don’t let beer style get in the way of our creativity.

7 days in primary
14 days in secondary

white ipa dryhop

(7 days into the dry hopping process)

Dry Hopping

Drying hopping is a brewing technique that some breweries brag about. But rarely are details provided describing the dry hopping process, and its affect on beer.

hops2Normally, hops are added when the wort (beer) is boiling. The heat from the boil extracts bitter oils from the hops, making the beer bitter. However, boiling causes the more aromatic qualities of the hops to evaporate. To add more hop aroma to the beer, hops are boiled for a shorter period of time (from 1 to 5 minutes). However, the heat from the boil still causes some of the hop aroma to evaporate.

To add the most possible aroma, hops are added to the beer after it is done fermenting. Since there is no heat, none of the aromatic qualities of the hops are lost. The hops sit in the beer for 3 to 14 days (or longer), and their aromas seep into the beer.  None of the bitterness of the hops is added to the beer because there is no heat to extract the bitter oils. Dry hopping does not increase bitterness, it only adds aroma.

Dry hopping is very common in beers that want to highlight the taste and aroma of hops, namely India Pale Ales and American Pale Ales. Drying hopping can add very strong smells of grapefruit, pine, flowers, spice, citrus or herbs depending on the type of hop being added to the beer.

How to Dry Hop Your Beer

1. Decide if you want to dry hop your beer: Not all beer styles should be dry hopped. While I completely encourage going crazy with experimentation, sometimes the aroma of the malt or yeast might clash with the aroma of the hops. Dry hopping an IPA is a good place to start, because you can’t really go wrong. Some might argue an IPA must be dry hopped to be considered a good IPA.

2. What hops are you going to use: This very must depends on what aroma you are going for. American hops like Cascade, Columbus and Centennial will add a strong citrus aroma to your beer. English hops like East Kent Golding or Fuggle will add an earthy herbal characteristic. Noble (German) hops like Saaz, Mt. Hood or Crystal will add floral and spicy aromas. Smell the hops to determine which aroma you prefer. You can always combine different types of hops to create a wide spectrum of aromas in your beer. I generally like a blend of a citrusy hop like Cascade with a more floral hops like Crystal to create a sweet and fruity aroma with a bit of spice.
Also, don’t mess with hop pellets for dry hopping. Only use whole hops. They are the most aromatic. If you’re going to dry hop, do it right. Kick those hop pellets to the curb.
Be aware that the AA% of the hops does not matter because dry hopping does not add bitterness.

3. Quantity of hops: More hops means more aroma. For a 23 litre/6 gallon batch of beer, 1-2 ounces of hops is generally enough to get a nice aroma. If you want a more subtle aroma to compliment other aspects of the beer, add an ounce or less. If you want to tear people’s nostrils a new one, go all the way up to 4 ounces. I normally add 1 ounce of Crystal and 1 ounce of Cascade to my IPAs.
Be aware, hops absorb some of the beer, so the more hops you add, the less beer you will have at the time of bottling.

dryhopping14. When to dry hop: Dry hopping should occur after primary fermentation. If you add the hops during the primary fermentation, the carbon dioxide from fermentation will carry away most of the aroma, resulting in an un-aromatic beer. Here’s a schedule I generally follow for dry hopping:

7 days in the primary fermentation tank
7 days in the secondary tank without hops
7 days in the secondary tank with hops
Total of 21 days fermenting, with 7 days dry hopping

I only dry hop for 7 days because hops can give off grassy flavours if they sit in the beer too long (though I have let hops sit in beer for 3 weeks and I generally haven’t noticed any bad flavours). Furthermore, I haven’t really noticed any benefits of letting hops sit in the beer for any longer than 7 days; most of the aroma seems to be extracted within 7 days of adding the hops. People who use kegs instead of bottles often add the hops directly to the keg instead of the secondary tank. This is very convenient. Jamming 3 ounces of hops through the narrow opening of carboy (secondary tank), however, is not very convenient. Perhaps I should invest the money into kegging.

dryhopping25. Bottling: When transferring the beer from the secondary tank into the bottles, the hops will still be sitting in the beer. This means it is possible to have hop seeds and hop leaves end up in your bottles. This adds a certain natural quality to the beer, but tends to freak out big wusses. You can use a hop bag to avoid having hops just floating around carefree in your beer. Hop bags can be used both during the boil and dry hopping.

Hop aroma does decrease with time, so don’t age your dry hopped beer too much.

India Porter Ale

The Story

This beer has Robert’s creativity written all over it. He has been sampling some black IPAs from Oregon, and paying considerably too much money for them. The local offers of black IPAs were considerably lacking. So when brew day rolled around on the weekend, he suggested to AJ they make a black IPA.

Widmer Pitch Black IPA

Despite the contradictory name (Black India ‘Pale’ Ale), Black IPAs are roughly as dark as a porter, but have all the hoppiness of an IPA (some Black IPAs are even darker). So we called our beer the “India Porter Ale”(India reflecting the hoppiness of the beer, Porter reflects the darkness of the beer). Other names for the this type of beer include Cascadian Dark Ale and India Black Ale. The chocolate malt required to make the India Porter Ale actually hides a lot of the hop bitterness. Compared to a regular IPA, considerably more hops are added to our India Porter Ale to get the same level of hop bitterness. We wanted the hop bitterness to shine above bitterness from the dark roasted malts. There was, however, one issue: we only had Munich Light as a ‘base malt’.

The Tasting

Appearance: Very dark, though slightly transparent. Strong, thick head. Nearly no signs of carbonation.
Aroma: Sweet, yet roasty malt. Very little hop aroma, as we did not dry hop the beer.
Taste: Initially a strong sweet, nutty taste, then bitterness, then the sweetness returns. Has an earthy taste throughout, with some acidic fruit tastes (like plum). Very malty, yet still bitter. Very thick body as well.
Overall: A surprising well balanced beer. The sweetness from the Munich malt is present, yet so is the strong bitterness of the hops and roasted barley. The beer constantly swings between very bitter and very sweet depending on area of your tongue the beer rests on. A very broad spectrum of flavours. The beer needs to linger in your mouth a while to get the full flavour. It is a very unique beer. You could not drink a lot of this beer, but is the ideal for sitting in front of a fireplace during a snowy winter evening.

India Porter ALe

The Process

Specifics: 23 litre batch, 74% extraction efficiency, ABV 6.4%, O.G. 1.062, IBU 113 single infusion mash at 66.5 Celsius for 50 minutes

This beer was made during a rather scares time at the brewery. Our January shipment from Gambrinus Malting Corporation in Armstrong was reaching its end. We had no Pale Malt for base malt. Thus we had to improvise. Thus we used Munich Light malt as a substitute, as well as some wheat malt to help covert the starch to sugar. Thus, this is going to be a very malty beer, despite all the hops we might try to add to it.

Grain Bill
Gambrinus Munich Light: 10 lb (This is our make-shift base malt because we didn’t have any Pale Malt. This will probably make the beer too malty, but whatever)
Gambrinus Organic Wheat Malt: 4 lb (because 14 pounds of Munich was just too much)
Carmel 70-80: 8 oz (to add some variety to the malty taste from the Munich)
Gambrinus Honey Malt: 8 oz (because we add it to everything, so why not this too?)
Chocolate Malt: 8 oz (to make it dark)
Roasted Malt: 4 oz (because Robert said so)
Flaked Barley: 8 oz (to make it thicker)

Grains

It will be nearly impossible to add enough hops to balance out the sweetness of the Munich malt. This will probably be a weird tasting porter, with few of the characteristics of an IPA.

Hop Schedule

To make this beer even remotely bitter, we loaded in the hops. 113 IBUs worth. The Cluster and Northern Brewer were chosen for their more piney/herbal characteristics, while Columbus was selected to add a grapefruit flavour for complexity.

75 minutes: 1.5 oz Northern Brewer, 1.5 oz Columbus, 1.5 oz Cluster
20 minutes: 1.5 oz Northern Brewer, 1.5 oz Columbus, 1.5 oz Cluster
1 minute: 1.5 oz Northern Brewer, 1.5 oz Columbus, 1.5 oz Cluster

Fermentation Schedule

Primary fermentation: 7 days
Secondary fermentation: 21 days

We put this batch onto a yeast cake (Nottingham) from a honey brown ale and a blonde ale (thus this was the third use of that yeast). And it fermented like crazy. We actually lost 3 litres just due to crazy fermentation forcing the beer out through the airlock.

Train Wreck FreshHop IPA

The Story

The genesis of this glorious boozy beverage is located in the Abbotsfordian park of Fishtrap Creek. We discovered a treasure trove of hops growing in the wild. Our best guess as to the variety was “Cluster”, based on local history and their intense pine aroma. AJ discovered that a train system once went through the park during the days of hop production in the Fraser Valley. We surmised that a train derailed or stopped there spilling its contents around the area. This theory was the inspiration for naming our fresh hop beer, the Train Wreck FreshHop IPA.

Old Hops

The Tasting

Appearance: Light coloured; foamy head (note: the picture below was taken before the carbonation was complete)
Aroma: Very piney, herbal. Probably would have benefited from some Cascade hops, but that’s not the purpose of this beer.
Taste: A slow build up of pine taste, with a bit of that English spicy, herbal flavour. For lack of a better term, it actually tastes fresh, and a little bit of a tang (again a poor term, but the English language eludes me at the moment). The sweetness of the Munich and Honey Malt comes in a little bit later, preventing it from getting too bitter. The body also is not too thick, making it probably easier drinking than it should be.
Overall: This is most certainly an English IPA, a style I’m not a huge fan of. The herbal, piney hops are distinctive, and there is most certainly no citrus going on. Though this experiment does not confirm these hops are Cluster, it does confirm they are not some of the typical Northwest hops like Cascade, Columbus, Simcoe etc.

Train Wreck IPA

The Process

To best bring out the aroma and the taste of the hops, we wanted a fairly simple grain bill.
Specifics: 23 litre batch, 89% extraction efficiency, ABV 7.4% O.G. 1.066, IBU Unknown, single infusion mash at 66.5 Celsius for 50 minutes

Gambrinus Pale Malt: 11 lb
Gambrinus Munich Light: 1 lb (to add a little bit of maltiness)
Gambrinus Wheat Malt: 8 oz (to create a longer lasting head)
Flaked Barley: 8 oz (to increase the body)
Gambrinus Honey Malt: 4 oz (I love this malt because it adds a very nice, sweet balance, especially in an IPA. It is used in varying amounts in nearly every one of our brews)

To ensure the hops were as fresh as they could be, we mashed and sparged the grains before picking the hops. Once the wort was collected, we brought it up to a boil for 30 seconds to ensure that we stopped all enzymes from breaking the sugars down into smaller compounds (if we did not do this, the wort would be too fermentable, and the beer would have a watery body once fermentation had finished). We turned off the propane burned and let the wort cool down, then we went off to spend 2 hours picking wild hops at Fishtrap Creek, a 7 minute walk from the homebrewery. We managed to collected 5 pounds of fresh hops. Once we finished picking them, we walked back to our homebrewery, and started adding the hops to the boiling wort.

Hop Schedule

75 minutes: 6 oz
30 minutes: 2 oz
20 minutes: 4 oz
15 minutes: 2 oz
10 minutes: 2 oz
5 minutes: 4 oz
1 minute: 4 oz

You might think the amount of hops we added is insanely high. Well, that is only partially true. Since they are fresh hops, they have not been dried, and a lot of their weight is still composed of water. Brief research seemed to indicated using a ratio between 1:4 to 1:6. This means if a recipe normally called for 1 oz of dried hops, you would add 4-6 oz of fresh hops. We used the more conservative 1:4 ratio.

Cluster Hops

Fermentation

Yeast: Poured onto a Nottingham yeast cake left from a pale ale.

7 days primary
18 days secondary
3 oz dry hopped for 14 days (same hops we picked, except they were dried)