Saturday, October 9, 2010

fresh hops American pale ale, part 1

This is an American pale ale made with hops fresh from the garden. When using fresh (wet) hops rather than dried, somewhere between 4 and 6 times the quantity by weight is required. I have just enough fresh Centennial and Cascade to make what I hope will be a robustly aromatic beer.

Here's an interesting article and slide show from the NY Times about fresh hops beer and a hops farm in Salem, Oregon.

I looked to Palmer's American Pale Ale recipe from How To Brew as a starting point, as well as the Sierra Nevada Pale Ale clone recipe from BYO's May/June 2005 issue.

I probably would have gone with the recommended Wyeast American Ale if The Cellar hadn't been out. Instead I got Wyeast yeast strain 1272, American Ale II, described thusly:
With many of the best qualities that brewers look for when brewing American styles of beer, this strain’s performance is consistent and it makes great beer. Fruitier and more flocculent than Wyeast 1056 American Ale yeast, slightly nutty, soft, clean with a slightly tart finish. Ferment at warmer temperatures to accentuate hop character with intense fruitiness, or ferment cool for clean, light citrus character. Expect good attenuation, but this will vary with grist makeup, mashing protocol, or other wort characteristics. Reliably flocculent, producing bright beer without filtration.
Flocculation is high, attenuation is 72 - 76%, and temperature range is 60F - 72F.

The recipe I ended up with for a 5.5 gallon batch was:
  • 6 pounds light liquid malt extract (The Cellar's house brand)
  • 1 pound Briess Pilsen light DME
  • 1 pound 2-row malt
  • 1 pound crystal 40 malt
  • 1 ounce Northern Brewer hops, 8.5 AA, 65 min
  • 4.1 ounces fresh (wet) Centennial hops, 35 min (AA unknown)
  • 4.1 ounces fresh (wet) Centennial hops, 15 min (AA unknown)
  • 2.8 ounces fresh (wet) Cascade hops, 5 min (AA unknown)
  • Wyeast 1272, American Ale II liquid yeast
This is a little heavier on the bittering hops than Palmer's recipe, which would have called for about .65 ounces of Northern Brewer after AA adjustment.

I steeped the grains for 30 minutes, starting at 170 degrees and ending at 156, in 3 gallons. I see from Palmer, page 136, that it's best to have no more than a gallon per pound, so I should have used only 2 gallons.

Refilled the kettle to 3 gallons, added the DME at 200 degrees, brought to boil, and added the bittering hops.

At 30 minutes, added the Centennial. At 45, added the LME and returned to boil. I brought the container of LME up to something over 150 degrees in a hot water bath to minimize the recovery time. At 50 minutes, added more Centennial. At 60, added Cascade. Knockout at 65 and into icy sink where I removed the hop boiling bags.

Cooled to about 90 degrees, aerated by pouring between kettle and fermenter three times, and topped off with refrigerated Crystal Geyser spring water. Mixing of wort and water was very poor, so poured off about 4 gallons into the kettle and back to the fermenter, which did the trick. Temperature was 71 degrees and volume was 5.5 gallons.

Original gravity was measured at 1.052, smack in the middle of Palmer's range of 1.045 to 1.060. That agrees very well with the calculated gravity using 22 points from the steeped crystal, 42 from the DME, and 216 from the LME, or 50.91 points per gallon, or 1.051 gravity.

Pitched the yeast and transported to the downstairs bathroom where I think it will stay at the lower end of the temperature range. After seven hours it was down to 68 degrees, with no noticeable activity.

Next time, I need to drain the hops bags into a sanitized bowl. There was 8 or 12 ounces of wort that didn't make it into the primary. I poured it into a jar (unsanitized), added a little water, and pitched the dregs from the yeast pack. Maybe I'll get a picobrew out of it. It was already active after just a few hours.

The wort is quite bitter. There is some hop aroma but it's not a blast in the face or anything. I believe that much of the aroma is transported to the snout via carbonation so it's probably inappropriate to draw any conclusions yet. There is definitely a flavor I have not experienced in a wort before and I'd say it's something close to the aroma of the fresh hops, perhaps a little vegetal. I'm not sure I'd say grassy, though, which is one description I've heard of fresh hops ales. I think I'm going to like this!

Update: 24 hours later I still wasn't seeing any bubbling, but I did notice a strong (and delicious) hoppy aroma in the vicinity. Realizing that I'd first noticed it much earlier in the day I inspected the stopper and found it to be loose. Jammed it in and the blowoff tube began bubbling immediately and continuously. The temperature is holding at 68 degrees. The picobrew jar has a thick layer of krausen.

Update: After a week, racked to the secondary/bottling bucket. Gravity is 1.015 and bubbling is very infrequent. I'm hoping it will clarify considerably in the next week. There's not a particularly strong hop aroma but perhaps that will become evident once carbonated. I'm quite pleased with the overall flavor at this point, though, and the body is really nice. I'll be a bit disappointed if the aroma hops don't make an appearance, but it's likely to be a nice pale in any event.

I think this is the first time I've used a bottling bucket as a secondary. This lets me take gravity samples easily and safely through the spigot and since it's off the trub they should be clean. No racking and less cleaning on bottling day will be a nice convenience.

Update: Final gravity on 10/29 before bottling is 1.014 for an apparent attenuation of 72%. Tastes excellent. Very smooth, good body, nice bitterness, a little sweetness. I'd say it mainly exhibits the expected characteristics of warmer fermentation with this yeast. Still not a particularly hoppy nose. Clarified pretty well, but the sample is from the bottom of the secondary and I'm sure it will be crystal clear in bottles.

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