I was just looking at the blog and realized that I have three recipe posts in a row. I normally try to keep them only back-to-back and not post too many recipes, mostly because I don’t view my blog as a place people go to get saison recipes. I have a really great post that I’m finishing up that will put me back on schedule. Sorry for the tease, onto the experimental hop beer.
We are barely into 2015 and we are already tackling new experimental hops? Yes, we are. You can read about the other experimental hops here. There are going to be a few changes this year to these experiments but I am comfortable with the changes and I think they will actually improve the way I analyze these hops. First, this year there are 10 varieties we will explore rather than 6 last year. Some of them are pelleted and some are leaf. I’m going to do the pellet hops first just because when I get to the leaf I’m going to alter the process again. I’ll cover those changes when the time comes. Second, I’m going to use only the experimental hop. Last year I used a bittering hop and I am unsure why I was doing that except that I had a bunch of 1 ounce hop bags gifted to me and I wanted to use them. Third, there is going to be more hops in these beers than last year but all late additions. And lastly, I’m going to use a different yeast for these 10 beers. All of those details will be covered in the brewing write up.
Nuggetzilla…what are you? I’m assuming it is nugget-like but let’s look at the specs. It probably goes without saying but I’ll say it anyway, I have no had a commercial or homebrew example (that I know of) that used this hop. I do generally like nugget hops though, Nugget Nectar is one of my favorite seasons and probably my favorite Troegs beer. There isn’t much about this hop, here are the numbers.
EXP #: 06277
Aroma: Juicy Fruit, Pineapple, Citrusy, Spicy
Total Oil 4.0-6.0
High alpha acid, so this is going to be bitter, not especially heavy on cohumulone so it could be smooth, and the aroma description is really nice. OK, I’m on board. Let’s do this.
5 Gallon Batch
Brew date: January 30th, 2015
Kegging date: February 21, 2015
8 lbs of 2-row
1 lb of wheat
0.5 lb of flaked oats
Mash was a little low on this one, 148 F for 60 minutes. Total volume was about 4 gallons. Grain was ground directly into the water.
Uneventful boil. No clarifier was added. Total time was about 70 minutes.
2 ounces at 10 minutes
2 ounces at flame-out
2 ounces dry-hopped – Pellets added to the carboy, left on for 10 days.
2 ounces in keg
All hops are pellets. Hops in the keg are in a hop bag inside a hop bag. they are weighed down so they sink to the bottom near the dip tube.
This beer was fermented with a new pitch of WLP566 Saison Yeast II. This is supposedly faster than the Dupont yeast I used last year. We will see. I pitched two vials (no time for a starter) and 24 hours later it was at high krausen.
The wort for this beer did not get chilled properly and that sucks but there was nothing I could do at the time about it. It was freezing cold the week before (low 20s for several days) and my hose had frozen solid. I worked it during the boil for a while but couldn’t get water to flow through. I chilled the beer by leaving it outside with the lid on the pot for 5 hours. Far from ideal but I have a new hose I store inside so this won’t happen again.
I pitched a new yeast in this one and hopefully this will be the yeast for all 7 of these beers. Once one is done, I’ll save the yeast and move onto the next experimental hop beer.
I dry hopped this beer in the fermentor by dropping in two ounces of pellets. I haven’t brought it up before but I thought this would be a good place (until I write a post about hoppy beers in general) about how I go about dry hopping with pellets. First, I don’t use a bag in the fermentor. Simply put, that is not practical and it minimizes the surface area the hops are in contact with the beer. I drop the pellets into the fermentor, the pellets sink initially but after hydrating and breaking up, I end up with a think forest green layer of hop debris floating on top of the beer. If I do nothing, it will stay that way with the majority of hops floating on top of the beer. Again, this minimizes the surface area the hops are in contact with the beer. After a couple of days, I don’t SHAKE the fermenter but jostle it slightly. Actually I usually just grip it at the bottom and turn it a few degrees clockwise and quickly back. This doesn’t allow the beer to splash or even be disturbed at all, but the hops will sink, not all of them but the ones at the liquid interface do. I repeat this process every day for 3 or 4 days until all the hops have sunk, then I know I’m done.
Beer is orangish and hazy, thin head, small white bubbles, low carbonation (a little undercarbonated, I’ll attempt to fix that). Decent retention, again a little low.
From an intensity POV, the aroma is about 7 out of 10, not as aggressive as I assumed it would be. Still pretty present. The yeast isn’t coming through much, perhaps a few esters here and there. The winner is the hops. The hops have a strong citrus aroma to them, like oranges. Followed by some mild fresh cut grass and some mild pineapple. Smells pretty good, I wish it were a little more intense but I’ll let that slide.
Beer is medium to light in body, nice finish, not too dry. It is pretty freaking bitter, hop bitter. This beer has this resinous hoppiness you sometimes get from Centennial or Columbus hops. Really strong. The flavors are pretty much like the aroma. A little earthy, sulfury, grinding bitterness, offset with bright fruits and orange citrus. The more I drink, the more the hop residue build up in my mouth, the more citrus I begin to pick up. It is definitely growing on me.
Overall, this isn’t my favorite of the experimental hops I’ve used thus far but I’d put near the top. There is a definite “nugget” like quality to it…just way way more of that. The citrus is nice and I don’t think I’ll have trouble drinking this or sharing this. This hop might be better suited as a member of an ensemble of hops or as a bittering hop. I had no bittering additions and this ended up quite bitter…really bitter. You know, the more I drink this, the more it makes me think of sweet orange peel. Yeah, that’s the sort of bitterness this is. There is definitely bitterness from the acids of the hops, for sure, but the citrus character is also bitter. In the past 40 minutes, this beer and hop have really grown on me. Nugget itself is not too exciting as far as hops are concerned (although I do love Nugget Nectar from Troegs), but it is a fine hop for either bittering or late additions. This hop lives up to its namesake in every way. Think Nugget but fruiter, more bitter, just more.
Possible Improvements for Future Batches:
I’ll start by not fucking up the chilling. Stupid winter ruins everything, freezing my hose…I need a backup but hopefully the worst of the weather is behind me (HAHAHA). At the time I wrote that first sentence I truly believed it. Two weeks later it was -26 F outside and all the pipes froze and I took two weeks off of brewing. Worst season for an outdoor dog like me. I hate winter. Die snow, die. Anyway, I think this new grain bill is going to work out fine. I just have to tighten up my carbonation game. I really need to pick up a second regulator for that.
I did a repeat of the Wakatu saison with WLP644, the supposed Brett trois strain that isn’t Brett. That is coming up soon as well as Apollo saison. The next experimental hop saison is brewing this weekend and is ADHA524. After that I’ll switch to the whole leaf hops.
“I don’t think I’ve drunk enough beer to understand that.” ― Terry Pratchett