Monday, June 24, 2013

Homebrew Diaries: Closet Hophead 2, Honey Belgian IPA

Sparging the grains for Closet Hop Head 2
A while back, I tried my hand at brewing a Belgian IPA called "Closet Hophead".  It turned out OK, but I thought I could do better.  Now to brew a better beer, I certainly could delve deeply into books on brewing science and work hard on improving my brewing techniques.  But it's a lot easier to simply steal ideas from better brewers.

At the Bistro Double IPA fest during SF Beer Week last February, I got to talking with a home brewer who suggested using two types of yeast for a Belgian IPA.  According to him, Belgian Ale yeast gives a beer nice aromatic qualities but tends to suppressed the hop flavors.   Yeasts such as California Ale yeasts are better at bringing the hops to the forefront.  Later on, I spoke with Hermitage Brewmaster Greg Filippi about Hermitage's Single Hop IPA series, and discovered Greg used a lot of late hop additions to the boil to bring out bright hop characteristics.

Armed with this stolen knowledge, I set out to brew a second iteration of Closet Hop Head.  I brew 2-gallon batches using two 1-gallon glass jugs as fermenters, so it was easy to simply pitch Belgian Ale yeast in one, and California Ale yeast in the other, to get both the best of both yeast strains.  Then, I tweaked the recipe to increase the hop additions later in the boil in an attempt to bring out the hop flavors. 

The result was the most complicated brewing recipe and process I ever tried.  Here's the recipe:

4 lbs. 2-row Malt
1 lb Munich Malt
1/2 lb organic wildflower honey (added at 5 minutes)

Mash with 1 1/2 gallons water

Sparge with an additional 1 1/4 gallons water

0.3 ounces Amarillo hops 60 minutes
0.3 ounces Amarillo hops 45 minutes
0.1 ounces Amarillo hops 30 minutes
0.2 ounces Cascade hops five minutes
0.2 ounces Chinook hops five minutes
0.2 ounces ground coriander, five minutes
0.2 ounces Cascade hops, steeped at flame out for 15 minutes
0.2 ounces Chinook hops, steeped at flame out for 15 minutes

Add 1/2 gallon cold water at flame out

White Labs Belgian Ale Yeast in 1-gallon fermenter
White Lab California Ale Yeast in a second 1-gallon fermenter

Original Gravity: 1.066
Final Gravity: 1.010
ABV: 7.4%

The result was a good, not great homebrew.   The brew is a good mix of honey, aromatics from the yeast, and a floral hop character.  The malt is crisp, simple and dry, and which works as a good canvas for all the different flavors.  It doesn't have the hop bite I was hoping for and while the brew is definitely complex, it's also a tad muddled.  A nice beer, but still needs a little tweaking with a little more hops......and a couple more swiped brewing secrets.

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