Archive for August, 2010

Lots O Hops

Saturday morning I harvested about a pound of Centennial hops off the bines at our house.  I planned on also taking some Cascades but they didn’t seem to be ready yet, very little aroma, still quite green and the lupulin was still a pale yellow.  The Centennials ended up being split into two beers brewed that day – most went into an IPA, and the remainder went to a Cascadian Dark Ale.

The IPA took on a very “C” character as I used Columbus, Cascade, Citra, and the freshly picked Centennial hops.  To take a bit of the harsh edge off, I used the “first wort hopping” technique with the Columbus, and promptly remembered why I don’t like to use it.  Normally, I take a gravity reading once the runoff is complete and I can make adjustments to the volume (boiling more or less off) without affecting too much as none of the hops will have been added yet.  With FW hopping, if you are high on volume you can’t just boil longer as you will extract more IBUs (because the bittering hops have already been added) and end up with a more bitter beer.  In this case, I was a touch high on volume so I came in a couple points light for my original gravity.  In the end, it won’t impact the beer very much, but I prefer to hit my numbers when I can.

The Cascadian Dark Ale was a new style and recipe for me.  For this I used Simcoe, Cascade, Centennial, and Amarillo.  To get the roast flavor and dark colors, I used Carafa Special III as the only dark/roast malt.  Since my water tends to leave the roasted malts extremely bitter and astringent when mashed, I used only 25% of the malt in the mash and the remaining 75% was cold steeped overnight and then added directly to the kettle.  I am thinking this should allow some of the roast character to come through while gaining the full depth of color expected from a malt that dark.

Both of these brews will be aggressively dryhopped, with the first addition probably on Friday followed by a second addition Monday and transfer to kegs on Wednesday or Thursday.  I am thinking a blend of Centennial and Amarillo for the CDA, and either 100% Centennial or a blend with Citra for the IPA.

With my focus lately on Belgian and sour, barrel aged beers, I think it’s been over a year since I last brewed an IPA.   Sad, I know, but I am really optimistic about how these two will turn out.   I also should have another couple pounds of Centennial and Cascade hops from the yard to play with in a month so there may be an overly hopped American Amber, Double IPA or American Barleywine in my future…