Monday, 7 November 2016

Black Adder

This year marked the fourth year of my hop farming experiment. I added two centennial plants this year, to go with my cascades and goldings. Over the past few years I've brewed a variant of a black IPA, which I've called the black mamba (year 1, 2, 3). While I've enjoyed playing with that recipe, the new centennial hops plus a desire to try something new led me to develop a new beer for this years hop harvest.

Sticking with the snake theme, this years beer is the "Black Adder the 1st", although that should be taken more along the lines of Rowan Atkinson than of a scary big snake. This beer is still a black IPA, but with a lot of changes from the black mamba of yesteryear. Gone are the rye and wheat malts, with the beer brewed to be drier and more hop-forward. This beer contains 225g (a half-pound) of centennial and cascade hops, and even more oddly, was brewed using a Kveik yeast kindly sent to me by a Norwegian brewer. The vision of this beer was to emphasise the citrus notes of the hops with a yeast strain with a reputation for orange-like esters.

This didn't come out exactly as I had envisioned, and the hop character faded awfully fast, but I did learn two things while making this beer. 1) I am probably drying my hops incorrectly, which would account for their slightly different than excepted character and poor in-beer stability. Apparently I should dry them using a dehydrator or over at ~55C/130F (link). 2) Kveik yeast kicks ass in dark beers. The orange character blends nicely with roast malts, giving a character similar to orange-infused chocolate. A future stout will be brewed with this yeast!

Recipe and tasting notes can be found below the fold...

Recipe

Malts:
  • 81.6% 2-row
  • 7.4% wheat malt
  • 5.9% blackprinz
  • 3.5% Crystal 120L
  • 1.5% Special roast
Hops (for 25L):
  • 40 g Northern Brewer (33 IBU, 60 min)
  • 50 g Home-grown centennial (~8 IBU, 10 min)
  • 25 g Home-grown cascade (~2 IBU, 10 min)
  • 75 g Home-grown centennial (15 min whirpool)
  • 75 g Home-grown cascade (15 min whirpool)
Brew-day:
  1. Mash at 65.6C for 60 minutes and batch sparge
  2. 60 min boil, adding Irish moss 10 minutes prior to end of boil
  3. Chill and pitch Kveik yeast
  4. Ferment 14 days at ~22 C
Stats:
  • OG: 1.058
  • FG: 1.008
  • ABV: 6.6%
  • IBU: 60

Tasting Notes

Appearance: Dark brown, almost black. Pours with a course but long-lived white head.

Aroma: Strong citrus/resin hop character, mild malt character

Flavour: A strong hop presence dominates, most resinous with some citrus character. Behind the hops is a modest orange character from the yeast and a malt profile similar to a brown porter (toasty, not roasty). Due, I think, to the large amount of hops there was also an unpleasant grass-like character. The hop character didn't last very long in the keg (~3 weeks), leaving behind an intriguing beer with an interesting orange/toast combination that makes me want to use kveik yeast in more dark beers. Aftertaste was a lingering hop bitterness with grass undertones.

Mouthfeel: Dry, but thirst quenching

Overall: Overall this was not a bad beer, especially for something I essentially made up the morning of brew-day (my intended ingredients for the kveik yeast didn't make it through the mail on time for brew-day). The biggest thing to come out of this beer is a real interest in kveik yeast - the character imparted by it was fantastic, and I cannot wait to try it in more beers.

8 comments:

  1. I grow and dry lots of my own hops as well, and have experienced the grassy character at times. Since I'm dealing with a lot of hops (much more than a dehydrator or oven could handle), I have taken to the method of "hops on cardboard with fan blowing over them" and then turning them once or twice a day until they reach the dryness I like. On a typical year, this happens in my garage that will reach into the mid-90s and bone dry humidity, and the total drying time is 36-48 hours. This year they were harvested much later and the garage temperature was much cooler so it took a solid 4 days to get them where I wanted them. This drying method has worked very well for me if you have the space to sacrifice for a few days.

    As for the grass-like/vegetal/tea character, I have found that to be much more related to the timing of harvest as opposed to the drying technique (assuming you get them well-dried that is). Years ago I discovered that I was harvesting much too early and that I needed to wait for a much more dry/papery sound when ruffling a hop on the bine before harvesting - AND making sure the majority of the bine was at the same stage. Since making this adjustment, I have not experienced the grassiness I once used to get. Some varieties seem more prone to the grass character than others, as well (Cascade being one culprit). What I have found is that my hops will start to have some decent light browning to the cone (usually on the leaflet tips) before they are actually ready for harvest.

    Regardless, I enjoyed the blog post and that kveik yeast is super intriguing.

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    1. I dry my hops in the same way as you; in addition to the grassy note I also don't get the exact character of the hop that I would expect. Part of that is likely terroir, but based on a podcast I recently listened too (although I think the link in my post is wrong - I'm now fairly sure it was a recent experimental brewing podcast), many of the hop flavours and flavour stability requires that the hops be killed (i.e. dried warm).

      SWIMBO wants a large dehydrator for her garden, the sort of thing that can dry 20kg of tomatoes, so I think I'm going to build a big unit this winter and give it a go next hop harvest.

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  2. Very inspiring! I have only used kveik in mixed fermentation due to the practical reasons of living in a hot place. I am really curious about using it in an IPA. Thanks for the inspiration!

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  3. Oh, forgot to ask, which kveik strain was it?

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    1. I don't know. Its one of the two Voss strains, probably not the ones currently available, although my source wasn't certain on that front.

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    2. by "not currently available" I mean not commercially available.

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  4. I'm surprised to hear you like the Kveik in a dark beer. I used The Yeast Bay's "Sigmund's Voss Kveik" in a second-runnings beer parti-gyled with a wee heavy. I found that the tart, citrusy character of the yeast conflicted with the caramel flavors from the grain bill. Maybe Kveik yeasts work best in hoppy dark beers rather than malty ones?

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    Replies
    1. Very different beers. Mine was hoppy and roasty, both of which worked well with the yeast. Next up I'm going to try a chocolate-forward stout with it, as I think the orange esters will play nicely with the chocolate malt. I can see how it would conflict with a wee-heavy; too much sweetness would clash with the yeast esters.

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