The year that was 2017 was my lightest homebrewing year in nearly a decade, I brewed a handful of 10-gallon HopWards batches to maintain beer on tap but very little worth posting about. To be honest, the beer that spawned this post was planned to be more of the same. It was brewed out of necessity, this time for my son’s birthday, with hop selection based on what I had on hand. However, something interesting resulted which I talked about on social media but felt it might be worth documenting on this blog.
My son’s second birthday party at our house was fast approaching so I had to quick turnaround a beer…in 9 days. So I threw together a 10 gallon batch of New England style pale ale, in the same vein of HopWards, this time using a blend of White Wheat, Flaked Oats, and Flaked Spelt to the tune of ~35% of the grain bill. While I had water heating up on the day I figured I should take a look in the freezer to see what I would be hopping with, Centennial, Simcoe, Lemon Drop and Galaxy, nice that’ll do. With a starter of Imperial Organic’s Juice spinning on the stir plate, I hoped that in 9 days I would have a nice fluffy, juicy pale ale for sustenance to chance 2 year olds around all day.
As some tend to do in this style I dry hopped during primary, but this time that method was out of necessity in order to get the beer ready in time. I added 1 lb of dry hops on day 3 of fermentation. That’s right, an entire pound for 10 gallons. What? Too much? Anyway, the beer fermented out quickly and I kegged all 10 gallons the night before and burst carbonated the keg to be served for the party. Since I was already flying by the seat of my pants I figured I could get cute with the second keg since it didn’t need to be ready the next day anyway. An additional 6 oz of dry hops in the keg would suffice, for all the Math majors out there that’s just under 1 lb of dry hops for this 5 gallon keg.
This wasn’t meant to be anything scientific, just freestyling and working with what I had on hand, and if we ended up with leftover from the party keg I would get a little variation on the taps. The first keg, from here on known as Single Dry Hopped (SDH) drank good at the party, nice and soft on the bitterness, silky smooth body, moderate hop aroma, refreshing and quaffable on an afternoon chasing around 2 year olds. Bonus for me, we didn’t kick the keg on the day.
The following weekend I tapped the Double Dry Hopped (DDH) version and pulled a pint, immediately I noticed a huge difference from the SDH on appearance alone. It was super duper murky, where SDH had only a subtle haze. I thought maybe DDH needed a little longer cold crashing but it never really “cleared” up as much the SDH did, not that I care. Another visual difference was the head on the beer, the SDH had a really “tight” head, with small firmly clinging bubbles. The DDH had an almost soapy head, with large bubbles floating atop throughout the glass. Both versions had good head retention and lacing, as you expect from a highly hopped beer with 35% adjuncts.
Unsurprisingly the DDH version was way more aromatic, hitting all your classic juicy NEIPA notes, a real mixed fruit cup aroma. DDH also boasting a bigger, smoother body as well when compared to the SDH, and weirdly had a slightly more bitter/astringent finish, though not unpleasant. The SDH came across one dimensional when tasted alongside the DDH. The DDH’s finish was bolder, and interesting, with an aftertaste of passionfruit and guava while the SDH had a very quick finish, albeit very refreshing, it didn’t leave you with anything to write home about after drinking.
I posted a photo on Instagram and it sparked some fun discussion about this accidental experiment. It was suggested that I do a triangle test to see if my opinions might be skewed due to the massive difference visually. Now I am no Brulosopher (Where is the Umlaut key?) so you won’t see a ton of data from me, just this dork from NJ’s results from trying this triangle test only twice. I had my wife pour me them in opaque cups labeled A, B, C to ensure visual impairment. Here are the notes the first time I tried the triangle test.
A: big aroma, very fruity very juicy, passion fruit, orange Guava. Creamy body no bitter, lingering bitterness in finish. Pretty sure this is DDH
B: muted aroma, nice but subtle fruit notes. Slightly creamy, prickly carb on the tongue, finish is smooth but dry
C: aromas similar to B, flavors are similar as well, but then again its all starting to taste the same, aromatics stand out on A. This was harder than I thought. I’m generally not good at these. I got it right, probably by accident.
I was able to pick out the DDH beer both times but to be fair, the aromatics on these two beers were very distinctly different. Its definitely possible I got lucky, but one of these two beers received a ton more dry hops. I will say though that these blind tests get harder the more you smell and taste, the first pass through I was able to pinpoint aromatic differences but flavor wise it was hard to differentiate after the first 2-3 sips.
Anyway, what does any of this even mean? The hell if I know, ask Scott Janish he’s the hop wizard. I just found this pretty fun and interesting, especially the haze difference. Here’s the recipe if you’re into murky beer.
DDH HopWards Variant Recipe
|Final Volume||Original Gravity||Final Gravity||ABV||IBU|
|15 lb 10oz||Viking Pale Malt||63.5%|
|White Wheat Malt||16.2%|
|3 lb||Flaked Oats||12.2%|
|2 lb||Flaked Spelt||8.1%|
|24 lb 10 oz||Total|
|1.5 oz||CTZ||First Wort Hop||60 min|
|2.0 oz||Centennial||Boil||5 min|
|2.0 oz||Simcoe||Boil||5 min|
|4.0 oz||Lemon Drop||Whirlpool||20 min|
|3.5 oz||Centennial||Whirlpool||20 min|
|16 oz||Simcoe||Dry Hop||Day 2 of fermentation|
|12 oz||Simcoe||Dry Hop||After FG is hit|
Imperial Organic A38 Juice – 2L Starter
- Single infusion rest at 154F for 60 minutes
- Boil and add hops
- Chill to 65F
- Pitch healthy yeast into oxygenated wort and ferment at 66F for 4-5 days, then bump to 70F until gravity is stable
- First dry hop on day 2 of active fermentation
- Second dry hop when fermentation complete
- 30 seconds of pure O2
- Cherry Hill, NJ Tap water. Mash pH 5.31
- Water Profile ~2:1 Chloride:Sulfate (132ppm Ca, 19ppm Mg, 7ppm Na, 197ppm Cl, 96ppm SO4)
- Some Lactic acid was used to lower the mash pH, your water profile may vary.