The secrets behind brewing amazing hoppy beers like New England IPA are becoming more widely known. Sure, the pros still keep a few of their techniques close to their chest. But homebrewers around the globe can brew just as tasty hoppy beer as nearly any professional brewery.
The key to great IPA is the use of great quality hops and a very keen eye for detail.
But on top of that, there are a few interesting products available that can help amplify hoppy flavors in beer.
We’ll take a look at 5 ingredients that you should try to take your IPAs to the next level. Not every beer needs changing, but trying some new techniques and flavors is a great way to knock your next batch out of the park.
Phantasm Powder is a brand new product from New Zealand. It’s basically pulverized freeze-dried Sauvignon Blanc Grapes. What it contributes to beer is a massive charge of thiols: compounds that drive intense tropical fruit flavor and aroma.
In beer, thiol concentration is mainly driven by hop selection. It’s also highly dependent on fermentation temperature and yeast choice.
Brewers know thiols boost those desirable tropical flavors. That said, designing recipes to maximize thiols in hoppy beer is a complex science.
Phantasm Powder might provide a straightforward solution to a saturated thiol punch.
Commercially available Phantasm Powder is only distributed to a select group of brewers. The likes of Other Half, Modern Times, The Veil… basically the top IPA brewers in the world.
For homebrewers and the rest of the brewing world, we’ll have to wait until this new product is widely available to really know how to put it to use.
If you’re lucky enough to get your hands on some, we’d recommend adding it with the dry hop. Take a soft and juicy NEIPA made with Australian and NZ hops, and add the Phantasm Powder at high krausen to maximize that tropical fruitiness.
Terpenes are highly aromatic oils found in nature in a variety of plants, fruits, and herbs. Most importantly for brewers, hop terpenes contribute to a range of flavors like citrus, pine, spice, and dankness.
Terpenes are found in high concentrations in cannabis plants. With the growing shift toward legalization, cannabis-derived terpene extract is a lot more available. These terpene oils don’t contain THC or CBD but are packed full of flavor.
This new range of terpenes means brewers can complement their hop-forward beers with a huge range of terpene aromatics.
The main terpenes interesting for brewers are:
- Myrcene: earthy, herbal, and clove-like
- Caryophyllene: spicy and pungent
- Limonene: lemon and citrus
- Terpinolene: orange and citrus
- Pinene: piney
- Linalool: floral, lavender, and bergamot
- Ocimene: sweet and herbal
- Humulene: woody and earthy
- Geraniol: floral and rose-like
If cannabis-derived terpene oil products aren’t your thing, Maniacal Yeast has a range of hop-derived terpenes. They’ve been carefully distilled from specific hops to create pungent blends that match certain hop profiles.
Terpene extract can be either soluble or insoluble. Soluble terpenes, like those offered by Maniacal Yeast, can be added directly to the cold side of the brewing process. Either into the fermenter or directly to a keg.
To add insoluble terpenes to the cold side, make a tincture of 190 proof EverClear and terpene oil at a ratio of 5 parts alcohol to 1 part terpene.
Terpene flavor is extremely concentrated. Adding a small amount to a keg can go a long way. If you add too much, you’ll get a perfume-like or soapy character.
Less than 1mL per 5 gallon keg is usually enough to get a boost of flavor. Of course, you’ll have to experiment to find the desired results and combinations with your hop profile.
It’s hard to keep up with the latest hop products: lupulin powder, extracts, Cryo…the list goes on. Experimenting with new ingredients is always worth it… but many of these products haven’t really changed the game, or have been inconsistent and underwhelming.
We’ve found a new product with the potential to creep its way through the IPA scene in a lasting way.
LUPOMAX is a concentrated lupulin pellet developed by hop producer John I. Haas. The majority of the hop’s vegetal matter is removed. What’s left is a concentrated pellet of lupulin – the main component of hops used for flavor, aroma, and bitterness.
Maybe you’re asking, “Isn’t LUPOMAX just a Cryo hop?” Well, yes and no.
What’s different about the LUPOMAX brand is the consistency and precision of the product.
Generic Cryo hops have a reputation of being very inconsistent across batches, and even across hop bags themselves. Haas’s LUPOMAX ensures the same quality, batch after batch, for any given crop year.
LUPOMAX is immensely useful for pro brewers looking for consistency batch to batch. But homebrewers should be interested in the product as well. Often, homebrewers don’t have access to the same quality hops as the pros. With LUPOMAX, we’re all getting the exact same, high quality hops.
You can use LUPOMAX at any point in the brewing process but where it shines is in whirlpool and dry hop additions.
Use about 70% of your typical hop addition compared to standard T90 hop pellets. If you normally dry hop with 10 ounces of Citra, use 7 ounces of Citra LUPOMAX.
A new Lallemand product has got us excited for NEIPA brewing. Known for their range of dry yeasts, Lallemand also makes yeast nutrients and fermentation additives. Aromazyme is their new enzyme product that helps boost hop flavor through yeast and hop interaction.
Biotransformation is one of the biggest buzzwords in the NEIPA brewing world. Certain yeast strains react with hops to increase fruity and juicy flavors and aromatics. NEIPA brewers use biotransformation – by dry hopping during active fermentation – to maximize that profile.
Aromazyme can boost the biotransformation in beer fermentation. This results in more flavor and aroma from an increased transformation of hop terpenes and thiols.
We see Aromazyme coming in very handy when you want to extract maximum fruitiness from less-exotic hops. Instead of using 100% of hard-to-find and expensive Galaxy, a portion could be swapped out for something more available like Chinook.
Aromazyme is added to the fermenter when pitching yeast.
The recommended dosage is 5g/hL. At the homebrew level, that means 1 gram per 5 gallon batch.
Dilute the enzyme in sterile water, about 10ml water for 1 gram Aromazyme, to ensure even distribution when added to the fermenter.
Add your hops during active fermentation – at high krausen – for juiciest effect.
There’s no question that IPA, especially New England IPA, is susceptible to oxidation. No matter if you’re a homebrewer or a professional, oxygen can destroy hop expression in IPA, causing an off-putting brown color at the same time.
Aside from limiting oxygen pickup during transfers and packaging, is there anything else brewers can do?
Taking a cue from winemakers, brewers can use Sodium Metabisulfite to act as a preservative.
When added to beer, SMB – sold in either powder form or as Campden tablets – undergoes a rapid oxidation-reduction (redox) reaction. It quickly lowers the amount of dissolved oxygen, meaning there’s a lot less oxygen in the beer to oxidize hop compounds.
To use SMB to limit cold-size oxidation, it should be added to the beer at packaging.
Since SMB is a sulfur compound, using too much can produce some very nasty off-flavors. Dosage rate should be 10 ppm of SMB, which is 0.3 grams per 5 gallon batch (1 gram of SMB is equal to 175 ppm per gallon).
For a 5 gallon batch, add 0.3g of SMB to the keg or bottling bucket (mixed with the priming solution first).
Hops can certainly hold their own in IPA without the use of these additives. Most importantly, use great quality hops. On top of that, limit cold-side oxygen exposure and take advantage of biotransformation.
As brewers, we have a knack for experimentation. The five products we talked about certainly won’t save a badly brewed IPA, but you might be surprised about what they can bring to the table.