Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Clone Wars: Heady Topper Clone

Two weeks ago I brewed a pale ale that used the famed Conan yeast that is the proprietary strain used by The Alchemist to brew Heady Topper. The strain is supposed to produce peach esters and peach flavor. I harvested the yeast a week prior to brewing the pale ale and stepped it up twice. I assumed I would need more yeast then I’m capable of producing on my stir plate so I decided to brew the pale ale. I also wanted to use Galaxy hops. The review for the pale ale will be forthcoming soon. 

I brewed this beer with a friend to teach and explain the brewing process. Everything was going smoothly until I remembered I never put the sugar into the wort during the boil. At that point we were at the hop stand. I grabbed the bag of sugar and dumped it in assuming that at 180oF any bacteria would be killed and that the sugar would still melt and be incorporated. After cooling the wort and empting my kettle I noticed that some of the sugar formed a melted caramel at the bottle of the kettle. My original gravity came under my target, due to the lack of sugar incorporation as well as my miscalculation for volume and amount of grain needed. I calculated enough grain for 5 gallons, when I should have calculated it for 5.75 gallons instead. I added some DME at the end of the boil but was not enough. Without the correct OG it will not be a true clone but it will hopefully still be a good DIPA. 

This was my first time using Hopshot™ and preforming a hop stand. The hopshot was easy to use and definitely helped reduce the amount of hop crude at the end. The hop stand was simple enough I just needed to borrow an immersion chiller so that I could chill the wort to 180oF. Then you add the hops and let it sit for 30 minutes covered. The theory is that it will help to preserve the essential oils that are highly volatile and will normally be lost to boiling. 

In order to brew this beer I spent about a week reading through the giant 160 page thread on Homebrewtalk.com. Most of the leg work was done by the veganbrewer and this is where my recipe comes from. I have modified it a little bit based off of his comments.

Batch Size: 5 Gallons           
Boil time: 90 minutes
Original gravity: 1.074
Measured: 1.068
Measure Final Gravity: 1.013
IBU: 120
SRM: 6.4o

Grain Bill:

11lb 4oz - Pearl Malt (84.9%)- SRM 2.4
12 oz - Caramalt (5.7%)- SRM 17
12 oz - White Wheat (5.7%)- SRM 1.7
8 oz - Turbinado Sugar (3.8%)- Added at flameout

Hop Bill:

10.00 ml - Hopshot- Boil 90.0 min- 117.8 IBUs
1.00 oz -  Simcoe[13.00 %]-  Boil 5.0 min-8.3 IBUs
0.50 oz – Apollo - Boil 5.0 min -4.0 IBUs
1.00 oz - Columbus [14.00 %] - Boil 0.0 min – 0.0 IBUs
2.00 oz - Simcoe [13.00 %] - Boil 0.0 min -0.0 IBUs
1.00 oz - Columbus [14.00 %] - Aroma Steep 30.0 min-0.0 IBUs
1.00 oz - Simcoe [13.00 %] - Aroma Steep 30.0 min-0.0 IBUs
1.00oz - Amarillo Gold [8.50 %] - Aroma Steep 30.0 min-0.0 IBUs
0.50 oz - Centennial [10.50 %]- Aroma Steep 30.0 min- 0.0 IBUs
0.50 oz - Apollo [12.50 %] - Aroma Steep 30.0 min- 0.0 IBUs
1.00 oz - Columbus [14.00 %] - Dry Hop 4.0 Days-0.0 IBUs
1.00 oz - Simcoe [13.00 %] - Dry Hop 4.0 Days -0.0 IBUs
0.5 oz - Amarillo [8.50 %] - Dry Hop 4.0 Days-0.0 IBUs
0.5 oz - Centennial [10.50 %] - Dry Hop 4.0 Days-0.0 IBUs
0.25 oz - Apollo [17.00 %] - Dry Hop 4.0 Days-0.0 IBUs
1.75 oz - Columbus [14.00 %] - Dry Hop 4.0 Days-0.0 IBUs
0.5 oz - Simcoe [13.00 %] - Dry Hop 4.0 Days -0.0 IBUs
0.5 oz - Amarillo [8.50 %] - Dry Hop 4.0 Days-0.0 IBUs
0.5 oz - Centennial [10.50 %] - Dry Hop 4.0 Days-0.0 IBUs
0.25 oz - Apollo [17.00 %] - Dry Hop 4.0 Days-0.0 IBUs
1 oz - Palisade [7.00 %] - Dry Hop 4.0 Days-0.0 IBUs

Mash Schedule:

Mash at 152oF degrees for 60 minutes.  1 tsp gypsum added to mash


Conan yeast cultured from Heady Topper can and pitched onto yeast cake from Lil’Heady


10/12/13 – Brewed with Andrew. Came under gravity and over on my volume after the mash. I’ve made adjustments to my calculator for my new system so it should be better. I blended half RO water and half regular water to lower the hardness so that it is hopefully closer to VT water. Added 0.5 lbs of DME to up the gravity. Forgot to add sugar until the aroma steep and it wasn’t all incorporated. I came in under gravity as stated above. Chilled to 68oF and placed into fermentation chamber at 68oF.

10/14/13 – Still no sign of fermentation still and I have to leave for Detroit for 3 days. 

10/16/13 – Fermentation definitely took place since the blow off tube into the growler shows that some of the krausen spilled over the top. Raised to 71oF to finish out fermentation.

10/20/13 – Chilled to 52oF.

10/28/13 – Racked to a secondary carboy and dry hopped with first dry hop addition.

11/2/13 - Racked to a keg and final dry hop addition added.

11/6/13 - Racked off of final dry hops into keg and carbonated to 2.5 volumes of CO2. Gravity down to 1.013. Attenuation was 79.6%

11/21/13 - First tasting. A little more bitter then I recall Heady Topper being and possibly too dank. Next time I'm going to change my water additions and source as well as adjust my hopping schedule. Probably more Columbus on the front end of the dry hopping and no Palisade. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Lil'Heady - Conan Pale Ale

Well it’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything new. It’s also been a long time since I’ve been able to brew. Recently it hasn’t necessarily been because of lack of time. It has mostly been due to lack of carboys. I currently have 3 carboys with beer souring in them and one with Brett doing its thing. My only available carboy is a Better Bottle that has been used for Brett fermentation. 

I also recently went on vacation with my wife to New England. While we were in New England we went to Hill Farmstead and to the Alchemist. Since we were able to go to the Alchemist early Monday morning I was able to get some super fresh cans to bring back with me. About a month ago I received some cans in a trade and attempted to culture the yeast. In case you don’t know the Alchemist uses a proprietary yeast strain called Conan. This particular yeast starter began fine. But after I stepped it up I noticed that a pellicle had formed on the top.  My initial reaction was that it was probably because I was maybe not as sanitary as I should have been while pouring my step up. But then I thought about it longer and the infection probably originated from the stir bar. I’ve used this stir bar and flask for a 100% Brett culture. Even though the stir bar is food safe it can still be porous because it’s plastic. In order to avoid an infection this time around I soaked my flask and stir bar in a solution of bleach and water for 48 hours. Then I used a sanitizer twice prior to use. 

I started with a 0.5L starter at 1.040 and used two cans for the yeast. I opened one can and poured 75% of it into a glass then swirled the can and dumped it into the starter wort after flaming the lip of the can. Later after I finished my glass I repeated this procedure. The starter never really showed any signs of fermentation and I was a little worried but I decided to step it up regardless. I chilled the wort and decanted the top off, there was a small layer of sediment on the bottom so I had hopes. I stepped it up with 1.5L of 1.040 wort and placed it on the stir plate. After about 36 hours the first signs of fermentation were starting to show and a small krausen formed. After 48 hours the krausen had risen about half an inch up the side of the flask with no visible signs of infection. Hoping to be able to brew and not infect the actual beer I proceeded with the same steps to sanitize the carboy as I did with the flask. I poured a mixture of bleach and water into the carboy and let it soak for 48 hours then sanitized as usual. Fearing infection again I made sure to give it a sniff test (although unofficial it’s better than nothing) and I noted that the starter smelled of DME and hints of peaches, which is often described as Conan yeast. 

The plan is to eventually brew a Heady Topper clone, but in order to do that I want to make sure I have enough yeast so I’m brewing a pale ale as an experiment first then I’ll use the yeast cake for the Heady Topper clone. I was able to find some Galaxy hops online and since I’ve wanted to try them for a while I bought them and decided to do a single hop pale ale with the Galaxy hops. The recipe and notes are below. 

Est. OG: 1.052
Actual OG: 1.032
Actual FG:1.008
ABV:  3.2%
IBU: 48
SRM: 9o

7lbs 2-Row Pale Malt
2lbs White Wheat
1lb Caramalt

Hop Schedule
20min – 1.5oz Galaxy
5min – 0.5oz Galaxy
Flame out – 1oz Galaxy
30min whirlpool – 1oz Galaxy
Dry hop 3-4 days – 2oz Galaxy

Alchemist Conan Yeast - Cultured from two cans of Heady Topper

Mash Schedule
Single infusion-No Sparge-60min at 154F

(9/28/13) – Brewed by myself.  I added 1tsp of Gypsum to the mash to get the sulfate content up a little. The brew day went smooth until I noticed that the plastic lines in my wort chiller had what appeared to be mold growing inside them. I quickly removed them and used some extra lines I had to replace them and then sanitized the whole system. Chilled the wort to 68F and shook to aerate then pitched my 1.5L starter. Set chest freezer to 62F.

(9/29/13) – No visible signs of fermentation after 12 hours. Still no visible signs of fermentation after 24 ours. 

(9/30/13) –  36 hours after pitching yeast fermentation has begun. Increased temperature to 65F. 

(10/01/13) – Increased temperature to 68F. Krausen is about 1.5 inches thick and is a tan color with clumps on top, looks like a normal fermentation.

(10/09/13) - Gravity down to 1.008 racked to the keg and set the pressure at 30 psi and shook. Placed into the chest freezer and turned the pressure down to 14 psi and the temperature at 42F. I'm worried that my initial gravity was too low and there won't be enough balance. I left the yeast cake in the carboy for the Heady brew. Lots of peach and passion fruit aromas though. 

(11/5/13) - First tasting. I'm not going to call this a Pale Ale anymore, it's more of a Nano-IPA (yes I just made that up).