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. 


  1. You says 60 min.. but there is an hopshot at 90 min. Is this a typo?

  2. You can always boil your sugar in some water, cool it down, and add it to your fermentor when fermentation starts to slow. Good way to let the yeast get to dessert last, and save how much yeast you have to pitch.

    1. I thought about that but I didn't feel like taking the extra time at that point, plus at 180F it should be fine. That wasn't so much the issue with this beer as it was my pH. With the really alkaline water I have my bitterness comes out harsh. Which is why I'm going to add acid malt to almost all of my beers now. It should also help with my extract efficiency and hot break.