Brew Day: Citra Bomb IPA

It has been months in the making, but I finally got around to using a pound of leaf Citra hops that I bought back in March. There were a lot of firsts for me with this beer. First time brewing an IPA, first time using leaf hops, and first time using grain from my bulk purchase. Yes, I recently participated in my first group grain buy. I bought a 50lb sack of premium 2 row and a 55lb bag of Maris Otter. For this recipe, I was putting the 2 row to work.

The inspiration for this brew day comes from 3 Floyd’s Zombie Dust… A Citra only (at least the original recipe was) pale ale with a ton of Citra flavor and aroma, but not an overpowering bitterness.

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To achieve this, I figured the bulk of my hop additions needed to be very late in the boil, and due to the fairly high alpha acid % of Citra (13.4% on the pound I had) I wanted to temper the early additions to make sure the IBUs weren’t over the top. I decided to go with 5 additions, and used First Wort Hopping to maximize the flavor I was getting from that early addition.

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the additions were .75oz FWH, 1oz at 15min, 1oz at 10min, 1.25oz at 5min, and 1.25 at 1 min.

The grain bill for this beer was fairly straight forward: 11 lbs of 2 row, pound of Munich 10, half pound of Crystal 60, and a half pound of Melanoiden malt. The Melanoiden was new to me, but I had read in a few forums that the consensus out there is that FFF uses it in a number of their beers. It is supposed to impart a full malty flavor without greatly affecting the grain bill. The mash was fairly non-eventful, 152 degrees for 60 minutes. Got a stuck sparge a couple times, but all in all it went really well. I loved smelling those FWH Citras as I was pulling the first runnings.

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It felt strange not adding any hops at the beginning of the boil, and actually made the first 45 minutes of the boil kinda boring. I kept myself busy sterilizing the fermenter and other tools, and treated myself to a New Belgium Ranger IPA. I had a bottle of Zombie Dust available, but I’m waiting to use it as a comparison when my version is ready to drink. Finally I was at 15 minutes left in the boil, and it was just non-stop hop addition time. By the last addition, it was getting pretty crowded in the kettle.

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The smell at the end was incredible… Almost like fresh grapefruit juice. Straining the wort out was a lot more tricky with all of those leaf hops, but with a little help from my 7 yr old, I got a good solid 5 gallons in the fermenter at 1.062. I kept the yeast simple, and pitched two packets of rehydrated S-04, along with a healthy dose of oxygen. Fermentation was evident within 6 hours, and 18 hours later I switched out the airlock to a blow off tube.

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Good thing I did, because that krausen got within a half inch of blowing off in my 6.5 gal carboy. But wow… The smell was amazing. From here I’m expecting fermentation to be done in 7-10 days. Then I am going to rack to a keg and dry hop with another 3oz of Citra for 7 days. I’ll be back once it’s ready to drink with some tasting notes! Cheers!

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Brew Day: Raspberry Cream Ale

This brew day started just brewing another batch of BierMuncher’s (from HomeBrewTalk.comCream of 3 Crops Ale. It’s a popular beer in my house, so I need to start a new batch before the keg kicks.  Overall the brew day went well. Had one stuck sparge, but was able to work through it. Pre-boil gravity was a couple points higher than expected, and the boil-off rate was also higher, so I added three quarts of water with 30 minutes left in the boil. Ended up with an original gravity just two points higher than expected, so I’ll take that as a win.

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The following Friday my wife and I were enjoying a few beers at our local brew pub, Lunar Brewing Co., and we started talking about how much we liked their Raspberry Cream Ale that they had on tap over the summer. Then I remembered I had a batch of Cream Ale fermenting at home. Maybe this batch was destined to be racked over a crapload of raspberries? Absolutely! Picked up a large bag of frozen raspberries from GFS and added about 3.5 lbs of thawed berries to a sterilized carboy before racking the Cream Ale on top of them. Gravity before racking was 1.010. Within 24 hours there was significant airlock activity and the berries were beginning to turn white. At this rate I may be racking to keg by the end of the week.

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Lunar’s Raspberry Cream Ale had a very distinct raspberry flavor and aroma, but was not sweet. A tartness/bitterness that melded well with the slightly hopped base. I did not get the impression that it was back-sweetened in any way, so I will not try that with my version.  The notes they had on their menu made mention of a slight vanilla finish.  Personally I never really picked up on it, so I will not be doing anything to impart that flavor either.  If you want the recipe, please feel free to grab BierMuncher’s original one here.  I’ve made a few changes in ratios when scaling it to 5 gallons, but in essence it’s the same recipe.  As soon as I have a chance, I will link the recipe from Beersmith to this posting.  Tasting notes to follow!