As part of my continued quest to build the “perfect” IPA recipe, I followed up the Ward Labs mineral analysis of Tree House Julius with more analytical testing. This time, Julius was analyzed for color, pH, turbidity, protein, alcohol, density, specific gravity, apparent and real extract, attenuation, carbon dioxide, dissolved oxygen, and bitterness.
The chart below provides the TL;DR version of the beverage analytics. For those looking for more context, you can read about the results in greater detail below.
Note: beverage analytics and mineral analysis cost nearly $300! If you find the information from these analyses useful, please consider supporting this website through the purchase of our wonderful merchandise. We are grateful for any show of support!
Beverage Analytics for Tree House Julius
Tree House Julius canned 3/19/2019 12:53:10. Shipped to Siebel Institute Beverage Analytics Partner on 4/3/2019. Analyzed on 4/4, 4/5 and 4/8/2019.
|Color||ASBC Beer 10-A||10.8||SRM|
|pH||ASBC Beer 9||4.60||–|
|Turbidity||ASBC Beer 27-B||1821||NTU|
|ABV||ASBC Beer 4||7.10||% v/v|
|Density||ASBC Beer 4||1.01346||g/mL|
|Specific Gravity||ASBC Beer 4||1.01454||–|
|Apparent Extract||ASBC Beer 4||3.72||% w/w|
|Real Extract||ASBC Beer 4||6.18||% w/w|
|Attenuation||ASBC Beer 4||64.7||%|
|CO2||ASBC Beer 4||4.6||g/L|
|DO||ASBC Beer 4||0.004||mg/L|
|Bitterness||ASBC Beer 23||121||IBU|
The American Society of Brewing Chemist’s – Beer Method of Analysis – Beer 10. Color – A (ASBC Beer 10-A) result revealed Julius’ color is 10.8 SRM.
Beer color is a function of several variables including malt (kiln level and total mass), boil length, mash pH level, yeast strain, hop usage, and adjunct ingredient usage, among others. Brewing software typically estimate color based on malt only. Color values were reported using the Standard Reference Method (SRM), which involves measuring light attenuation through one centimeter of beer. New England IPA (NEIPA) turbidity (a byproduct of malt proteins, hop compounds, and/or yeast residence) decreases light attenuation and therefore increases SRM. Thus, it is important to recognize that Julius’ color contribution from malt (as calculated by typical brewing software) must be less than 10.8 SRM.
In fact, in his Hoppy Thing recipe, Tree House Head Brewer Nate Lanier recommends targeting 7 SRM for a “glowing orange” beer color. Similarly, the popular Trinity Brewer’s Julius IPA clone recipe suggests a slightly lower SRM of 5.9. The Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) provisional guideline for 21B. Specialty IPA: New England IPA recommends between 3 and 7 SRM. And Scott Janish recommends aiming for a lower-than-usual SRM to avoid brewing a beer that “looks like dirty dishwater,” due to the impact of turbidity.
The ASBC Beer 9. pH (Hydrogen Ion Concentration) result revealed Julius has 4.60 pH. This measure is consistent with the Ward Labs’ analysis.
pH directly impacts biological stability, beer clarity, maturation, and taste preference. Brew Your Own (BYO) states that typical beers range from 3.8 to 4.6 pH. Moreover, Pro Brewer users recommend between 4.0 and 4.3 pH as a sweet spot with 4.5 pH as the upper limit. After posting the Ward Lab results to Reddit, warboy and others pointed out that 4.6 pH near-violates food safety practices. The U.S Food & Drug Administration (FDA) states that most foodborne bacteria can’t grow at a pH level below 4.6, though it explicitly excludes alcoholic beverages from its guidelines. Some Reddit users believe Julius’ high pH is due to its massive dry hopping rate. This corresponds to Matthew Schmick’s 2014 study that showed dry hopping can increase pH by as much as a 0.23!
Several years ago I logged the pH of various commercial beers, including Julius. In 2015, I measured Julius slightly lower at 4.44 and 4.50 pH. Janish measured Julius at 4.47 pH. For comparison, Deschutes Brewery Fresh Squeezed, Inversion, and Pine Drops clock in at 4.48, 4.63, and 4.36 pH, respectively. Similarly, homebrewers and pro brewers alike have reported higher-than-normal IPA pH values in the 4.5 and 4.6 range.
The ASBC Beer 27. Physical Stability – I. Total Haze after Chilling – A Visual Method result revealed Julius’ turbidity is 1831 Nephelometric Turbidity Units (NTU).
In 2018, John Paul Maye presented his award-winning NEIPA research at the Brewing Summit and Technical Conference in San Diego. His results were published in the Master Brewers Association of America Technical Quarterly 2018 Volume (MBAA TQ 2018) and later summarized on the Master Brewers Podcast #104: The Hidden Secrets of New England IPA. One of the many interesting findings from Maye’s research was average turbidity measurements of NEIPA and West Coast IPA of 300 and 80 NTU, respectively.
Julius’ NTU is six times greater than the average of NEIPA analyzed by Maye (and more than double any single sample!). Meanwhile, commercial samples of non-IPA beers can range from 13.5 NTU (pilsner) to 31.9 NTU (stout) to 59.3 (amber ale) to 84.1 NTU (porter).
Despite popular belief, Maye found that yeast was not a major component of the turbidity of the analyzed commercial NEIPAs. Rather, he found turbidity was primarily formed from proteins, hop compounds, and polyphenols.
The discrete analyzer result revealed that Julius contains 8.1 g/L (0.24 g/fl oz) of protein.
Janish’s consolidated research on beer haze highlights the significant role that proteins (and polyphenols) play in the creation of permanent beer haze. Similarly, Maye analyzed freeze-dried NEIPA haze to quantify its components and found proteins and polyphenols made up 36% and 4%, respectively.
Brewers also recognize the significance of high protein malt in NEIPAs. For example, Great Notion Brewing recommends using 15 to 20% flaked oats/wheat to increase protein, haze, and mouthfeel. Weldwerks Brewing Co. lists high protein malts as the distinguishing factor for NEIPAs due to their contributions to balance, mouthfeel, and haze stability. Trillium Brewing Company shares the grist for every NEIPA its ever brewed, and most, if not all of them, include wheat. Even Gordon Strong weighed in to share his perspective on the significance of high protein malts; body.
Conversely, Tree House claims most of their NEIPAs do not contain oats, wheat, or any flaked grains whatsoever. Julius (0.23 g/fl oz) contains more protein than Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA (0.21 g/fl oz), Widmer Hefeweizen (0.18 g/fl oz), and Guinness Dry Stout (0.12 g/fl oz). Torpedo is brewed to a similar ABV as Julius using just two malts (pale and caramel malts) yet has a comparable protein level. On the other hand, Widmer Hefe contains wheat (high protein malt) but since it is brewed to only 4.9% ABV, it sports less protein.
We’ll never know for certain if Tree House Julius really does contain flaked malt or not. It’s high protein level could be the results of wheat/oats in the grist or could be a function of total grain mass used to achieve a 7.1% ABV. But what about the haze? Well, Brülosophy demonstrated that tasters could not reliably distinguish between NEIPA brewed with flaked oats and one brewed without flaked oats. In fact, the beers not only smelled and tasted the same, but had the same turbidity and mouthfeel.
Subjectively, I have noticed that many NEIPAs typically have higher alcohol content than other IPAs. This is also evident in the BJCP style guidelines – NEIPA (6 to 9% ABV) falls closer to Double IPA (7.5 to 10%) than American IPA (5.5 to 7.5%) with regard to alcohol content. And only 11 of the Top 100 Rated New England IPAs on Beer Advocate are less than 7% ABV!
So why such an uptick in alcohol content? For starters, high ABV beers have been shown to garner higher beer rating scores. And of course alcohol is considered one component to enhancing the body of beer. Still others believe high ABV beers simply have bolder, more complex taste.
The ASBC Beer 4 result revealed that Julius’ density is 1.01346 g/mL.
Not to be confused with specific gravity (see below), density is the measure of mass per unit volume. For comparison, Bud Light has the same density of water (~1.00 g/mL), while soda and pulpy orange juice have densities of 1.01 and 1.25 g/mL, respectively.
The ASBC Beer 4 result revealed that Julius’ final specific gravity is 1.01454. This is slightly higher than Janish and my hydrometer readings from 2015. Interestingly, Julius’ gravity falls right in line with Lanier’s Hoppy Little Thing recipe.
Specific gravity (SG) is ratio of the density of a substance to the density of a reference substance. In the case of beer, we divide the density of the beer by the density of water to calculate SG.
Many brewers believe that a high final SG is an important contributor for achieving the desired mouthfeel in NEIPAs – HomeBrewTalk, Reddit, and BeerAdvocate are littered with threads dedicated to this topic.
Final SG can be influenced by the grist, mash temperature and duration, and yeast attenuation. Personally, I often find NEIPAs with high final SG cloyingly sweet, especially in Double NEIPA versions.
Janish is not convinced that final SG is as important of a contributor to mouthfeel softness in NEIPA as others believe. Interestingly, Brülosophy demonstrated not once, but twice, that tasters were unable to reliably distinguish between beers mashed at low temperatures (147°F) from ones mashed at high temperatures (161-164°F), despite the beers demonstrating differences of 0.009 and 0.015 in final SG, respectively.
The ASBC Beer 4 result revealed that Julius’ apparent extract is 3.72% w/w = 3.72 ° Plato = 1.015 SG (which corresponds to the SG measurement of Julius discussed above).
Apparent extract (AE) refers to the direct measure of total solids in a solution. In brewing, AE is the measure of sugar content in wort and/or beer using a hydrometer.
Hydrometers are calibrated to measure sugar content of a water solution (wort), not an alcohol solution (beer). Due to the different densities of water (1.00 mg/L) and alcohol (0.79 g/mL), hydrometer readings in beer will always be inaccurate. Therefore, extract as measured using a hydrometer is referred to as apparent.
The ASBC Beer 4 result revealed that Julius’ real extract is 6.18% w/w = 6.18 ° Plato = 1.024 SG.
Real extract (RE) corrects the direct measure of AE by accounting for the presence of alcohol. RE can be measured through laboratory analysis (such was the case for Julius) or empirically derived through various formulas based on controlled fermentation experiments. Measured RE yields the “true” RE while empirical RE does not (though it is still more accurate than AE).
In 2009, Anthony Cutaia used an extensive data set of 532 brews to create a more accurate RE formula. Average measured RE values ranged from 1.015 to 1.021 SG for 3.82% and 6.56% ABV beers, respectively. Therefore, Julius’ measured RE value of 6.18 (1.024 SG) seems very reasonable given it is 7.10% ABV.
The ASBC Beer 4 result revealed that Julius’ attenuation is 64.7%.
Attenuation is the amount of reduction of wort (conversion of sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide) via fermentation. In other words, attenuation informs a brewer how much SG will decrease in the beer due to fermentation. Like extract, there is real (measured) and apparent (empirical) attenuation. 64.7% is the real attenuation of Julius while apparent attenuation is 78%.
Attenuation is primarily a function of yeast strain. Popular NEIPA yeast strains include WY1318 London Ale III (71-75% attenuation), WLP007 Dry English Ale Yeast (70-80% attenuation), Imperial A38 Juice (72-76% attenuation), TYB Vermont Ale (78-82% attenuation), RVA132 Manchester (70-75% attenuation), and BBXNPA NEEPAH Blend (75-82% attenuation).
While the yeast strain(s) for Julius is still unconfirmed, ~65% real attenuation is lower than all of the popular NEIPA yeast strains noted above, while 78% apparent attenuation falls right in line. Unfortunately I was unable to find real attenuation of commercial beers to compare with Julius.
The ASBC Beer 4 result revealed that Julius’ contains 4 g/L of carbon dioxide which is equivalent to 2.35 volumes.
For comparison, some notable commercial American IPAs include Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (2.6 volumes), Bell’s Two Hearted Ale (2.50 volumes), Victory Hop Devil (2.65 volumes), Firestone Walker Union Jack (2.40 volumes), and Blue Point Hoptical Illusion (2.42 volumes).
To my knowledge, there is no definitive guideline for NEIPA carbonation. General consensus suggests to target the lower end of the recommended American Ale guideline, between 2.0 and 2.4 volumes. Lower carbonation is believed to contribute to the creamy mouthfeel of NEIPAs. Others find lower carbonation undesirable, such as my former coworker who said Julius seemed “flat” compared to Ballast Point Sculpin.
Similarly, some brewers believe carbonation method (forced vs natural) plays a role in NEIPAs, specifically in sensory experience such as mouthfeel and flavor/aroma. Carbonation methods have been studied extensively in the wine world, where scientists first believed finer bubbles enhanced sensory experience by releasing more flavor and aroma compounds only to later declare larger bubbles superior. These findings suggests force carbonation (larger bubbles) may enhance flavor/aroma. Some brewers argue that natural carbonation have brighter flavors and more consistent mouthfeel. Interestingly, Brülosophy found tasters were unable to reliably distinguish between force carbonation and bottle conditioned NEIPAs and force carbonated and keg conditioned America IPAs, yet were able to reliably distinguish between force carbonated and spunded lagers.
According to the original Tree House growlers, all of their beers are (were?) naturally carbonated.
The ASBC Beer 4 result revealed that Julius’ contains 0.004 mg/mL or 40 parts per billion (ppb) of dissolved oxygen (DO).
One brewery that notoriously obsesses over DO is The Alchemist. Jen Kimmach has stated “there is barely any dissolved oxygen in a can of Heady Topper – much lower than you will find in other packaged beers.” In a BYO article, John Kimmach confirmed that Heady Topper has measured as low as 1 ppb of DO!
According to Low Oxygen Brewing, commercial packaging standards state DO level should fall between 30 and 60 ppb (which Julius certainly does).
The ASBC Beer 23. Beer Bitterness result revealed that Julius’ has 121 International Bitterness Units (IBUs).
IBUs were first introduced in the 1960s as an aggregate measure of various hop molecules in German and American lagers. These molecules contribute to varying levels of bitterness in beer. For example, alpha acids and humulinones are only 10% and 66% as bitter as iso-alpha acids, respectively, yet are “counted” equally during high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). Therefore, there is a distinct difference between measured bitterness (IBUs) and sensory bitterness for most beer styles, particularly highly dry hopped beers such as NEIPAs.
Maye states that NEIPA sensory bitterness is only about half that of measured IBUs. Therefore, Julius tastes more like a 60 IBU beer despite measuring 121 IBUs.
I hope the information learned from the Ward Labs mineral analysis and Siebel Institute beverage analytics will help brewers build better NEIPA recipes. It will certainly help me craft my Mountain IPA recipe!