I almost gave up on the concept of brewing a hop-forward foraged yeast beer. Almost.
After all, my hoppy table ale iterations (#1, #2, and #3) were mildly successful at best; often under-hopped, over-attenuated, and screaming of esters and phenols. So last August, after three lackluster attempts, I took an indefinite hiatus from the Table Ale series, returning my attention to saisons and spontaneous ales.
But since moving to Idaho (the third largest hop-production state), my love for juicy hop-forward beers has never been greater. Surrounded by locally-grown Citra, Mosaic, Simcoe, and El Dorado hops, a foraged New England IPA (NEIPA) homebrew recipe was calling my name!
My first NEIPA experience came by way of the beer that literally defined the style; The Alchemist Heady Topper. Since that first sip of Heady in 2012, I have fallen in love with the often polarizing NEIPA style from a bevy of breweries including Hill Farmstead, Trillium, and of course, Tree House. Leaving Massachusetts also meant leaving behind regular access to Tree House, which had been a mere five miles from my office. And while the NEIPA craze has caught on nationwide, I have found very few examples outside of New England that fit the bill.
With a renewed interest in hop-forward beers and access to locally-grown Citra, the stars began to align for a Third Leap NEIPA recipe. The only problem? My foraged house yeast kicked up way too much banana and pepper flavors in the previous three Table Ale batches. In an effort to stay true to our manifesto, I was on the hunt for a new foraged yeast source.
Enter Jeff Mello of Bootleg Biology.
I was first drawn to Bootleg Biology’s open source yeast project in 2015 (when I contributed several dozen isolates, including our foraged house yeast) but have kept in touch with Jeff throughout the years. In addition to their ambitious goal of capturing local yeast strains from every US postal code, I have been continually impressed with their unique homebrew cultures including Funk Weapon, Sour Weapon, and Sour Solera offerings. During their July pre-sale, I was in search of a clean fermenting yeast for using in a NEIPA recipe, and after some extended correspondence with Jeff, I felt confident trying BB99301A – Chardonnay.
With all ingredients accounted for (water, malt, hops, AND yeast), I shifted my efforts toward recipe creation. Over the last seven years, I have brewed over two dozen IPAs including ten New England IPAs, but this version was my first using foraged yeast! Inspiration for this recipe came from a variety of places, most notably Tree House Julius. I coupled tried-and-true techniques from my earlier NEIPA batches with insight from Braufessor’s Northeast Style IPA recipe (both original and updated versions), Isomerization’s Tree House Yeast Isolation thread, Trinity Brewer’s Julius IPA Clone, and Nate Lanier’s Hoppy Thing Recipe to build the recipe (below).
Brew day was quick and efficient on the 1-gallon pilot system. Using a single infusion mash, I targeted a saccharification temperature of 154°F to encourage a more dextrinous wort and thereby less yeast attenuation. After a standard hour long boil, I cooled to 170°F and introduced a whirlpool hop charge (0.14 oz/gal) for 30 minutes. The wort was transferred to a carboy and received the first dose of dry hops – before pitching the yeast! This “day 0” dry hop technique is something Scott Janish has recently written about on his blog. In short, research suggests this technique encourages bioflavoring (interaction between hop compounds and active yeast) and possibly permanent haze (increased protein and polyphenol concentration), two hallmarks of NEIPAs. I added two more dry hop charges on day 4 and day 7. Two weeks after brew day, I cold-crashed the carboy for 24 hours, primed with dextrose, and packaged the beer in 500 ml Morning bottles.
As a nod to the origin of the style, my favorite commercial examples, and my roots, I appropriately named the beer Back East. The first bottle was enjoyed 37 days after brew day!
Appearance – Back East pours a foamy head that seems to last forever, eventually giving way to a bright, glowing orange color (perfect in my books). As part of the hallmark NEIPA style, the beer has a hazy (but not turbid) appearance.
Smell – The aroma is very tropical, with distinct notes of fresh mango and orange. There is a subtle evidence of phenols, but much less noticeable and much more pleasant than my previously brewed Table Ales.
Taste – Stone fruit heaven! Apricot juice combines with peach flesh/skin and transforms into a mandarin orange flavor with a subtle pithy aftertaste. Wow! It’s hard to say if the fruit flavors are entirely hop derived, but it is apparent that, at best, the Chardonnay yeast contributes some complementary esters, and at worst, it simply stays out of the way of the hops.
Mouthfeel – I was finally successful in achieving a soft, creamy mouthfeel a la NEIPA! Once again, it’s hard to say which variable is responsible for this, but it’s likely a combination of factors including grist composition (18% adjuncts), water chemistry (2:1 sulfate to chloride ratio), mash temperature (154°F), dry hop regimen (day 0, 4, and 7), foraged yeast (BB99301A), or carbonation (bottle conditioned to 2.5 vols).
Overall – This was an excellent first jump into the NEIPA style with the Bootleg Biology Chardonnay yeast strain, one of many to come. While it’s not a clone of Tree House Julius, it is something I am extremely proud of, considering it was my first time using the new yeast strain.
Changes for Next Time – The biggest change for future batches will be increasing the perceived bitterness by adding more early-boil hops (this particular batch seemed more APA than IPA). Since I will be limited to 1-gallon batches for the foreseeable future, I plan to experiment with different single-hop versions of this recipe. Simcoe, Mosaic, El Dorado, and Idaho 7 variations are all on my to-brew list!
Check out the recipe below!
Back East NEIPA
Style: New England IPA (NEIPA)
Description: Hazy, juicy beer filled with flavors of peach, mango, and orange complimented by a soft, pillowy mouthfeel and rounded bitterness
Batch size: 1.0 gallons
FG: 1.014 (est.)
ABV: 5.4% (est.)
80% Great Western Pale Malt @ Mash
12% Flaked Oats @ Mash
6% Malted Wheat @ Mash
2% Honey Malt @ Mash
37 IBU Citra pellets @ FWH
20 IBU Citra pellets @ 20
13 IBU Citra pellets @ 0
0.3 oz/gal Citra pellets @ day 0
0.3 oz/gal Citra pellets @ day 4
0.3 oz/gal Citra pellets @ day 7
Calcium = 100 ppm
Magnesium = 5 ppm
Sodium = 13 ppm
Sulfate = 147 ppm
Chloride = 80 ppm
Lactic acid to adjust mash to 5.4 pH
Mash technique: Single infusion @ 154°F for 60 minutes
Kettle volume: 1.7 gallons
Boil duration: 60 minutes
Whirlpool duration: 30 minutes at ~170°F
Final volume: 1.0 gallons
Fermentation temp: Ambient (~70°F)
Notes: Brewed solo on 8/6/2017 on the 1-gallon system. Mashed with 1.25 qt/lb water. No pH readings. Measured pre-boil gravity was 1.038 and volume was 1.75 gal. Entire brewday lasted a mere 4 hours from grind to clean!
8/6/2017 – Added day 0 dry hops directly to fermentor and transferred wort onto them before pitching yeast
8/10/2017 – Added day 4 dry hops (still active fermentation)
8/13/2017 – Added day 7 dry hops
8/19/2017 – Cold crashed at 32°F overnight
8/20/2017 – Naturally carbonated to 2.5 volumes via corn sugar in 500 ml Morning bottles. Tons of orange and pineapple in the nose, very subtle banana runts aroma
9/12/2017 – Enjoyed the first bottle!