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Recipe – Galaxy-Columbus IPA




I’ve really developed a taste for low abv session beers : it’s nice to enjoy a few pints and still be able to concentrate and be productive. Still, there are some limitations to small beers that just are impossible to work around no matter what you do. Lower gravity will result in a thinner mouthfeel even if you choose your malt bill to compensate and mash high to retain more body. A beer with less residual sugar and alcohol can also carry less bitterness than a higher gravity one – 30 IBUs in a 3%-ish beer feels like an IPA.  Tastewise, something that I’ve noticed in both the “Micro-IPAs” I’ve made is that the palate kind of “disappears” midway before the bitterness hits your tongue. These limitations seem to be something that is inherent in a small beer and though I feel that the little session ales I’ve made have been very satisfying beers with the added benefit of being healthier they are still not quite the same thing as a “normal” strength beer.

Lately I’ve done a lot of thinking about my hopping technique. I’ve been satisfied with my hoppy beers but after reading “For love of hops” by Stan Hieronymus I want to try something different. Up until now I’ve dry hopped in the keg after primary fermentation is done but many of the best commercial brewers add dry hopping at the end of the fermentation at a time when the beer still has a few points to reach its final gravity. This goes against conventional home brewing wisdom which states that fermentation somehow “scrubs” aroma away from the hops. I also think that I need to improve on maximizing contact between hops and the beer. To achieve this on the hot side I’ll do a longer hop-stand. As for the dry-hopping, I’ve previously used nylon to contain hops in the keg but I’ve noticed that with pellets the hops in the center can remain almost dry even after days in the beer. So for this brew I’ll dry hop twice, first one with pellets added freely to the better bottle at the end of fermentation, and a second one after cold crashing (yay, fermentation freezer!) and moving the beer to the keg. I’ll try to divide the pellets in to smaller pockets in this last phase to ensure maximum contact.

The hops used in this recipe are two varieties that I have some experience with and which I think would work well together : Columbus, which is a great bittering hop with a slightly harsh and aggressive nature but also has a nice citrus/dank aroma when used in later additions. The second one is Galaxy which is a very aromatic variety from Australia. The flavours in it are a bit more complex but tend to be in the tropical fruit end of the spectrum. To get hop aroma you have to use hops so I’m not saving mine : for this IPA I’ll use over 400 grams (0,88 lbs) for a 17 litre (4,5 Gallon) batch. Some of the hops are from the 2012 crop, the 2012 plug Columbus  that I have left will be used as a bittering hop and in the second dry hop dose in the keg. The Galaxy hops of 2012 and 2013 crop will be evenly divided between all the additions.

For yeast I’m trying yet another of Mangrove Jacks new dried yeasts, West Coast M44. Most people who have used it report a long lag time before the yeast shows any activity followed by a slow but complete fermentation. It supposedly flocculates well and leaves a lot of the hop character intact. I’ll be interested to see how it turns out, the other MJ yeasts that I’ve tried have yielded good results. I’ll hold the temperature at 19C/66F to keep the fermentation character clean and neutral.

Finally a word about the malt bill. I decided to go with my usual IPA bill of pale ale, munich and wheat but I went a bit lighter with the munich this time. Since I want this IPA to be a West Coast style dry bodied one that is all about the hops I’ll add a bit of dextrose to really drive the attenuation up. Since the amount of malt is in the upper end of what my system can handle I’m trying something different with the mash as well. I’ll take aside 2 litres of the water and heat it to mash-out temperature in a separate vessel. After I’ve lifted the bag out of the wort I’ll immerse it into the extra water and then add the resulting wort to the main vessel.

Hopefully this will turn out to be a strong and bitter hop-bomb that will satisfy the hop itch I have.

Target Batch Size (Litres/Gallons): 17.00 / 4,49
Total Grain (Kg/Pounds):  4,15 / 9,14
Anticipated OG: 1,065
Anticipated SRM: 4,9
Anticipated IBU: 172,1 (64,6 without the hop-stand additions)
Wort Boil Time: 60 Minutes

86,7%       – 3,6 kg / 7,27 lbs Pale Ale malt, Viking
4,8%        – 0,2 kg / 0,44 lbs Munich malt, Weyermann
4,8%        – 0,2 kg / 0,44 lbs Wheat malt, Weyermann
3,6%        – 0,15 kg / 0,33 lbs Dextrose

30g /  1,05 oz. Columbus (16,0 % AA) plug @ 60 minutes for 64,6 IBU

60g / 2,11 oz. Columbus (14,0 % AA) pellet @ Hop-stand for 57,3 IBU
60g / 2,11 oz.  Galaxy (14,0 % AA) pellet @ Hop-stand for 57,3 IBU

70g /  2,46 oz. Columbus (14,0 % AA) pellet Dry hop for 5 days
70g /  2,46 oz.  Galaxy (14,0 % AA) pellet Dry hop for 5 days 

70g /  2,46 oz. Columbus (16,0 % AA) plug Dry hop in the keg
70g /  2,46 oz.  Galaxy (14,0 % AA) pellet Dry hop in the keg


½ Tablet of Whirlfloc @ 10 Min.
½ Teaspoon of yeast nutrient @ 10 Min.
2g  Calcium Chloride in the mash
8g / 0,28oz. of Gypsum in the mash

Mangrove Jack West Coast M44 Rehydrated

22 Litre BIAB @ 64 Celsius for 80 mins (5,8Gal/147F)


Lots of wort is lost to the hops in a big IPA

17/7 First time using new software for recipe formulation.. Undershot my pre-boil gravity by 3 points but original gravity was at 1,070. Diluted with a litre of boiled water before cooling, OG at 1.066. I’ll have to see how to tweak the software to give accurate estimates. All in all took about 6 hours to make with the longer mash and hop-stand. Cooled the wort, racked 17 liters (surprising overall efficiency considering the wort lost to the hops) to the better bottle, added the yeast and shook for 2 minutes. Lifted to the freezer set to 19C/66F and placed the sensor to the side of the bottle with duct tape.

18/7 No sign of activity in the morning. Slight activity showing at the 22 hour mark. Have to admit that the longer lag time makes me a bit nervous.

19/7 A slight krausen has formed, steady bubbling evident. Perhaps the slow but steady fermentation is the thing that lets this strain leave a lot of the hop character intact (or so they claim). Beautiful pine-tropical smell in the fermentation chamber.

20/7 Higher krausen in the BB and more activity but nothing I’d call agressive.

24/7 Just an occasional bubble. Took a gravity reading : 1.012, apparent attenuation allready at 81%. First dry hops added straight to the fermenter. I’ll be away for a while so the hops will be in the wort over a week before cooling but I don’t think this will have any negative effect on the beer.

1/8 Returned home and set the freezer to 6C/42F

2/8 Seems that the lowered temperature caused some water to be sucked back through the blow-off tube. Dang. It had star san in it and smelled neutral so I hope that it won’t do any harm. A tap is about to be free soon so I’ll rack the beer to a CO2 flushed keg with the second hops tomorrow though a longer crash might clear the beer a bit more. The hops are settled to the bottom but it seems a bit hazy, either the yeast hasn’t flocculated as well as MJ claims or the haze is hop-oils (which there should be plenty in this beer). Opening the freezer lets a delicious fruity-citrus aroma spread to my kitchen. Promising.

3/8 Flushed a keg with CO2 and racked the beer over the second dryhops separated in two nylon stockings. Set the freezer to 18C.

Tasting here – one of my best beers


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