Sunday, February 28, 2016

C4 Hop Explosion...American Pale Ale Hop Bursting Action Inside!

John came up with the perfect name for the APA that
features 4 "C" hops!
Pale Ale.  Good ol' pale ale.  The impetus of the craft brew revolution.  The craft brew that started it all, the craft brew that the muggles will actually drink.    I think we all love pale ale.  But you have to admit that pale ale has become a bit ordinary.  A bit too familiar.  So we here at counterbrew, your ever faithful servants, are here to update the common pale ale into the hop explosion that it can, and maybe should be.

Pale ale is an awesome background malt bill for hops.   The maltier wort and ever so slight roasty flavors create an interesting backdrop when balanced against the hops.   But beware, this is not the right background for 70-100 ibu IPA hops.   This is the right back ground for the "c" hops.   You remember the C hops.  Chinook, Cascade, Centennial, Citra. (and sometimes Columbus).

Before 5star pH stabilizer pH was 8.1
Due in part to the camden addition the night before.
So Saturday we set out to brew an American Pale Ale.  A "hop explosion" ,  But not an unbelievably bitter beer. A Beer with loads of late hop additions.   We were brewing 10 gallons.  But of course there was a problem with the keggle so we had to split the batch into 2 separate boils.    It was time for the counterbrew crew to understand why we are so committed to BIAB, and no sparge brewing.  So to aid in that understanding, and also because I get a maniacal pleasure out of it.    We did our first 3 vessel brewing session as a group.  John prepared the water the night before with camden.  If you're not using camden to knock the chorides out of your water, then you need to start.   John and Jake had the water heating when I arrived, and we did a simple water treatment.    We added 1 TBLSPN of 5.2 stabilizer for each 5 gallons.   For those of you who don't like 5 Star 5.2 pH stabilizer... get over it.
After 5 star 5.2 stabilizer the pH was 5.86
There has been an unsubstantiated trend on forums recently.  This trend is to say 5.2 stabilizer doesn't work.  Or 5 .2 makes beer salty (whoa there Poindexter, it's not even that kind of salt).   There is no science behind this trend, just a bunch of guys who feel like they are better brewers if they do things the hard way.   Here is a fact from brew day.   By the way, don't you dig Johns zooba shorts (KC Chiefs ) and black socks.

  • pH after camden and before 5.2 =  8.1
  • pH after 5 star pH stabilizer = 5.86
  • pH of the mash was... pause for dramatic effect... 5.2. Right on the money!

All hands on deck for the dough in.  Mark Anthony and his brother Rob
Helped us get doughed in!  3 spoons makes quick work of dough in!
We put 21 lbs of grain into the mash tun, in a bag.  And we hit it with 167 F water.  Stirred to prevent dough balls and that was it.  Our initial temperature was a little high so we stirred.  Missing your initial temperature can lower your efficiency, and it did a little bit. (We only got 72.86% hoping for 75%  We could have added .25lbs of sugar or DME but we just rolled with it! ) We got it to 152 and let it sit for 90 minutes.  Then we drained it off and batch sparged.   We let our batch sparge for 15 minutes.  

spilit the boil
in the future the
keggle will rock!
Today we had to boil in 2 separate pots.  The keggel needs some new parts, a new high pressure hose, a new regulator, and a new 3/8th" flared orifice.   But soon, very soon we will be brewing with 150000 BTUs of banjo burner power again.  I for one cant wait.  This brew day was 5 hours long.  My crew now understand how long a 3 vessel brew day can take.  They now also understand the pros and cons of 3 vessel.  There are times when not having to mess with and monitor the temperature of your mash is a benefit.   A brew day where you need to bottle and do other brew house chores, for example.

Now, here comes the fun part.  The part you have all been waiting for... the hop schedule ( really the whole recipe).
Jake handling the hop bursting!
Bursting may be the trick you
are looking for!

C4 Hop Explosion Pale Ale
OG 1.052
FG  1.008
SRM 11
ABV 5.9%
Taste  - Citrus and lemon notes, with cedar, pine, floral, pepper, and green mellon.   freaking awesome!

16.5 lbs of pale ale malt (ask for RAHR PALE ALE)
2.5 lbs of biscuit malt
.75 lbs of caramel/crystal 80
.25 lbs of caramel/crystal 20
Mash at 152 for 90 minutes.
Sparge to volume
1 tsp of gypsum added mid boil
1.5  ounces of Chinook @ 60
1.5  ounces of Centennial @ 15
1.5  ounces of Cascade @  10
1.5 ounces of Citra @ 10
2    ounces of Centennial @ 5
2   ounces of Cascade added to the whirlpool at 190 to 180 degrees (hop bursting)
2   ounces of Citra added to the whirlpool at 190 to 180 degrees
2   ounces of Cascade dry hop for 4 to 5 days
2   ounces of Citra dry hop for 4 to 5 days
US 05 (2 packs) rehydrated in 1.035 wort during our brew day!

Jake setting the chamber to
64 F.  Yes, he is freakishly tall!
Chill to 185 F.  Then add the whirlpool hops, allow them to burst for 10 to 15 minutes then continue with the chill.   By the way sanitized silicone gloves are a great way to get all that hoppy goodness in your beer, if you, like us put your hops in a bag.

We are fermenting in temperature controlled fermentation chamber at 64 F.  So with endothermic heat the batch should rise to about 68 F.  Which is right where we want it.  With US05  if you ferment at 68F you will get very slight fruity esters.  They should compliment the beer perfectly.  If you ferment cooler, there are very few esters at all.  Its not as clean as K-97 but it is really clean.  Jake set the temp to 64 and now we wait.

But our wait wont be too long.  It's only a 1.050 beer.  The US 05 will chew through this batch in no time.   Should be adding dry hops in 10 days and packaging the beer in about 14 days.


Tuesday night John reports fermentation was slowing down.   He turned the chamber temperature up to 66 F to help the yeast finish strong.  In about a week he will dry hop for a couple of days, fine with gelatin and cold crash.   This one should be ready after just 2 weeks.   We'll bottle and be ready to drink in another week.  Cant Wait.


  1. Why the gypsum mid boil? Just curious.

    Also, interesting that you used pale ale malt. I am getting ready to do a couple SMASHes using pale ale malt. Trying to get really familiar with some hop varieties that I am considering growing next year.

  2. Gypsum can give hops a certain "bite" and clarity when used with discernment. I find 1 tsp for 10 gallons makes the hops more pronounced and less muddled.

    Love Rahr Pale ale malt by BSG / Rahr. It is great stuff. Very reliable. Great base malt

  3. Sounds like a great day and very interesting recipe. Really enjoying these, learning a few things on the way too... Thanks brew on.