Friday, April 8, 2016

Unleash the beast... HOPTONITE Brew night!

It has been promised to you for a while.   It has been hinted at in cloistered conversations around the water cooler. "When are those idiots going to brew the ridiculous dIPA we were all promised?"  Well, brew fans your wait is over.   Because last night in Johns garage, we brewed the Hoptonite dIPA.

It was a beautiful night here in Kansas City.  A perfect night for brewing.   We set out to brew a 5 gallon batch of Hoptonite.   Our process was very straight forward.   A simple single infusion no sparge brew.   I personally love no sparge brewing.   We do our no sparge brewing in cooler mash tuns.   You have seen the pictures of the 100 quart mash tun that we use for 10 gallon batches.    But tonight we were using my 48 quart good ol reliable mash tun.   I've had it forever.  It still works fine. John preheated the mash tun with hot water as we ground the grains.

I made the water adjustments.  This was our first time using Beer Dust IPA blend. I'm sure it is a fine product, but it was not able to buffer to where we wanted, or reduce the pH adequately. Looking forward to seeing how it impacts the finished flavor of the beer.  So we used some acidulated malt, and some Five Star 5.2.  We nailed our pH.   Well ok, not nailed, but pretty damned close.

Our hops were provided by the awesome people at BSG.  We got to try their small packaging, and let me tell you,  it is every thing they say.  These are the freshest hops we have used... ever.  When you are making a hop monster ask for small packaged hops.  The major hop companies have them.  Your LHBS can order them for you.

Our grains all came from Cargill.  Cargill malts are fantastic.  I am definitely a fan.  We use grains from Rahr / BSG and Cargill.   I know when I stick with these companies, I will get consistent quality. Tonight, our base grain was Cargill 2 row pale.  We had heard rumors as to it's quality taste and high extraction.  Wort samples were sweet, bready, nutty, and delicious.  Everything we heard was true.

We were targeting 152 F as our mash temperature.   After checking the grain temperature and doing a quick calculation on, we knew our strike water needed 8.5 gallons of water to be at 160 F.   We nailed our mash temperature.  At dough in we briefly rose to 153 F, but after taking the pH we were at 152 F.  We lost only 1 degree during the 60 minute mash, another benefit of no sparge.   If you have never tried no sparge brewing, you really should.  There are just really very few disadvantages, and lots of advantages.

Consider the following advantages of no sparge.
  • Decent efficiency, we get about 77%
  • No dough balls - thin mash easy to stir
  • Easy partigyle.   If you want to make two beers in one day, this is the easy way.  
    • Make a high gravity wort, drain it, and then put new water in for your second batch.  You can even add new specialty grains for flavor and color.  
  • Easy brew days, no sparging, heating water for sparging, transferring water.
  • More "time" in your brew day to do other things. 
    • organize
    • clean
    • prepare hop additions
    • sample "Founders KBS!"

At the end of the mash, we opened the valve on the cooler and drained into the boil kettle.  The first addition of hops went in right then.  4 ounces of Centennial. From there on it was a circus of hops.  We normally put hops into a bag, but this time we decided to let them flow and move about freely in hopes of maximizing their impact on the beer. 

We use a dry erase marker, Tupperware, and disposable cups to organize our hop additions.    Organization is critical when brewing a complex hop monster like this one.  Fortunately Jake is kinda uber organized.  So he takes charge of getting the hops ready.   Tonight that was no easy task.  The photo was taken after a couple of additions had already gone in.  

The boil was an awesome sight and smell extravaganza.   The entire garage filled with an intense hop aroma.  Not the normal, hoppy goodness aroma, this was intense.  The boil was rigorous.   We collected 7.5 gallons of wort, and boiled down to 6 gallons.    Next time, we will use a paint strainer bag for the hops.   The wort was a chunky hop soup.  It has already settled, and we have the technology to deal with it along the way, a quality fermentation chamber.   We can cold crash with out moving our fermenter.  But if you don't have that technology, use a hop bag.

We chilled as always with our Jaded Hydra chiller.  To say that it is awesome is an understatement.  We wanted to get under 140 F, as quick as possible.  And then whirlpool for 20 M.   We definitely pulled that off.  We went from 220 F to 120 F in about 2 minutes.   Amazing.  After the whirlpool, we went from 110 to 67 in 2 minutes.   Just get a hydra.  You'll thank me.

The next step for this is a whole lot of dry hops.  We are estimating a  3 week fermentation on this one.   So first dry hops go in in a week.   The rest of the dry hops go in the day before we begin the cold crash.   This is, as you may remember a real key to getting the hop flavor and aroma you want.

So in a month, we will be drinking an absolute hop monster. Drinking it along with august hyppo, and pliny the petulant.  I guess we are pretty well set with IPAs for the summer.   As you may recall we also brewed up 10 gallons of saison recently.  5 of which will be ready soon.  And saison is great summer beer.   Half of the batch was pitched with a sour culture, so it wont be ready for a year.  Up next for the group is probably the PIVO pilsner clone, with a partigyle IPA.  We have the grains, and the hops so why not?   I know at the high heat of summer our attention will turn to fall beers, a Festbier, a pumpkin ale (I know, I know, but the girls love them), browns, and stouts.

UPDATE 4/13/2016 - Hoptonite had a blow off of epic proportions.  Mark Anthony and I went to Johns to bottle up the Pliny the Petulant, and discovered a foamy hoppy mess in the fermentation chamber.  It took us (mostly MA) over an hour to clean it up.  So, use a blow off tube people.  Smells like intense hops, cant wait.


  1. Great post!!! When I upgrade to all grain equipment instead of borrowing my neighbors, I have to give this a go!!!

  2. Thanks. Cant wait to try this beer

  3. Dang! That is some serious break material!

  4. Yeah, it was ridiculous. But there are some challenges making a dipa, and that is one of them. Also your gravity readings can be thrown off, not by the break material, but rather by the hop oils.