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Old 01-02-2011, 02:23 PM   #1
kanzimonson
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Default Theories on hoppy beers

I've been getting pretty obsessed with fresh beer lately. I use English ale yeast for most of my ales and can usually get my average gravity beers in kegs within 6-10 days. Of course, they always benefit from some aging but I like to taste that evolution of flavor.

Until I started kegging, I never noticed the extreme drop off of hoppiness in the first month of a beer's life. I made an India Brown Ale that had so much hop flavor/aroma that you could barely tell it was a brown ale. Then, a month later the hops dropped out a bunch, the flavors blended, and it became a very balanced beer. It was not quite as hoppy, but overall it was better thanks to aging.

So my question is: how do y'all approach aging in your beer? I'm not asking for how long you do it, I'm really wondering about if you take aging into account when you brew a beer?

For example, I could have brewed this IBA with a little less finishing hops, and it might have achieved balance a little sooner. However, a month later it may have seemed under-hopped. And this is not to mention the fact that the malt flavors also take time to age.

Partly I ask this for competition purposes (timing your brewing to enter competition at the peak of flavor), but also for inventory purposes. I freakin love IPAs and the fresher and more vibrant the hop character, the better. So if I brew 10gal of IPA, and I don't even tap the second keg until 2 months later - am I going to be disappointed?


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Old 01-02-2011, 02:29 PM   #2
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I like to dry hop one more time in the serving keg. zip tie a hop bag to the dip tube (with hole hops not pellets).


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Old 01-02-2011, 02:33 PM   #3
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I make IPA every other batch, just about! I love it. But I agree that the hops "nose" fades quickly so I often make a 5 gallon batch of IPA, dryhop in the fermenter, and sometimes dryhop again in the keg. When I'm not making an IPA, I make other beers that improve with age. Right now, I have on tap: IPA, oatmeal stout, California common, and APA. The stout and CC are better with some aging (lagering in the case of the CC, right in the keg even though it's tapped and it's still improving) while the IPA and APA are better fresh.
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Old 01-02-2011, 02:46 PM   #4
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I've gotten to a point where I'm resistant to buy IPAs in the store because I think they're not going to be hoppy enough... or worse, I might buy one of my favorites only to find it's an old batch and it shatters my perception of how good a beer is.
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Old 01-02-2011, 03:12 PM   #5
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Sorry, not an answer, just another question...

Does the fading of the hop flavor and aroma change when using kegs or bottling? Does one last longer than the other? Does somebody feel like doing an experiment for us?
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Old 01-02-2011, 03:16 PM   #6
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I can't imagine that there'd be a difference...

On the other hand, beer does weird and subtle things with every little influence.

If there is a difference, I'm thinking it's nearly undetectable.
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Old 01-02-2011, 05:32 PM   #7
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I too love the hop taste and aroma in a really good IPA which for some is confused with IBU's. That being said I've discovered a method of late-hopping some of my IPA's to achieve the desired IBU's and increase both taste and aroma. I would also theorize that it increases the longevity of the hop flavor and aroma.

The downside is that it takes more hops when added late to achieve the desired IBU level. Now that hop prices are down I'm OK with it and the results really speak for themselves. You end up with a really smooth and tasty hop profile.

Link below has some really good supporting info.

http://www.mrmalty.com/late_hopping.htm

This technique should help but in the end some of the best things are just better fresh!

cheers
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Old 01-02-2011, 08:15 PM   #8
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Yeah I'm familiar with the late hopping and this specific IBA sorta used this technique. I used:

14g Centennial/Amarillo pellet blend (8.1%) - 60min
56g Centennial (8.7%) - 10min
56g Amarillo (7.5%) - 0min

and 14g of each for dry hopping. It was amazingly resiny, and tasted in the 50IBU range.

But here's another technique I'm going to start employing: adding the flameout hops, cutting the heat, covering the pot, and letting it sit for 15-30 minutes before turning on the chiller.

I recently did this with a Nut Brown Mild I made. It had no flavor/aroma additions other than 24g of Fuggles that I used the above method with. It had INCREDIBLE depth of hop flavor. Not super strong, but present in all aspects of the beer... a little leafy and damp in the nose, woodsy in the flavor, a dash of spice in the finish. It was like I had multiple small additions in the last 20min.

I started thinking about doing this when I kept hearing on Can You Brew It how they translate some of the commercial breweries' whirlpool additions into 30 minute flameout steeps like I described. I can't believe some of the depth of flavor these beers are achieving with this method, but it makes sense - No boil means less is volatizing, and the long steep allows for some isomerization, and some conversion of the base hop aroma compounds into many different types of aroma compounds, most of which remain in the beer. Try it out.


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