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Challenger and Northdown together

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MattHollingsworth

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Lovely! Just kegged a beer that used both hops. Recipe will be posted sometime soon, but basically the late hop addition at knockout was 22 grams of Challenger pellets and 8 grams of Northdown whole hops, then dry hopped with the same ratio, but 11 grams of Challenger and 4 grams of Northdown(6 days, in 21 liters). And man do these hops work nicely together. Highly recommended. How would I describe them exactly? Huh. Well, typically British character, lotsa earthy notes with some spiciness. Hard to put into words, but very British. Anyway, they work great together.
 

sp1365

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I have not used Northdown as my LHBS doesn't carry it, but Challenger is a staple in my English India Brown Ale. Great hop.
 

jlpred55

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I agree, love them both but never used together. Challanger is a favorite british hop of mine- I love the character, and it is a little more harsh than EKG or Fuggles, which is weird but I also like. Bluebird Bitter Clone anyone?
 

Beerrific

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I have never used Northdown, but I enjoy Challenger a lot. I need to try to get some bulk quantities of each.
 

snailsongs

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Too bad Northdown are impossible to find stateside (atleast for homebrewers)......I've been wanting to try some for a while now.....
 

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MattHollingsworth

MattHollingsworth

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Hey, thanks for doing the legwork on that! I have definitely looked several times in the past and come up with nothing other than overpriced from overseas, but not recently. Ordered 6 oz and some challenger to, since this thread piqued my curiosity. Northdown ESB, here I come!
Happy to help. Enjoy the hops and report back on your thoughts.
 
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MattHollingsworth

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As a side note:

I drank Fuller's Vintage Ale last year when I was at the Great British Beer Festival in August. And that year's ale uses Challenger and Northdown. So, if you can find a bottle of the 2008 Vintage Ale, it's a good one to try those hops. It's also a single malt beer, only Maris Otter. So nice to see what a sort of British Barleywine with just Maris Otter, Challenger, Northdown and the Fuller's yeast tastes like. It's quite nice.
 

snailsongs

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As a side note:

I drank Fuller's Vintage Ale last year when I was at the Great British Beer Festival in August. And that year's ale uses Challenger and Northdown. So, if you can find a bottle of the 2008 Vintage Ale, it's a good one to try those hops. It's also a single malt beer, only Maris Otter. So nice to see what a sort of British Barleywine with just Maris Otter, Challenger, Northdown and the Fuller's yeast tastes like. It's quite nice.
Oh man, I was just working up an ESB recipe with Northdown and EKG (a known quantity with which to measure Northdown against), but that sounds like a really good idea for a beer....now I'm torn.

I'll put this ESB recipe out for comments:

Amount Item Type % or IBU
9.00 lb Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.0 SRM) Grain 80.0 %
1.00 lb Caramel/Crystal Malt - 60L (60.0 SRM) Grain 8.9 %
0.25 lb Caramel/Crystal Malt -120L (120.0 SRM) Grain 2.2 %
1.00 oz Northdown [8.50%] (60 min) Hops 28.0 IBU
1.00 oz Goldings, East Kent [5.00%] (25 min) Hops 11.4 IBU
1.00 oz Northdown [8.50%] (10 min) Hops 10.1 IBU
1.00 oz Goldings, East Kent [5.00%] (10 min) Hops 6.0 IBU
1.00 oz Goldings, East Kent [5.00%] (5 min) Hops 3.3 IBU
1.00 oz Northdown [8.50%] (Dry Hop 10 days) Hops -
1.00 lb Dememera Sugar (2.0 SRM) Sugar 8.9 %

oh....and WLP002

Est Original Gravity: 1.063 SG
Est Final Gravity: 1.016 SG
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 6.1 %
Bitterness: 58.8 IBU
Est Color: 13.1 SRM

I think this almost borders on english IPA, but whatever works. I'm torn between going all Northdown and mixing it with the softer EKG. what do you think? IF I were to go ND/Challenger instead, what might a good hop schedule look like? thanks as always for your input.
 
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MattHollingsworth

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Oh man, I was just working up an ESB recipe with Northdown and EKG (a known quantity with which to measure Northdown against), but that sounds like a really good idea for a beer....now I'm torn.

I'll put this ESB recipe out for comments:

Amount Item Type % or IBU
9.00 lb Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.0 SRM) Grain 80.0 %
1.00 lb Caramel/Crystal Malt - 60L (60.0 SRM) Grain 8.9 %
0.25 lb Caramel/Crystal Malt -120L (120.0 SRM) Grain 2.2 %
1.00 oz Northdown [8.50%] (60 min) Hops 28.0 IBU
1.00 oz Goldings, East Kent [5.00%] (25 min) Hops 11.4 IBU
1.00 oz Northdown [8.50%] (10 min) Hops 10.1 IBU
1.00 oz Goldings, East Kent [5.00%] (10 min) Hops 6.0 IBU
1.00 oz Goldings, East Kent [5.00%] (5 min) Hops 3.3 IBU
1.00 oz Northdown [8.50%] (Dry Hop 10 days) Hops -
1.00 lb Dememera Sugar (2.0 SRM) Sugar 8.9 %

oh....and WLP002

Est Original Gravity: 1.063 SG
Est Final Gravity: 1.016 SG
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 6.1 %
Bitterness: 58.8 IBU
Est Color: 13.1 SRM

I think this almost borders on english IPA, but whatever works. I'm torn between going all Northdown and mixing it with the softer EKG. what do you think? IF I were to go ND/Challenger instead, what might a good hop schedule look like? thanks as always for your input.
Wow, that's a LOT of hops for an ESB. If you're a hophead, sure you'll love it. But for me personally, I like a little more balance. Way way too bitter for me too. But that's a personal thing.

I can't honestly advise you on using JUST Northdown as I haven't done that myself. I've mostly used it for First Wort Hopping (for bittering with some aroma/flavor) and then as a smaller percentage with my ESB. If I were you, though, I wouldn't brew an English Barleywine with the hops the very first time you use them.

My ESB is below. It's pretty well balanced. That yeast is very assertive and comes through with a lot of fruit which mixes nicely with the hops and malt. Hops are present but don't overpower everything else. IBUs are spot on for me, something close to Sierra Nevada as far as the bitterness balance goes.

ESB X:

21.80 liters into fermenter.

4.90 kg Pale Malt (7.1 EBC) 93.33 %
0.20 kg Crystal Malt -150 (150 EBC) 3.81 %
0.15 kg Crystal Malt - 50 (50.0 EBC) 2.86 %


28.00 gm Challenger [5.80 %] (90 min) (First Wort Hop) 24.5 IBU
12.00 gm Northdown [8.00 %] (90 min) (First Wort Hop) 13.0 IBU

22.00 gm Challenger [5.80 %] (0 min) (Aroma Hop-Steep)
8.00 gm Northdown [8.00 %] (0 min) (Aroma Hop-Steep)

11.00 gm Challenger [5.80 %] (Dry Hop 5 days)
4.00 gm Northdown [8.00 %] (Dry Hop 5 days)

1.50 tsp Irish Moss (Boil 10.0 min) Misc

Burton Ale (White Labs #WLP023) [Starter 2000 ml] [Cultured] Yeast-Ale

Measured Original Gravity: 1.054 SG
Measured Final Gravity: 1.013 SG
Alcohol by Vol: 5.34 %
Bitterness: 37.5 IBU
Est Color: 18.0 EBC

Mashed at 153 for 60 min.

If I were to brew this again the only change I'd make is to double the dry hops and leave them in for 7 days.
 
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MattHollingsworth

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As a follow up:

One of the things I notice a lot of times with Americans (I'm American, BTW) brewing British beer styles is that they often just take their experience with American styles and then change the ingredients, but the basic recipe is just like an American ale of some sort. And the fact is that a lot of American beers, especially on the West Coast, have a TON of hops added at various times. Now I'm not saying there's anything wrong with that. But if you want to brew a British style, I think you should try to look at some existing British recipes from other sources first and see what's being done in the UK. While British beers have some tasty hops in them, they typically don't use anywhere near the amount of hops that American recipes do. And I think there's something to be said for that sort of balance that they achieve. They have a lot of character in their various yeasts, and their malt is, in my opinion, far superior to American malt. I think that their dialed back use of hops allows these other ingredients to show up in the finished beer and achieves a balance that is one of the main strengths of their beers. Their beers are still hoppy. But by West Coast standards, they're not, I guess.

Anyway, that's my opinion. But that opinion is based on drinking a helluva lot of British beer in the UK and reading a helluva lot of British recipes from various sources. And, BTW, these days you see more and more breweries in the UK emulating American breweries and see more and more beers with Cascades or other citrus American hops in them(Dark Star, anyone?). It's all getting mashed up. But for me, I still prefer a traditional British Bitter when that's what I'm going for. If I want Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale (which I love), then I'll drink that. But if I go to get a pint of Fullers London Pride and it suddenly tastes hopped like Celebration, I'll be sorely disappointed.

Not saying you haven't read some British recipes. Just saying maybe take a look at their hopping and bitterness.
 

snailsongs

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As a follow up:

One of the things I notice a lot of times with Americans (I'm American, BTW) brewing British beer styles is that they often just take their experience with American styles and then change the ingredients, but the basic recipe is just like an American ale of some sort. And the fact is that a lot of American beers, especially on the West Coast, have a TON of hops added at various times. Now I'm not saying there's anything wrong with that. But if you want to brew a British style, I think you should try to look at some existing British recipes from other sources first and see what's being done in the UK. While British beers have some tasty hops in them, they typically don't use anywhere near the amount of hops that American recipes do. And I think there's something to be said for that sort of balance that they achieve. They have a lot of character in their various yeasts, and their malt is, in my opinion, far superior to American malt. I think that their dialed back use of hops allows these other ingredients to show up in the finished beer and achieves a balance that is one of the main strengths of their beers. Their beers are still hoppy. But by West Coast standards, they're not, I guess.

Anyway, that's my opinion. But that opinion is based on drinking a helluva lot of British beer in the UK and reading a helluva lot of British recipes from various sources. And, BTW, these days you see more and more breweries in the UK emulating American breweries and see more and more beers with Cascades or other citrus American hops in them(Dark Star, anyone?). It's all getting mashed up. But for me, I still prefer a traditional British Bitter when that's what I'm going for. If I want Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale (which I love), then I'll drink that. But if I go to get a pint of Fullers London Pride and it suddenly tastes hopped like Celebration, I'll be sorely disappointed.

Not saying you haven't read some British recipes. Just saying maybe take a look at their hopping and bitterness.
Thanks for this reality check, Matt! I appreciate it, and it gives me something to think about. I guess my frame of mind is hinged on this: I like British beer flavors alot but, in typically desensitized American fashion, tend to get bored with them easily unless they have some real character to them (such as a barleywine, old ale or traditional porter might have)....I have brewed a couple of bitters and english pales that I've really enjoyed, but the flavor tends to come across as one dimensional. I guess the same can be said for an APA loaded w/ citrus hops too, and all this being said I would rather focus on crafting a well balanced ESB with a well rounded profile vs just trying to cram these hops in because I'm curious to try them.....

...and I have pored over many recipes on this site and elsewhere, read most of the currently available brewing literature cover to cover, and spent way too much time on this board, but I can get carried away trying to make something 'stand out', when by design it should be 'blending in'.....Moving to Eugene, a central corridor of the west coast brewing philosophy, has provoked me to go for extremes......I think the extreme out here would actually be balanced beer.

and Matt, your career rocks!
 
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MattHollingsworth

MattHollingsworth

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Thanks for this reality check, Matt! I appreciate it, and it gives me something to think about. I guess my frame of mind is hinged on this: I like British beer flavors alot but, in typically desensitized American fashion, tend to get bored with them easily unless they have some real character to them (such as a barleywine, old ale or traditional porter might have)....I have brewed a couple of bitters and english pales that I've really enjoyed, but the flavor tends to come across as one dimensional. I guess the same can be said for an APA loaded w/ citrus hops too, and all this being said I would rather focus on crafting a well balanced ESB with a well rounded profile vs just trying to cram these hops in because I'm curious to try them.....

...and I have pored over many recipes on this site and elsewhere, read most of the currently available brewing literature cover to cover, and spent way too much time on this board, but I can get carried away trying to make something 'stand out', when by design it should be 'blending in'.....Moving to Eugene, a central corridor of the west coast brewing philosophy, has provoked me to go for extremes......I think the extreme out here would actually be balanced beer.

and Matt, your career rocks!
Glad you didn't take offense. I lived in Portland for nine years and was in the Oregon Brew Crew before, and judged a lot too. So, yeah, I saw a LOT of the super hoppy beers. I do think there's something to be said for the elegance of certain British beers though. If you select a nice yeast, use a tasty malt and some tasty British hops, you can get a nicely balanced beer that's hard to beat. Now, that doesn't mean there's anything wrong with tweaking it to your tastes. But I think that it's worth trying achieve a perfect British bitter first. If you get it just right you might not want to brew it the other way. But then again, maybe you will. It's a win win, really. Because while you're making those bitters with a bit less hops, you're going to also really learn those malts and yeast and how they combine with those hops at those levels. The knowledge can only benefit, IMHO.

From having looked at them, I think Jamil's bitter recipes are pretty good. And CAMRA also has a brewing book out called "Brew Your Own British Real Ale" by Graham Wheeler. And while I don't agree with some things he does (he uses black malt to adjust the color which I totally disagree with especially at some of the quantities he uses), I think it's a good book to just flip through and see how surprisingly low the hop additions are by West Coast standards. Otherwise, as a brewing book, it's entirely unremarkable.

As a caveat, I formulate all of my own recipes. I read books like those, and Designing Great Beers, (among others) to see what people are doing and why.

And thanks for the compliments on the career. Been at it 19 years now and still love it most of the time, so it's glad if people dig the stuff enough to keep giving me high profile gigs.
 
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MattHollingsworth

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And, BTW, I am NOT implying that *I* have mastered bitters. I'm still much better at APAs and American ales in general. But I'm working on it!
 

snailsongs

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SO, here's what I'm going with. I dialed back both the malt and hops (I think I should have just called that last incarnation an IPA). Do you have a persuasive reason why I should grab a different yeast? I've used London ESB for porters, the specialty EPA in my dropdown and a milk stout last year, but never for an ESB. I added the brown sugar (actually Piloncillo, but I'm too lazy to enter that into beersmith) partially because I am aware that this is a less attenuative strain - and partially just to add a touch of caramel depth. Otherwise, I'll be rolling on this next week (I've got a Dunkelweizen going tomorrow).

Amount Item Type % or IBU
8.00 lb Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.0 SRM) Grain 78.0 %
1.00 lb Caramel/Crystal Malt - 60L (60.0 SRM) Grain 9.8 %
0.25 lb Caramel/Crystal Malt -120L (120.0 SRM) Grain 2.4 %
1.00 lb Dememera Sugar (2.0 SRM) Sugar 9.8 %

0.75 oz Northdown [8.50%] (60 min) Hops 21.9 IBU
0.50 oz Goldings, East Kent [5.00%] (60 min) Hops 8.6 IBU

0.50 oz Northdown [8.50%] (10 min) Hops 5.3 IBU
0.50 oz Goldings, East Kent [5.00%] (10 min) Hops 3.1 IBU

0.50 oz Goldings, East Kent [5.00%] (0 min) Hops -
0.50 oz Northdown [8.50%] (0 min) Hops -

0.75 oz Goldings, East Kent [5.00%] (Dry Hop 7 days) Hops -
0.75 oz Northdown [8.50%] (Dry Hop 7 days) Hops -

1 Pkgs London ESB Ale (Wyeast Labs #1968) [Starter 125 ml] Yeast-Ale


Est Original Gravity: 1.058 SG
Est Final Gravity: 1.017 SG
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 5.3 %
Bitterness: 38.8 IBU
Est Color: 12.9 SRM
 
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