Saturday, March 21, 2009

Adventures in Whole Hops

Recipe: Belgian-American IPA
Source: Radical Brewing, Mosher 2001

Cooked up an IPA in anticipation of the summer season and some sticky Oakland afternoons, opting to use whole hop buds instead of rabbit food. 3oz of Saaz smelled citrusy and sweet, certain to bring a new element of freshness to the brew, along with the zest of a sweet pink grapefruit. 

The wort smelled great, as usual, throughout the 60 minute boil, but when it came time to siphon that amber ambrosia into the carboy, those hops caused problems. They had expanded to more than thrice their dry size and kept blocking the hose, despite our little filter on the racking tube. We managed to pull out most of the wort, then set about stuffing the hops into a funnel to the carboy. Got most of them in, pitched the yeast and 2 days later the whole thing's foaming away, turning itself upside down every few seconds, and we're hoping the hops eventually settle to the bottom. Also hoping that extra time/exposure/aeration of the wort doesn't affect the final foamy. 

Kazoo Brew has had a fairly high success rate, 4/5 beers rating as 'delicious,' but we don't have a very professional process yet. Many times, we improvise different uses for common kitchen tools (cheese grater, wooden spoon handle, and cheesecloth are some favorites) in order to rack  or cool the beer, and we worry that this extra handling may have an adverse effect on the beer. We'll see in 6 weeks when we tap this IPA whether we scraped by without introducing off flavors to the mix.