Modern Beer For Modern Times

We were blown away to be invited to pour our beer at Modern Times' Festival Of Dankness, so thanks to Phil (who we met in Ellon), and Jacob (who I had the pleasure of meeting in Copenhagen this year), and the team for putting our name in the hat!  I should also say thanks to everyone at BrewDog who played their part in us being invited to their AGM this year.  If we hadn't have been there with Modern Times I probably wouldn't be writing this post from San Diego just now!

Now let's get into a recap, with the v6 and v7 details below too.  Please note that volumes are wort, not packaged beer.

DIPA v1 – 48hl – Released 07.11.15
Inspired by a haul of West Coast IPAs and Double IPAs brought back after a road trip in August 2015.  Released on the 7th of November 2015 to celebrate the anniversary of us breaking ground in our warehouse after a long and difficult lease negotiation.
US05 • Best Ale Malt • End of season US hops and new season NZ hops.

DIPA v2 – 48hl – Released 14.02.16
Brewed with new harvest 2015 Citra as soon as it landed in the UK.  Released on the 14th of February 2016 to celebrate our first anniversary.
US05 • Best Ale Malt • New season Citra and Chinook.

DIPA v3 – 120hl – Released 09.04.16
Vermont Ale yeast makes its debut, brewed in time for our guest spot at BrewDog’s AGM.
Vermont Ale • (Simpsons) Golden Promise Malt • BBC Citra, Mosaic, Comet

DIPA v4 / v5 – 2 x 24hl – Released 29.06.16
A public experiment to investigate the effects of bio-transformation. Same wort, same yeast, different dry hop timings.  v4 was dry hopped twice during fermentation, v5 was dry hopped twice after fermentation.
WLP095 • (Fawcett’s) Golden Promise Malt • BBC Citra, Amarillo, Simcoe, Mosaic.

DIPA v6 – 146hl – Released 13.08.16
Brewed in time for Modern Times Festival of Dankness, using Yeast Bay’s Vermont strain.  Dry hop schedule derived from v4/v5 private tasting panel feedback.
WLP4000 • (Fawcett’s) Golden Promise Malt • BBC Citra, Vic’s Secret, Chinook.

DIPA v7 – 48hl – Released 13.08.16
Also brewed in time for Modern Times Festival of Dankness, using 4722nd generation yeast from JW Lees, one of the oldest yeast strains in use in the UK.  Dry hop schedule derived from v4/v5 private tasting panel feedback, and identical to v6.
4722nd gen. JW Lees • (Fawcett’s) Golden Promise Malt • BBC Citra, Vic’s Secret, Chinook.

We've been asked a few questions in the past few months and weeks, both online and in person at events.  I'll go over some of the most frequent below to tune you all into where we are with DIPAs and why we have to keep moving.

Why Another Side By Side Release? 
When we released v4/v5 we knew a lot of folk would miss out, and thought that we should follow it with a decent brew length.  We sent out an order form to all of our customers and invited them to order up to three full 48hl FVs.  We ended up with over 154hl of beer orders, impossible to get that volume out of just three 48hl FVs, especially when we tend to lose around 15-20% of DIPA between yeast drops, dry hopping, transfer, and packaging losses.  So we contacted the team at JW Lees and decided to brew a single tank of v7, made with the latest strain of the yeast that worked out so well for us in Three's Company.  We thought it'd let us test out just how WLP4000 (Yeast Bay's Vermont yeast strain) does against another excellent yeast, and save us from disappointing too many customers.

Why Are We Using Different Yeast To v3?
As delicious as that particular pitch was, it has, sadly, not been possible to get that same yeast strain again.  The next time we ordered a wet pitch of it (for what was supposed to be a follow up to our first batch of IPA Citra) we got a yeast that was more akin to wheat beer yeast, and ended up with a White IPA flavour rather than an IPA.  Not good at all.  So we tried WLP095 (White Labs' Burlington strain) in a couple of beers (including v4/v5) which was great, but not as fruity as the Vermont strain we brewed v3 with.  We do have one more supplier to contact, but with the timeline and deadlines we had to work with WLP4000 was by far the best choice.

Why Are We Following v4/v5 So Soon?
When Modern Times invited us to their Festival Of Dankness we worked our production schedule around making sure we flew beer out here to San Diego as fresh as possible.  The chance to try our beer side by side with excellent hoppy beers from around the States comes with a little pressure to perform, and pitch our best work to a crowd used to top quality beer.  With the v4/v5 public experiment release results forecast to take weeks to come back in, we held an in-house tasting the day of packaging v5 knowing we couldn't wait a day more to brew v6.  Although we'd initially hoped to brew v6 after a month's worth of public feedback, we weren't able to make that work and get super fresh DIPA out to the West Coast.  Instead we've committed to brew v8 to the results of v4/v5.

What Were The Results Of The v4/v5 Feedback Forms?
I'm afraid I can't drop a pie chart into this blog, so I'll list the results below.  306 responses (thanks so much to you one an all for taking time out to give us feedback) said:
51.6% blended
25.2% v5
23.2% v4

And out of those that preferred blended their preferred splits were:
41% 50/50
21.2% 75/25 (v5 to v4)
20.8% 75/75 (v4 to v5)
17% preferred a custom blend

There were lots of questions about v4 /v5, but the biggest one was why v5 was cloudy and v4 clear.  In short, v4 had lots more time to settle out with the dry hopping conducted during fermentation.  We think that the flocculation action of the yeast at the end of fermentation helped clear out the hop haze that made v5 so cloudy.  v5 didn't have the co-flocculation benefit that v4 had, and with three days of CO2 dry hop resuspension (by bubbling CO2 through the FV) after both dry hops, hop haze compounds didn't have the chance to settle out.  Incidentally, both v4 and v5 were packaged with a cell count of >0.1 x10^6.

Who Is Stocking v6 and v7?
We've been working with one of our customers to test out his ideas for a stockist map, which we will bring to you as soon as we have ironed out bugs and UI tweaks, but for now, please accept my sincere apologies for this incredibly ugly table.  I hope, in its basic form, its useful for you to work out where you can go this Saturday the 13th from midday to get bottles or draft.  I'm sorry we've not been able to list who's got kegs, bottles, v6, v7, both, or all, as its incredibly difficult to piece all this together from direct orders let alone from busy distributors.

We've worked as hard as we can to make v6 and v7 as delicious as they can be, and to take the best DIPA we could make out here to San Diego to represent the UK as best as we can.  I can't wait to share with you the feedback we get, and the impression James and I get as we sample some of the other hoppy beers on tap at the festival too.

v6 & v7 Stockist Map!
We're delighted that a customer of ours, Sean McEmerson, reached out some months ago to offer his services to help us get a map together for special releases.  Check it out here, and please be aware this is something we've bug checked on some browsers and devices, but not all, so if you find something clunky please let us know here.

What Next For Our DIPA Releases?
We've worked as hard as we can to make v6 and v7 as delicious as they can be, and to take the best DIPA we could make out here to San Diego to represent the UK as best as we can.  I can't wait to share with you the feedback we get, and the impression James and I get as we sample some of the other hoppy beers on tap at the festival too.

Whilst I'm hoping we present well alongside many far better set up and longer established breweries, I've got my eyes and ears open for every lesson we can possibly gain.  Whether we finish Saturday feeling proud or inspired (or a mix of both) is yet to be seen, but you can count on us keeping moving with our DIPA series as we continue our quest for the best hoppy beers we can make.  With a few experiments and tweaks still in mind, and a trip later this year to Vermont, I'm sure there's a lot more for us to learn and absorb before we possibly could consider fixing a base recipe for any amount of time.  What progress we've made between the 14th of February 2015 when we brewed our first beer, to gyle 200 today (some 6972hl of wort produced in that time) we feel is down to our founding philosophy of keeping moving.  We're always looking out for ways to improve, and even though we have calls every week to settle down and make the same thing again and again, we couldn't if we tried!

The yeast woe I went into above was followed by supplier issues from our preferred maltster, leaving us with yet another ingredient change to make despite our wishes.  All that unforeseen fluctuation (with ingredients that are supposed to be the stable backbone!) was and is still against a constantly evolving crunch as brewers round the world scramble to secure hops and hop contracts for the years to come.  We've already signed for 2016 crops, and put in requests for 2017, and 2018 too.  But we won't know till they land in the UK just how they fair, so backing ourselves into a corner, even if it is a DIPA shaped corner, still isn't an attractive proposition at all.  We're really excited to present v6 and v7 to you this Saturday.  Even though there's not an official feedback form (although if you guys would like one we can make that happen) do let me know your thoughts via social media or your preferred beer rating site.

Thanks for your support, enthusiasm, and honest feedback folks.  It's a pleasure to have you come along with us on this journey.  Here's to Saturday! 

Paul Jones