At the beginning of last year we brewed a 48hL batch of DIPA that took a turn for the worse. The yeast kicked out stress esters, and steered a previously delicious and fruity DIPA towards more of a Belgian white IPA flavour profile. Not a bad beer at all, but certainly not what we were after to mark our second Birthday. With less than 3 weeks to spare we rebrewed a small batch of the same beer, this time using yeast from our ever helpful friends at JW Lees, and Birthday DIPA was canned just in time to celebrate two years brewing. Phew!
The reception to Birthday DIPA indicated that most people loved it, but a few thought it’d settle down, or mellow out, and be a better, smoother, more to-their-taste beer in some weeks time. Beer that has anything from the slightest tingle of hop pepperiness, through to aggressive hop burn, contains a proportion of suspended hop particles – a new beery phenomenon in this hazy age. We were thrilled, and enjoyed the hoppy raspiness that made the beer taste about as brewery fresh as we could imagine – a little overdone, but a fair start.
Later last year, exasperated after it seemed like suspended hop particles would never drop out of the beers, we put two experimental beers on our bar at IMBC. Both Bubble Bubble Bubble, and Big Pump were made side by side, with the same recipe, in our smallest FVs (12hL a piece), and both were, in hindsight, embarrassing. Our intention was to trial bubbling CO2 through the FV to rouse the dry hops versus recirculation with a pump. In such a small batch size, such a process tweak didn’t result in much noticeable difference between the two. We lived in hope that just enough of the hop particles in those beers would drop out any minute, and leave us with a bright, zesty, punchy beer, but the precipitation we hoped for never did arrive in time. When we poured one of those beers months later at a tap takeover event, it still had more raspiness than our Birthday DIPA. Gosh, we’d succeeded at locking in fresh hoppy flavour alright, but in a way that was far too effective, and far too aggressive on the palate – painfully overdone!
In an effort to further control our dry hop flavour profile, and reduce the time between dry hopping and packaging (instead of two three day dry hop additions we are now able to dry hop in a day or so), we bought and commissioned a BrauKon HopGun last year. It has a very coarse filter candle inside (dotted with 3mm ø holes), which when combined with its opposing vortex inlets, keeps a remarkable amount of the dry hops out of our FVs. The result (at least at this time, with our current processes) is that our beers are fruitier, softer, and rarely presenting with anything approaching zestiness, let alone raspiness or burn. This is a positive step in controlling the balance of flavours it’s possible to extract from hops, but is leaving some of our hoppiest ever beer with all the juice, and none of the zest – delicious and crushable, but a little underdone.
Very early this year we took delivery of our GEA centrifuge, and I’m happy to say that just yesterday we spun our first beer through it, and today we are spinning our second beer. Why centrifuge our beer? Well, in short, I’ve been consistently impressed by the hazy IPAs and DIPAs turned out by our friends at Trillium, Other Half, as well as damn tasty beers from Lervig, and Modern Times too (who all centrifuge their beers), and have been doubly impressed by the increased control they have over yield (we lost 37% of our beer last year to the very hoppy, slightly yeasty sludge that was left in each FV after intense dry hopping), haziness (and not so much of the intense murkiness that can make beers look muddy), flavour clarity, and tank occupation (rather than waiting for just time, and temperature to coerce poorly flocculating yeast to drop out of the beer, we can use our new centrifuge to dial in just how we want our beer to hit packaging tank – freshly dry hopped, with just the right amount of zesty rasp from hops). We’ve every confidence that once we get operation of our centrifuge to GEA’s specification and our satisfaction, that the quality of our hoppy beer will improve.
Our goal is to pepper each hoppy beer with just enough suspended hop particulate to have them present as zesty, fresh, bold, and bright, and to give ourselves the ability to tune our specification for each hoppy beer style we produce as we see fit. Both extremes of hop presentation (mellow, rounded, matured on one side, and very spicy, hot, and with aggressive burn on the other side) miss a balance that brings life to hazy IPAs and murky DIPAs. After the shortest dialling in period possible we very much hope our hoppy beers will bring you all new heights of juicy, zesty satisfaction.
We’re intent on following our palates, and continuing down the path we started on from day one of making beer of these times – 2018 recipes and the best of all the processes we’ve tried so far, all the way from beginning to end. In a roundabout way, hazy IPA has a natural home in Manchester – Boddingtons smooth, and rounded ale, might now be described as soft in the same way hazy IPAs often are, and subsequent generations of Boddingtons yeast play a central role in modern hazy IPAs through London III (and other modern yeast products from the same origins), and after all, the UK is the home to the original poor shelf life, drink fresh beer through our wonderful cask heritage.