Friday 29 November 2013

Brewing a Mosaic One-Hop Session IPA

With Christmas fast approaching, and along with it, the pile of things to do (family to visit, gifts to buy, beer to drink), you've got to take any opportunity to brew that you can. And last week, one of those opportunities came up, so I jumped on it. I'm a little worried that this will be my last brew day for 2013 - bringing my numbers for this year to an all-time personal low - but hopefully I can sneak in one more before the New Year.

Anyway, once again I only had some dry yeast on hand (US-05), but that's ok because I was in the mood to brew another American IPA. Now is the time of year where the 2013 hop harvest is starting to trickle in to homebrew shops and other online hop suppliers, and I just recently received a couple of new varieties (to me) from Yakima Valley Hops. I've still got quite a lot of some 2012 varieties that I really should be trying to use up (luckily, they're vacuum-sealed and stored in the freezer, so are still smelling and tasting good), but I wanted to try brewing a hoppy beer with as-fresh-as-possible hops. It didn't take me long to decide which hop to showcase: Mosaic.

This picture says a lot, actually...
A fairly new hop variety (it just became commercially available with last year's harvest), Mosaic is a daughter of the Simcoe hop, crossed with a "Nugget-derived male", according to Stan Hieronymus's book, For the Love of Hops. A high alpha-acid hop, it still provides a lot in terms of flavor and aroma. While Mosaic is often known as a very fruity hop, giving notes of "mango, lemon, [and] citrus", the quality that often makes it stand out is blueberry. Mosaic quickly gained in popularity for both homebrewers and commercial brewers, so it shouldn't be too difficult for anyone in a good-beer area to find a product that features it. I was lucky enough to try a homebrewed version of an American IPA brewed solely with Mosaic (from Derek of Bear-Flavored), and it was excellent - I wouldn't say the blueberry jumped out and slapped me, but I could definitely pick it up. Either way, I really liked what the hop added to that beer, and it's been on my must-buy hop list ever since. When I saw that Yakima Valley Hops had the 2013 crop available, I immediately bought a pound. I decided to brew this IPA with all-Mosaic, since it's my first time using it.

I also decided to take a new stab at the American IPA category, shooting for the unofficial (to the BJCP, at least) "sessionable IPA" category. Session IPAs - basically, lower-ABV IPAs that still pack a good hop punch - are becoming more and more popular these days, with lots of commercial breweries selling their own take on the "style", such as the delicious All-Day IPA from Founders. So, isn't a Session IPA, or India Session Ale, as some are calling it, simply an American Pale Ale, you ask? Well, I'd have to say no, because most of the Session IPAs out there are coming in at <5% ABV (with a lot of them following the true "session beer" term and going even lower, less than 4% ABV), which is still lower than your typical APA. Not to mention that these beers are HOPPIER than APAs, for the most part, but that, too, is blurry now, because a lot of APAs out there now are really hoppy. You could also argue that APAs generally have more of a caramel malt-presence than American IPAs.

But, I digress. So, in a nutshell, I decided to brew a Session IPA featuring Mosaic. I threw together a recipe quickly, because this brew day came up quick and I didn't have a lot of time to put more thought into brewing this style of beer... which is unfortunate, because now that I've looked into it a bit (AFTER brewing the beer), there's some changes I would make. I'll explain what approach I took, and what I would change.

For the grist, I wanted to keep it relatively simple, but still add a couple of specialty malts for a bit of character. Along with a large percentage of 2-row, I added some Crystal 40 L, Wheat malt, and Carapils. All should help add some body to the beer, without making it too sweet. I mashed low, at 149 F, to ensure I had a good amount of fermentable sugars. I added some gypsum to the mash to help decrease the pH a bit, and bump up the calcium and sulfate as well.

Now, the hopping. How DO you hop a Session IPA, anyway? Like your standard American IPA? I wanted it to have an assertive bitterness, but not be overbearing. I aimed for roughly 1.0 on the IBU/OG ratio, which is pretty bitter. I still had quite a few of the CO2 hop extract left from my previous order, so I used 5 mL at 60 minutes to provide some IBUs. I then went with an increasing amount of Mosaic near the end of the boil: 1 oz at 10 minutes, 2 oz at flameout (for a 15-minute steep), and 3 oz for the dry-hop. Nothing too crazy, but Mosaic seems to be (from what I've read from others' experiences) a pretty potent hop, so these numbers seemed reasonable, to me.

So, what I would change...
  1. I don't know what I was thinking, but obviously with a session beer that has an OG in the high 1.030s, you probably want to mash higher than 149 F, to give the beer more body. Whoops. I just went with what I usually do for American IPAs, because I like them to finish dry. I also don't like a lot of Crystal malt in this style of beer; another approach would have been to add more specialty malt than usual, to also bump up the body.
  2. I could probably get away with decreasing the late-addition hops. Apparently, with session IPAs you have to be more cautious of adding too many hops. I read something by Mitch Steele that suggested that you're more likely to get grassy flavors with large hop additions. 
I haven't given up hope yet, though. The grist DOES have some Crystal 40 L, Carapils and Wheat malt to provide some body, and 149 F definitely isn't the lowest mash temp I've seen. Unfortunately, my OG came in several points below target, but we'll see where it finishes at. Here's hoping that the beer doesn't come across as too thin; I plan on carbing a bit lower than usual for an IPA to make up for the likely-lower body.

Recipe targets: (5.5 gallons, 80% efficiency) OG 1.048, FG ~1.010, IBU ~50, SRM 6.2, ABV ~4.9%

Grains & Other:
2.95 kg (72.2%) Canadian 2-row

454 g (11.1%) Munich malt
454 g (11.1%) Wheat malt
227 g (5.6%) Crystal 40 L

Hop extract - 5 mL @ 60 min (equivalent to 28 g 10% AA hop)

Mosaic - 28 g (12.7%) @ 10 min
Mosaic - 56 g (12.7%) @ 0 min (with a 15-minute steep)
Mosaic - 84 g dry-hop for 5 days

Misc.: 1/2 tab Irish moss @ 5 min

Yeast: US-05 Safale, rehydrated

Water: Fredericton city water, carbon-filtered; 6 grams gypsum in the mash

- Brewed on November 18th, 2013, by myself. 60-minute mash with 12.6 L of strike water, mashed in at target temp of 149 F. Sparged with 5.5 gallons of 168 F water for final volume of ~6.75 gallons.

- SG low at 1.035 (target 1.039). 60-minute boil. Final volume ~5.5 gallons. Steeped flameout hops for 15 minutes, then started chilling. Chilled down to 62 F, then poured/filtered into Better Bottle. OG low at 1.044; volume also seems a bit low in BB, maybe only 4.5 gallons or so. Aerated with 45 seconds of pure O2 and pitched one pack of rehydrated yeast. Placed BB in laundry room, ambient temp ~66 F.

- 19/11/13 - In early afternoon, temp 66 F, airlock bubbling q 2 seconds.

- 20/11/13 - In AM, big krausen, temp 68 F, bubbling almost every second.

- 21/11/13 - In AM, temp up to 70 F, but bubbling slowing to q 3 seconds. Moved BB into the water-heater room to keep the temp up to 70 F or so.

- 28/11/13 - Gravity reading of 1.010.

- 3/12/13 - Added dry-hops directly to primary.

- 8/12/13 - Bottled with 95 g table sugar, aiming for 2.3 vol CO2 for 4.5 gallons, with a max temp of 70 F reached.

- 6/1/13 - Posted the tasting notes... definitely should have mashed higher, as the body is too thin, but it still made a great-smelling and tasting beer!

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