Thursday, 1 May 2014

Brewing a Societe Brewing The Pupil clone

I've gone on (maybe ad nauseam) before about a couple of trips I've taken to San Diego over the past few years, and how fantastic the beer scene is there... of course, this is well known by any beer geek worth his/her salt, but you need SOME sort of opening to a blog post, right? You don't just want me to post a recipe, do you? Ok, maybe you do, but I can write what I want, dammit!

Now, if that didn't grab you, I don't know what will! But seriously, I've brewed several clone recipes of beers from breweries in California, some of which have turned out really great (namely Isles of Fortune, a Modern Times Fortunate Island clone, and two attempts (here and here) of Alpine Beer Company's Duet), and in a lot of cases I've been lucky enough to try the actual commercial beers. But, ever since my most recent trip to SD last September, there's been one beer that I've been more anxious to try to clone than any other... that beer is The Pupil - an American IPA from Societe Brewing Company, a fairly new brewery in San Diego.

Photo credit: Societe Brewing Company
A bit of info on Societe Brewing - the owners/brewers are Travis Smith and Douglas Constantiner, two guys that seem to be extremely passionate about beer, and have a pretty successful resume between the two of them, working/interning at highly-respected breweries such as Russian River, Pizza Port, and The Bruery. I won't regurgitate their story, but I recommend you read about the both of them here. The beers they brew mostly seem to be hoppy beers and Belgian ales; Societe has only been open for close to two years, but when I visited SD in September they already had a really good reputation, as I had heard about them online and knew to seek out whatever beers of theirs I could find.

Luckily, several of the beer bars I visited had Societe beers on tap (unfortunately, a planned trip to their tasting room didn't work out for me... still one of my major disappointments on that trip). I had three: The Apprentice, a really tasty American IPA; The Scrapper, a "San Diego Dark Ale" that you could probably consider as a hoppy American Brown, or maybe a Black IPA; and my favorite of three already-excellent beers, The Pupil. In an area with a seemingly-endless supply of fantastic hoppy beers, The Pupil was hands-down one of the best hoppy beers I had on this trip. Maybe even THE best. Intensely fruity in a tropical way, not overly-bitter, and extremely easy-drinking, this met the definition of a perfect IPA, in my opinion.

Photo credit: Societe Brewing Company
When I arrived home, it wasn't long before I was emailing Societe to ask them for help with a homebrew recipe for this beer. I didn't take my usual approach, where I try to do some research on my own to build up my own idea of a clone attempt, and then ask the brewer(s) for suggestions... no, I blatantly contacted them and told them how much I loved their beers, and asked if they'd help me out with a recipe for The Pupil in particular. Shameful!

Luckily for me, the people at Societe seem to be as nice as their beer is tasty... Douglas Constantiner responded very quickly, with a very-detailed recipe. Here was his full response:

Hey Shawn,

Thanks for the kind words.  Please see below for some notes and tips for The Pupil...

O.G.: 1.062
F.G.: 1.006
20% Malted Wheat
75% North American 2-Row
5% Carapils
Single infusion mash - 150degF (or whatever will get you about 90% attenuation or finish at 1.006).
I'm not sure about your water source but i suggest using CaSO4 and CaCl to your desired levels.
90 minute boil.
Bitter to about 30 BUs (Rager calculation will get you close to what ours is) with first addition - Magnum or other high AA hop or extract.
Bitter 20 BUs at the 20 minute mark - Citra and Nelson at a 1:2 ratio.
Go crazy at flameout with Centennial:Citra:Nelson at a ratio of approx. 1:2:4 - try to get 10-15 BUs from this phase. We whirlpool in our kettle so the hops are in contact with the wort for about another 40 minutes once we kill the steam.
Chill and ferment at 65degF with California Ale (White Labs 001 or Wyeast 1056).
When fermentation is complete, crash beer to 60 to drop yeast out of suspension and rack to a new vessel.
Dry hop #1 Centennial, Citra, and Nelson with the focus on nelson with about 3-5 days contact time.
Transfer beer again to get it off the dry hops and repeat the same process. Hold the beer at 65degF throughout the dry hopping phase.
Carbonate to 2.5 vol. of CO2.
I think that should cover it!  If you're not happy with 2 dry hops, do a 3rd.

Let me know if you have any questions.

What do you think... detailed enough? I would have been more than happy to put some work into this beer on my own, but hey, I'll gladly give this recipe that came straight from the brewer a try, first!

For the grist, I pretty much followed Doug's recipe, with two minor changes. First, I aimed for an OG of 1.066... I know my system, and have a good amount of experience with California Ale/US-05 yeast, and I've never had a beer drop as low as 1.006, even with very low mash temps. So, I bumped up everything to 1.066, and mashed a bit lower at 148 F to get a very fermentable wort. I also took away a bit of the 2-row and replaced it with a small percentage of Acid malt to bring my mash pH into a more desirable range (~5.5).

Lots of hop sludge...
The first couple of hop additions were easy. I used hop extract at 60 minutes to get to 30 IBUs as directed, and then enough Citra and Nelson at 20 minutes to 20 IBUs. For the flameout addition, I went with the ratios that Doug suggested, except I divided the total addition into two - half at flameout for a 15-minute steep (I didn't think 40 minutes was necessary for my small system, and I was actually brewing with limited time anyway), then I turned on the chiller and added the other half when the wort temp was just below 180 F (above which hop isomerization occurs). On further thought, I actually wish I added MORE flameout hops; if I brewed it again, I would probably increase the total amount by 25-33%. I plan on doing two dry-hop additions as indicated below; I'll rack the beer into a keg when fermentation is complete, and keg-hop twice.

*Side-note: I love the smell of Citra and Nelson in the morning. Seriously, it's been a while since I've brewed with these hops, and I had forgotten how fantastic they are; they're definitely my two favorite hop varieties right now.

The rest of the recipe is pretty straight-forward... fermented with a neutral American yeast (US-05 in this case), in the mid-60s F if possible. Hopefully two dry-hop additions will do the trick; I've had success with this approach in the past. As long as fermentation takes off and stays strong, I don't think there will be any issue getting the beer down to a FG of 1.010... this is important with any good American IPA, but is especially essential for this beer, since The Pupil finishes nice and dry, and really allows the hops to shine. As you can probably tell from the grist, this is a light-colored IPA that doesn't involve a lot of Crystal malts... a result of the brewers' time at Russian River and Pizza Port perhaps?

I'll be sure to post tasting notes on this beer as soon as it's ready. Thanks again to everyone at Societe Brewing; from the initial email from Doug, to chatting with Mike about using some of their photos in the post, they've all been extremely friendly and helpful. I'll absolutely be dropping by their brewery and tasting room on my next trip to San Diego, and strongly encourage anyone else visiting the area to do the same!

UPDATE: After publishing this post, Doug got back to me and made a small suggestion... he feels that a final gravity of 1.006 or close is very important, so if you think you can't get down that low (as I did), replace some of the 2-row with table sugar. I had considered that, but eventually decided to leave it out. If you're brewing this recipe, however, I encourage you to follow his advice.

Recipe targets: (6 gallons, 72% efficiency) OG 1.066, FG ~1.010, IBU ~60, SRM 4.7, ABV ~7.3%

5 kg (73.3%) Canadian 2-row
1.36 kg (19.9%) Wheat malt
340 g (5%) Carapils
125 g (1.8%) Acid malt

Hop extract - 5 mL @ 60 min (or 28 g of a 10% AA hop)
Citra - 10 g (12.7% AA) @ 20 min
Nelson Sauvin - 20 g (12% AA) @ 20 min

Centennial - 14 g (10.9% AA) @ 0 min
Citra - 28 g @ 0 min                                             *Half flame-out hops have a 15-minute steep; the other half
Nelson Sauvin - 56 g @ 0 min                                added after chilling starts, when wort temp below 180 F

Centennial - 14 g dry-hop for 3 days
Citra - 14 g dry-hop for 3 days
Nelson Sauvin - 28 g dry-hop for 3 days
Centennial - 14 g dry-hop for 3 more days
Citra - 14 g dry-hop for 3 more days
Nelson Sauvin - 28 g dry-hop for 3 more days

Misc.: 1/2 tab Irish moss @ 5 min

Yeast: US-05 Safale, ~1 & 1/4 packs, rehydrated

Water: Fredericton city water, carbon-filtered; 7 g Gypsum and 4 g calcium chloride added to the mash

- Brewed on April 29th, 2014, by myself. 60-minute mash with 20.5 L of strike water, mashed in at 149 F, slightly above target temp of 148 F. Sparged with ~4.75 gallons of 168 F water for final volume of ~7.25 gallons.

- SG a bit low at 1.053 (target 1.055). 60-minute boil (my fault; I had misread the email which clearly indicates a 90-minute boil). Added last hops at flameout and let them steep for 15 minutes. Turned on chiller; temp of wort was below 180 F within a few minutes, added second half of flameout hops. Final volume ~6 gallons. Chilled down to 64 F, then poured/filtered into Better Bottle. OG on target at 1.066. Aerated with 90 seconds of pure O2, pitched rehydrated yeast. Placed BB in room with ambient temp at 68 F.

- Vigorous fermentation over a 4-5 day period. After 10 days or so, FG measured at 1.011.

- 8/5/14 - Racked beer to CO2-purged keg, added dry hops in a mesh bag. Each addition for 3 days, then removed hops and hooked up to CO2 to carbonate.

- 16/6/14 - Tasting notes posted. This beer came out delicious, full of tropical fruit and citrus... the only change I'd make is to follow Doug Constantiner's later recommendation of adding table sugar to dry the beer out more.


  1. The most interesting thing about this to me is that they're getting 90% attenuation with American Ale yeast... how? Crazy pitch rate? Maybe it's been too long since I've really used Cal Ale, I've been on a Conan kick for the last two years. Looks like an awesome recipe though.

    1. Yeah, I know... and they're not the only ones. The OG and ABV listed for a lot of Maine Beer Co beers would mean attenuation in the 90s as well. And without sugar, either! I would think high pitch rates as well, but then you'd have some arguing about that, because how could they get such hoppy beers with that much yeast? I'm still unsure where I stand on that issue.

      Anyway, I digress...

    2. The most obvious answer to me is the use of enzymes like Ultra-Ferm. The use of that enzyme will get you way down easily, even below 1.006.

  2. I also enjoyed Pupil ! Thinking about brewing this one up - get a chance to taste it yet? any thoughts?

    1. Just kegged it recently, and it's tasting really nice. I'm a little behind on tasting notes, but I promise to have them up soon!

  3. How'd this one turn out?

    1. Ok, I really need to get on this. I have the tasting notes typed up, just have to finish the post!

  4. I made this a few weeks ago and just kegged it is ridiculously good, even without carbonation. Easily a top 5 beer that I've brewed. I replaced some of the 2-row with corn sugar (1 pound), and mashed at around 148F, which got me down to 1.008. The Nelson obviously dominates the aroma and flavor, but I think the Citra + Centennial adds a nice complimentary note, bringing out more of the fruity, tropical side. Bitterness is just about perfect for this recipe. Per your suggestion, I upped the hop-stand additions to 20/40/80 grams, split in half and added at 2 different points. I also increased the 1st DH to 21/21/42 grams - the aroma was so strong, it almost didn't need the second dry hop addition. However, having tasted it now with the 2nd DH, there's definitely a "fuller" aroma, for lack of a better term. I don't often comment on any of the homebrewing blogs I read, but felt it was necessary to thank you for introducing this recipe to me (and to compliment you in general on a fine blog). Now I have to order more Nelson to brew this up again later in the summer (I brewed your recipe for the 'Murica clone last weekend, which will just about wipe out my current stock of NS after the dry hop).

    1. Thanks, Alex, that's very kind of you to say!

      Glad your attempt at the recipe came out great; I've been a bit busy lately and have been trying to catch up on posts, but I plan on posting my tasting notes on this beer soon (as you can tell from the comments above). I DO agree with pretty much everything you said, though, so it sounds like we had similar results!

  5. Hey! Did you happen to use white wheat malt?

  6. Very interesting. This is on my short-list. How much sucrose and how large reduction in 2-row would you recommend? Would you add the sucrose in the fermentor after 2 days or in the primary boil?

    1. I think I'd start with 1/2 lb of sugar, and maybe go from there for future batches. Not sure off the top of my head how much of a reduction in 2-row that would require, but any brewing software should be able to tell you that... maybe do the recipe as is, then add the sugar in the recipe, and then take away 2-row until you hit the target OG.

  7. Finally brewed this beer. It's amazing! I've got beer geek friends saying that it tastes like a Hill Farmstead beer, and they're super picky. Thanks for sharing this recipe!!

    1. Wow, that's quite the compliment... nice work!

      Thanks for the feedback, always happy to hear how other people's beers turn out...

    2. Also, followed your advice and added corn sugar to drop the FG to 1.005. It really makes a HUGE difference. Best beer I've brewed so far. Cheers!

  8. Might I suggest no cara-pils? and go 80/20 pale/wheat? might dry it out more, and still have that wheaty backbone?

  9. Old thread I know. You can get attenuation like they do with by fermenting at 66 for the first 3-5 days and then raising to 70-72. All the off flavors are created during the first few days so raising won't throw any esters. I've gotten 1.064 OG down to 1.007 no problem.

  10. Brewed this for July 4th celebration. Subbed a pound of sugar, dried it right out. Thanks for the recipe. Awesome brew!

    1. Awesome, glad it worked out for you! This reminds me I should really rebrew this beer soon...

  11. Outstanding recipe! Won the IPA class as a double IPA at this year's state fair.

  12. I know this is a old thread, but I had a couple questions. Why wouldn't they do the first dry hop at 65 degrees and then the 2nd at 60? What are the benefits of crashing to 60 and then bringing it back up?