Wednesday, 2 March 2016

American Pale Ale with Azacca and Galaxy, fermented with London Ale III

In 2014, I brewed the widely-available clone recipe of Russian River's Row 2, Hill 56, a Simcoe single-hopped American Pale Ale. I had been looking to brew something for my older brother's wedding, and I had heard good things about this beer. Simcoe is a great hop, and despite being used in relatively-small amounts in this recipe (only 4 oz for a batch; compared to a lot of hoppy recipes nowadays - my own included - that's really not that much!), the beer had a great aroma and flavour, and was enjoyed by non-beer-drinkers and beer geeks alike.

Since then, I've always meant to brew that recipe again, except change up the hop(s) used. I know other homebrewers have used that recipe to feature other varieties, continuing the trend of single-hopped beers. But for me, I more just wanted to stick with the grist and go from there. I don't know why the grist seems to work so well, but it does. The combination of Pilsner malt and Maris Otter (instead of just using 2-row, which is pretty common in APAs) works really well at providing enough of a slightly-bready malt character to the beer, topped off with a little bit of light Crystal (~20 L) and Carapils. As usual for my system, Acid malt is also added to bring the mash pH down to the 5.4 region; I've been doing this consistently now, and I've been quite happy with the effect it's having (I fully acknowledge that a blind-tasting has not been done to confirm this!).

So, with the grist already decided, I had a hell of a bunch of hops to pick from. I've made several hop orders since late fall, and along with quite a bit left from last year's crop, there were all sorts of options. I wanted this beer to be REALLY juicy; ever since I was lucky enough to have tried Scaled Up, a DIPA from Trillium Brewing, a month or so ago (have you tried this beer? It's amazing!), I've been craving hops even more than usual. Damn these delicious beers for spoiling me! Luckily, many of the hop varieties I have in my freezer should be more than satisfactory, so, what to pick?

Ultimately, I settled on two varieties, to keep things relatively simple. And I picked two that are becoming two of my favourites as I use them more and more - Azacca and Galaxy. I really don't think you can go wrong with either one, and as I was giving it some thought, I realized that I hadn't actually used them together before. Travesty! But what better beer to showcase how these two blend than a fairly simple APA? And how could these not work together, right? They've definitely got to be two of the more-tropical, fruity, citrusy varieties out there, in a world with one heck of a lot of fruity hop types.

I didn't follow the hopping schedule for R2H56; I went with what I almost always use now for hoppy recipes that I develop on my own: a small bittering charge at 60 minutes (to only 10-15 IBUs; in fact, I'm starting to drop this altogether in some beers), an ounce at 10 minutes, then large WP and post-chilling additions, along with a dry-hop of 3 oz total. I've had good results with this method, and don't usually stray too far. The ratio is skewed slightly towards Galaxy (5.5 oz vs. 3.5 oz of Azacca), but only because I had more Galaxy on hand.

For fermentation, I went once again with London Ale III. I've brewed several different variations on the IPA style with this strain now, and you can count me as yet another believer... it is truly great with hoppy beers. It doesn't attenuate as highly as US-05, usually finishing for me to 1.013-1.014, giving the beer a nice, creamy mouthfeel without tasting under-attenuated. I find the beers I brew with this strain come out very hazy/cloudy in true Hill Farmstead/Trillium fashion, but that's ok with me! I know not everyone is thrilled by a hazy beer, but many of the best hoppy beers I've had have been cloudy, so I kind of expect that, now.

The brew day for this beer was uneventful, everything going smoothly. Fermentation was going strong by the next day - normal for my experience with London Ale III - and after 10 days or so I dry-hopped the beer in primary for about a week, then transferred to a keg and started carbing. I was really looking forward to this beer.

And what a tasty beer this is! I have to say, if Azacca and Galaxy were easier to get, this would be my new house APA. I've made very few beers juicier than this - big blast of tropical fruit and citrus, with maybe just a touch of pine in there. Lately, as the keg is getting down, the beer looks and tastes a lot like OJ, and of course I mean that in a good way. Creamy, smooth body, but it still finishes quite dry with a moderate bitterness. It's definitely been one of the best-received of my homebrews; it's rating on Untappd is the highest of any I've brewed, tied with my Equinox Session IPA.

Ok, so it's no big deal that I've confirmed what we all would have guessed: Azacca and Galaxy work great together, especially when fermented with London Ale III. But hey, I'm still glad I took the time to try it!

Recipe Targets: (5.5 gallons, 75% efficiency) OG 1.056, FG ~1.013, IBU ~45, SRM 5.2, ABV ~5.6%

2.9 kg (57.7%) Bohemian Pilsner
1.65 kg (32.8%) Maris Otter
200 g (4%) CaraRed (20 L)
150 g (3%) CaraPils
125 g (2.5%) Acid malt

Polaris - 5 g (19.8% AA) @ 60 min

Galaxy - 28 g (12% AA) @ 10 min

Galaxy - 56 g @ 0 min (with a 15 min hop steep)
Azacca - 28 g @ 0 min (with a 15 min hop steep)

Galaxy - 28 g @ 0 min (when begin chilling)
Azacca - 28 g @ 0 min (when begin chilling)

Galaxy - 42 g dry-hop for 5 days (in primary)
Azacca - 42 g dry-hop for 5 days (in primary)

Misc: 1/2 tab Irish Moss at 5 min

Yeast: Wyeast 1318 London Ale III (with a starter, ~200 billion cells)

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

- Brewed on January 13th, 2016, by myself. 50-minute mash with 15 L of strike water; mash temp on target of 151 F. Mashed-out for 10 minutes with 7.5 L of boiling water to 166 F. Sparged with ~3.25 gallons of 168 F water for final volume of ~6.75 gallons.

- Pre-boil gravity 1.044. 60-minute boil. Final volume ~5.75 gallons; OG 1.055. Chilled to 62 F, then poured into Better Bottle. Aerated with 60 seconds of pure O2, pitched yeast slurry at 64 F.

- Active fermentation by the next day, continued for 2-3 before settling down. Dry-hopped in primary on January 25th; FG 1.013. Kegged on February 1st.

Appearance: Pours with a moderate-sized, white creamy head (not normally as large as in that picture) that fades to about 1/2-finger and sticks around. Body is a light-orange colour, and very hazy/cloudy.

Aroma: Big punch of orange juice, along with a tropical fruit character that I unfortunately can't pick apart to actually name which fruit(s). Very little malt character.

Taste: A little more malt presence here - lightly bready, maybe a touch of wheat character? - but still mostly juicy, fruity hops. Bitterness in the finish comes across as medium-light, to me.

Mouthfeel: Medium-light bodied, very creamy, moderate carbonation. Smooth.

Overall: A great beer, made great by great hops. Will brew again, and don't think I'd change anything... at least not to a large degree.


  1. This looks/sounds delicious. Reminds me of the beers I see from Tired Hands Brewing outside Philadelphia and Other Half in NYC. I'm a new brewer, still doing extract kits, though I'm looking to go all grain within a year. Any idea how to fake a similar recipe using malt extract?

    1. Hmm, my experience with extract beers is definitely out of date, but it probably wouldn't hurt to just sub in the lightest DME you can for both the Pilsner and MO, then steep the specialty grains. You wouldn't need the Acid malt since you're not mashing. I don't think it would give you quite the same beer, but with the huge hop presence it may not matter TOO much.

      Try to do a full boil, if you can! Partial boils cut back on hop utilization. Good luck!

    2. Thanks Shawn. Sorry for the amateur question. I think its time to put on my big boy pants and graduate from extract brewing. Thanks for the advice!

    3. Don't be crazy, no apology needed! Once you make the move you'll be glad you did, but I completely understand that it can be a daunting step to make.

  2. Great recipe,
    How did you manage to get those IBU's from the 60 and 10 minute additions?
    I had to double the 10 minute to get anywhere near.

    1. You have to consider that whirlpool/hop steep additions still result in some IBUs, because the wort is still above 180 F, the approximate temperature in which isomerization occurs.

      Beer Smith 2 accounts for this, but I find whatever formula they use to be on the "heavy" side for flameout IBUs. I usually half what BS2 says, gets me to where I feel it is (but how can you really tell for sure without having them actually measured, right?).

      So for this recipe, there are actually about 16 IBUs from the 15 minute steep of 2 oz Galaxy, 1 oz Azacca.

      Hope that makes sense!

    2. Yeah, makes sense.
      I do run BS2
      Must of been an input error.

  3. I just brewed a black rye IPA with only Azacca (4 oz whirlpool, 4 oz. dry hop) and the hop character is fairly muted. Have you ever brewed with Azacca alone? Did you by chance experience low to moderate hop character? Thanks.

    1. Yes, I brewed a Grisette with all-Azacca a while back... unfortunately, most of it leaked out of the keg into my keezer, but the few pints I had beforehand were actually very tasty, and quite hoppy. Never have used it in a darker beer, though. Were your hops fresh, stored properly, etc.?

    2. I purchased a pound of pelletized hops from Farmhouse Brewing Supply. A year prior they smelled like wet socks so I dumped them. This year with a new harvest they smelled fresh. Shipped in a vacuum sealed package with vacuum seal intact. I think it may have to do with stronger rye character accentuated by 1056. I changed the way I define the beer: it's now known as a rye beer as opposed to an IPA.

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  5. brewed this past Friday, and really psyched about it. You may have talked about this already, but my fermentation started by the time I woke up, but slowed a lot (has gone from bubbling every 3 seconds to now every 12) - did you experience any of this? The day I brewed was warm and then has dropped quite a bit so I did put the brewbelt on the primary bucket to help aid.


    1. I think you've done the right thing, and it's likely fine. I get paranoid, too, when I see a sudden slow in fermentation after a temperature drop. But it's not a big beer, so if fermentation was quite active for a good 24 hours or so, the bulk of the fermentation may be complete.

      Take a gravity reading in another few days and go from there. Good luck!

  6. Is the Bohemian Pilsner you're using in this and other recipes floor malted? I've been told the floor malted stuff needs A protein rest. Your thoughts?

    I've brewed an APA with Azacca and Mosaic a couple of times, and they've been a nice combo.

    1. I believe it is floor-malted, yes. I have never done a protein rest; while I've read rumours saying that the pilsner malt I use (from Weyermann) is slightly under-modified, most, if not all, opinions are on the side that it's still modified enough that a protein rest is not necessary.

      Although, I'll be first to admit that I'm no expert!