Tuesday 10 January 2012

Alpine Duet clone

Wow, my first brew day in 2 months. Since I started homebrewing in November of 2009, this is by far the longest period without brewing that I've gone. Happy to be back at it, so I thought I'd go with a clone recipe of a fantastic beer, of one of my favorite styles...

A few months ago, in September, I was lucky enough to get away to San Diego for a 4-day beer trip. I'd been once before, but that was years ago, and long before I was into beer. It was a great trip; I was introduced to lots of great beer bars, and breweries whose beers aren't available anywhere near where I live.

One of these breweries was the Alpine Beer Co. Located in Alpine, CA, they opened in 2002 and seem to make mostly hoppy beers (like a lot of breweries in CA). I had read a lot of good things before the trip, and wasn't disappointed when I got to try some of their beers. One in particular that stood out for me was Duet, a very high-hop-flavored IPA that wasn't extremely bitter at the same time (only 45 IBUs according to their website; quite low for an IPA in this day-and-age where most brewers are trying to "out-IBU" the other). I had it on tap at Toronado in San Diego, and actually got to take a bottle back home, which I drank several days later. Pale gold, with a very strong citrus/pine aroma and flavor, it's my idea of a perfect IPA, finishing dry and bitter, but NOT knocking you back with too MUCH bitterness. I like bitter IPAs as much as the next hop addict, but sometimes its nice to see a beer that concentrates even more on hop FLAVOR as opposed to flavor and bitterness.

I knew when I left San Diego that my chances of getting Duet again were slim, so I decided to try emailing the brewery to see if they'd help me with a clone recipe. I was answered almost immediately by the owner/brewer, Pat McIlhenney:

"Thank you for your interest in Alpine Beer Company. All the way across the continent? Alpine Lager doesn’t do it for you? No clones, but I’ll tell you it’s a simple recipe with some dextrin malt, white wheat, amber malt acidulated and some fructose to lighten the body. Equal amounts of Simcoe and Amarillo hops “in harmony.” Good luck!"

This is more information than I've had from some other brewers in the past, so I put together a pretty simple recipe based on Pat's info. Using Canadian 2-row as the base malt, I added some white wheat malt, Victory malt (subbing in for the Amber), a bit of Carapils, and some Acid malt. I hadn't used Acid malt before, but decided to go on the light side, just in case. Acid malt is a light-colored malt that has been subjected to a lactic-acid fermentation after kilning, so that lactic acid resides in the malt and can therefore be used to lower mash pH. Apparently, for every 1% of the grist, the mash pH will be lowered by 0.1. Fredericton's city water leads to a more basic mash pH as it is (about 5.8, as opposed to the desired ~5.4), so I went with about 2% Acid malt as a first try. I went with a relatively low mash temperature (150 F), to try to emulate the apparent high-attentuation and dry finish that Duet has.

As for the hops, I used only 1/2 oz of Magnum as the bittering addition... to only 13.7 IBU. The rest of the IBUs would be obtained through equal amounts of both Simcoe and Amarillo at 10 and 5 minutes, as the flavor additions, followed by these two hops again at flameout, and for a week of dry-hopping. I know I could have easily went with even more Simcoe and Amarillo, especially in the dry-hopping, but with their low availability recently, I thought a total of 5 oz of each would have to suffice.

After my long hiatus of brewing, I didn't have any liquid yeast on hand. Duet seemed to really be all about the hops, with a neutral yeast character from what I could tell. Normally, I would have used the Wyeast 1056 American Ale, but with low availability of yeast in Fredericton, and the fact that I didn't have time to make a starter, I went with a package of US-05 Safale dry yeast that I had on hand. I haven't used dry yeast since my first brew, but I've heard good things about this yeast, and since I wasn't looking for any major yeast character, I figured it would do.

This brew session also marks the first time that I've performed a mash-out. I've never been concerned about doing this in the past, but lately I've been wondering about how long conversion continues after I've vorlaufed and drained to the boil kettle. While I'm sparging, vorlaufing, and draining again, the first runnings are sitting in the kettle, NOT being heated up to halt enzyme activity, which may be contributing to a lighter body and higher fermentability. This really isn't an issue with this IPA, but I thought I'd try it for once and see what type of temperature results I had.

Recipe (5.5 gallons, 75% efficiency): OG 1.065, FG 1.011, IBU 45, SRM 6.7

Grains & Other:
4.36 kg Canadian 2-row
454 g Victory malt
454 g Wheat malt
227 g Carapils
113 g Acid malt
227 g Table sugar (to be added when fermentation slows)

Magnum - 14 g (9% AA) @ 60 min
Simcoe - 28 g (12.2% AA) @ 10 min
Amarillo - 28 g (6% AA) @ 10 min
Simcoe - 28 g @ 5 min
Amarillo - 28 g @ 5 min
Simcoe - 42 g @ 0 min
Amarillo - 42 g @ 0 min
Simcoe - 42 g dry-hop for 1 week
Amarillo - 42 g dry-hop for 1 week

1/2 tsp yeast nutrient @ 15 min
1/2 tab Irish Moss @ 5 min

Yeast: US-05 Safale, rehydrated

- Brewed Jan 10, 2012, by myself. 60 minute mash with 15.44 L of strike water, mashed in at 150 F. Added 9.35 L of water at ~201.5 F for 10 minute mash-out, resulting temp a little low at 163.5 F (target 168 F). Sparged with ~2.5 gallons of 170 F water for final volume of 6.75 gallons in the kettle. 60 minute boil.

- Chilled down to 68 F with immersion chiller. OG came in a touch high at 1.066 (assuming 4 points for future sugar addition). Poured and filtered (most of it) into Better Bottle, final volume on target. Pitched yeast at 64 F, aerating by shaking for several minutes before and after. Left in room with temp set at 64 F.

11/1/12 - Bubbling almost every second by the evening, temp 64 F. By the next morning, activity was even higher, temp had crept up a bit to 66 F. Later that evening, I added the table sugar (boiled in ~1 cup water) to the fermenter.

12/1/12 - 16/1 - Fermentation was very active by the second day after pitching, with temps getting as high as 68 F. Gradually began to slow down, with temp dropping with activity, as low as 62 F by today.

25/1/12 - Dry-hopped in the primary fermenter as indicated in the recipe.

4/2/12 - FG 1.012. Bottled with 118 g table sugar, aiming for 2.5 vol CO2 for 5 gallons with a max temp of 68 F reached. Bottled 45 x 12 oz (due to the high amount of hop sludge left over in the fermenter, I lost several litres of beer).

23/2/12 - First tasting... pretty good, but probably falls slightly short of the intense goodness that is the real Duet.

15/4/12 - Just found out this beer won a bronze medal in the IPA category in the ALES Open, qualifying it for the final round at the NHC!