Friday 16 December 2016

Chinook Session IPA

I've been trying to make it an "unofficial" target of mine to brew one of these one-hop Session IPAs at least a few times a year, and oddly enough, I've been doing really well at accomplishing that. My first one, featuring Mosaic, was brewed about three years ago. The one I'm writing about today was my seventh. Most of these beers turned out quite well, especially the Equinox Session IPA, which I re-brewed with barely any changes.

This Chinook Session IPA is the first time I've brewed one of these beers and featured a hop that has actually been around for a while. It began to be used in brewing back in the mid-1980s, and is truly one of the first 'C' hops. A high-alpha acid variety, Chinook's usual descriptors include citrus, spicy, and pine, with grapefruit being another one that pops up. I've used it in other beers - and quite enjoyed it - but have never brewed with it all on its own. I'm a big fan of grapefruit characteristics in beer, so I wanted to see if it really gave off THAT much grapefruit. Plus, I had quite a bit of it on hand, so that worked too!

Is this beginning to seem like one of those unplanned beers? I wouldn't go that far, but I definitely didn't have this one sitting on the back burner for months. I have a large list of single-hop Session IPAs I'd like to brew, so finally tackling the Chinook option seemed like a good idea. I always like to have at least one sub-5% ABV beer on tap, and Session IPAs are pretty much delicious any time of the year.

Once again, I stuck with the Russian River Row 2, Hill 56 clone grist, where the bulk is Pilsner malt and Maris Otter, and a little light Crystal, Carapils, and Acid malt thrown in. My hopping schedule stayed the same as well - a bit of Polaris at the beginning of the boil to about 15 IBUs or so, then an ounce of Chinook at 10 min, 2 oz for a 15-minute steep, and a 3-oz dry hop. For fairly-punchy-or-higher hop varieties, this approach has worked well for me in the past.

For fermentation, I would have loved to have used London Ale III again, but unfortunately my stir plate crapped out on me when I would have made a starter. Sure, I could have gone back to the old "intermittent shaking" approach, but it's really tough to revert to a method that a) requires twice the amount of starter volume, and b) actually involves effort, compared to using a stir plate. The hell with that! So, I used a package of rehydrated US-05.

This is probably my shortest post ever, but there really isn't much else to say! I've gone over this recipe many times. The brew day and resulting fermentation went fine, the bulk of active fermentation was complete after a few days, and the dry hops were added into primary a week after brewday. Another five days later, I kegged the beer and started carbing.

As I had hoped, this is another easy-drinking, hop-forward beer that - while not being exactly ground-breaking - hits all the right notes for a Session IPA. Hopping with all Chinook has given the beer a very-balanced mix of citrus fruit and pine in both the aroma and flavour, but I don't really get a lot of the grapefruit I was expecting. There's definitely more clarity in this brew compared to the previous Session IPAs where I used London Ale III, which just confirms that using that yeast can often be enough to get a cloudy beer (if that's what you're looking for).

Tasty! It's proven to be a dependable Session IPA recipe, regardless of which hop(s) you want to feature. In this case, it's extra-enticing when you consider that Chinook is easily 1/2 - 1/3 of the price as many newer varietals.

Recipe Targets: (5.5 gallons, 75% efficiency) OG 1.048, FG ~1.012, IBU ~45, SRM 4.5, ABV ~4.8%

2.3 kg (57.1%) Bohemian Pilsner
1.35 kg (33.5%) Maris Otter
160 g (4%) CaraRed (20 L)
120 g (3%) Carapils
100 g (2.5%) Acid malt

Polaris - 6 g (17.7% AA) @ 60 min
Chinook - 28 g (13% AA) @ 10 min

Chinook - 56 g @ 0 min (with a 15 min hop steep)

Chinook - 84 g dry-hop for 5 days (in primary)

Misc: 1/2 tab Irish Moss at 5 min

Yeast: US-05, 1 package, rehydrated

Water: Fredericton city water, carbon-filtered; 5 g Gypsum and 8 g calcium chloride added to mash

- Brewed on October 4th, by myself. 50-minute mash with 13 L of strike water; mash temp slightly high at 154 F. Mashed-out for 10 minutes with 5.5 L of boiling water to 165 F. Sparged with ~4 gallons of 168 F water for final volume of ~6.75 gallons.

- Pre-boil gravity at 1.040 (target 1.039). 60-minute boil. Final volume ~5.7 gallons; OG a bit low at 1.047. Chilled to 64 F, then poured into Better Bottle. Aerated with 60 seconds of pure O2, pitched yeast at 65 F.

- 11/10/16 - FG 1.012; dry hops added into primary.

- 16/10/16 - Racked to keg, carbed at 30 PSI for 36 hours, purged and set at 12 PSI.

Appearance: Pours with a moderate-sized, white head - pretty decent retention, fades after a bit to 1/4-finger. Body is a burnished-gold colour, with good clarity (definitely a difference when using US-05 vs London Ale III!).

Aroma: Pleasant aroma that first reminds me of Rockets (the candy); it's slightly sweet right away, but then comes through with a nice mix of citrus fruit and pine. Maybe a touch of grapefruit.

Taste: Very nicely-balanced between the citrus and pine, with a just-lightly-sweet supporting malt backbone.

Mouthfeel: Medium-light bodied, medium carbonation.

Overall: May not be up there with the very best Session IPAs I've brewed, but it's still very enjoyable. Great balance of pine and fruit, and proves that Chinook is a fantastic hop variety... especially considering it's price.