Big Red Ale and 2nd runnings experiment (all-grain)

3 oz Hop Coctail

3 oz Hop Coctail

This could potentially be a pretty crazy beer. I’m going really big on the hops: 3 oz of high alpha varieties for a first wort hopping (FWH), and 3 more at the end of the boil. I’m curious about what’s the “upper bound” of first wort hopping while still remaining tasteful. It’s well known that adding a ton of hops at the start of the boil will yield a more bitter beer, but FWH tends to yield a smoother bitterness and a bigger hop taste. Three ounces is pretty heavy for a 5 gallon batch, so we’ll see how it turns out!

  • 13 lb Marris Otter
  • 10 oz Crystal 20
  • 8 oz Victory Malt
  • 8 oz Caramunich
  • 1 lb Flaked Wheat
  • 0.2 oz Chocolate Rye
  • 0.5 lb rice hulls
  • 1 oz each Chinook (12.1%), Columbus (13.9%), Amarillo (9.3%) – FWH
  • 1 oz each Chinook (12.1%), Columbus (13.9%), Amarillo (9.3%) – flameout, whirlpool
  • White Labs Irish Ale yeast

// Grain weight 16.25 lbs. Strike w/ 24.38 qts (1.5 qt/lb) 168F water to mash in at 156F, hold for 65 minutes. Add 7.5 qt boiling water, raised to 165 for 10 minutes.  Collect ~7 gal 1.052 wort. Boil 60 minutes, add whirlpool hops at flameout and stir gently for 20 minutes. Chill to 75F. Brewed 04/07/13 //

I sat down with each one of the hops and gave them good whiff before adding them to the beer. Chinook smells really amazing – very piney, a little fruity and sort of similar to Simcoe in a way. The Amarillo is tropical and great as usual, but the Columbus is pretty out there. Earthy, kinda woody, like a dark leafy maple syrup almost.

I noticed after I collected my wort from sparging that the runnings were still pretty high – around 1.02 or so. I figured, what the hell, and collected some more in a side pot. I had some old hops laying around, so I threw together a little concoction. This may end up 100% horrible, but hey, it was gonna get thrown out anyway!

2nd Runnings concoction

  • 1.25 gal 1.02 wort from red ale
  • 1/2 lb honey
  • 3/8 oz styrian goldings (4.5%aa, 60 min)
  • 3/8 oz styrian goldings (4.5%aa, 30 min)
  • 2 cloves (3 min)
  • 1/4 tsp ginger (3 min)
  • Nottingham dry ale yeast (1 package)

// Bring wort to a boil and add hops and spices. Stir in honey after boil. Wound up with ~0.75 gal total. Cool to 80F, shake well and pitch yeast. 1.070 OG //

UPDATE [Concoction] (4/12):  Gravity reads 1.012. Very alcoholic and sweet. Not much contribution at all from the spices. Very wine-like. Gross color; a weird brown.

UPDATE [Main beer] (4/13): Gravity reads 1.016.  This beer is hoppy, alright. It really sticks it to you up front with a sort of fruity, piney, tangy sensation without being overly bitter and astringent on the tongue. It’s tough to recognize any malt flavors at this point behind all the hops. The nose is interesting; you can really pick out the Columbus of all things. Most of the yeast is still suspended, so I’ll give it a good week to clean up. Color-wise it is more light brown than red. Overall, I think it has potential but really needs time to mature.

THE VERDICT

This probably the most aggressively hopped beer I’ve made to date, and it came out well in the end. Three ounces of hops is definitely a lot to first-wort with, but the beer didn’t really come out bitter at all – really smooth actually. What stands out the most to me is the Columbus hops. They have a really distinct flavor and aroma. It’s got this really earth characteristic that would be great in an American Amber or Porter. I would probably decrease the Columbus to 1/2 oz. The overall quality of this beer tastes great – with a little time, the aggressiveness of the hops settled and the malts shined through more. It’s good, but a little heavy on the caramel sensation. Next time I’ll likely simplify the recipe, ditching the “cara” stuff and use only Marris Otter, some victory, and a dash of chocolate malt to give it color and a tiny bit of flavor. Or, maybe switch to some UK Crystal that has more of a toffee/cookie flavor. It’d also probably be better to steep the dark roasted stuff on the side, then blend it at the end of the boil, adding little by little so you don’t over/undershoot the perfect red color.

The side-concoction of last runnings wasn’t great in the end. I’m sure there’s something interesting that can be done with leftover wort like that (other than make a really mild beer), but maybe I should do some reading next time before jumping into it. It was wort a shot though!

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