Blending hops in an Am. IPA

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denny's picture
Blending hops in an Am. IPA

OK, brewers, I could use your help....I'm writing a section of the book about experimenting with Am. IPA. I'm interested in blends of the newer "tropical fruit" hops with some of the more traditional varieties like Cascade, Centennial, Chinook, Amarillo, Simcoe, Columbus. And what kind of grist you use to tie it all together. Please let me hear your thoughts and what you've done. The best ideas and recipes will get printed in the book and you'll get the credit for them. Ideas, please!

A friend of mine (Mindblock

A friend of mine (Mindblock from Brews-Bros board) have been fine tuning just such a IIPA over the past year or so which uses CTZ, Centennial, Amarillo, Belma, and Citra.

Let me first mention our impression of a few of these new hops. We did some single hop pale ales to test these out.

Belma - Great bittering quality without being as aggressive as something like Chinook. Definitely get the strawberry aroma/flavor, but strawberry is so subtle it gets lost when combined with anything else. It just doesn't have enough "pop" to stand alone or be the featured aroma hop.

Delta - yes, it's not mentioned above and for good reason....we really didn't like it. It does have some grapefruit quality, but we got some lemon notes we just didn't care for. I've never read great things about this hop in the forums.

Falconer's Flight - also not mentioned above. I actually like this hop, but we didn't think it would work in our IIPA. I get a lot of onion from it kind of like Summit. We're looking for something much more fruity/citrus.

Citra - tons of mango, green melon rind, watermelon, citrus, and grapefruit. Absolutely LOVE this hop. The first time I tried Citra I recall stating "this hop will mark the end for several commercial IPA's as well as other hops.". What I mean by that is it's such a fantastic hop why would I want to drink other hoppy brews that don't have it? Cascade seems pedestrian and boring next to Citra.

******* OUR IIPA *******
We decided Pliney is already so great and so popular that we'd use Vinny's recipe as our base. We pretty much follow his grain bill exactly, but we do have a "secret weapon" we use in place of corn sugar. Keep reading....

MASH - we've been mashing at 152 degrees but talking about lowering that to see if we can get a little crisper beer. We'll probably give it a go the next time we brew it.

WATER - We adjust well water to reach 300ppm Sulfate.

HOPS - We FWH with Belma and CTZ. Why? First, we think these 2 hops give us very solid, clean, crisp bittering qualities without getting as "rough" as something like Chinook. We think FWH also preserves a bit of the aroma/flavor of these 2 hops. More Belma and CTZ at 45 minutes. Centennial gets in the pool at 30. Flameout we hammer it with Centennial, Citra, and Amarillo - but there's a little trick to this. We chill to 180 degrees and then add the flameout hops and whirlpool for about 20 minutes.

NOTE: - Next we're going to try half the flameout hops in this 180 degree whirlpool, and half into the fermenter after the first 48 hours of ferment (as suggested in one of the reccent HOPS or IPA books that came out in the last year...I forget which one right now)

Dry Hop - More Amarillo, Centennial, and Citra. We dry hop at room temp for 5 days and then hit it with a 2nd dose of these same hops.

"Secret Weapon" - instead of boring old corn sugar we use..... ORANGE BLOSSOM HONEY! Think about it...Amarillo, Citra, Centennial...what's gonna go well with that? We've been considering very light additions of orange peel and possibly coriander too. Just enough for complexity without being able to detect them. Other honeys may work well in our IPA or in a differently hopped IPA. Lots of room for experimentation here.

Final product - We think the beer is fantastic and have never heard anything but good feedback. Amarillo, Centennial, and Citra work fantastically well together and the orange blossom honey seems to bring it all into unison. Huge mango balanced by grapefruit and mild orange notes. Belma and CTZ give strong bittering and mild resin. Maybe the strawberry from the Belma is working here too but I can't say I've ever noted it directly.

denny's picture
Thanks for your thoughts and

Thanks for your thoughts and insights! Unlike you, I tend to avoid any beer that has Citra in it. Since it's become so popular, I hope people come up with ways to use it that I can appreciate.

Life begins at 60....1.060, that is!

Curious....why do you avoid

Curious....why do you avoid it? I've certainly mentioned my love for it, but that doesn't mean I totally avoid other hops. Wondering why you hate on the Citra so much??