Homebrewing a Cryogenic IPA
I’m sure you’ve noticed that we’ve been putting in a lot of research and emphasis on Cryohops lately, and it’s no surprise to find how incredibly useful and efficient they are at adding extra flavors and aromas into your finished beer given what we now know. We decided it was time to really put them to the test, so we developed an IPA of simple, yet epic proportions, that uses no normal T-90 pellets or whole leaf hops. Our goal was to make an incredible beer, that everyone can easily brew, that bursted with a ton of hop flavor and aroma, but still be easily drinkable! Using these hop techniques, you’ll be able to formulate your own hoppy recipes where the dank, floral and bittering qualities are just right.
Bittering with CO2 Hop Extract
CO2 Hop Extract is a concentrated Alpha Acid hop oil product that has been extracted using a supercritical carbon dioxide extraction method on hop pellets. Like Cryohops, this concentrates the alpha acids to a point where approximately 1 mL of this viscous gold can give you around 10 IBU’s per 5 gallons. If you think about that, it’s pretty nuts! One tiny milliliter of this concentrated hop oil can give you the IBU’s of almost an ounce of pellets (depending on the variety, of course).
The CO2 Hop Extract that we carry is not a specific name brand like Hopshot, but it is a seriously great product, very high quality and used by thousands of breweries across the United States, and way more concentrated than many of its competitors on the market. It’s made from Apollo hops at 58% Alpha Acid, and over the years we’ve used it in literally dozens of beers to great effect. It doesn’t care if you’re All Grain Brewing or Extract Brewing, or if you’re using an electric kettle or gas fired, it is just a great and economical way to add hop bitterness to any degree, to any beer, with confidence.
So, of course, we decided that this was the best product to bitter this Cryogenic IPA with, considering we wanted to make an IPA completely free of traditional hop products to really put these Cryo hops to the test.
You still add your hop extract as a 60 minute addition, but remember to pour it onto your mash paddle and mix it in that way because this stuff is THICK! Just like in Extract brewing, the last thing you want is to sear it onto the bottom of your brew pot. This can result in a nasty, burnt and pungent taste that will not go well with the finished beer. Calculate your addition carefully with the provided equation on our website, but remember that the rule of thumb is about 10 IBU’s per mL per 5 gallons of finished beer.
As I’m sure you’ve noticed with many of our IPA recipes, we’re all about keeping it simple. Usually in the range of 90% base malt and 10% of a caramel/crystal malt or dextrin. This isn’t how we always formulate IPA’s, but for putting hops through their paces, we feel that there is no better way.
For this brew, we wanted to revisit American Pilsner Malt because it has incredible flavor, performs well in the brew house, and is super light. Paired with the new Caramel Steam 40° L from Great Western, we wanted to make sure that it turned out light, crisp, and, most importantly, hop forward! This IPA is intended to be a hop bomb that is both crushable and refreshing, with insane amounts of unapologetic hops.
We mashed at a normal temperature of 150° F to ensure that this would turn out to be dry and crisp if the right yeast strain was used, and the way that the Caramel Steam comes through is a nice, light and sweet toffee breaks up the ridiculously dry and pleasantly grainy character of the pilsner. This subtle and lightly, candy-like sweetness adds a very nice balance to the overall beer, helping to push the hop aromas out and even out the bitter taste of our bittering addition.
Hot Side Hops
The main purpose of this beer was to only have our hop extract touch the boiling water. No other boil additions were made to really prove the concept of utilizing our Cryo hops to their fullest and getting all of their essential oils, terpenes and flavor compounds into solution. To this effect, our next hop addition happened at 180° F (ok, really it was about 176° F, but let’s not get nit-picky!).
We added 1 oz of Cascade Cryohops and 1 oz of Columbus Cryohops as our only whirlpool addition. We were hoping to get tons of pine, dank and and hint of citrus, and this addition did not disappoint! We whirlpooled for about 20 minutes through the hops directly, and they damned near dissolved completely! This is evidenced in the picture below of the oil deposits left on the surface of the fermentor after the krausen died down!
For me, this was proof of TONS of flavor and aroma compounds getting into the beer, and I wish I could add a link so you could smell the fermentor when we opened it to transfer! HUGE hop aroma busted out and filled the whole place! Talk about a successful whirlpool addition!
The Big Twist: Using Imperial A20 Citrus
I’m sure many of you are familiar with saccharomyces trois, a ‘brett like’ sacch strain known for being very lightly barn-yardy and adding big, citrusy and tropical (pineapple) esters into any beer it ferments. This was our one real wild card in all of this, using a yeast strain gathered from unicorn dust that is known for pushing out hop flavor and adding its own, maybe overpowering, flavor profile.
Imperial’s A20 Citrus performed like a champ, eating this beer down to 1.014 and leaving MONSTER citrus characters to play off of the dank and piney hops we used in the whirlpool, giving depth to the citrus heights. The only thing it lacks is the ability to fall out and leave a clear finished product! This is ok, though, just as long as you don’t mind a sticky, hazy beer! We’re excited to try this beer with a Cal Ale yeast strain to see the difference!
Keg Hopping with Cryohops
This is another spot in this brew that we really decided to bench press these hops, adding Ekuanot and Simcoe directly to the keg. In this, we hope to achieve long lasting and delicious effects over the entire course of the keg, and we’ll definitely keep you posted!
The dry hop process, at its root, is a weak ethanol extraction. This is why, when using traditional T-90 pellets and whole leaf hops, 5 - 7 days is the sweet spot. Even though you’re extracting all of the flavor compounds, that’s when the ethanol starts to dissolve bract, or plant matter, giving you grassy characteristics in the finished product.
As we well know, Cryohops lack the vast majority of that bract, so it’s a pretty safe bet that leaving them in the keg it going to produce as much flavor as possible! The only real concern that required more research was temperature. It makes sense that higher temperatures, and therefore faster moving molecules, would drastically affect extraction the same way that barrel aging at different temperatures does, but some research shows that ethanol extraction is commonly done at or below freezing temperatures! Because of this, I’m thinking that we can keg hop and carbonate with confidence that we’ll get the most from our hops, even at kegerator temps.
Not only that, but keg hopping is a practice that many homebrewers partake in with great results, so we figure there must be some good science to it somewhere, and we’ll put it to the test! The flavors have nowhere to go but in your pint glass, so our hope is that this beer will taste freshly dry hopped until we drink it all!
Thank you all for reading! This months recipe kit is called Cryogenic IPA, available both as All Grain and Extract and we encourage you to try it and use it as a baseline for adding Cryohops into your favorite house beer recipes! Don’t forget to connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and our awesome YouTube Channel, BrewChatter TV, where we have an awesome video all about Cryhops and how and when to use them, so give it a watch, click subscribe, and Brew On!!