Drink that beer NOW!

My man Dawson has been talking about patience over on The Beer Engine.

Whatever dude.

Drink those beers NOW!

Sharing some Citra Bomb IPA with Dawson and others.

Well, I should mention that Mr. Dawson was talking about a Russian Imperial Stout.  He may be on to something with this patience thing.  The beers I’m referring to ride another line of lightning.

I’m talking about beers that use a heavy does of aroma hops.  Particularly IPA’s and Pale Ales.  I recently made two IPA’s on the lower side of the style’s ABV range.  The Back in the Bag IPA which I posted about a month or so ago, and a beer I brewed shortly after which I dubbed Citra Bomb IPA (as it used 8 oz. of Citra hops).  Both beers relied on finishing hops, or aroma hops to give them their steez.  More so the Citra than the BIAB recipe.

The thing ab0ut these hops that give us the citrus, mango, grapefruit, fruit loop, etc qualities is that they lose their potency rather quickly.  I’ve had this happen too many times.  I wait a week or two too long to tap the beer. The first rounds of pints taste as I expect, then within days the beer starts to lose that edge; the citrus, mango, grapefruit etc turns to bitterness, grassyness and earthy overtones.  The beers still drank good, but they’re a far cry from what I want.

The solution?  Ferment these beers quick, cold crash them, carb, and tap fast with plenty of friends around.

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For both the Back in the Bag and Citra Bomb I used healthy amounts of US-05, but fermented on the cool side at about 63 degrees.  This allowed the beer to ferment quickly, but clean.  Primary fermentation was done for both beers in 7 days (beers were brewed about 5 days apart, but the schedule was the same for both).  I left both batches sit for about 4 more days, then on day 12 I added Biofine to assist in clarifying the beers, and placed them into my converted chest freezer for 2 days to cold crash at about 46 degrees.  On day 15 I transferred the beers to kegs and started carbing them at 30 psi…I did this for 2 days.  After releasing excess C02, I turned the psi down to 10, and then let the beers sit for another 2 days.  I tapped both beers respectively on about the 21st day after I brewed them.

So, a 3 week turn around.  In my opinion, they are two of the best beers I have ever brewed.  I say this because they ended up tasting exactly as I had hoped.  The hops were on full display and I felt that I was drinking the beers at their peak.

My take away is that beers that feature some of the more trendy aroma hops like Citra, Amarillo, Simcoe, Apollo, and even standards like Cascade, Centennial, Chinook and Columbus should be fermented fast and clean, cold-crashed/clarified hardcore, and served in quick turn-around. The result is going to be a beer that really shows off the “hop forward” quality you may be looking for.  Also, be prepared to share these beers.  The goal is to drink them at their peak, and this can be a matter of week/weeks, so get it into the hands of friends, family and so forth so they too can enjoy the fruits of your labor.

3 gallons of Back in the Bag got cashed on a fishing trip with 6 other guys.  5 gallons of Citra Bomb has been handed out via two full growlers and plenty of generous pours at home.  The beers went fast..and that as the point.  Cheers.


  One thought on “Drink that beer NOW!

  1. November 13, 2012 at 10:26 pm

    I agree completely. I used to always do about a 3 week primary, and was never real happy with any hoppy beers I made. Eventually I started adding pure O2 and that coupled with proper pitching rates = fast clean fermentation. I’ve been drinking some beers by day 10 (like a mild or bitter), but even dry hopped beers are tapped by about the third week like you – these seem to peak around week 5 and are not worth having around by week 8 or 9 in my experience. I’m not saying you have to add O2, but that seemed to be a big turning point for my beers.

    Great post – keep spreading the wealth to the masses!

    • November 14, 2012 at 2:54 pm

      Right on Bagend. I’m sold on this approach to hoppy beers. cheers!

  2. Gordon
    November 14, 2012 at 2:44 am

    I’m still very new to home brewing but had similar feelings on an extract batch I did a minor experiment on. I took a basic IPA kit and on a recommendation from someone at my LHBS flipped it to an American Pale Ale by dry hopping it with an ounce of Citra. That was me going off the grid not following the recipe and not really knowing what the end result was going to be. What a mad man I am.

    At the end of 2 weeks of dry hopping I took off the airlock and stuck my nose over the carboy and made an audible as what I was taking in registered in my head. I’d like to think I chuckled, laughed or even chortled at that point, but I’ll have to fall on the sword of having laughed like a little girl. It was outstanding and not like anything I had experienced in a beer before. I bottled and patiently (ahem) waited for it to carb up. Success! Lots of Citra in both aroma and flavor – I was hooked.

    Weeks went by and sadly, as you’ve mentioned, that in your face Citra experience slowly began to fade away much to my dismay. As the last few beers were consumed I took two bottles and squirreled them away, as I’ve been trying to do with my batches, so that I could check on them down the road, fully expecting them to be very disappointing.

    Time marches on and after 3 months I was curious to see where things stood. I threw one of the bottles in the fridge a few days before the weekend, in no rush to get to it. When I finally did I found it to be crisp, clean, refreshing and under it all, not so much in the aroma but on the tail end of the finish was the Citra. Subtle, yet distinct and good. Really good. Damn good! I mean, if I had bought a 6-pack at the store as an unknown I would be back there right away to grab a case. This time I was laughing, not like a little girl but a full bellied laugh as I enjoyed the rest of the bottle, quickly realizing there was only one more left in my stash. I’ll let it sit for now having picked up another kit for a 5 gallon batch to dry hop with, stand back – leaf hops instead of pellets because that’s how I roll. I’ll go through the first case right away, enjoying that up front Citra again, but I’ll stick the other case away in the basement and again pull it out at the 3 month mark.

    I get to drink it now, or then if we were jumping forward in time, in which case it would be now, AND try my patience. One could argue using string theory that it would be possible to have the now and then bottles sitting side by side, enjoyable at the same time, but perhaps that is better discussed after a few homebrews. Maybe I should make this my first 10 gallon batch…..

    Well, I’m sure I’ve tried someone’s patience by now so I’ll wrap. All kidding aside, thank you Jake, MD and of course Chip. I appreciate everything you bring to home brewing and the willingness to share it with us all.

    • November 14, 2012 at 2:53 pm

      Awesome story! This is why beer and homebrewing is so freaking cool. cheers!

  3. January 30, 2013 at 6:02 pm

    Sorry for digging up an old post, but had a question for you. I mostly brew 5 gallon BIAB batches, but am getting sick of trying to carry a 15 gallon kettle with 6.5-7 gallons of wort to the basement to chill wort all winter long. I’m thinking about following in your footsteps and doing some stovetop 2.5-3 gallon BIAB batches. I’ll have to get another kettle – if you were to start from scratch with a 2.5-3 gallon BIAB setup would you still pick your 8 gallon kettle or would you go with another size?

    I’m thinking 8 would be perfect as I could still use my same immersion chiller (which is nearly 14″ wide), and I could even transfer wort from my 15 gallon kettle into the 8 to bring to the basement and chill which I could not do with a 6 gallon kettle. My only concerns are having so much deadspace while mashing, I suppose it’s simple enough to add heat on the stovetop though if I’m losing too much heat.

    Any other thoughts/advice as I look into this?


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