This was the first at a few attempts at making the “perfect” IPA for my girlfriend Sara. Sadly, it was one of the worst, thankfully, I was able to do something with it unexpected. I have a well documented past of really oxidizing things. If I even look at a hop wrong or carboy headspace with any slight concern, the concern becomes a reality. I had been on a terrible IPA making spree up to this point, doing everything in my power to limit oxygen pick up, yet somehow my IPAs were tasting like sweet moldy carpet.
I ran across a homebrewer who said the reason my IPAs are like that could be the hops I’m using. The old hop flavor, so I’m told is more cheese-like, but I have yet to get that. I will say when I started to use the freshest hops I could get my hands on, the that weird flavor went away, but that was also combined with some other important IPA making steps.
Now to really belabor the point, I smell the shit out of my hops to make sure they are fresh as fuck. In the past I wasn’t as diligent as I am now with the freshness…that or I have zero ability to differentiate oxidized old hops from fresh ones. I try and stay away from leaf hops unless they are vacuum sealed or I’m sure they aren’t old or stale.
This was one of those carpet IPAs I was cranking out. I’ve been chugging through them for the most part (dumped one), but this time I decided to try an experiment. It was brewed, I had Brett lying around in a bucket, so naturally there was only one thing to do. I had heard that Brett can clean up oxidation, but to what extent I didn’t know. Could it clean up beer that tasted like it was spilled on your grandmas moldy antique rug? I was about to find out.
Batch Size: 4 Gallons
Target OG: 1.057
Est ABV: 6%
Boil Time: 60
78.2% – 2-Row
8.6% – German Wheat
5.4% – Carapils
4.3% – Crystal 60L
3.5% – Acid Malt
.25 oz Columbus (15% AA) @ 60 Min
.25 oz Simcoe (12% AA) @ 60 Min
.60 oz Amarillo (6.9% AA) @ 10 Min
.55 oz Simcoe (12% AA) @ 10 Min
Hop Stand (160F)
.40 oz Columbus (15% AA) @ 30 Min
.50 oz Simcoe (laef, 12% AA) @ 15 Min
.40 oz Amarillo (leaf, 6.9% AA) @ 15 Min
.40 oz Columbus (15% AA) @ 10 Days
.40 oz Simcoe (Leaf, 12% AA) @ 10 Days
.40 oz Amarillo (Leaf, 6.9% AA) @ 10 Days
.40 oz Columbus (Leaf, 15% AA) @ Kegged
.50 oz Simcoe (Leaf, 12% AA) @ Kegged
.40 oz Amarillo (Leaf, 6.9% AA) @ Kegged
1g of Gypsum to the mash water. The ph was at 5.45. I was short on mash out at 160F. I need to get my sparge water closer to 190F, but that is if draining the grain bed entirely before adding the water as I have been doing.
Forgot to add corn sugar during boil. Still hit 3.5 gallons at 1.058 post boil.
After the boil, I waited until the temp reached 160F (was targeting 180F) before adding Columbus pellet hops. Added leaf Amarillo and Simcoe for last 15 minutes of the 30 minute hop stand.
1.5 packs of US-05 non-rehydrated.
Fermenting at around 66F.
11/29/15: Added the first dry hop addition. I bagged the leaf hops with three butter knives attached, and just dumped Columbus pellets hops in.
12/4/15: Gravity down to 1.008.
12/9/10: Kegged. Added hops (all leaf) to empty keg in nylon with two butter knives weighing them down.
12/11/15: It’s oxidized. I didn’t test the gravity from the bottom spigot and splashed when taking gravity reading, but this is most likely the hops I used.
11/16/16: There is some Brett in a bucket in the corner of the garage. Pulled the keg out of the chest freezer, warmed it up and starting pulling off the CO2 to get it flat.
1/25/16: Still was getting CO2 out of this.
1/31/16: Transferred onto the slurry/dregs of the bucket with WLP650 Brux Brett Saison in it. This bubbled some at the end, so more oxygen for sure got in it, but it was confirmed flat by now. It smelled oxidized still.
2/20/16: Doesn’t smell oxidized anymore. Smells really lovely actually…kinda fruity and funky.
2/28/16: Gravity at 1.004. Put some of the slurry from the WLP645 Sour Brown into it. There are now three different strains of Brett, and one extra Sacc strain in this: WLP650, WLP653, WLP645, and WLP644 (Sacc). Tasting this it’s actually pretty damn good. The oxidization is gone. It’s a hoppy funky bomb thus far.
3/7/16: Tasting a bit on the smokey/rubbery side, but just a touch. We’ll see how this develops over time.
4/3/16: Gravity still at 1.004. The hop flavor and bitterness has faded a lot, but that is expected. The smokey/rubbery thing that was happening has faded as well.
4/30/16: Gravity at 1.004. Kegged.
5/5/16 Tasting notes:
Pretty solid! It has a nice funk to it. The bitterness is has faded a lot, but detectable, and any hop aroma is of course gone. It’s amazing how dark it got. It’s probably pushing 10-12 SRM. There isn’t much else to say on it other than it’s exactly how it should taste with three different Brett strains, and one other not Brett strain (WLP644 that was added). The only flaw in it is it’s a bit medicinal/bandaid-esque, but slightly. I thought Brett might clean up oxygen pickup from it being in a bucket, but it didn’t fully. There very well could be something else that got in, but the gravity was pretty stable for a while. Either way it’s an enjoyable and completely different beer considering where it started. The slurry of this was in the bucket for a month, so naturally I put more beer onto it.