I somehow survived my 28th birthday bash at Concordia Ale House a few weeks ago, nursed to recovery by a 60 lb. pig at Dan’s Superbowl party the day after (review from Dan forthcoming). While roasting the pig, we laid waste to BS Brewing’s first IPA of 2007, brewed and gone so fast I didn’t even have time to write about it, let alone name it!
Christmas was especially kind to the brew crew this year, with a new 30-quart brewpot added, with the idea of improving our hop saturation capabilities. Doing a partial 2-3 gallon boil, I surmised we were reaching hop saturation prematurely. Dry hopping in secondary fermentation helped, but I never got to a place I felt was quite hoppy enough. Now we’re able to hop the full 5 gallons of wort during the boil, and the improvement showed in the magical disappearing IPA of Feb 4th, which I ended up dry-hopping anyway. What can I say? I’m an addict.
Because we increased the volume of boiling liquid, I was concerned about cooling the wort in a reasonable amount of time (read: before bedtime). A quick search online led me to immersion wort chillers, amazing copper coils that allow a DIY kind of homebrewer to cool 5 gallons of boiling wort to pitching temperature in under 5 minutes. I assembled a 50-foot version at Home Depot for about $60 (copper prices have skyrocked in recent months) in less than 30 minutes.
Last night, Dan came over to help christen the new equipment and replenish the IPA stores. The brew began with 1.5 pounds of organic 2-row malt, toasted to perfection in the oven at 350 degrees for just over 10 minutes. I was so enchanted by the delicious vapors emanating from the oven, I completely forgot to mill the grains! Still, the roasty malts had enough delicious mojo to give the wort a nice mahogany color after mashing for 30 minutes at 150 degrees.
We added 7 lbs. of extra light malt extract, and set burners to boil. Geting 6 gallons to a boil takes quite a bit of time on a kitchen stove, but we found a good way to pass the time.
For my birthday, Sarah’s mom was kind enough to get me a gift certificate to Belmont Station, where I picked up a menagerie of interesting beers domestic and imported. From left to right: Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine 2007, St. Rogue Red Ale Rogue, two different Bison Organic IPAs, Widmer Summit 07, Celebrator/Avery “Collaboration Not Litigation” Ale, Bridgeport’s Beertown Brown, Stone Old Guardian Barleywine, and Sierra Nevada’s India Pale Ale. Not pictured: Norway’s Nogne O Porter. Reviews for all will be forthcoming, but Dan and I decided to pass the time with the two Bison IPAs in what we’re calling a “horizontal” tasting. As in, finish 2 22 oz. bottles of 6.8% abv beer in an hour, and you will be barely vertical.
Bison has begun a very interesting, educational, and mighty delicious series of “Single Hop” IPAs. Basically, they brew the same basic recipe, but use just one varietal to hop the brew. It’s a very good way to teach your tastebuds to distinguish the unique characteristics of a particular hop.
Bison “Columbus” IPA, aka “Tomahawk” IPA (above, left)
A very coarse head, with not much foam. An almost oily surface puncuated by frequent large, rocky bubbles. A great, sweet smell with light floral notes. Mellow, very traditional IPA taste, with a little explosion of bitter hop at the end. Very quaffable and refreshing.
Bison “Summit” IPA (above, right)
Much milder flavor than the Columbus with a faintly soapy aftertaste. Very smooth, almost too much so, with faint almond notes and a very vague flavor. Wimpy, even. Contrast that fairly negative taste with its much more agressiva aromas: strong citrus and tangerine hop aromas. Very finely-grained, large head with tiny, champagne-like bubbles in quantity. The label notes onion, earth and “dank” hop resins. Pretty subtle, if you ask me, in an annoying younger sibling kind of way. I ended up mixing this sissy with its stronger brother, which made for a much better brew.
We’re not normally organic nuts at BS Brewing, but we are suckers for novelty, and when Freshops Organic’s “Pacific Gem” hop presented itself, we fell head over heels. This variety, native to New Zealand, had a faint blue cheese aroma when we opened the bag and unceremoniously chucked it into the boil for 60 minutes. We followed the first Kiwi hop with 2 more ounces of New Zealand Halletauer for the final 15 minutes, and added an Oregon twist with 2 oz. Cascade for aroma in the last 5 minutes. Once cooled, we added a little more Oregon flavor with a smack pack of Rogue’s PacMan strain. This is a veritable Kon Tiki of a beer, bringing the Pacific Islands just a little closer to Oregon. I dub thee … Bored Seaman IPA, perfect for long Pacific voyages or long Oregon winters.
O.G.: 1.054 @ 72 degrees F.