AG#6 – Diabolus in Lupulus Imperial Amber Ale

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My goal with this beer is to make the most insanely hoppy beer I can, to really push the envelope with regard to hop flavour and aroma.  It’s somewhat inspired by Arrogant Bastard in that it will be a big, hoppy red ale, though without the huge levels of bitterness that the Stone beer has. I like the idea of prominently featuring the Chinook hop, the same hop used in AB, but I’m also going to supplement it with huge amounts of my old favourite, Cascade. I’m going to use the same levels of gravity and bittering units that I used in my Big Dawg Imperial Amber in order to achieve a good balance. And I’ll be doing massive late additions and dry-hopping in order to achieve the BIG American hop flavour and aroma. My plan at the moment is to use 300g of kettle hops in my standard 19 litre batch. I’ll be using three fresh, unopenened packs of pellets and I’m planning on doing the flameout additions in stages – doing a ‘hop stand’ and adding a fresh charge when the chilling wort hits 80C. This will hopefully capture lots of the volatile hop oils and give the beer several different levels of aroma and flavour. I’ll also be doing two separate dry-hop additions.

I’ll doing something a little wacky with the yeast this time. I’m planning on doing a mixed-strain fermentation with WLP007 and US-05. I really like the flavour of the WLP007 – it really accentuates the malt flavours in a beer, but I can’t seem to get a good level of attenuation from it, probably because I’m not fermenting at a high enough temperature. Even though it’s supposed to be a “dry” English ale yeast. So I’m going to add a sachet of US-05, which will theoretically chew up the last of the sugars left by the WLP007, leaving a much drier ale behind. The English yeast should kick off first, because it’s in the form of yeast slurry left over from a previous beer, and the dry-pitched US-05 should ramp up 24 laters later and do it’s job. That’s my theory anyway, I hope it works out.

However, I don’t want to take any precautions with the attenuation, just in case my yeast experiment doesn’t work, so I’ll be adding a small percentage of corn sugar to the kettle. To keep the beer dry and drinkable.

With two yeast strains and almost a pound of hops, this is going to be one expensive little brew!

Recipe

Boil Size: 25.88 l
Post Boil Volume: 22.88 l
Batch Size (fermenter): 19.00 l
Bottling Volume: 17.00 l
Estimated OG: 1.072 SG
Estimated Color: 33.7 EBC
Estimated IBU: 75.9 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 60.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 70.3 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Ingredients

5.700 kg Pale Malt, Maris Otter (5.9 EBC), 81.1 %
0.400 kg Caramunich Malt (120.0 EBC), 5.7 %
0.300 kg Wheat Malt, Bel (3.9 EBC), 4.3 %
0.150 kg Biscuit Malt (45.3 EBC), 2.1 %
0.150 kg  Special B Malt (400.0 EBC), 2.1 %
0.025 kg Roasted Barley (1300.0 EBC), 0.4 %
15 g Chinook [13.30 %] – Boil 60.0 min, 28.2 IBUs
50 g Cascade [7.90 %] – Boil 30.0 min, 28.5 IBUs
0.300 kg Corn Sugar (Dextrose) [Boil for 15 min], 4.3 %
0.50 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 10.0 mins)
50 g Cascade [7.90 %] – Boil 10.0 min, 11.2 IBUs
25 g Chinook [11.40 %] – Boil 10.0 min, 8.1 IBUs
50 g Cascade [7.90 %] – Boil 0.0 min, 0.0 IBUs
50 g Cascade [7.90 %] – Boil 0.0 min, 0.0 IBUs
30 g Chinook [11.40 %] – Boil 0.0 min, 0.0 IBUs
30 g Chinook [11.40 %] – Boil 0.0 min, 0.0 IBUs
1.0 pkg Dry English Ale (White Labs #WLP007) (400ml unwashed slurry from Pork Chop Porter)
1.0 pkg Safale American  (DCL/Fermentis #US-05)

25 g Cascade [7.90 %] – Dry Hop 5.0 Days, 0.0 IBUs
25 g Chinook [11.40 %] – Dry Hop 5.0 Days, 0.0 IBUs

68 g Cascade [7.90 %] – Dry Hop 5.0 Days, 0.0 IBUs
32 g Chinook [11.40 %] – Dry Hop 5.0 Days, 0.0 IBUs

Mash Schedule: Bubbles’ Single Infusion, Full Body, Batch Sparge

Total Grain Weight: 7.025 kg
Mash In           Add 18.83 l of water at 74.6 C          68.0 C        60 min

Sparge: Batch sparge with 2 steps (Drain mash tun, , 14.28l) of 77.0 C water

Notes

23/12/2013 – Mash temperature 68C. I thought the wort looked a little light in colour, so I decided on the spur of the moment to add a little cap of roasted barley, just to drive up the red colour a bit. I’m not sure it made a huge amount of difference – it definitely doesn’t look as red as the Buckshot Flag ale did. Got a bad result with an actual OG of 1068. Had an absolute nightmare trying to “lauter” the wort from the huge amount of trub and pellet hops. But after my last brew, at least I was expecting difficulties with this. I got my 19l of wort but I got a LOT of trub into the fermenter. Pitched about 400ml of wlp007 slurry along with a sachet of US-05.

24/12/2013 – I was expecting some activity from this morning but it was looking pretty dead. Perhaps a little white foam just starting. I thought the WLP007 slurry would have started this off very quickly. A good job I added the sachet of US-05. A decent layer of kreusen by evening time though. Great hoppy and dark caramel smell.

26/12/2013 – Thinking about it, it’s possible that the WLP007 hasn’t done anything and the reason it took 24 hours to kick off was just the US-05 ramping up. I guess I’ll know from the flavour when it’s finished.

27/12/2013 – Fermentation seems to have completed. Dry-hopped with 25g of Cascade and 25g of Chinook.

28/12/2013 – Still plenty of bubbling going on. I noticed the aroma from the fermenter was quite different from my usual American ales, and I’ve just put my finger on it. It’s the WLP007. I originally thought it was just the darker caramel malts in the recipe, but it’s more distinctive than that.

01/01/2014 – I was going to rack to secondary in order to do a second dry hop (there’s a LOT of trub in the fermenter, and I don’t want the beer sitting on it for any longer than is necessary) but there’s still a steady stream of bubbles breaking the surface. I’ll leave it another day or two before racking and dry-hopping with more Cascade and Chinook.

02/01/2014 – Still a few bubbles coming through the surface, but I figured it was just off-gassing CO2? I took a gravity reading of 1.012 which would imply that it’s finished, so I decided to rack to secondary and do the dry-hop. I used 68g of Cascade and 32g of Chinook…. This is either going to be a fantastic success or an unmitigated disaster…

05/01/2014 – Moved back to the colder room as I was concerned that that kitchen was getting too warm. Will bottle in a few days.

08/01/2014 – Bottled using 125g of dextrose (17l @ 2.6 vol). In actual fact I got closer to 16 litres from the batch, due to the losses from the big dry hops. The beer definitely has potential, though I’m a little unsure about it. It smells like an English beer, big malt aromas – not the huge punch American hops you’d expect. However, the resiny hop flavour certainly comes through the malt. On subsequent sips, I was actually reminded of Arrogant Bastard! Strange to get so close when the malt bill is quite a bit different. I’ll definitely be doing a side-by-side tasting of AB when this has fully conditioned. Not the red colour I wanted, though a good strong amber colour. Taste is good, but I’m not getting the hop assault I expected. Hopefully it will become more apparent when it’s fully carbed and conditioned. Got 31 bottles from the batch.

31/01/2014 – First taste and it’s pretty damn good. Though, it still tastes young. The yeast doesn’t seem to have compacted in the bottle though, which is quite worrying. The first thing that strikes you is the HUGE head forming on the beer. Thick, compacted, silky head. Massive hop aroma. Big citrus. Very hazy. Tastes a little immature, but there’s plenty of sweetness to balance the hop bitterness. Very promising – eagerly anticipating what another 4 weeks aging does to this beer. Catty, funky, dank, fruity. Feck, this could be very good.

11/03/2014 – The flavours have mollowed quite considerably in this now, and in a good way. The prominent grassiness has faded a lot, and there’s some nice candy-like caramel sweetness in the background. Still excellent head retention and massive hop nose. Hoppiness carries through on the flavour, with intense American hop character. Great balance of malt and hop bitterness. Not sure I’d do the “Diabolus” like this again though. I think next time I’d like to do it with some roasted barley for colour and lots of caramalt. The hops are spot-on though. As it’s improved so much, I’m now really interested to see how it scores in the competition.

21/03/2014 – Nothing new to report, except to say that the malts and hops in this beer have mellowed and mingled into a rather fantastic drop. Not an every day beer, admittedly; it’s insanely hoppy. Bitter too, but still very well balanced. I still maintain that I’ll take a different approach with this next time. I think I’d get a better result by doing an “Imperial” version of my “Buckshot Flag Irish Red Ale”, but with huge amounts of American hops. It would at least have that “devilish” colour that I’m after with this beer.

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