Sunday, January 24, 2016

LemonDrop Hops

I've been working on a collaboration brew with Mr Rufus Brewing, and as part of that, I'm starting off a test brew using LemonDrop hops, which I was able to get from NikoBrew.  As part of this brew, and because my partner recommended it, I wanted to try something new...first wort hopping (FWH; articles are listed below).  The consensus seems to be that this works best for low alpha acid hops, and that one should use 1/3 of your total hops for the boil in the FWH.

It will be interesting to compare the final product to the Stone Brewing Delicious IPA, which apparently uses Nugget (bittering), Calypso, LemonDrop, and El Dorado hops.  I tried one recently, and it's very good.  Also, the beer itself is crystal clear, and the box says that it's crafted to be gluten reduced; sounds to me as if they added some Clarity Firm or something similar to their process.

Oh, that reminds me, my Calypso IPA will be ready in another week!

The malt bill I'm using for the brew is:
65% Pils  (20.8 oz)
30% Vienna   (9.6 oz)
5% flaked wheat  (1.6 oz)

Since I'm doing a partial mash, 20 oz of Pils is covered by the 1lb of Pilsen DME I'll be using.  That leaves 9.6 oz of Vienna malt (or 10 oz to round it out and cover the remaining 0.8 oz of Pils), and about 1.5 oz of flaked wheat.  I have been using CaraPils for head retention, so it'll be interesting to see how the flaked wheat turns out.  Who knows, I may like it and change things up.

I'm sure you noticed the addition of flaked wheat to the malt bill; that was something new to me, as well.  What Mr Rufus shared with me is that this will add to foam stability, due to the protein added by the wheat.

Brew Day: 23 Jan 2016

Partial Mash:
10 oz Vienna malt
1.5 oz flaked wheat

I used my usual partial mash process; bring 2 qt of water to 156 deg F, pour it into a 1 gal cooler, and add the grains in a muslin bag.  Let sit for about an hour.  Prior to the end of the hour, bring 4 qt of water to 170 deg F in the brew kettle; at one hour, drain the grain bag and move it from the cooler to the kettle, and let it steep for 10 min.  Then drain and remove the grain bag (I know some chickens and horses who'll enjoy that), and add the wort.

Boil (60 min):
1 lb Pilsen DME

5 g LemonDrop Hops (FWH)
7 g LemonDrop Hops (15 min)
7 g LemonDrop Hops (0 min, 10 min steep)
2 dry hops, each with 7 g of hops, each for 3 days

Yeast: DanStar Belle Saison

At the end of the boil and steep, I placed the kettle in an ice bath in the sink until it got to 80 deg F.  I then transferred it to the fermenter, aerating and pitching the yeast in my usual manner.

< 12 hrs after pitching yeast
Addendum, 24 Jan: About 12 hrs after pitching the yeast, the beer is furiously bubbling away!  This is a vastly different color of beer than what I've normally brewed, and it's going to be very interesting to try this one when it's done.

Addendum, 2 Feb: Dry hop #1 was on 30 Jan, dry hop #2 was today.  I'll bottle on Thu afternoon.

Addendum, 4 Feb: Bottled today, with 1 oz of table sugar dissolved in 1/2 cup of boiling water.  I got 8 full bottles and one partial.  The beer smelled wonderful while I was bottling; I can not wait to try it!

There was something else I wanted to add to this post, that has to do with the airlock.  I know that you can't watch the airlock and use it as a determination of fermentation action, but I wanted to make a note of an observation in case it has an impact on the final product.  I did the first dry hop while the beer was still actively fermenting...this is a choice I made based on some reading I'd done regarding IPAs; one of the tips was to add the first dry hop during active fermentation.  I did so, and as expected, the airlock cap was floating a good bit, but I attributed that to the sanitizer foam dissipating, as about a day later, the cap was resting flat on the airlock post.

Now, when I sanitize the muslin bag for dry hopping, I cover the bag in water and boil it in the microwave.  Sometimes I'll do this more than once, to ensure that any residual stuff if boiled out.  Then, after draining the water off after the last boil, I'll cover the bag in a small amount of sanitizer solution until I'm ready to use it.  As such, I'm pretty sure that the bag is sanitized.

Anyway, after adding the second dry hop, in a clean fermenter, I noticed that the airlock cap was floating; actually, it was riding pretty high.  Again, I've done enough reading to know that this is not an indicator of fermentation, but I wanted to note this observation here because (a) it's different, and (b) I wanted to be able to refer back to my notes if something about this beer came out different.  Like I said above, the beer smelled fantastic while bottling, so I don't anticipate any problems.

Addendum, 16 Feb: Wow.  That's all I've got to  Or, rather...WOW!

Last night, I'd gone into the tub where I keep my bottled beers (in case of an explosion) and pulled out the partial fill of this beer and put it in the fridge.  I wanted to try one, but was prepared for it to not be "ready".

As you can see from the recipe above, this beer was a little lighter body than some of the beers I've been brewing.  The pour as a nice lemon yellow color with a mild head.  The picture to the left was taken after the beer had been in glass for a few minutes.  There was some mild, non-persistent lacing.  The initial aroma was floral, as was the initial taste on the palate.  However, a lemony-citrus flavor immediately pushed through.  It wasn't bitter like grapefruit, nor was it sweet, like oranges; it gives the impression of drinking a tart lemonade.  What was really fascinating about this was that the lemon tartness persisted on the palate, but not as a dank aftertaste.  There were a couple of times where, minutes after taking a sip, I was smacking my lips because I could still taste the tartness.

My wife really enjoyed this one...a lot.  I'm definitely keeping this recipe as it is, not only to make future batches, but to also make the raspberry lemonade saison.  I'm guessing that the eventual addition of raspberries is going to add a bit of tartness and a mild sweetness to this beer, but it will be fun to taste, nonetheless.

Addendum, 15 Mar: Last week, I had planned to be near Jay's Brewing, and in  a previous conversation with Jill, I'd told her that if the lemondrop saison turned out really well, I'd bring one by; if it didn't turn out too well, I'd bring them all by!  Anyway, I dropped off one of the beers for her to try, and this morning, this is the response I got:

OMG, Harlan. I loved that Lemon drop hops! I was pleasantly surprised by the actual lemon flavor I got from it! Needless to say, the beer was phenomenal! Thanks again:) -Jill

Well, there you go.  Thanks, Jill, for the wonderful feedback!

Addendum, 6 Jul: I had a couple of these left over, and decided to our one after putting in a couple of hours of yard work.  Wow!  The beer poured nice and clear, with a dense, pillowy head that thinned quickly.  The beer had a wonderful flavor to it; the IPA bitterness had dissipated and the flavors from the saison yeast really came through.  Very, very good!

Some articles on first wort hopping
Beer and Brewing


  1. Don't forget my comments/tasting notes!!!

    Take this with a grain of salt Harlan, I don't claim to be an expert beer taster, but this beer was perfect! The first thing you notice when pouring this beer into a nice serving glass was it's bright color begging to be drank. Bringing the glass to the nose, the aroma does not disappoint. Smells of sunny citrus and slight tart bite match the what is expected when holding the glowing glass to the light. True to style(16c), this beer has a beautiful, high white head leaving a white mustache on the unsuspecting guzzler. And guzzle I did. In hindsight I wish I'd taken my time with my half of the 12oz sample, but this beer's cold crispness lent itself to large mouthfuls and relaxation.

    Anyway, Thanks for the beer Harlan! Nice work.

    Owner, Jay's Brewing