Jeff Longland

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Archive for January 2013

Smash Bomb Atomic IPA Clone Attempt

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Flying Monkeys Smash Bomb Atomic IPA Clone AttemptAs we were selling all of our belongings and preparing to move to Vancouver in the summer of 2010, I was aware of Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery in Barrie, Ontario (and the preceding Robert Simpson Brewing Co).  I was surprised to see a craft brewery trying to survive in what I thought was lager territory.  Having grown up in the area, almost everyone I knew drank macro lager (myself included in those days).  Prior to moving out west,  I had a chance to try their Netherworld – a Cascadian Dark Ale – a style unbeknownst to me.  I was suitably impressed, both by the beer and the style.

After arriving in Vancouver, I read rave reviews about Flying Monkeys Smash Bomb Atomic IPA.  A few months later, I returned to Ontario to visit family and get our cat.  I picked up a few bottles of Smashbomb and was absolutely blown away.  At the time, I thought Black Oak Brewing was the reigning IPA king of Ontario with their 10 Bitter Years Double IPA.  But Smash Bomb is a serious challenger, albeit a different beast.  Whereas 10 Bitter Years has intense bitterness with lots of grapefruit and pine, Smash Bomb is a bit sweeter with lots of tropical fruit flavours.  I was really impressed.  On a subsequent trip back to Ontario for a family wedding, I drank as much Smashbomb as possible and brought back 2 bottles for future enjoyment (long since gone, in case you’re wondering).

Smash Bomb IPA Recipe

So when I drafted a brewing schedule for fall/winter 2012-2013, I was eager to try cloning Smash Bomb.  Thankfully, someone else had ventured down this path and I was able to put together a recipe fairly easily.  The brew day was pretty smooth, aside from the on-going efficiency issues I was experiencing at the time.  Thankfully I had some malt extract and used it to boost my original gravity.  Though in reviewing this recipe, my target original gravity appears too high for this beer.  A peak at the Flying Monkeys website also suggests my hop schedule is incorrect – and I certainly don’t own a Hoppapotamus…  though that does sound like fun.

This batch is an important homebrew milestone for me – my first kegged beer.  From a process perspective, it’s much easier than bottling.  Sanitize one giant container, rack the beer into it, hook up the CO2, carbonate, then drink.  The turn-around time from brewing to drinking is shorter, especially if you apply high-pressure (~30psi) for 24 hours, vent the pressure, and adjust to serving pressure (~5 psi).  But I’m already discovering that the patience I learned as ‘a bottler’ will be needed as ‘a kegger’:

I have also noticed that it typically takes two-three weeks after kegging for the flavor profile of my beers to come around. Going into the keg they taste great, but once in the keg and under pressure they get hazy and sort of ‘twangy,’ before clearing up and tasting great. Similarly the same can be said for hop character. Often times I’ve noticed the hop character and flavor of my beers to be temporarily diminished while the beer is carbonating, before everything is back to normal a week or two later. — The Perfect Pint

Even in the week that this beer has been in the keg, I’ve found that the taste has improved – so I think there is a lot of truth in Will’s observation.  If I can stop tasting this beer every day, maybe I’ll see what it’s like fter 2-3 weeks… though that seems unlikely.  I hope to let future batches condition for a few weeks before drinking.  In the end, it comes back to scheduling your brewing such that you have a ready pipeline of well-conditioned homebrew 🙂

Appearance – Colour is light amber, bordering on copper.  Pours with ~ 1.5″ of head that slowly diminishes to a light layer of bubbles.  Lacing all the way down the glass.  Some hop matter floating down at the bottom.  As you can see in the picture, it’s quite clear – I think the clearest beer I’ve made.

Aroma – Tropical fruits, with hints of grapefruit.

Taste – Similar to the aroma, lots of tropical fruit flavours. Fruitiness fades to grapefruit bitterness.  Bitterness is relatively clean.  Malt flavours are light.  Finish is bitter and dry, with lingering fruitiness.

Mouthfeel – Body is average, slightly thin.  Carbonation could be slightly higher, might improve the mouthfeel.

Drinkability/Notes – You really can’t go wrong with Citra and Centennial when you’re making an IPA.  There’s a slight vegetal flavour because I dry-hopped for 4 weeks, but no other noticeable flaws.  Is it cloned?  I don’t have a bottle handy for comparison – so I’m going entirely off memory.  The clone has more alcohol and is drier – the Wyeast 1056 took the final gravity down to 1.009, 9 points below the target of 1.018.  Will mash a littler warmer next time, likely 154F.  Otherwise, I’m pretty happy with this beer.  It’ll taste better in a week…  if there’s any left.

Smash Bomb Clone IPA Recipe

Wort Volume Before Boil: 7.00 US gals
Wort Volume After Boil: 6.10 US gals
Volume Transferred: 6.00 US gals
Volume At Pitching: 6.00 US gals
Final Batch Volume: 5.00 US gals
Expected Pre-Boil Gravity: 1.057 SG
Actual Pre-Boil Gravity: 1.037 SG
Expected OG: 1.075 SG
Actual OG: 1.060 SG
Expected FG: 1.018 SG
Actual FG: 1.009 SG
Expected Efficiency: 60.0%
Actual Efficiency: 48.5%
Expected ABV: 7.7 %
Actual ABV: 6.8 %
Expected IBU: 52
Expected Color: 13.1 SRM
Boil Duration: 60.0 mins

UK Maris Otter Malt 13.00 lb – 81 %
UK Crystal 80 Malt – 0.75 lb – 4.7%
US Victory Malt – 0.75 lb – 4.7 %
Pale Extract Malt – 1.5 lb – 9.6%

Citra (14.4% alpha) 28 g – First wort hopped
Citra (14.4% alpha) 28 g – 10 mins
Centennial (8.5% alpha) 28 g – 5 mins
Citra (14.4% alpha) 28 g – 0 mins
Centennial (8.5% alpha) 28 g – 0 mins
Centennial (8.5% alpha) 28 g – dry-hopped
Citra (14.4% alpha) 28 g – dry-hopped

Other Ingredients
Yeast: Wyeast 1056 American Ale
Mashed at 150F


Written by jlongland

January 7, 2013 at 9:19 pm

Posted in Homebrew

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Vista IPA

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Vista IPAI’ve been relaxing this evening, drinking Swan’s Extra IPA and Driftwood Fat Tug – both 5 star beers in my opinion.  So it may not be a fair time to write this review of Vista IPA…  but I know this batch has some flaws and this review has been on my mind for a few weeks.  Vista IPA is a recipe that I’ve been playing with for most of my homebrewing ‘career’.  It started around Christmas 2010, an extract and partial mash beer based on Dan’s Grapefruit Bitter.  I cranked up the hops, but mostly kept the ratio of pale malt, carastan and wheat.  I entered the beer in the VanBrewers 2011 competition as JLo’s Jolly IPA and it did quite well, with 40/50 and 35/50 scores.

I eventually renamed the recipe in honour of the LMS that I have spent a decade supporting – Blackboard Learn Vista (nee WebCT Vista).  The name change came as I brewed one September evening.  While the grains were mashing, I was reviewing logs and graphs, trying to identify the cause of a recent outage.  It struck me that my struggle to find the root cause was similar to my quest for a well-balanced homebrew IPA – elusive.  But to call Vista IPA a recipe…  the term doesn’t fit.  It’s constantly changing.  It’s a project where I change something with every batch: adjust the ratio of the malts, substitute different hops, try a different yeast, etc.  Since it’s inception, I’ve transitioned to all-grain brewing and now use Maris Otter malt as the base of this beer.  With some Wyeast 1968, a batch of Vista IPA took 3rd place in the IPA category at the VanBrewers 2012 competition.  Possibly my proudest moment as a homebrewer!

Sadly, this batch doesn’t live up to that award winning batch.  Worse still, I shared it with a bunch of colleagues.  Nobody seemed too bothered by it, and some even asked for bottles to take home.  But Joe has tasted a number of the Vista IPA batches and commented that this one was off.  I really appreciate that sort of feedback…  because it’s how I feel about this batch.  So what’s different?

  • Well, the efficiency was lower than expected and the boil was rather long.
  • Fermentation wasn’t as temperature-controlled as I would like, but it was always below 20C.
  • I added dextrose and that likely drove the final gravity down, making it a bit dry.   Bottles have likely dropped a few points below the final gravity of 1.010 when it was bottled, further drying the beer.
  • The sourness suggests an infection – which is supported by the extreme carbonation in every bottle. There was a comment that the beer was more like a hoppy saison – dry, highly carbonated, and light.  But I’m not really sure where the infection originated.  I’ve recently bought new fermenter buckets and recent batches aren’t infected (fingers crossed I won’t run into this problem again).
  • Inattentive brew?  I had some assistant brewers (and BBQers..  and beer drinkers).

Appearance – Deep gold, hazy.  Very carbonated. Head is big bubbles, supported by many finer bubbles constantly bubbling.

Aroma – Hops and slight sourness.

Taste –  Fruity hops, grapefruit, spice and sourness. Harsh bitter finish, some spicy notes.

Mouthfeel – Very light and carbonated.  Very carbonated.  Dry finish.

Drinkability/Notes – Normally, a batch of IPA doesn’t last long in my household – it’s my favourite style.  Even when I have a batch that’s flawed (I’ve had a long-running oxidation issue), I’ve finished the batches without problem.  This…  I still have a few bottles and will opt to drink pretty much anything else.  The sourness and lingering, dry bitterness is off-putting.  Nonetheless, I’ll re-attempt this soon – especially since I have some rare Amarillo – a hop that I used in both of my competition batches of this beer.  It adds a great fruity taste and smell.

Vista IPA Recipe

Wort Volume Before Boil: 7.00 US gals
Wort Volume After Boil: 6.10 US gals
Volume Transferred: 6.00 US gals
Volume At Pitching: 6.00 US gals
Final Batch Volume: 5.00 US gals
Expected Pre-Boil Gravity: 1.046 SG
Actual Pre-Boil Gravity: 1.040 SG
Expected OG: 1.059 SG
Actual OG: 1.055 SG
Expected FG: 1.015 SG
Actual FG: 1.010 SG
Expected Efficiency: 60.0%
Actual Efficiency: 52.0%
Expected ABV: 5.9 %
Actual ABV: 6.0 %
Expected IBU: 66
Expected Color: 8.3 SRM
Boil Duration: 60.0 mins

UK Maris Otter Malt 12.00 lb – 78.7 %
Wheat Malt – 1.50 lb – 9.8%
Carastan Malt – 1.00 lb – 6.6%
Dextrose – 0.75 lb – 4.9%

Zeus (15.9% alpha) 29 g – First wort hopped
Centennial (8.5% alpha) 14 g – 30 mins
Cascade (6.5% alpha) 14 g – 15 mins
Centennial (8.5% alpha) 14 g – 5 mins
Cascade (6.5% alpha) 14 g – 5 mins
Chinook (10.5% alpha) 14 g – 5 mins
Centennial (8.5% alpha) 28 g – 0 mins
Cascade (6.5% alpha) 28 g – 0 mins
Chinook (10.5% alpha) 28 g – 0 mins
Centennial (8.5% alpha) 42 g – dry-hopped
Zeus (15.9% alpha) 28 g – dry-hopped
Chinook (10.5% alpha) 18 g – dry-hopped

Other Ingredients
Yeast: Wyeast 1968 London ESB Ale
Mash started at 160F and dropped to 155F after 60 mins. (target was 155F)

Written by jlongland

January 4, 2013 at 9:13 pm

Posted in Homebrew, Uncategorized

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