Falling Leaf IPA Tasting Notes

December 2, 2013 at 9:58 pm



Falling Leaf IPA Tasting Notes:

Appearance: Pours a hazy, dark gold with burt orange overtones. A puffy cloud like whitish-tan head sits atop.

Smell: Sharp, cutting citrus,pine and sweet malt.

Taste:  Starts smooth and malty, lazily giving way to a moderate bitterness that transitions nicely to a finish of aromatic, bright, floral hops.

Mouthfeel: Slightly under carbonated, malty with a moderately bitter finish.

Drinkability & Notes: While this finished lighter then what I would consider the average IPA it has a wonderful malt flavor that is extremely clean and supports the heaping amount of late addition hops.  It has a moderate hop bitterness as opposed to the over the top bitterness in many of the commercial examples with huge hop aromatics and flavors on the finish.

For me the highlight of this beer is the finish.  The finish is loaded with amazing hop flavors yet just enough bitterness to cut through the malt  The Simcoe really dominates with its pine and grapefruit flavors while the Citra and Amarillo play  off them nicely with their citrus and floral contributions.

I brought a half keg to a Thanksgiving party a few weeks ago and it was a huge hit with all everyone.  The keg wound up going super fast and made me wish that I had brought a full keg instead of a half.  At the party I  was describing the beer as more of a strong Pale Ale then an IPA but a lot of people thought it was perfectly in the range of and IPA style beer.  Either way, what it lacks in bitterness it more than makes up with its hoppy finish, making this truly enjoyably and accessible, hoppy beer.



Falling Leaf IPA

October 31, 2013 at 8:51 pm

After spending the past few months preparing for and brewing for my wedding I can say that it was worth all the effort. The beers were a huge hit, our guests drank close to 20 cases of beer and almost all the homebrew,  more importantly I am now a happily married man.  The biggest hit without a doubt was the Rich’s Pale Ale, with one keg kicking during the cocktail hour alone.  With the wedding now behind me I can focus my energy back on the small things in life such as this blog and  brewing more experimental beers.

Several weeks ago I placed an order with HopsDirect for some  their 2013 hop harvest, my order including some Citra and Cascade in addition to a few English varieties.  I decided that an IPA was in order to utilize some of these fresh hops as well as use up some of last years crop that Ive been working though this year.

I wanted to keep the grain bill fairly simple to let the hops shine, in fact I think this maybe the least amount of specialty grains I have ever used in a batch, except for my Tripel.  I went with a base of American 2-Row with a bit of Caraamber malt.  I was reading through last months issue of BYO on the plane ride back from my honeymoon and noticed that Hill Farmstead, used a grain bill consisting entirely of 2-Row and Caraamber malts for one of their beers.  I thought if it works for one of the most popular, critically acclaimed brewers in the world, that I should give it a try too.

The main attraction in this one is the hops obviously, being an IPA and all I decided to break out all of the big guns. Simcoe, Amarillo, Citra, and Cascade make up the aroma additions with a touch of Belma for bittering.  The Simcoe and Amarillo combo served as the basis for my Pale Ale and work wonderfully together.  I’m hoping that the addition of the fresh Citra and Cascade will give this one an even more over-the-top citrus hop punch.  I plan on dry hopping with the Citra and Cascade combo to round this one out, which I am hopeful will rival the amazing Simcoe Amarillo hop pairing I’ve had great success dry hopping with in the past.

Falling Leaf IPA

Batch Size: 10.5 Gallons

Original Gravity: 1.066
Est. Final Gravity: 1.014
ABV: 6.9%
IBU: 65.2
Color: 6.7 SRM
Boil Time: 60 Min

94.1%  2-Row
5.9% Caraamber

.75 Oz Belma (11.3% AA) at 60 min
.75 Oz Amarillo (9.2% AA) at 20 min
.75 Oz Simcoe (12.2% AA) at 20 min
.75 Oz Citra (12.9% AA) at 20 min
1 Tbsp Irish Moss at 15 min
.75 Oz Cascade (8.5% AA) at 15 min
.75 Oz Amarillo (9.2% AA) at 10 min
.75 Oz Simcoe (12.2% AA) at 10 min
.75 Oz Citra (12.9% AA) at 10 min
.75 Oz Cascade (8.5% AA) at 5 min
.75 Oz Amarillo (9.2% AA) at 0 min
.75 Oz Simcoe (12.2% AA) at 0 min
.75 Oz Citra (12.9% AA) at 0 min

2 Packages US-05 SafeAle

Dry Hop:

1.5 Oz Citra (12.9% AA) 7 Days
1.5 Oz Cascade (8.5% AA) 7 Days

60 minutes at 152F (Saccharification Rest)

Hops Close Up

Timber Ridge Double IPA Tasting Notes

June 29, 2013 at 8:21 pm

Timber Ridge Double IPA


Timber Ridge Double IPA Tasting Notes:

Appearance: Pours deep burnt orange bordering on a brown, golden yellow and orange highlights when held to the light.  Crystal clear with two finger pillowy white head, that quickly dissipates giving way to long lasting lacing.

Smell: Ripe fruit, citrus, strong lemon, grapefruit and orange aromatics present.  sweet malt.

Taste: Starts smooth, overly aggressive bitterness characterizing many Double IPA’s is noticeably absent.  Nice blend of herbal grassy notes and citrus throughout.Finishes sweet with big citrus aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, semi-sweet.  Moderately carbonated, mild alcohol bite on the finish.

Drinkability & Notes:   For being such a strong beer (9.2%) this is extremely drinkable.  The dextrose did its job and took this beer a down a couple of extra gravity points, to the sweet spot for this style.  With that being said there is something that is off with this beer, something subtle that I cant quite place that tempers my enthusiasm for it.  After giving it some thought I have narrowed it down to two possible things.

The first and most likely in my opinion is the use of large quantities of Belma hops.  The Belma hops contribute some nice lemon notes, but also a harsher almost vegetal flavor that throws off the balance of the hop flavors.  It is a truly unique flavor, one that I could do with out, and one that I am also struggling to describe.  One reason Im leaning this way is that I did a dry hop with Belma hops when I first got them and remember the same slightly off putting taste.  The second possible cause of the off flavor is that I pitched this batch directly on a Burton Ale yeast cake, most likely drastically overpitching.  I don’t usually do this and have read that it is possible to pick up certain off flavors from pitching directly onto an unwashed yeast cake.

All in all its not a bad beer, it tastes great on a hot summer day and gets you toasty in a hurry.  If I were to brew this beer again I would drop the Belma hops altogether and substitute a traditional American hop such as Cascade or Cenntennial.  I would also make sure to pitch on either a washed yeast cake or a fresh pitch of Burton Ale yeast.


photo (6)

Timber Ridge Double IPA

May 13, 2013 at 7:54 pm

I’ll preface this post by saying I’m not the biggest hophead out there, in fact I tend to migrate more towards big malty beers when I’m looking for a high alcohol punch.  However, this year I was able to get my hands on several pounds of the popular citrusy/pine hops, namely Simcoe, Amarillo, and Citra, that are mainstays in many of the big commercial IPA’s and double IPA’s.  Additionally, as I continue down my “beers to brew” checklist, I decided that now was as good a time as any to give a double IPA a shot.

When brewing a double IPA there are several things to consider in the recipe formulation, the first and most obvious is the hop schedule and varieties.  For this recipe I went with three hops, specifically Belma, Simcoe, and Amarillo.  Belma is a new hop this year offered exclusively from HopsDirect.  On the site it is described as “a clean hop, imparting flavors of orange, grapefruit, tropical, pineapple, strawberry and melon.” However, after reading reviews of fellow brewers it seems like the hop falls somewhat short in the aroma intensity department, described by many as a “mild aroma” and another as a “cheaper Magnum”.

For that reason, coupled with the extremely low price of $5 a lb I decided to use the Belma for my main bittering additions.  I used a First Wort Hop to produce a smoother bitterness as well as additions at 20 and 15 to hopefully catch some of the flavors described previously.  I finished out the hop bill with additions of Amarillo and Simcoe at 10 and 5 minutes respectively as well as a huge 6 oz hop addition during my whirlpool.  These additions should contribute the classic citrus/pine aromatics that define American double IPA’s.  It is important to note that I added the hops to the wort upon chilling to 165 degrees, as at this temperature a greater percentage of the hop compounds are transfered to the wort, delivering an aromatic hop punch to the final beer.

Another important aspect of the recipe is the corn sugar addition.  This will dry out the beer somewhat while contributing to the overall alcohol strength that defines the style.  A double IPA shouldn’t be a malt monster, the dextrose provides the extra fuel for the yeast to get you to the sweet spot of around 1.016-1.104 FG. Lastly, one needs to consider the amount of wort that will be lost to the hops during the brewing process.  I calculated a loss of roughly a tenth of a gallon per oz of hops added during the brew.  In the recipe below I calculated my numbers for a 7 gallon batch with 10 oz of hops, and wound up with just over 6 gallons into my carboy on completion of the brew day.

Timber Ridge Double IPA

Batch Size: 7 Gallons

Original Gravity: 1.084
Est. Final Gravity: 1.016
ABV: 9.1%
IBU: 106.3
Color: 8.7 SRM
Boil Time: 90 Min

84% American 2-Row
7.6% Corn Sugar (Dextrose)
4.7% Carapils
3.5% Crystal 40 Malt
.9% Crystal 120 Malt

2 Oz Belma (11.3% AA) First Wort Hop
1.25 Oz Belma (11.3% AA) at 20 min
1 Oz Belma (11.3% AA) at 15 min
1 Tbsp Irish Moss at 15 min
1 Oz Amarillo (9.8% AA) at 10 min
1 Oz Simcoe (12.2% AA) at 5 min
2 Oz Amarillo (9.8% AA) at Whirlpool (165 deg)
2 Oz Simcoe (12.2% AA) at Whirlpool (165 deg)
2 Oz Belma (11.3% AA) at Whirlpool (165 deg)
1.5 Oz Amarillo (9.8% AA) at 5 Day Dry Hop
1.5 Oz Simcoe (12.2% AA) at 5 Day Dry Hop
1.5 Oz Chinook (13.1% AA) at 5 Day Dry Hop
1.5 Oz CTZ (8.26% AA) at 5 Day Dry Hop

Pitched onto a washed yeast WLP 023 Burton Ale Yeast Cake


60 minutes at 152 F (Saccharification Rest)
10 minutes at 165 F (Mash Out)

Collected 6 gallons of wort in carboy.

Timber Ridge IIPA ingredients

West Coast Wheat

March 17, 2013 at 7:42 pm

India Pale Ale is one style that has experienced a renaissance among American Craft brewers, with the momentum clearly excelerating as the number of variations continues to grow. The transformation of the traditional IPA began with the birth of the double IPA,  as in true American fashion, brewers began pushing the limits by brewing stronger, hoppier, and bolder IPA’s. Recently new IPA variations have emerged including the Black IPA, Belgian IPA, and Rye IPA as brewers strive to meet the American consumers love affair with the almighty hop.

One lesser known IPA variation, the Wheat IPA, happens to be one of my favorites even though few commercial examples exist, the most popular probably being Anaheuser-Busch’s Shock Top. My preference for wheat IPA’s stems from the wheat’s contribution to the malt profile of the beer and in my opinion, the superior balance that it provides with the traditional citrus hop IPA flavors. The West Coast recipe below is the third iteration, one that I feel strikes the best balance of the three, while still allowing for a delicious interplay of wheat and citrus flavors.

I am satisfied the grain bill has achieved a balance of wheat and sweetness that can stand up against the 60 IBU contributed from the hops, however I am planning on modifying the hop bill this year.  While I love Falconers Flight, the fact that it is a proprietary blend of several hop varieties of unknown proportions has led me to reconsider its use in the recipe.  Moving forward I plan to eliminate it completely from the hop bill and experiment with different ratios of Simcoe, Amarillo, and Belma hops in order to allow for better duplicity moving forward.  Don’t get me wrong the recipe is great as it currently stands, so good in fact that if I was every able to open a brewery of my own this would be one of my flagship beers.  This makes the use of Falconers Flight potentially problematic, thus my reasoning for seeking out the alternative hop combinations.

West Coast Wheat

Batch Size: 11.5 Gallons
Original Gravity: 1.057
Final Gravity: 1.014
ABV: 5.7%
IBU: 59.1
Color: 6.2 SRM
Boil Time: 60 Min

52.2% American 2-Row
32.6% Wheat Malt
9.8% Munich Malt
2.2% Crystal 15

1.25 Oz Magnum(14% AA) at 60 min
1 Tbsp Irish Moss at 15 min
1.4 Oz Falconers Flight (10.5% AA) at 15 min
.75 Oz Summit (17% AA) at 15 min
1 Oz Citra (13.4% AA) at 5 min
2.6 Oz Falconers Flight (10.5% AA) at 1 min
2 Oz Citra (13.4% AA) at 1 min
1 Oz Summit (17% AA) at 0 min
4 Oz Falconers Flight (10.5% AA) Dry Hop (7 Days)

2 Packs Safale American Ale US-05 Dry Yeast

Mash at 15 for 60 minutes raise to 168 for a 10 minute mashout.

For detailed tasting notes of this West Coast Wheat recipe, click here.

DIY: Hop Screen Build

December 20, 2012 at 8:33 pm

One of my favorite parts about homebrewing aside from actually brewing and drinking the beer, is to constantly refine my brewing techniques and brewday process.  Over the past several years my brewing process has evolved from extract to all grain, mash tun cooler to direct fire mash, bottling to kegging.  You get the idea.  My process has become increasingly complex, yet with experience my brewdays have actually become more efficient than ever, and my beers continue to be quite tasty.

The initial additions to one’s brewing process can yield exponentially positive results to the finished beer. For example the transition from extract to all grain opens up a whole new flavor pallet to the brewer, and in turn can lead to more complex layered flavor profiles.  The addition of a stir plate to ensure proper yeast pitching rates and a clean and successful fermentations is another example.  Over time however, you run out of significant additions to the brewing process that provide the true “bang for your buck.”  This doesn’t mean the tinkering ceases, it just means that the results of the changes become much more subtle, yet they remain just as important to the finished product.

Every year I try to make at least one addition to my process, this year my most significant addition was the addition of a stainless steel hop screen.  One challenge many homebrewers face is how to handle hops in the brewing process.  There addition leads to extensive hop trub in the kettle that can be problematic to the post boil process.  Adding hops directly to the kettle can clog your pump or add significant volume to your primary fermentation if they go through unabated.  Adding hops in hopsacks is said to reduce hop utilization rates and can be quite the pain in the ass with multiple hop additions.  The addition of a hop blocker or false bottom can be a solution if leaf hops are used exclusively.

After researching all my options I finally decided to bite the bullet (and cost) and create a stainless steel hop screen that would allow me to leave all hops, pellet or whole leaf, in my kettle and not my fermenters where they belong.  Below you will find detailed instructions on how I built mine in addition to the specific parts numbers from McMaster Carr incase you would like to build one of your own.

McMaster-Carr part numbers:

1 Pack 97525A410 18-8 SS Blind Rivet w. 18-8  SS Manderl, Domed 1/8″ Diameter, .032″-.062″ thick
1 Pack 90183A311 Blind Rivet Flat Washer, 18-8 SS, Round for 1/8″ Body Rivet
1 Each 85385T519 Corrosion-resistant 304 SS Woven Cloth 30×30 mesh, .012 diameter 36×36 in sheet
1 Each SS 9″ x 2″ Round Cake and Pastry Ring

Step 1:

Cut the SS mesh sheet down to 30.25″ by 23.5″.  This assumes an additional two inches on the circumference which creates a nice seam for the rivets down the side of the hop screen.  I made my hop screen to stand high out of the kettle, you may consider making yours slightly smaller if you like to keep a lid on your kettle to promote faster boils or full boils in cold weather.

Step 2:

With the remaining mesh screen cut a 12″ to 13″ circle to create the bottom of the hop screen.  I used a large dinner plate as a template in my build.

Step 3:

Gently bend the mesh screen into the shape of a cylinder leaving a two inch overlap.  I used a set of clamps to hold my screen in place.  This is also a good time to make sure the baking ring fits around the circumference of the screen.  Next use a 1/8″ drill bit to make starter holes for the rivets approximately 2″ apart down the entire length of the seem.  Next secure the starter holes with the SS rivets and the blind washers.  I initially tried this without the washers but the rivet would not hold the screen, the washers are essential in order for the fasten to hold.

Step 4:

Take the circle SS mesh screen and make several small cuts along the edges (6-8 total).  This will allow the screen to mold better to the outside of the cylinder as you begin to rivet it together.  I wrapped the bottom of my screen around the outside of the main cylinder as best I could and again started with the 1/8″ drill bit to create the starter holes followed by a rivet and washer.  I put a ton of rivets on the bottom of my screen (roughly a half inch apart, I figured why skimp when I bought a box of 100 rivets).

Step 5:

Place the cooking ring on top of the cylinder, I left mine about a half inch higher than the SS mesh as it was kind of sharp and had some SS threads hanging off that could cut my hands.  This creates a smooth top decreasing the likely hood of cutting your arms if you have to reach into the screen for any reason during a brewday.

Final Thoughts:

At the time I thought I might have been crazy to spend nearly a 100 dollars on a hop screen, but I have to say after a year of use and no aggravation it was some of the best money I have ever spent.  The hop screen has succeeded my expectations as I have loaded it up with upwards of a pound of hops and it worked great.  No noticeable hop particles get through the mesh screen, while it also allows the wort inside the cylinder to come to a rolling boil increasing the hop utilization rates.  Overall I love the addition of the hop screen to my brewing process, and the only regret I had was not building one earlier.

Philadelphia Crab Soup

November 25, 2012 at 9:01 pm

After spending the last few days eating and drinking in excess I wanted to prepare a dish that was light on carbs and full on flavor. I also wanted to use up the last of the leftovers from our Thanksgiving meal. This healthy crab soup is full of flavor, the IPA blends in well with the sweetness of the crab and adds a subtle complexity to the already spicy broth.  A delicious soup perfect for any cold winter afternoon.

Crab Stock:

6 Cups Water
1 Lb Blue Crab Claw Shells
1/2 Carrot Diced
1 Celery Stalk Diced
1 Small Onion Diced
2 Parsley Stems Chopped
3 Black Peppercorns
Touch of Butter

Add all ingredients to a large saucepan and bring to a boil, once liquid comes to a boil reduce heat and simmer for about an hour. When time is reached strain ingredients and return to the saucepan.

Crab Soup:

6 Cups Water
1 12 oz Great Divide Rumble IPA
2 Carrots Diced
3 Stalks Celery Diced
2 Small Onions Diced
1 Large Sweet Potato Cubed
1 Can Sweet Corn
1 28 oz Can Whole Peeled Tomatoes
3 tbsp Worcester Sauce
2 tbsp Old Bay
3/4 tbsp Dry Mustard
Dash of red pepper flakes
1 lb Blue Crab Claw Meat

Add water, IPA, carrots, celery, onions, potatoes, corn, worcester, Old Bay, and mustard to crab stock. Smash tomatoes by hand and add to soup along with the remaining sauce and bring to a boil. Once boil is reached reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Next add the crab meat and simmer for an additional 45 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately with an your favorite amber ale.

West Coast Wheat Tasting Notes

May 15, 2012 at 12:53 am
Appearance: Deep orange with golden highlights when held to the light. Thick long lasting white head leaving an abundance of lacing.

Smell:Big citrus hop aroma, grapefruit and orange dominate, slight malt sweetness

Taste: Assertive hop bitterness on the front end finishing somewhat sweet with citrus.

Mouthfeel: Moderately carbonated with a nice balance of bitterness and maltiness.

Drinkability & Notes: This beer finishes clean, crisp, and is very refreshing. I changed some of the hop additions and was able to get that big citrus flavor, a little sweeter than previous versions.