Monday, August 1, 2011

Brewing of a Single Hop beer.

Today was a day set for experimentation. Normally, our experimentations are not full batches (1-hectoliter, which is approximately 26.4 gallon). Normally we do experimental batches only at a 10 gallon size (I haven't written on any of our experimental batches as of yet), but this being an easy batch and hard to make mistakes with, we decided to go ahead and do a full batch. With our experimental batches, we want you to know what specific hops, malts or other adjuncts give to beer. So, today, we decided to entice you with a specific hop, Challenger. Our first of our single hop series.

Hops are the female flower of the hop vine, Humulus lupulus. There are many characteristic that hops can give a beer. First, it can give a bitterness to a beer. The tannins from the leaves of a cone can do the same thing that skin of a grape can do to a wine. It give a dryness, almost astringent quality to the beer. Second, depending on the variety that is used, it can give one or more aromas to the beer. Different hop varieties give aromas like: citrus, grassy, spicy, or floral characteristics. Third, hops helps preserve the beer. Back when England held land across the globe, they sent beer to their troops in India. By the time it got there, it went sour and spoiled. So they added a measurable amounts more hops to the beer, and it made it way safely to the troops...thus India Pale Ales (or IPAs) were born.

I can go on with pages over hops, but if you are at all interested, I can forward you with some great literature that can explain it better than I can. So on with our experiment...

Our beer today is a something that we want you to be able to get a sense of what different hop varieties gives to a beer. Our choice for the first of our single hop series is the hop variety called Challenger. Challenger hops was bred from an United Kingdom variety called Northern Brewer. It was bred because of it's resistance to a fungus called Downy Mildew, which had plagued many hops and created certain hop variety shortage in 2007, 2009, 2010, and 2011. At 7.0% alpha acids, it can be used as both a bittering hop or for it's spicy aroma characteristics. Because it is of the UK variety, it has a mild to moderate bittering quality.

We didn't want to do a complete Single Malt and Single Hops (SMASH) beer, we wanted to give your taste buds other varieties malts with this beer. We decided to go with the following grain bill:

36# Pale Malt (UK) 2-row
30# Pale Malt (US) 2-row
3# Caravienna

We used both US and UK version of the same malt because they give specific characteristics to a beer. The US version of pale malt give clean, mildly malts flavor to the beer, along with a straw like color to the beer (2 SRM or Lovibond– Standard Reference Method). The UK version gives a slightly nutty/biscuit flavor the the beer along with a slightly darker color to the beer (3 SRM or Lovibond). Caravienna malt is a pale to medium that is roasted in a drum (20-24 SRM or Lovibond). Cara are varieties of Belgium malts that are roasted to give some unfermentable sugars that some sweetness and body to the beer.

Our day started with the measuring of the malts to add to the mashtun. To the mashtun, we added 160°F water to the grain. This gave us a initial temperature of 135°F, to which we added boiling water to raise the temperature to a final temperature of 150°F. 

We did this stepping up of the temperature to bring out different qualities to the grain. At this steeping temperature, we will have a slightly drier beer.  Then we sparged (rinsed the grain) with 180°F water.

At run-off of the wort, we did a First Wort Hop, which produces complex bitterness and aroma that is both smooth and pleasing to the pallet. We started to boil and after 15 minutes we made our 60-minute addition of hops. We made hop additions at 60, 30, and at flame out (0 min.). Our hop schedule was of the following:

4 oz. Challenger FWH
4 oz. Challenger 60-minute
4 oz. Challenger 30-minute
6 oz. Challenger 0-minute

After our boil was completed, we whirlpooled the wort and transferred it up to the fermenter through a plate chiller. We added the yeast, in which we made a starter of the day before. This batch will be left in the fermenter until fermentation is complete in a week or two and will be serve in a month.


  1. what will this end up as? amber ale?

  2. We had a OG of 1.052, IBU of 47, and SRM of 6.7. An Amber ale would have a SRM between 10.0-17.0, An IPA would have a SRM between 6.0-15.0. An Pale Ale would have SRM between 5.0-14.0. An Amber Ale IBU would be between 25.0-40.0, IPA between 40.0-70.0, and a Pale between 30.0-45.0. The OG for an Amber would be between 1.045-1.060, and IPA 1.056-1.075, and a Pale 1.045-1.060. So this beer would fall somewhere between an IPA and a Pale. It's OG is low to be a IPA, but it's IBU is too high to be a Pale. It tastes like a IPA out of the fermenter.

  3. YUMMM challenger

    I guess i scrolled right by the grain bill..LOL
    (hops on the brain)

    I seem to ignore SRM more than i should

    everytime i calculate SRM on my IPAs it is always lower than it should be

    i better step my game up for these bjcp contests i'm entered in this fall

    what was your fg?