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Messages - mitchsteele

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Ask the Experts / Re: Ask the Experts: Mitch Steele on IPA
« on: November 14, 2012, 08:45:18 PM »
Hi Mitch -

Just wanted to get your take on whirlpool hopping. Do you have a preferred whirlpool schedule? Does it depend on what you are brewing? Is there a point where you might as well just make a late boil addition?Thanks in advance!

We whirlpool hop a LOT here at Stone Brewing Co. To be honest, I always late kettle hopped until I came here. Whirlpool hopping is a technique I've grown very fond of, but one has to be careful with whirlpool residence times being consistent. You get a surprising amount of bitterness from whirlpool hopping also-we're trying to quantify that now.
From a practical standpoint, whirlpool hopping is easier for us than late kettle hopping because, having a separate whirlpool, we can add the hops at anytime to the empty whirlpool, and then just wait for the wort transfer.
We approach whirlpool hopping like late kettle hopping-same types of quantities and varieties. We tend to go heavy here (1/2-1.5 pounds per barrel), which can disrupt our trub pile-which can be problematic!

Ask the Experts / Re: Ask the Experts: Mitch Steele on IPA
« on: November 14, 2012, 08:39:08 PM »

First off, thank you for a very fun and insightful read!  Love the book!  Second, thanks for making bad ass hoppy beers!  Can't wait until they hit the Nebraska market someday, but Iowa and Missouri will do for now ;D.

A couple of questions:

1.  Can you elaborate on the hop additions used in the recipe section of the book?  I know they are calculated by weight, so when you say for example in the Ruination recipe "62.5% Columbus at the start of the boil, then add 37.5% Centennial during the whirlpool,"  that should be 62.5% of the hop mass is Columbus at 90 minutes and then the remainder of the mass is centennial at flameout/WP.  Is this something where we just need to put it into our software of choice and fudge around with the numbers?  This doesn't seem to take into account changes is AA% on a yearly basis.  I understand the issues with utilization, you mention, based on equipment.  Is there a way you can take us back to middle school and do an example/demonstration of the hop calculations for a recipe based on the parameters in the book? :P

2.  Can you take us through the process of designing/building a malt/grist bill and hop selection and additions for your 2 new latest hoppy beer releases (or any beer for that matter): Ruination 10th Anniversary and "Enjoy By?"  How do these beers differ from the original Ruination or the regular IPA in Stone's portfolio?  Did you incorporate some of the info you learned while researching IPAs into these 2 newest releases?  What are you looking for in the finished product in beers like this?

Thanks again and cheers!
Brian Hoesing

Hi Brian:
1.   Yes, I know this a bit confusing.  Another way to look at it:
Target IBU: 105
   Columbus   62.5%

   Centennial   37.5%
This is based on alpha acids of 10% for the Centennial and 12.8% for the Columbus. I should have included those numbers in the recipe-my apologies!
As far as calculating this out, the BeerSmith and ProMash systems work well. There are also hop calculators on the web, such as the Rager formula. John Palmer’s book, How To Brew, also has an excellent hop calculation technique that accounts for boil time and gravity of the wort.
I opted not to try and put this information in the book because there are so many formulas out there, and your results will vary significantly depending on the parameters of your brewing system. It’s a bit of a crapshoot, honestly, and I hesitated to recommend one system over another.

2. What we did with the Stone Ruination Tenth Anniversary IPA was simply add more hops! We made it a higher alcohol beer (from 7.7% to 10.8%), by adding more pale malt-we kept the light crystal at the same weight, but increased the pale malt to reduce the total crystal % from 5.8% to about 4%, and then added more hops across the board. We used the same varieties as in regular Stone Ruination IPA, with the exception of the dry hop, where we added Citra to the Centennial, and the overall dry hop rate was doubled.  One of the most heavily hopped beers we have ever brewed.
With the Stone Enjoy By IPA, we took a different approach, using the hop bursting technique, sort of, and a recipe approach similar to what homebrewer Kelsey McNair used in the beer we brewed together-the Kelsey McNair/Ballast Point/Stone San Diego County Session Ale, where many hop varieties were added in the late stage additions. In the case of the Stone Enjoy By IPA, we used 11 different hop varieties, and all but one variety were used in late hop and/or dry-hop. I am liking this technique, a lot.

Ask the Experts / Re: Ask the Experts: Mitch Steele on IPA
« on: November 14, 2012, 08:38:10 PM »
I just brewed a Black Double IPA using Carafa III at 5.4% of grist; a base of Maris Otter, some crystal and what-not, and what I deemed to be a ridiculous hop schedule (over half a pound spread out over 5 minute intervals for a 60-minute boil). It'll get 2 dry-hop charges over a 10-day period as well.

Thinking that this should first be a double IPA, then it should be black, I tried to keep the dark malt at a level where it would just make the beer dark, but not too "roasty" so as not to compete with the hops.

When I was done collecting the wort, it was quite dark and it smelled a bit more roasty than I thought it would, but not too roasty (not quite stout-like), in my opinion.

With enough hops and what I hope turns out to be a balanced malt background and considering the dark malt was only 5.4% of grist; will the slight roasty character I smell now mellow in the fermenter or otherwise fall to the background where it should be?

I agree with your approach! Formulate an IPA (or Double IPA) first, then add the dark malt. Carafa is a great malt to use in a dark IPA. The roastiness will drop out some and will be balanced out by your dry-hopping-so don’t worry too much about that roast flavor in your wort! 3-6% Carafa addition seems to work really well.

Ask the Experts / Re: Ask the Experts: Mitch Steele on IPA
« on: November 14, 2012, 08:37:12 PM »
Some of the best IPA's I've had are not overly bitter (at least to my palette).  Conversely, some of the WORST ones I've had ARE overly bitter!  To me, the real genius of an IPA lies in linking up a substantial, complex (yet background) malt profile with a layered, pleasant, and aggressive hop profile.  Just an example, and I know it is marketed as an APA, but Dale's is a great example of this.  If googled, you can find dozens of amateur video reviews of this beer, relishing its 'hoppiness'.  While it is 'hoppy', I think the reason it sells so well, drinks so well, and INTRODUCES so many people to the category so well, is that its malt background balances out a great hop bouquet.   

Are there any key processes or malts that brewers (particularly on a homebrew scale) could/should play with to get these types of results?  Melanoidin?  Biscuit?  Base of Marris Otter?

Great job on the "Enjoy By" IPA btw!


I really think success in bitterness balance has more to do with hopping regime. The Burst hopping or hop bursting technique, which we use a modified version of in our Stone Enjoy By IPA, results in a very mellow bitterness. Just 50% of the bitterness in our beer comes from the early addition hops-the beer comes in at over 80 IBU’s, but the bitterness is very mellow and smooth. So try that technique.
As far as malts go, yes, adding malt complexity can help tame bitterness, but sometimes at the expense of hop flavor and aroma intensity, which is why I’d prefer not use specialty malts, except in small amounts. Brewing with Light Munich or Vienna malts can add malt complexity to IPA without adding raisiny flavors.
Obviously, brewers differ on their approach to using specialty malts in their IPA, and I’ve had plenty of great IPA that had substantial roasted or crystal malt character. And while those beers tasted great, from my experience they may not age as well. Lots of Double IPAs turn into Barley Wines as they age. That’s not desirable to me. I’d rather drink it fresh, with maximum hop flavor.

Ask the Experts / Re: Ask the Experts: Mitch Steele on IPA
« on: November 14, 2012, 08:34:42 PM »
Albeit not likely .. I would like Mitch's feedback on hops in Arrogant Bastard. The CYBI and other "standard" recipes call for Chinook. The Craft of Stone Brewing, absent of A.B, references a lot of non-Chinook hops for the hoppy beers.

Crossing the fingers and holding my breath ...

Ha ha ha! No Arrogant Bastard recipe information shall come from me! Nice try!  Ask Tasty McDole if you don’t believe me.

Ask the Experts / Re: Ask the Experts: Mitch Steele on IPA
« on: November 14, 2012, 08:33:55 PM »
I have often wondered how close to reality the hop bitterness is calculated for historical IPA's.  You mentioned at one point in your book that Americans sometimes heated the hops too much when drying them, but moisture content is important when calculating the weight of hops in any recipe.  Also, it said that sometimes fresh hops were used, but I assume you meant hops that weren't already used in the recipe, not actually fresh or "wet" hops.  Cold storage wasn't available for the most part, so the bitterness would decrease over the season.  I also read that brewers sometimes removed hops from the boil after certain times because they thought it would add harsh flavors.
Do we pretty much assume that all the hops in the 1800's were about the same alpha acid percentage and fairly low - 3 or 4?
So when the historical brewer's log says 5 pounds per barrel, just how much hop flavor or bitterness is that really?

Hi Jeff: This is a really good question. Some points of clarification: Historically, IPAs were only brewed in the fall, and the hops used were “fresh” which meant that they were from that year’s harvest. They were kilned and pressed into storage sacks, so they weren’t fresh like a “wet hop”.

Aged hops were not used in IPA, as a general rule-we saw this in many brewing logs-“Fresh Kents” or “Fresh Farnham” in the IPA recipes. Hops were kilned back then, but to what moisture content I do not know. So really, the hops were of top available quality when the brewers made their IPAs-they stopped brewing IPA in the winter, and didn’t start IPA brewing again until they had the new crop of hops. Brewers knew to keep their hops cold, so the hops were stored in the coldest locations possible, but even so, they saved the freshest, best hops for the IPA. So the alpha acids probably hadn’t dropped much when they were used. Most experts estimate the Goldings hops at 3-4% alpha acids during that time period. Seems reasonable to me, but no one really knows for sure.

Ask the Experts / Re: Ask the Experts: Mitch Steele on IPA
« on: November 14, 2012, 08:32:16 PM »
Hello and thanks to Mitch for taking the time to answer questions for the homebrewing community!  Also, thank goodness Stone is finally in Iowa!
     Here is my question.  I can not seem to make an IPA that is even close to commercial levels and I always seem to get the same flavor profile; a kind of dirt flavor with a nasty bitterness.  I have tried different water, malts, hops, mash temps and hop addition times.  I am shooting for a nice dank or resinous IPA and have been using Simcoe, Centennial, Chinnok and CTZ mostly.  I am pretty confident that the hops are not the problem as I have used from several different sources. I am also pretty solid on my fermentation temps.  I usually just toss my pellets into the boil and ferment for 2 weeks or so.  My last 2 ideas are to bag my hops and to rack off the trub as soon as the bulk of fermentation is done, any other helpful hints?

Thanks again, Chad

Hi Chad: Not sure what’s going on here. As I mentioned in previous posts, temperature is important, as is the quality of the hops and the amount you are using. From a recipe standpoint, perhaps lower the amount of hops added at the start of the boil, and bulk up the hopping towards the end of the boil or in the whirlpool process. Definitely rack your beer off the yeast when you are close to terminal gravity, and don’t dry-hop until you rack. Excessive yeast contact time with the finished beer can result in some pretty nasty flavors. As can excessive trub carryover from the boil/whirlpool to the fermentor. Flavors like you describe can come from many sources or procedures, so it’s a tough question.

Ask the Experts / Re: Ask the Experts: Mitch Steele on IPA
« on: November 14, 2012, 08:30:47 PM »
Hi Mitch!

Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions!  I've been home brewing for a couple of years on the same system.  I'm producing 5 gallon batches currently, and I'm thinking of upgrading my setup to brew bigger batches.  I think you're experience brewing on many different size systems would help me.

My question is multi-part, but all parts revolve around scaling up recipes.  First, on a personal level, if I were to upgrade to a system that is capable of producing batches three times the size I am currently producing is scaling up my recipes as simple as multiplying my ingredients by three?  What are the common problems that I should be prepared for when scaling up recipes to larger systems?  What size of a pilot system do yo use at Stone to test new recipes?  And, lastly, how do you go about formulating recipes from a homebrew system to brew on your full scale production brew house... is it all about proportions and percentages or are there limiting factors too?

Thanks again!

You can’t really scale up without fully understanding the efficiencies on both brewing systems. Scaling up directly is a good place to start, but go into the process knowing that further adjustments will be required. What we do at Stone is pilot brew on a 20 gallon More Beer System. But when we scale up to our production brewhouse, I use past brew recipes from the production brewhouse to determine what I need as far as grain and hops to hit the analytical targets. We use pilot brewing more for ingredient and recipe evaluation-and when we brew a large batch, I use the %’s, but not necessarily the weights as a direct scale up. Does that make sense?

Ask the Experts / Re: Ask the Experts: Mitch Steele on IPA
« on: November 14, 2012, 08:29:27 PM »
One more question:

Do you have any techniques to favor certain flavors/aromas over others from a type of hop in the finished beer. Specifically, is there a way to get that great tangerine character out of Summit without getting the onion/feet/cheese character. Another example would be for hops like Cascade or Amarillo that have both floral and citrus qualities, is there a way to adjust the balance towards either floral or citrus in the finished beer?

 Great question! I really think this has more to do with growing conditions and processing conditions than anything a brewer can do. I’ve been reading lately that the garlicky character develops later in the harvest, and harvesting earlier can reduce those compounds. Also, kilning/drying the hops at lower temperatures is something that a lot of growers are exploring now to determine if it helps retain those really nice fresh hop flavors. The citrusy vs floral balance in varieties like Cascade and Amarillo I also believe is due to growing conditions, soil conditions, and processing conditions, rather than anything a brewer can do. There is a lot of very important research being done in these areas now, so stay tuned.

Ask the Experts / Re: Ask the Experts: Mitch Steele on IPA
« on: November 14, 2012, 08:27:20 PM »
When designing an IPA, what specific component or combination of chemical components in the hop am I looking for?  I want to venture out more, and try new hop varieties in an IPA.  Besides looking for the freshest hops, should I be looking at hop components such as, total oil, co-humulone, beta-acids, alpha-acids, myrcene, humulene, or farnesene?

Often times I can't find the classic IPA hops, such as, Simcoe, Citra, or Centennial.  So I would like to know what exactly to look for in a hop variety before I buy it and run a test brew.

Thank you.

I'd like to piggyback this question as well with respect to dry hopping temperature as it relates to hop essential oils ratios. I usually dry hop in keg for a period close to fermentation temperature, but I would like to know how these variables effect aroma over ranges from near freezing to room temp.


I have no scientific evidence to back this up (I’m sure it’s out there, I just haven’t seen it), but I feel pretty strongly that warmer temperature provides better flavor extraction. Anything I’ve tried dry-hopping cold has had really reduced oil intensity. The amount of yeast in the beer at dry-hopping is important too, as is the yeast variety. I like to dry-hop at the warmest temperature possible after removing the yeast-that usually is in the low 60s. We chill after 36 hrs to 34°F then hold for a total of 7 days hop residence.

Ask the Experts / Re: Ask the Experts: Mitch Steele on IPA
« on: November 14, 2012, 08:25:43 PM »
Word around the kettle seems to profess the following two truisms:
  • High-alpha hops are continually developed and made accessible.
  • Long hop boil time destroys any flavor/aroma contribution and leaves only bitterness.
So, for bittering additions, why would anyone use anything but the cheapest most high alpha hop they can get their hands on?

Assuming that there is some good reason for not always using a super-high-alpha bittering hop, what else should be considered? What, besides bitterness, is transferred into the final beer if not flavor or aroma?

I don’t agree at all with Number 2. The hop flavor (depends on the variety) does carry through, which is why I prefer a clean bitterness hop for bittering. When using strongly flavored hops,the flavors can carry over and clash with your flavor hop additions.  And I think the reality of number 1 is changing as growers and suppliers are beginning to understand what we craft brewers are looking for. Sure, craft beer is less than 10% of the beer business, but craft brewers use 3-4 times more hops per barrel than large brewers use. This makes craft brewers a very important customer for hop growers, and the growers and craft brewers are now starting to work together to get the hops and the quality we all want.

Ask the Experts / Re: Ask the Experts: Mitch Steele on IPA
« on: November 14, 2012, 08:24:10 PM »
A) What are your preferred hops for bittering an IPA and why?

B) Are there any combinations of hops (or types of hops) that work particularly well together for flavor/aroma? Any combinations that you've tried that don't work well together?

•   For bittering (in IPA), I prefer high alpha hops with low aromatic/flavor profiles. This would include hops like Magnum and Warrior, and to some extent, Nugget. I avoid hops like Columbus or Chinook for bittering-the bitterness can come across as harsh, and at times, the flavors do impact or clash with the late stage hops and dry-hops. That being said, I’ve had many good beers that are bitter-hopped with highly aromatic varieties, and have really enjoyed them. But I typically avoid them when formulating our IPAs. Note that this doesn’t hold true for all beer styles.
•   Some combinations I’ve really enjoyed are a 50/50 blend of Simcoe and Amarillo, Centennial and Motueka, Cascade and any of the other C hops. Citra and Simcoe with Centennial. Columbus and Centennial can be great together. Calypso is a great new hop for blending. And I like Nelson Sauvin with Centennial and Motueka. Very, very fruity! And Crystal is a great hop to use with C hops. Though not generally recognized as an IPA type hop, it can add a lot of unique citrus and tea flavors to the hop profile. Combinations that didn’t work for me? Perhaps Chinook and Columbus-it was too much…I kind of approach hop blending like pairing beer with food: You can get the additive effect, where the result is synergistic, you can mix “like” with “like”, but don’t mix where one hop will overwhelm the other, or if the varieties’ flavors clash instead of blend.
These are tough questions! But finding the answers to these by experimenting with different combinations is what is fun about brewing beer!

Ask the Experts / Re: Ask the Experts: Mitch Steele on IPA
« on: November 14, 2012, 08:21:43 PM »
I haven't finished the book yet but I would like to ask a question that may be answered in the book but might be informative to those without the book.

I was wondering if you could just outline the top 3 (or 4 or 5) things you think makes a great IPA. Where should we really be concentrating our efforts and what is your process when designing an IPA?



BTW, Loved the Ruination 10th anniversary beer.

Mike: In the proverbial nutshell, here’s what I think makes a great IPA. Thanks for the comment on the Stone Ruination Tenth! Citra/Centennial is a great dry-hop combination!

1. Brew a really dry beer. Target a terminal gravity at 3 °P or below.
2. Minimize crystal malts, or eliminate them. And only use the lightest (20°L or less) if you do want to use crystal malt.
3. Hop a lot (duh). Use multiple additions and heavy additions in the late stages of the boil and the kettle. Minimizing your first hop addition in the boil can really help reduce harsh bitterness. But don’t be afraid of overhopping later-some of the best beers we’ve made have used ridiculous amounts of hops in the late boil and in the dry-hop. The game is changing, new standards are being developed. Don’t be timid with your hop additions.
4. Use fresh hops and the right varieties. Use lots of varieties. Single hopping is great, but I’m beginning to think that the best IPAs I’ve had use many varieties throughout all the additions.
5. Try new varieties-think out of the box. Makes things more interesting.
6. Select a very clean, highly attenuative yeast strain.

Ask the Experts / Re: Ask the Experts: Mitch Steele on IPA
« on: November 14, 2012, 08:20:01 PM »
When designing an IPA, what specific component or combination of chemical components in the hop am I looking for?  I want to venture out more, and try new hop varieties in an IPA.  Besides looking for the freshest hops, should I be looking at hop components such as, total oil, co-humulone, beta-acids, alpha-acids, myrcene, humulene, or farnesene?

Often times I can't find the classic IPA hops, such as, Simcoe, Citra, or Centennial.  So I would like to know what exactly to look for in a hop variety before I buy it and run a test brew.

Thank you.

A lot of brewers look at myrcene content, but that really doesn’t tell the whole story. Some other components people are looking at include linalool, geraniol, nerol, and B-Citronellol, which apparently is a compound transformed from geraniol by brewers yeast. Hop analysis and resulting hop character in beer is a very complex subject, and I’m not sure there is one good answer at this point. I’ve had brews made with different hop varieties, where the analysis matches up pretty close, but the flavor profiles are completely different. And no offense to the hop suppliers’ literature, but I find their recommended substitutions to be very questionable.

So one of the best methods I've found is to taste other brewers beers that use the hops I'm interested in. Seriously, I find this so much more valuable than looking at a specification/analysis sheet.

Alpha acids definitely don’t tell the whole story-I’ve had 2 beers dry-hopped with hops at very similar high alpha acid levels, one had a huge hop presence and one had very little. So you need to be careful reading too much into the analytics, because there is more to it that really isn’t completely understood yet. In my opinion, we’re not really close to having a good understanding of the dynamics of hop flavor in craft brewed beer.
And, one last comment, hop flavor in beer is influenced by so much more than the hop variety itself-yeast variety looks to play a key role, as does fermentation temperature, pitch rate, aging temperature, where the hops are added, the beer style and the malts in the recipe, how the hops were harvested, how they were kilned, how old the hops are, storage conditions, and on and on.

Ask the Experts / Re: Ask the Experts: Mitch Steele on IPA
« on: November 14, 2012, 08:17:49 PM »
My question concerns stability in kegs. The flavor and aroma in my hoppy ales start to diminish after two to three weeks. I rack under co2 with a closed system. I would appreciate any thoughts or recommendations you would have concerning increasing stability in packaging. My typical hop additions are FWH, 15,10, 5 and then 2 to 3 ounces in the hop rocket before plate chilling. I then slowly recirculate beer through 2 to 6 ounces of hops in my "torpedo" for two days after kegging; this is done at cellar temps (60-65 F). All of this is done completely under co2. Thanks and love your beers. Cory

Hi Cory: To answer this question, I need to know how much beer we’re talking about. I’m assuming a 5 gallon batch? If so, your weights look pretty good. I'm sorry, but I don't know what a "hop rocket" is.

Also, are you priming the beer in the keg for carbonation, or force carbonating? Carbonation adjustments can strip hop flavor also. Which means that if you are bubbling compressed CO2 through your keg to carbonate the beer, that process can strip out hop flavor.  If you are using Corny kegs, consider using a mesh bag of fresh hops in the keg just prior to filling and leaving it in there (assuming quick consumption here). Chilling the beer down quickly and keeping it cold will help minimize any of those vegetative flavors that I mentioned in answering the first question.

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