Author Topic: Hopping a California Common  (Read 1557 times)

Offline gmac

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Hopping a California Common
« on: April 02, 2011, 10:47:32 PM »
This question is hidden in another thread but judging by the lack or responses, I'm guessing it isn't to apparent.

So, I'm hoping to do a California Common tomorrow with Wyeast 2112, 9 lbs MO, 1 lb C40 and Northern Brewer hops.
I'm not that happy with the balance on my last few beers despite not using that much hops.  What would you recommend for good balance with distinct but not dominant hop character? 
I'm considering 1 oz @ 60 (AA7.8), 1/2 oz at 15 and 0 at flameout.  The BJCP guidelines I found on line didn't really give me a lot of direction when it came to hop flavour and aroma, just that it should be fairly bitter.  The last few beers I've done have been pretty bitter and although I like them, my wife is looking for more balance and malt and less hops.  This isn't going into any contest, just my belly.
Thanks

Offline euge

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Re: Hopping a California Common
« Reply #1 on: April 02, 2011, 11:17:54 PM »
You might want to change it, with 1/2oz at 60 and 1oz at 30-20. But your way sounds good too. It's a bitter beer, but you can taste the hops a bit and it's balanced by caramel sweet. That's how I see it. A great beer.

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BJCP: Overall Impression: A lightly fruity beer with firm, grainy maltiness, interesting toasty and caramel flavors, and showcasing the signature Northern Brewer varietal hop character.
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Offline tomsawyer

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Re: Hopping a California Common
« Reply #2 on: April 03, 2011, 06:55:50 AM »
An ounce at 60min is only 26IBU right?  Plus your 15min addition would bring you to around 30IBU.  For a 1.054 OG beer I'd go with that for a firm bitterness that still lets the malt come through.
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Re: Hopping a California Common
« Reply #3 on: April 05, 2011, 12:49:42 PM »
My cali common is not traditional but everyone who has had it really likes it.

My hop schedule is

.75 oz cascade (8.9%) at 60
1 oz  at 15
and 1.25 oz as a sort of hop back

The way I see it what makes a california common is the use of the lager yeast at warmer temps. I don't buy into that idea that just because Anchor was the only commercial example until recently you have to use the same hops as they do. I will say that cascade is not really to style and some kind of california cluster hops might be more so but...

I am thinking of trying it with Ivanhoe which is a recently revived old northern california cluster variety with a huge tropical fruit/pineapple character.

I'll post about that when I do it.
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Offline bluesman

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Re: Hopping a California Common
« Reply #4 on: April 05, 2011, 01:11:46 PM »
There are a couple of variables to consider...one being your threshold for bitterness. Mash temp and water profile are also important considerations when trying to get a handle on percieved bitterness. The more percieved mouthfeel in a beer will require more bitterness to achieve a balance between malt and hops. High sulfate in your water will also affect percieved hop bitterness or astringency.

These things in conjunction with your hop schedule will work together. I would tweak it to your liking.

However if you are competing then I would recommend getting some Anchor Steam and doing some blind tastings and tweak your recipe from there.

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Offline gmac

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Re: Hopping a California Common
« Reply #5 on: April 05, 2011, 01:24:31 PM »
Thanks everyone. 
Unfortunately, I got sick over the weekend so this didnt' happen yet but it scheduled to happen tomorrow (work permitting).  I know some people use C hops in Cal. Commons but I don't have any and can't really get any for a while so I'm going to have to go with the Northern Brewer.  I really prefer Anchor to some other US IPA beers (I know they aren't the same) so I think for my tastes, NB will be a good starting hop anyway although I appreciate the suggestions.  I am also leaning toward the schedule Euge suggested but that could change.

As for as competing goes, that isn't likely in my future or at least not for quite a while.  I do wish I had someone nearby that knew what they were doing that could try my beers and tell me where to make improvements though.  My friends do not have discerning palettes.

Regarding Sulphates, my water is 37 mg/L.  Is this high?  That was mentioned elsewhere but I didn't get a reply to my number.  My water is fairly hard which I know isn't ideal for this type of beer but it is what I have to work with.  I have been acidifying my mash with a very low amount of citric acid which I have yet to detect as an off-flavour but there are more beer in primary's still to try.


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Re: Hopping a California Common
« Reply #6 on: April 05, 2011, 03:38:03 PM »
Thanks everyone. 
Unfortunately, I got sick over the weekend so this didnt' happen yet but it scheduled to happen tomorrow (work permitting).  I know some people use C hops in Cal. Commons but I don't have any and can't really get any for a while so I'm going to have to go with the Northern Brewer.  I really prefer Anchor to some other US IPA beers (I know they aren't the same) so I think for my tastes, NB will be a good starting hop anyway although I appreciate the suggestions.  I am also leaning toward the schedule Euge suggested but that could change.

As for as competing goes, that isn't likely in my future or at least not for quite a while.  I do wish I had someone nearby that knew what they were doing that could try my beers and tell me where to make improvements though.  My friends do not have discerning palettes.

Regarding Sulphates, my water is 37 mg/L.  Is this high?  That was mentioned elsewhere but I didn't get a reply to my number.  My water is fairly hard which I know isn't ideal for this type of beer but it is what I have to work with.  I have been acidifying my mash with a very low amount of citric acid which I have yet to detect as an off-flavour but there are more beer in primary's still to try.



hope you are feeling better! Don't get me wrong, I like Anchor Steam it's a solid beer and is widely available so it's always a good choice. I just get touchy about that BJCP guidlines telling me I HAVE to use one particular variety of hop. I know it doesn't matter unless one is competing but still... Your beer will be yummy I am sure and if you need someone to sample it we can exchange addresses and you can ship me a keg or two. ;)
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Offline Will's Swill

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Re: Hopping a California Common
« Reply #7 on: April 05, 2011, 05:10:23 PM »
My cali common is not traditional but everyone who has had it really likes it.

My hop schedule is

.75 oz cascade (8.9%) at 60
1 oz  at 15
and 1.25 oz as a sort of hop back



Wouldn't this be an American California Common?  Or perhaps a Cascadian Steam?
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Offline bluesman

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Re: Hopping a California Common
« Reply #8 on: April 05, 2011, 06:55:41 PM »
Thanks everyone. 
Unfortunately, I got sick over the weekend so this didnt' happen yet but it scheduled to happen tomorrow (work permitting).  I know some people use C hops in Cal. Commons but I don't have any and can't really get any for a while so I'm going to have to go with the Northern Brewer.  I really prefer Anchor to some other US IPA beers (I know they aren't the same) so I think for my tastes, NB will be a good starting hop anyway although I appreciate the suggestions.  I am also leaning toward the schedule Euge suggested but that could change.

As for as competing goes, that isn't likely in my future or at least not for quite a while.  I do wish I had someone nearby that knew what they were doing that could try my beers and tell me where to make improvements though.  My friends do not have discerning palettes.

Regarding Sulphates, my water is 37 mg/L.  Is this high?  That was mentioned elsewhere but I didn't get a reply to my number.  My water is fairly hard which I know isn't ideal for this type of beer but it is what I have to work with.  I have been acidifying my mash with a very low amount of citric acid which I have yet to detect as an off-flavour but there are more beer in primary's still to try.



Your welcome.

Northern Brewer will work just fine. Your dosage sounds pretty good but I recommend increasing your dosage rates for your flavor addition and add an aroma addition at flameout using all Northern Brewer. This will come close to Anchor Steam Beer.

1oz @ 60min
1 1/2oz@10min
1 1/2oz @ flameout

Normal sulfate level is 50-150ppm which will lend a somewhat bitter profile but not excessive. So your water is below the standard level for normally bitter beer which is okay for making beer, you will have to adjust your hopping rates accordingly to your tastes.
Ron Price

Offline gmac

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Re: Hopping a California Common
« Reply #9 on: April 07, 2011, 11:29:38 AM »
After all this I still screwed it up.
Added 30g at 60 and then thought Bluesman was suggesting 1.5 oz at 20-30 but that's not his.  So I added 45g at 25 and I guess I'll add another 45 at 5 mins.  Should give me a bit of flavour and aroma, not quite as much aroma as at flamout perhaps. We'll chalk this up to try to brew during the work day and getting distracted.  Next time I'll write out the intended hop schedule on a peice of paper.  Live and learn and drink.

Offline Kit B

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Re: Hopping a California Common
« Reply #10 on: April 07, 2011, 11:39:35 AM »
I've been researching this a little, as well.
The BJCP Guidelines say to use Northern Brewer & I've heard folks say that NB is the absolute one to use.
On the other hand, I've seen several recipes that include Cascades.
Now...If I was to go with a historical re-enactment of the recipe, from the late 1800s & early 1900s, Cascade would not be an option, since it was not released until sometime around 1981 (I think).
In fact...NB were not available until 1934.
So...
Does anyone have recommendations/ideas for which hop breeds may have been used, in the late 1800s?
« Last Edit: April 07, 2011, 02:51:26 PM by Kit B »
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Offline Kirk

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Re: Hopping a California Common
« Reply #11 on: April 07, 2011, 03:46:10 PM »
I've found Northern Brewer hops to give a grassy taste that I don't care for at all.  I stay away from them. 
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Re: Hopping a California Common
« Reply #12 on: April 07, 2011, 03:59:26 PM »
For my steam beer, I bitter with NB to around 30-35 IBUs and then make another NB addition at 15 minutes for about 7 IBUs.  I always add between .50 and 1 oz of some citrusy American hop at flameout for aroma.  I don't care what the guidelines say, a citrus nose really works well with steam beer.
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Offline Beer Monger

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Re: Hopping a California Common
« Reply #13 on: April 07, 2011, 04:06:11 PM »
Agreed.  I'm sure I'll make at least a few beers this year that are a bit off-style.  I'm a serious hop-head, so some of my beers are a bit hoppier than the style might call for.  And I absolutely Love the citrusy aroma of Cascade hops. 
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Online morticaixavier

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Re: Hopping a California Common
« Reply #14 on: April 08, 2011, 11:57:34 AM »
I've been researching this a little, as well.
The BJCP Guidelines say to use Northern Brewer & I've heard folks say that NB is the absolute one to use.
On the other hand, I've seen several recipes that include Cascades.
Now...If I was to go with a historical re-enactment of the recipe, from the late 1800s & early 1900s, Cascade would not be an option, since it was not released until sometime around 1981 (I think).
In fact...NB were not available until 1934.
So...
Does anyone have recommendations/ideas for which hop breeds may have been used, in the late 1800s?

As I understand it there are a few historical varieties that are starting to make a comeback in the SF Bay area. Now that the bulk of the north bay wine excitment is dying down (yeah right) some farmers are turning back to hops. I just did a barley wine using Ivanhoe which as I understand it is an heirloom northern CA variety. It is a Cluster hop type which was very common here pre-prohibition. so Cluster type hops would be an area to explore. I wouldn't be suprised if the early german brewers that 'invented' the style used locally grown 'noble' type hops either but I don't know the historical accuracy of that.
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