16: Anchor Liberty Ale Educational Clone (e)


Just poured some of the America v Britain Superpower IPA which I force carbed on Sunday… and it has “that IPA taste”! (I don’t need to link to it again, right? You know what I mean surely by now.)

There were only three hops in that: Chinook, Cascade, and Fuggles. Just before drinking it I downed two of my Cascade only Anchor Liberty Ale Educational Clone – one with and one without dry hopping – and never noticed “that IPA taste”… I made a bitter with only Fuggles and never noticed “that IPA taste”… could it be the Chinook?

Or… Superpower was the first beer I made at the right temperature, so should I discard all the others tastings as invalid? I do have a feeling it is Cascade related. Maybe because Cascade in a combination with certain bittering hops.

Funnily, before force carbing and chilling Superpower, I never got the same taste. Is it a chilling thing? A carb thing?

Well maybe by the end of this keg I’ll have come to like the damn taste and it will be a mute point!!!

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On Thursday I bottled Beer thirteen (Strong Lagunitas IPA Clone) and partially bottled Beer sixteen (Anchor Liberty Ale educational Clone), dry hopping the rest of Liberty with Cascade.

I commented then that Beer fifteen’s dry-hopping (Muddy Puddle Unpredictable JPA) still hadn’t had much influence. By Sunday it was a different story – the intensity was just at the right level to be lip-smackingly good. The Liberty clone had also reached “my, that’s good!” level – so on Sunday I bottled both Beer fifteen and Beer sixteen.

A few weeks ago I was desperately frustrated that my IPAs/hoppy ales were not coming out well. By monitoring the dry hopping process – checking the taste every few days rather than just leaving it in for 7 or 14 days “default” as many people do (and I did) – I’m having much better success. Hopefully now I can scale this up to a full batch with the same success.

What hasn’t been a great success is Beer fourteen (Orange Wheat). It has come out far too orange. I added 20g more coriander as a “dry hop tea” on Sunday and it has balanced out a little, but it still not ideal.

I think two factors have adversely affected this beer. Firstly, I didn’t monitor the orange taste – and despite the peel I used being sold by Sakeland for making beer, I don’t think the flavour is ideally suited. Once again, monitoring the taste every few days would have caught this earlier – which is why Beer two didn’t go the same way.

Secondly, I’ve been crushing the coriander rather than grinding as I did at Kiuchi for Beer ten – I don’t think crushing has released the intense coriander flavour I wanted. Puzzlingly, Beer two used far less coriander but tasted better – maybe I crushed the coriander better then.

I can still drink this – it just isn’t the flavour I desired. I’ll be trying again over the summer with different orange peel (I have already bought it) and after buying a grinder for the coriander.

Last night I tried sampled the Lagunitas IPA and Unpredictable JPA to see how much affect the dry hopping had after four days.

While Unpredictable tasted a little weak with its 9g of dry-hopping, Lagunitas was starting to edge towards the intense side with its 14g. Whether this can be attributed directly to the weight of hops used, I don’t know – Lagunitas is stronger but has less IBUs than Unpredictable (OG 1.079/FG 1.017/IBU 40 vs OG 1.053/FG 1.009/IBU 66). Unpredictable is also a mix of three hops, whereas Lagunitas is a mix of two.

I decided to bottle Lagunitas before the flavour becomes too intense and leave Unpredictable for another day or two. It might have been nice to bottle only half of Lagunitas and leave the rest, but really I’ve got enough bottling on my hands at the moment (as you’ll see below).

I also tried my Anchor Liberty Ale Educational Clone – the beer where I only used a single bittering addition with no flavour and aroma hops. All I can say is that I will never ever believe comments that say bittering additions impart minimal flavouring, if any at all. Whether you call it “flavouring” or “bittering characteristic of the hop”, there’s little doubt that this beer is seriously Cascade.

I bottled 10 Anchor bottles with this “bittering only” version – because actually, it tastes damn good. The rest I’ve added 4.5g of Cascade leaf AA 7.2% and I’ll leave it for 4-5 days. Will be really interesting to compare the “bittering only” and “bittering + dry hop” versions.

I’m now left with two free primaries, plus another which will become free this weekend, and another which will become free next week. Usually that would set me racing to make beer but I’m trying to hold off at the moment until I get my fermentation chamber sorted out – the thermostat failed to arrive last night (delivery company screw up) and I still need to work out how I’m going to materialise this fermentation chamber. I may bite the bullet and make a pilsner this weekend though, since I can ferment that in my fridge.

I’ve also been doing a bit of reading and it’s become clear that as well as fermentation temperature, my attitude of “it’s ok to pitch when the temp is high as long as it doesn’t kill off the yeast” is probably not helping. From How to Brew:

The third factor for a good fermentation is temperature. Yeast are greatly affected by temperature; too cold and they go dormant, too hot (more than 10°F above the nominal range) and they indulge in an orgy of fermentation that often cannot be cleaned up by conditioning. High temperatures encourage the production of fusel alcohols – heavier alcohols that can have harsh solvent-like flavors. Many of these fusels esterify during secondary fermentation, but in large amounts these esters can dominate the beer’s flavor. Excessively banana-tasting beers are one example of high esters due to high temperature fermentation.

High temperatures can also lead to excessive levels of diacetyl. A common mistake that homebrewers make is pitching the yeast when the wort has not been chilled enough, and is still relatively warm. If the wort is, e.g. 90 F, when the yeast is pitched and slowly cools to room temperature during primary fermentation, more diacetyl will be produced in the early stages than the yeast can reabsorb during the secondary stage. Furthermore, primary fermentation is an exothermic process. The internal temperature of the fermentor can be as much as 10F above ambient conditions, just due to yeast activity. This is one good reason to keep the fermentor in the proper temperature range; so that with a normal vigorous fermentation, the beer turns out as intended, even if it was warmer than the surroundings.

Brewing in the summertime is a definite problem if you don’t have a way to keep the fermentor cool. My friend Scott showed me a neat trick though, he would immerse (not completely) his fermentors in a spare bathtup during the summer. The water in the tub was slow to warm during the day even though temperatures would be in the 90’s, and at night the water would be slow to cool, even when the temperature dropped to 45 F. In this way he was able to moderate his fermentation temperature between 60-70 F, and the beer turned out great. I have used this method myself with wash tubs and had great success.

It’s the second paragraph that’s important here – I’ve included the rest for completeness.

I’m sure I read this all when I started homebrewing, but at that time it was way over my head – I was still just getting the general process. Now it’s making more sense to me and I’m going to make sure that my next beers have the yeast pitched at the right temperature even if it means I have to let them do the final cooling in the fridge.

Freezer pr0n

Freezer pr0n

As seems to be the constant since starting brewing, my weekends have become consumed by beer.

Saturday I attended a party put on by one of the homebrewers I know in Japan. There were only six homebrewers there (plus friends and partners) but amongst us six was the winner of the Japanese homebrewer of the year (or “Grand champion sumo wrestler” as Excite translated his title) and a guy who worked in one of Japan’s craft breweries until it closed last year.

I took along three of my beers for them to try and get feedback on.

The first was my All Fuggles Bitter, the only beer than I’m proud of. Unfortunately it was cracked open after drinking a seriously hoppy IPA (similar to my Unpredicatble PA) and consumption of an awesome chili (which I completely failed to get the recipe for), so the only comments I received were “I can’t taste anything”. Bitter – real bitter, not Best or ESB – is light and consumed at room temperature and as such just couldn’t compete with those flavours. It was stupid to crack it open then. I was gutted at the reaction.

The second was Flasher. General opinion wasn’t that Simcoe is overpowering, but that fermenting at room temperature (mid 20’s) with the yeast I’m using (UK S-04) is causing the overly fruity flavour. The guys suggested better controlling fermentation temperature and/or switching to US-05.

The third beer I didn’t even open. Fuggles was supposed to show people I could make a decent beer, and it failed. Flasher clearly wasn’t up to standard, as I’m not even happy with it. And the last time I met those guys and let them taste my first three beers, they obviously were not good (being my first three beers ever). I just felt too ashamed to bring out another and subject them to my sub-standard crap, especially when there was such other great beer on offer. When no-one was looking I surreptitiously took the bottles of my third beer out of the freezer and packed them away in my bag (so no-one would drink them accidently).

It’s clear to me now that I need to focus my attentions on temperature and yeast. I need to keep a constant fermentation temperature in the right range and I need to work out which yeasts are good for me. What’s the point of my having spent a fortune on a hops, grain, a kegerator, kegs, and all that jazz if I’m not able to achieve perfection? Yeah, I like (some of) my beers but there’s only so much of watching other people desperately wishing they hadn’t poured my beer that I can take.

On the positive side, this is the kind of thing that drives me on. I’m the worst critic of myself, and despite being in this game for less than three months, I’m judging myself by the best of the best in Japan. It’s through watching and learning from masters that you succeed, so this can only help me, even though it is painful.

Sunday was bottling, kegging, and dry hopping day.

Mid way through fermentation, Orange Wheat tasted little of coriander or orange, but yesterday it tasted very strongly of orange – almost to the “feck me” level. So I decided to rack it to a keg, leaving behind all the orange peel and coriander in the process. I then boiled a teabag of 20g of cracked coriander seeds with 200ml of water, and after a few minutes boiling, added the water and teabag to the keg. That should balance out the orange taste.

Lagunitas IPA and Unpredictable JPA, I bottled 6 x 330ml of each and then dry hopped. Lagunitas OG 1.079, FG 1.017; Unpredictable OG 1.053, FG 1.009.

Lagunitas was to be dry hopped with 10.5g each of Centennial and Cascade for 3 US G. I had 2.1G left after bottling so scaled down 10.5 / 3 * 2.1 to give roughly 7g each.

JPA was due to be dry hopped with 5.5g each of Amarillo and Centennial. I screwed up and ended up dry hopping with 3g each of Cascade, Centennial, and Amarillo. Since all three hops were used for flavouring and aroma, I don’t think it’s a major disaster. Again, I had less than the full 3G left so didn’t use as much as the 11g suggested for 3G.

Conventional wisdom of homebrewers states that you should dry hop for 1-2 weeks – but I’ve recently found out that some commercial brewers, including Lagunitas, dry hop only for 4 days. I’m convinced that Flasher tasted better after half a week dry hopping than the full week, so I’ll be monitoring this dry hopping closely, probably bottling most after 4 days and a few after 5-6 days. When it’s finished, I’ll have versions of Lagunitas and JPA with and without dry hopping – it will be a great way to taste and smell the difference dry hopping makes.

Speaking of hop experiments, the Anchor Liberty Ale Educational Clone is almost done and it has a pretty strong Cascade taste, despite only having a 60m bittering addition. It just goes to show that not everything you read (I’m thinking of “doesn’t matter which hop you use for bittering since the original flavour of the hop ia almost lost” type comments) should be believed verbatim. Anchor should be done fermentation in the next few days – again I’ll be bottling some and dry hopping the rest. It tastes good so far.

Right now I’m thinking about how I’m going to achieve consistent fermentation temperatures. I know I can use my fridge to ferment at lager temperatures of 9 degrees, but that will only allow me to ferment one lager, and wont work for ales. I’m strongly considering buying the freezer I saw at the party at the weekend (currently on special at Labi) and a temperature controller and throwing it in the space the ironing board currently occupies. Total cost to wallet: 40,000 yen. Enhancement to beer making skills: priceless.

I want to get a better understanding of hop additions and their effect on taste.

Flasher had an OG of 1.079 and IBU of 80+, yet I could barely taste bitterness. Instead I got an overpowering taste of Simcoe. All Centennial also lacked bitterness and had an intense hop taste and a touch of sweetness.

Where did the bitterness go? And where did the intensity come from?

I’ve read that bittering hops don’t impart flavour, but I’ve also read that strong aroma hops do leave traces of flavour around. Is it possible that the bittering additions, rather than just creating bitterness, left behind traces of flavour – like a stewed tea-bag? Or did that flavour really come from the flavouring and dry-hop additions?

And what level of bitterness should a high amount of IBUs leave behind?

It was around the time that I was thinking these questions that I decided to search for an Anchor Liberty Ale clone. According to “Designing Great Beers” and another source I found, Liberty Ale is made with one hop only: Cascade. It’s one of my favourite beers – perfect bittering, and beautiful hop taste.

The recipe I found uses one bittering addition of Cascade and one dry-hop addition of Cascade. No flavouring. No aroma.

What better way for me to do some hop testing than with this recipe? I can make the beer with the suggested single hop addition for bittering, bottle some, and then dry-hop the rest. From the non-dry-hopped, I’ll be able to see whether using Cascade for bittering leaves behind any hop taste. From the dry-hopped, I’ll be able to see just the effect that dry-hopping has. And you never know, unlikely though it might be that Liberty Ale has such a simple recipe, I might actually end up with a semi-close Liberty clone!

I decided to make this an extract recipe with steeping grains, mainly for speed. I’ll be using the water canister rather than a proper primary for this so there’s a chance it will go tits-up, but fingers crossed it will be OK.

Initial taste of the wort from the hydrometer was very bitter and I didn’t notice anything from the Cascade – it was just sweet and very bitter. But then I’ve had beers taste like that before and they change during fermentation, so I’m reserving judgment for now.

I’m thinking to continue this experiment with another which has the same bittering but adds flavour and aroma additions. Before adding the aroma addition, I’d split the wort in two and add aroma only to half. If I do this I could have all these to compare with: (1) bittering only, (2) bittering + dry hop, (3) bittering + flavour, (4) bittering + flavour + dry hop, (5) bittering + flavour + aroma, (6) bittering + flavour + aroma + dry hop. The only thing missing would be leaving out the bittering – if necessary I could do that test also.

Anchor Liberty Ale Educational Clone – Extract + Steeping

Boil volume: 3.7 US Gallons / 14L
Anticipated final volume: 3.2 US Gallons / 12.1L

Anticipated OG: 1.057
Actual OG : 1.061 (adjusted to 25 degrees)

Grain (all precrushed) / DME:
145g Crystal 27L
145g Crystal 40L
1.74kg Muntons Extra-light Spraymalt

Hops:
Predicted IBU based on anticipated OG: 59.
I didn’t make adjustments for using a hop bag because my hop bag is very large.
60m 42.5g Cascade leaf 7.2%
Dry hop: 9.1g Cascade (I’ll adjust this down depending on how long I bottle)

Method:
As per my step by step guide. Steeping temp was 68-71 degrees, for 30 minutes. All DME added at the beginning of the boil.

Yeast:
S-04, half a pack. I could have used American yeast for this but I want to keep the yeast consistent with the other IPAs I’ve made.