Home Brewing: AG4 – Double Trouble and Hiccup

Beer Homebrew

For my latest home brewing adventure, I was inspired by CAMRGB‘s “Evening of Double IPAs” earlier this year. Why not brew myself a Double IPA, I wondered.

In the end, I didn’t leave myself nearly enough time to get the beer ready for the event – a big beer like a Double IPA needs time to mature, after all – but my patience has limits, and I’ve finally declared the beer “ready”.

One of the challenges here was making such a strong beer. I took the old-fashioned approach of doing what’s known as a parti-gyle – or more pleasingly, a party gyle.

You mash your grains as usual, but rather than sparging and running all the resulting wort into a single container you effectively batch sparge, keeping each wort batch separated. The first batch extracts the most sugar from the grain, and this is what gets used to make the main or “big” beer. The second batch extracts less sugar (although still a decent amount), and is used to make a second “small beer”.

The other suggestion I’ve come across is that you simply extend the boil to evaporate off more water from the wort, and raise the sugar concentration that way – I have a hard enough time controlling the steam filling my kitchen as it is, so I didn’t want to take this approach.

The recipe is a little complicated as a result of the parti-gyle – two different beers, but the same grain produced them both.

  • 2750g pale malt
  • 220g crystal malt
  • 220g amber malt
  • 170g torrified wheat

Double Trouble

So, the first mash of the day was at 66 degrees, for a full 90 minutes. I managed to get 8 litres of wort from this, which was a little less than I’d hoped – the grain had absorbed slightly more water than I’d allowed for – but certainly enough to work with.

I went for a single hop approach, using only Apollo hops.

  • 12g Apollo for the full boil
  • 8g Apollo for the last 15 minutes
  • 4g Apollo when the heat was turned off at the end of boil

After a 90 minutes boil, the OG came in at 1082 – a little under my target, as I had to add a little water to bring my volume back up. I’d got some WLP001 California Ale yeast from White Labs for this beer, as I knew I needed something that could handle the strength.

After a week in the fermenter, I racked it into a demijohn where it sat for another two weeks. At this stage, I added another 10g of Apollo hops to give it even more of a kick and left it a further week before bottling, at an ABV of 8.8%.

ag4-1

It’s a deep, almost port-like ruby in the glass with an open but lingering head. Right at the start of the aroma there are some citrus floral notes, but they’re quickly overtaken by a sticky sweet almost date-like smell with a distinct alcohol hit and there’s some candied orange in there too.

In the mouth, you get a sweet, fruity start which quickly yields to a serious hop bitterness although as it sits on your tongue, the sweetness and the hops have a fascinating kind of battle where neither of them quite win. Towards the end, you get raisins and a subtle citrus orange hop fruit flavour, along with a tannic dryness which still manages to leaves your lips sticky and you can feel the alcohol warmth working its way down to your belly.

The body is a little on the light side for such a big beer, but overall I’m genuinely surprised at how well this has turned out. The hop aroma is too understated to be a proper double IPA, although the bitterness is just right.

I will definitely keep a couple of bottles back for Christmas – partly to see how it matures but also because I think it’s a wonderfully Christmas flavour.

Hiccup

After taking off the wort for Double Trouble, I added another 10 litres to the mashtun at 85 degrees, as if I was just doing a normal batch sparge. 20 minutes later I took this off into a separate boiler, managing to get the full 10 litres this time around. For this beer I took a slightly more subtle hop approach.

  • 8g Goldings for the full boil
  • 4g Challenger for the full boil
  • 4g Challenger for the last 15 minutes

After another 90 minute boil, I read the OG at 1045 and pitched with my more regular Nottingham yeast.

As with Double Trouble, this was racked into a demijohn after a week and bottled after another three. The final ABV came up as 6.2%

ag4-2

It’s a rich copper in the glass – lighter than it’s brother, as expected – with a thick, almost creamy head on it that lasts and lasts. On the nose there’s a hint of yeast and a green earthy smell that puts me in mind of fresh damp undergrowth. That sounds a lot stranger and more unpleasant than it is – it’s not damp or musty, it’s fresh but with some depth to it. Kavey describes it as “moss that’s been freshly rained on” which is probably a little more poetic and appetising than my take!

In the mouth you get the foaminess hinted at by the head; there’s a little caramel which is very nicely balanced by the bitterness coming through. It’s a fairly classical Best Bitter – tasty, very easy drinking and hides it’s strength well. I could easily drink pints of this although at 6.2%, perhaps not many of them.

Overall, I’m indecently pleased with both of these beers.

They were an experiment and although Double Trouble didn’t quite turn out as I planned – I need to dump a whole lot more late hops in there – it’s delicious; given that Hiccup was almost a bonus beer I couldn’t be happier.

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