Monday, February 10, 2014

Building a Philospher

If you drink craft beer you've undoubtedly heard of Pliny the Elder.  It's a double IPA made by Russian River Brewing Company.  It's quite good.  I've had the opportunity to sample it twice and I was surprised that it had lived up to the hype.  Sadly, it isn't a beer we can get in West Virginia (or anywhere close).  Therefore I decided for this past brew day to make a clone.  Considering I barely know what I'm doing I ordered the Pliny clone extract kit from Northern Brewer - The Plinian Legacy.  I'd always heard that Pliny had a pretty intense hop schedule and, based on my prior experiences, I'd say the stories were true.

Jason adding the Hop Shot
Typically we get about two packs of hop pellets in whatever kit we've bought.  Three at the most.  I think we got close to twelve hop packets with this kit along with two "hop shots" which were syringes filled with hop extract.

We had our brew day this past Saturday and the very first step basically involves adding hops to the pot as we steeped our grains.  Throughout the boil we added more hops.  Once the boil was done but before we cooled the wort we added more hops.  There are still hops left for two more dry hop runs during the secondary fermentation stage.  This was a seriously hop happy recipe.

Thomas in Deep Thought

My tastings of Pliny the Elder revealed a very well balanced beer that while hoppy didn't hit you over the head with hop bitterness.  I hope the final product of this beer kit is just half as well balanced otherwise I fear the beer will be a punch in the face.

We tasted the various hops including the hop extract (a very tiny dab for each of us) and we had fun watching everyone's reaction to the extract.  The extract consistency was close to tar or wet gorilla glue.  It stuck to our teeth and tongues.  It lingered and extracted a toll from all of us who tried it.  Fortunately, Mike thought of crackers and we all quickly found respite from the lingering hop power of the extract.

Thomas Stirring the Mash

The whole brew day involved us doing something new.  Normally it is just myself, Jason, and Mike but for this event I invited all of my beer friends and a bunch of other people came over.  It was great having Derrick, Amanda, Jim, Simone, Thomas (our only experienced brewer present), Lindsay, and a variety of kids around.  As usual we also made some hand crafted pizza's to help balance out the heavy drinking. Plus Lisa cranked out some spent grain bread.  Overall it was a busy and full day that flew by.

Mike and Jim Drinking