Single Hop Experiment: Palisades American Bitter

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Getting ready for the springtime weather (at least in Texas, its been 80 F in March!), I decided to start making some light and hoppy beers to fit the upcoming season. Looking through my hop storage, I realized I had a bunch of Palisades hops that I bought on a whim, but have been hesitant to use due to my unfamiliarity with its aroma and flavor. Doing a bit of research online, I discovered a nice website about hops called Beer Legends, with loads of detailed information on a wide variety of hop strains. From there website, they describe the Palisade hop as a “dual use hop…more for the complex but subdued flavor profile and aroma than the bitterness” with flavor and aroma characteristics as “sweet nectar fruits with hints of citrus…the bouquet will also a deliver a punch of floral perfume.”  Upon reading this, I was eager to give them a try.

To get the full flavor and aroma of the Palisade hop, I decide to make it a single hop experiment, using only Palisades as the bittering, flavor, and aroma additions in the brew. In picking a style, instead of choosing an IPA (a good style choice for a hop experiment),  I was looking for something light (and refreshing), and instead brewed up a British-esque Bitter-type ale.

Malts To make this Bitter slightly English, the grist was composed of English malts. Keeping it basic, Maris Otter was chosen as the only base malt for its malty, biscuit-y characters (that I enjoy very much in English-styles). To play back up (in small percentages), some British-style Crystal malt (70-80 L range) , Carapils, and Special Roast to add some malt complexity, body, color, and fullness. Keeping this Bitter light, I’m only looking for an OG of 1.034, for an ABV ~3.2%, so the total grist weight is very small (~ 3-4 lbs) in this small batch.

Hops Since this brew is all about understanding the Palisade hop, additions were used for bittering, flavor and aroma. However, since the grist is quite small, it is easy to put too many IBUs, making this Bitter too much of its name. Thus, only about an ounce total was needed to make this beer in the 30 IBU range (using Palisades in the 7% AA range). To get a big flavor and aroma from this Bitter, most of the hop additions were late in the boil (last 15 minutes). Also, after fermentation was complete, a small addition of Palisades dry hops were added to enhance the aroma. This should be a hoppy good one (especially for those hop heads out there).

Yeast Since British yeast strains tend to be ester driven, and play up the malt profile well in ales, I deferred the use in this Bitter since I was preforming a hop experiment. From experience, British yeast strains generally reduce the full hop characteristics, diminishing the overall qualities of the Palisades. So instead, I chose the classic West-coast American Ale strain (Wyeast 1056) great for hop expression for this brew. A cleaner British yeast strain could be used in replacememnt of the American strain (such as Wyeast 1098 British Ale). Through this choice of yeast and hops, the name of Palisades American Bitter was created.

Water Water is not a big issue in this beer; however, for those who like to play with their water source, adding small amounts of gypsum to this ale is a good choice. Pushing your water profile sulfate high (at a ratio roughly 1:2 chloride:sulfate ratio) will yield a more expressive hop character. For most of my hoppy ales and lagers, I employee this strategy with great success. In general, make sure you check for municipality water report before water modification; you could already have great water for hoppy beers. In Austin (the city), we have a balanced chloride:sulfate ratio (1:1), so adding gypsum will push it where I need it to be.

Recipe: Palisades American Bitter

Batch size: 2.5 Gallons

Brew date: 02/23/2013

———- Grist ———-

80% English Maris Otter (~ 3 lbs)

8% English Crystal 70-80 L (~ 0.25 lbs)

8% Briess Carpils (~ 0.25 lbs)

4% Special Roast (~ 2 oz)

Total Grist: ~3-3.5 lbs

———- Hops ———-

0.32 oz (9 grams) Palisades Hops (~7 AA) @ 60 min left in boil

0.32 oz (9 grams) Palisades Hops (~7 AA) @ 15 min left in boil

0.32 oz (9 grams) Palisades Hops (~7 AA) @ 5 min left in boil

0.32 oz (9 grams) Palisades Hops (~7 AA) dry-hopped (~ 7 days)

———- Yeast ———-

Wyeast 1056 (fresh smack pack)

Anticipated O.G. : 1.034

Anticipated F.G. : 1.008

Anticipated ABV: ~3.2%

IBU (Rager): 30 -ish

SRM: 8 (copper-y)

———- Water ———-

Good clean water. My water is the city of Austin, which is pretty good for this recipe. To express the hops a bit more, I added 3/4 tsp gypsum to the total water used in the mash and sparge.

———- Mash Schedule ———-

Mash high  (~154 F) since Wyeast 1056 has medium-high attenuation. Since this grist is small, body will come from a more dextrinous wort. Mashing high will yield a low attenuation than Wyeast 1056 normally achieves, leaving the beer with a bit more body.

Anticipated Mash efficiency: 85 % (Up the base malt percentage if your mash efficiency is lower)

Stay tuned for brewers notes and tasting!

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