It’s a word that will mean different things to different brewers.  There are homebrewers and pro brewers who will push the boundaries, introduce new methods to the brewing process, fuse beer styles and general food for thought for those of us who like to keep things simple.  I’m glad others do it so I can taste/read the results and learn from it.  The Brewdog / Flyingdog Arms Race was met with mixed results, unsurprisingly considering the current climate of, hop it big or go home.  Beer without hops is experimentation and I’m glad they did it so I don’t waste a day of my life.

However, I do experiment to a degree and plan to take things a little further in 2013.  It won’t be groundbreaking stuff, but after listening to Basic Brewing Radio (BBR) I do think it’s important to give things a go firsthand.

None of this will be strictly scientific, but split batches seem to be the best way to maximise the returns for your efforts.  I’ll be brewing 23L batches and splitting four ways into demijohns.  Based on what has gone before, I’ll brew a base beer with simple hopping and four yeast strains.  Another idea is using a base wort, then boiling with different hopping schedule late in the boil (“Hop Bursting“) and the other being dry hopped.  I have a fair idea of what I might expect for this one but I still think it’s something I can learn from.  Afterall, the late hopped beer should be more bitter and the dry hopped more fragrant….right?

Image from pdtnc

First Wort Hopping

I have already played around with First Wort Hopping (FWH) but can’t really see the need to play around with this too much.  From listening to Stone Brewing Co’s Mitch Steele on BBR it sounds as though they have looked into mash hopping and FWH and drawn a blank.  Obviously the effectiveness of mash hops and/or FWH will be largely dependent on the hop variety, quantity of hops used, mash temps, length of mash, the temp of the wort when transferred onto the hops in the copper and the length of time your copper takes to come to a rolling boil.  I’ll most likely use FWH from time to time, I think it can be a useful technique if you use the right hop variety, Magnum and Pilgrim are two I have used and can vouch for.  For example, a Double IPA can take any extra IBUs you can leach from FHW and if you’re watching the pennies then it could reduce the later hop additions? Difficult to calculate I suppose.  Check out this blog for examples of FWH, specifically his HopZilla IPA.

Anyway, I’m rambling a little too much now.  The purpose of this post was to get some ideas down on paper and as ever, feedback is valued.

3 thoughts on “Experimentation

  1. Good read, thanks. I think splitting the same batch a great way to get a good understanding of yeast profiles. With all the variables in home brewing, fermenting different batches of the same beer with varied yeasts provides less control, more so if they’ve been brewed by different people on different kit.

  2. Sounds like a good plan.

    I’ve found that making small 5 litre batches of simple beers is a good way to try out different hops. As well as the straightforward differences in flavour, I’ve begun to notice how the strength of those flavours is also a variable.

    Generally I’ve used an equal mix of first wort hops, 20 mins and 0 mins to get at the bittering, flavour and aroma characteristics. I guess these should also be separated into three different batches but you have to draw a line somewhere. I’m not sure how many of the subtle differences I can really taste.

    Good luck with the experiments.

    • Cheers John. You’re way ahead of me! I don’t expect to create the perfect conditions for comparing, but I’d like to get a feel for how these things contribute to bitterness, flavour and aroma. I’m sure it’ll prove to be a useful exercise.

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