As hard as I try, I never get sick of IPAs; it just doesn't happen. I can drink IPAs all night, and still crave an IPA the next day. I'm probably in the minority here, but my taste buds are always craving something extraordinarily hoppy. In Vinnie Cilurzo's words, I've definitely had a lupulin threshold shift.

I have my own IPA and DIPA recipes that I am absolutely in love with, but as they say, variety is the spice of life. So I'm going to spend the next few months trying my absolutely hardest to brew spot-on clones of some of the best IPAs in the country. Typically I take some creative liberties when I brew clones, to tailor them to my tastes, but for this little run, I'm going to brew them as exact as I can.

I'll be working off of known clone recipes, and a few of my own to try to replicate these beers. Other than Pliny, the commercial examples are all available here in Phoenix, so it won't be tough to see how close my attempts are.

In no particular order, the line up is:
  • Russian River - Pliny the Younger
  • Firestone Walker - Union Jack
  • Bell's - Two Hearted Ale
  • Russian River - Pliny the Elder
  • Four Peaks - Hop Knot
  • Firestone Walker - Double Jack
    Thankfully I have all the hard-to-find hops needed for these recipes. Union Jack and Pliny the Elder should be slam dunks, since there are well established recipes for those. That is assuming I can muster the brewing prowess. For Hop Knot, I've already put together a solid recipe, but it still needs some very minor tweaks. Pliny the Younger, Double Jack, and Two Hearted Ale all required some research, but after a lot of digging, I've got some good info.

    Look forward to recipes and brew day notes here soon. The Younger is first!

    Amber and DIPA

    My two most recent beers are finally carbonated, conditioned, and tasting their best. The first is my Amber Ale, and the second is my Furry Penguin that was brewed here. Below are the tasting notes.  

    American Amber:
    **Update (05/18/12) - This beer took Silver with a 39 in the Great Arizona Homebrew Competion!!**

    Clarity is good, but not brilliant. For some reason, this beer never fully cleared up. Color is a beautiful deep red. Aroma is a mix between citrusy hops and sweet toffee from the caramel malt. Taste is more of the same. Malt sweetness hits first, then some hop citrus, then some bitterness in the finish.

    I'm very happy with this beer, but the recipe still needs a little tweaking. I'm thinking a little less C60, and a little more dry hops. It's really close to where I want it though.

    Furry Penguin Double IPA:
    I absolutely love this beer. Clarity is fantastic, color is golden with a little orange. Aroma is heavy citrus notes, with some sweet tropical fruit character. There's also a little oily, resiny, dank character in the background. The taste follows the aroma. Sweet citrus, tropical fruit, and a smooth but firm bitterness that doesn't linger.

    Definitely a dry beer, but there's some light background sweetness that keeps it drinkable. This beer is just a mouthful of hop oil, which I absolutely love. I'm submitting this one to the NHC this week, so let's all keep our fingers crossed that it does well.

    Photo credit:

    Over the past year I've really studied the differences between professional brewers and home brewers. While there are many, one of the big differences in hoppy beers is that pro brewers whirlpool their wort post boil (hot), and home brewers typically do not. Pro brewers often add copious amounts of hops during this time, while it's rare to see home brewers add hops after flameout, and delay chilling their wort. After thinking about this for awhile, I realized, why not?

    If you've been brewing for any period of time, you've certainly re-brewed a batch you've brewed before. Unfortunately, repeatability is one of the more challenging things for a home brewer. We, as home brewers, don't brew the same beers day-in and day-out, and we often don't have rock solid, repeatable processes during the brew day. I know I've had this issue myself, and it's definitely something that bothers me. I've found that keeping better brewing logs can really help.

    Brewing a 120 Minute IPA clone is much like having a newborn: It's very temperamental, and it needs fed twice a day. In all seriousness, this beer is a lot of work. You need to be very organized, and very sanitary, as you'll be messing with your fermenting wort daily. So here are a collection of tips and tricks I learned along the way that will help should you want to tackle this beer.

    After this post discussing my plan to brew a cross between 120 Minute and Pliny the Younger, I got some feedback that I should post the recipe and process for the original 120 Minute clone. Most of the info is detailed here, but that thread is a million pages long and the information isn't condensed. Unfortunately, there's a flipping ton of information about this beer, so hold onto your hats, this is going to be a long one.

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