Every so often, after brewing a few dozen batches, I have all these tiny bags of hops, grains, and other fun ingredients lying around. They’re always in such small amounts that I can never really use them without supplementing them with another a bunch of other ingredients to make them useful. So about once a year I either make up a recipe, or do some type of franken-brew that isn’t exactly a clone of any commercial beer, and sometimes doesn’t even fit into those handy-dandy BJCP guidelines.
Exhibit A: Banana Bread Beer
And yes, it’s that time of year again.
I got a big ol’ bag of American 2-row for Christmas and it’s burning a hole in my proverbial pocket. And I finally got a mill, which means I can store grain a little longer (because I don’t have to crush when I buy it). But before I jump into those new adventures, I figured I’d try to clean up those small bags of malts I had lying around. I had some honey malt, a bit of Belgian aromatic malt, some special b, and an old ~5 lb bag of 2-row I found that had been in my possession for…far too long (along with a buncha random fractional amounts of hops).
Was the malt stale? Definitely. Did it have any diastatic power left in it? Hopefully. Would it taste great? We’ll see!
Also, a friend of mine–who I have known for many, many years–dropped a bomb on me a few months ago: his mother works–no, RUNS–a hop farm in Salem, Oregon. Are you serious? We’ve even brewed batches together, and he never bothered to tell me that. Anyway, I made him swear the next time he was there that he’d pick some up for me. You know, if at all possible. He came back with a few bags of hops. I love that man.
I’ve been in possession of a bunch (haven’t weighed them yet…about a pound?) of cascade hops–in leaf form, for a few months, and I honestly had no idea what to do with them. I knew they were probably a bit stale too, but who knows how much power those little lupulin glands had in them still? There’s only one way to find out…
So I did some Googling, and plenty of Hopville-ing and BrewPal-ing and finally came up with a recipe for an all-Cascade IPA. I hope, at least. In all honesty, I have no idea what it’ll truly end up being, with all of the expired, stale ingredients. It’ll be a fun test to see how long hops and grain last in my house though. (Again: hopefully.) It should end up somewhere between a 9% ABV, 100 IBU double IPA, and a 6%, 65 IBU single IPA. (Let’s just hope it’s not a 5%, 120 IBU hop bomb. Heck, even a 3.5%, 70 IBU session IPA would be weird…but unique, I suppose.)
I figured if anyone’s gonna experiment with these crazy, dry, old hops and grains, it’s gotta be a blogging homebrewer who does mostly 1-to-3 gallon brew-in-a-bag batches, right?
And a few months ago, when I had the extra cash, I bought a few fun yeasts to experiment with. One of them was Wyeast’s 1187 Ringwood yeast (or as I keep forgetting the name of and referring to as: Ringworm or Wormwood). High flocculation, low-medium attenuation. Should be a clean yeast, with a slightly fruity aroma that accentuates the hops profile. Just hope I can get this to attenuate a little more with some added head towards the end of primary fermentation. Would love to get this above the supposed 72% attenuation (a 1.022 beer probably wouldn’t be the tastiest).
Here’s what I came up with…