Pumping up that IPA and APA with some late addition hopping

Shawn Kerr/Brewer, Beer Geek, and all-around classy guy

Pumping up

I wear two hats, science teacher by day (for now) and brewer over here at what I like to call the 12 Gates test labs.  It’s such a paradigm shift taking one hat off and putting the other on in so many ways – work attire is drastically different, typical work conversations are surely not the same, and let’s be honest, I doubt it would be appreciated if I was making beer for my students.  Now for you, the public, I am pretty sure you’ll appreciate my efforts.  Here is another drastic difference though, tardiness.  Nothing gets me going more than a student that walks into class ten minutes late, but when it comes to brewing don’t be afraid to be late – at least when we’re talking hops.

When I first began brewing it was the standard IPA hop schedule: lots of hops at 60 minutes (crank out that bitterness and make the back of the drinker’s tongue smack with hop acidity), toss a bit in for flavor and aroma, then chill.  Thankfully in the brewing world we are getting a little more understanding about tardiness, more so than in education.  When I brew an IPA or APA, especially when focusing on the ever-popular West Coast-style I focus on late additions and post-kettle hopping in order to fulfill the craving for those pumped up hop flavors and aromas.

newest test batches

These late additions to the hop schedule are critical to getting that delicious flavor, but balancing the right hops is crucial.  When looking to design a recipe I look for hops that yield high alpha-acid efficiencies (high alpha-acid means higher IBU counts with less vegetal matter in your kettle), and lower cohumulone percentages.  It’s the cohumulone that leaves that lingering palate-smacking bitterness behind on the back of the drinker’s tongue.  Lower cohumulone percentages allow you to taste the hops without getting punched in the mouth – nobody likes a punch in the mouth, unless maybe you’re a sadist.

With our newest test batches we are experimenting with some of my favorite hops, as well as some newer varietals to my repertoire: Amarillo, Centennial, Citra, Summit, Galaxy (when we can get these gems), and many others.  The goal is common though – to give you, our everyday judges, the opportunity to taste all the unique and delicious flavors these hops offer.