Tuesday 19 April 2022

BrewZilla Brew Day - Juice Boost NEIPA

Our latest brew day was for our Juice Boost NEIPA - our first attempt at a New England IPA (also known as a Hazy IPA). You can check out the full recipe details here. Or, see how it turned out with our Tasting Results and Review.

We started out our brew day with the usual water adjustments. The recipe calls for a chloride to sulphate ratio of 2:1. Volumes in Brewfather suggested 25.5L of water for the initial mash, followed by less than 4L of water for sparging.

Grains for our Juice Boost NEIPA ready to go

At a little over 6kg of grain, this was the largest grain bill we'd attempted in our BrewZilla. It was pretty full during the mash, but room for a tiny bit more if necessary indicating that our previously stated BrewZilla maximum grain limit/capacity was accurate.

Initial mash in - loads of oats and wheat malt

We took our time during mash in, adding all of our grain slowly, and stirring as we went to try and prevent clumps or dough balls from forming. After adding all the grain we gave it a thorough stir, then left it for 10 minutes to settle before switching the pump on for recirculation.

Mash in completed. Malt pipe is very full, and the mash is thick and sticky

Due to the inclusion of a decent amount of wheat malt and unmalted (quick) oats in our grain bill - we anticipated a thick, sticky mash so we threw in a few big handfuls of rice hulls as well to help with recirculation and sparging. In hindsight, we could have used more as recirculation was still really slow. The recirculation valve was opened only the tiniest amount to really limit the flow and prevent the wort from backing up and overflowing back through the holes in the malt pipe for the malt pipe handle.

Sparging was slow, but did not get stuck

Sparging was also slow as we expected, especially when compared to other brews, however the flow was continuous and didn't get stuck. The rice hulls definitely did their job here!

Sparging complete, so whilst waiting for the wort to boil, we took the time to measure out our hops. This recipe has no boil hops, and a rather significant whirlpool/hop stand after the boil at 85c for 15 minutes.

We took a pre-boil gravity reading of approx 1.056. Well down on the expected pre-boil gravity of 1.061.

Pre Boil Gravity reading - much lower than expected

We anticipated a potential loss in mash efficiency for two main reasons. Firstly, we were using a grain bill towards the upper limit of what is possible in the 35L BrewZilla, and feedback from other BrewZilla users suggest that efficiency drops are common when using larger grain bills such as this.

Secondly, we had 650g of unmalted (quick) oats which are well known to reduce mash efficiency. In anticipation of this, we included 200g of dextrose to help boost the fermentable sugar levels to help compensate for these potential losses.

Adding dextrose to the boil

After boiling for 30 mins and chilling to 85c for our 15 minute hop stand, we then chilled down to pitching temp and transferred to our FermZilla fermenter.

We co-pitched our yeast and pleasingly, saw early signs of fermentation by the next morning. Our RAPT Pill was also in the fermenter to help monitor our fermentation progress.

We had an original gravity (OG) of 1.059 - much lower than the expected 1.068 which is disappointing, but not entirely surprising given the expected efficiency losses we previously mentioned. Very glad we included the dextrose to help compensate for this, otherwise we would have had a starting gravity that was really too low for this style of beer.

There's certainly no shame in using dextrose to help boost the sugar content of your wort - if you check the ingredients on some commercial NEIPA cans, you'll see that some of them contain dextrose as well! If it's good enough for pro breweries to use, it's good enough for us!

Original Gravity reading - approx 1.059. Also much lower than expected

The current state of fermentation after only a few days shows we have a final gravity several points lower than expected at 1.007. We suspect the co-pitching of BRY-97 West Coast Ale yeast in addition to the Verdant IPA yeast really helped the yeast chew through more of the sugars than expected. Although this is good as it was will help boost the alcohol content, which is necessary for this style of beer, it unfortunately means we've exceeded the BJCP recommended FG of 1.010 by a few points meaning we'll probably have an end result a little drier than expected and perhaps with a thinner body. A lack of residual sweetness in the malt shouldn't be a big problem though since most of the flavour will be coming from the huge dry hop (300g). Will be interesting to see if mouthfeel is impacted though.

These numbers give us a surprisingly high attenuation rate of over 88%, and plenty of alcohol content at 6.83%.

In terms of fermentation process, we set our Inkbird temperature controller to 19.5c with a 1c temperature differential. Once our gravity readings hit 1.017, we let the temperature climb up to 21 degrees to help the yeast finish it's work and cleanup any diacetyl or other off flavours. We'll leave it to rest at this temperature (approx 21-22c) for another 7 days before soft crashing and adding our dry hop.

We also performed the majority of fermentation with no pressure - our spunding valve was totally open, essentially acting as a basic type of air lock. This was to allow the flavours and esters from the Verdant IPA yeast to be imparted into the beer. At the same time that we let the temperature begin to rise (SG 1.017), we also adjusted the spunding valve to begin pressurising with about 5psi of pressure.

Want to see how it turned out? Check out our Juice Boost NEIPA - Tasting Results & Review post.

We also commemorated this brew with some custom 3D printed tap labels - check them out here

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