Brew Dudes

Homebrewing Blog and Resource

SMaSH Beer Comparison: Michigan vs. PNW Grown Hops

Continuing our exploration into hops that are attached to the state of Michigan, either by name or by origin, we present a side by side comparison of a well known hop variety.

One packet of hop pellets came from the growing region of the Pacific Northwest (PNW). The other packet came from a farm in Michigan. Since these are the same hop variety, the aromas and flavors should be the same if we brewed the same beer and just switched the hops, right?

We knew that wouldn’t be the case but we wanted to understand the difference that terroir brings to the hops. That’s why we bring to you this SMaSH Beer Comparison.

See what we thought when we tasted these two beers side-by-side and discussed the differences between Yakima Valley grown Centennial hops vs. Michigan grown Centennial hops.

Can you see the difference? I didn’t think so.

The SMaSH Beer Brewing Process

Each of these beers were brewed in a one gallon batch format, using 2 pounds of Great Western pale malt and 1 ounce of hops. Mashing for 60 minutes at 150°F (66°C), both of the worts were boiled for 60 minutes and the hops were added at these times:

3.5 grams (.125 ounces) at 60 minutes to go in the boil.

7 grams (.25 ounces) at 15 minutes to go in the boil.

10.5 grams (.375 ounces) at flameout

7 grams (.25 ounces) dry hop addition at day 3 of fermentation

Good ol’ US-05 was used to ferment for 10 days at 68°F (20°C)

Both were chilled and then kegged/force carbonated

The Centennial Hops Difference

Well, certainly there was a difference. Sometimes, these Brew Dudes try to guess which beer is which. We played that game for this comparison but it wasn’t hard to win.

The beer that used the Yakima Valley Chief Centennial was super citrusy with some pine notes. It was everything we have come to know about this hop variety.

The beer that used Michigan grown Centennial hops from the Hop Craft Supply Company had muted citrus flavors with more of a green pepper and diesel quality to them.

We did noted that the packet stated it was a 2018 lot – we are hoping that the age of the hop pellets didn’t play a huge role in the differences, but noting for the sake of knowledge.

Thanks to Vinnie in PA for supplying all the hops for this comparison.

Brew ON!

Michigan Copper Hops packet with vital details of its content.

Michigan Copper Hops SMaSH Beer Tasting

As you may know, most of the hops produced in the USA are grown in the Pacific Northwest. There are other states that are hop producers but just at a smaller scale. One of our viewers, Vinnie from PA, sent us some hops for us to try. For the record, these hops were grown in Wisconsin even though they have another state in their name. Check out this SMaSH beer tasting video of Michigan Copper hops.

Michigan Copper Hops From Tenacious Badger Hops

Brewing With Michigan Copper Hops

I followed the typical procedure for this 1 US gallon SMaSH beer batch.

  • I used 2 pounds of American pale malt, 2 gallons of water, 1 ounce of hops, and a few shakes from a US-05 yeast packet (about 3 grams)
  • My mash is held at 150°F for an hour and the boil is for a hour
  • Hop Addition #1: 15 minutes to go in the boil (7 grams)
  • Hop Addition #2: At Flameout (14 grams)
  • Hop Addition #3: Day 3 of fermentation
  • Fermentation happens for 10 days at 68°F

After fermentation, the beer is racked to a small keg and then forced carbonated for tasting.

This packet of hops came from Tenacious Badger Hops, and they are ferociously committed to quality hops. Here are the specifications they listed on the package.

  • Alpha Acids: 9.4%
  • Beta Acids: 3.2%
  • Total Oil Content: 1.14%

Now, how did they present themselves in this beer?

The Tasting Notes

The aroma of these hops had a bouquet of kids breakfast cereal. You know the ones, like Trix or Froot Loops.

It carried through to the flavor too. Mike didn’t like it. I thought it was ok.

The aftertaste had more grapefruit pith notes than we expected. It was an interesting transition from that artificial fruit flavor.

I think these hops could play with other tropical fruit note hops like Sabro. Also, I think it’s good to try out beer ingredients from different parts of the world. It may be strange or scary to try them, but be adventurous in your homebrewing journey.

Brew On!

Märzen Style Octoberfest Recipe & Tasting Notes

We decided that October was for lagers. Traditionally, they are brewed in the spring and then lagered all summer for drinking in the fall. These Brew Dudes took a shorter route. We brew ours in August. Maybe next year we’ll plan better. Here’s Mike’s take on an Märzen-style Octoberfest. Check out the video for all the details:

Have a liter.

The Märzen Recipe

The Upfront Details:

Batch Size: 6.5 US gallons post boil
Original Gravity: 1.053
Final Gravity: 1.014
5.25% ABV

Ingredients:

7 pounds / 3.175 kg Pilsner Malt
5 pounds / 2.26 kg Vienna Malt
1 pound /454 g CaraMunich II (63° L)
2 ounces / 56 g Midnight Wheat (550° L)
1.5 ounces / 42 g Hallertau Mittelfrüh 4.2% AA at 60 minutes
1.5 ounces/ 42 g Hallertau Mittelfrüh 4.2% AA at 10 minutes

WLP830 German Lager (seemed dead, non active)
S-189 SafLager

12 US gallons of Poland Springs water treated with 1ml Lactic acid to pH 5.5
4g CaCl, 3g gypsum, 1g MgSO4 in Mash
4g CaCl, 4g gypsum in boil

Instructions:

Step Mash:
145° F 45 minutes
156° F 20 minutes
168° F 10 minutes Mashout

Fermented for 10 days at 50° F (10° C)
Diacetyl rest for 5 days at 68° F (20° C)
Keg conditioned 2-weeks at time of tasting at 45° F (7° C)

The Märzen Notes

The color was pretty close to where Mike wanted it. It may have been a little darker than what he was going for. To adjust next time, he would remove the Midnight Wheat.

The clarity was pretty good for no finings. You can see from the photo that the ruby notes were shining in the light.

The malty flavor was on point. It shown through in the aroma too. I found the hops flavor could have been a little more refined. It probably needs a little more time lagering.

Another epic lager – be mindful of your yeast health and you’ll be ok.

BREW ON!

Festbier All Recipe Kit

Festbier All Grain Recipe Kit Review

October is for lagers, at least that’s what we say. To fill our fridge without much thought, I bought a kit from boomchugalug.com. This video is about their Roll Out the Barrel Oktoberfest Lager recipe kit. It has the qualities of a Festbier and we really enjoyed it.

Recipe Details With My Alterations

The kit provided me with the grain bill that I wanted but I made adjustments to the hops, yeast, mash time, and boil time. If you buy this kit, you’ll see the differences. This following recipe is for a US 5 gallon batch.

Ingredients

4.7 pounds (2.1 kg) Pilsner Malt (47% of grain bill)
3.2 pounds (3.2 kg) Vienna Malt (32% of grain bill)
1.6 pounds (.73 kg) of Light Munich Malt (16% of grain bill)
.5 pounds (227 g) of CaraHell Malt (5% of grain mill)

.25 ounce (7 g) of Polaris hops (21.8% AA) – 60 minutes left to go in the boil
1 ounce (28 g) of Hallertaur hops (3.2% AA)- 20 minutes left to go in the boil
1 ounce (28 g) of US Tettnang hops (5.7% AA) – Added at Flame out

2 packets of Lallemand German Diamond Lager Yeast

Instructions

Used 9 US gallons of spring water I bought from the store and treated it with 4 grams of CaCl. Mashed for 90 minutes with 4 gallons of water at 150° F (66° C). Sparged with 5 gallons to collect 7 gallons of wort in the kettle.

Boiled for 90 minutes. Chilled to 54° F (12° C) and pitched yeast straight from the packets. Fermented for three weeks at 54° F (12° C) then gradually chilled to near freezing temperatures. Transferred to keg and forced carbonated. Added Lagering is happening right now in the keg!

Festbier Tasting Notes

Mike and I really liked this beer. It fermented nicely, which led to a super drinkable beer. The color was gold with a nice lacey white head.

It finished dry and was very refreshing. If I learned something from this beer, it was importance of good bittering. The small amount of Polaris hops boiled for 60 minutes is what my German Pils needed.

I was glad I picked up this kit. It turned out really well and I would gladly brew this beer again.

BREW ON!

German Pils Clarity

A Better German Pils Through Water Chemistry

In pursuit of homebrewing a better German Pils, Brew Dude John focused on his water chemistry among other elements of his brewing process. We have learned over the years that our tap water is not great for brewing excellent beers. Good beers? Sure. Excellent beers? Not so much.

Watch this video to learn what went into setting up his water profile, what went into his grain bill, and what the outcome was.

German Pils Recipe and Process

For a 5 gallon batch in the keg

Ingredients

10 pounds (4.5 kg) of German Pilsner malt (95% of grain bill)
.5 pounds (227 g) of Acidulated malt ( 5% of grain bill)
1.25 ounces (35 g) US Tettnanger hops – 60 minutes to go in the boil
1 ounce (28 g) German Hallertaur hops – 20 minutes to go in the boil
1 ounce (28 g) German Hallertaur hops – 1 minute to go in the boil
2 packets of Mangrove Jack’s M84 Bohemian Lager Yeast

Water profile

2 grams of Calcium Chloride added to mash
2 grams of Calcium Sulfate added to mash
2 grams of Calcium Chloride added to sparge
2 grams of Calcium Sulfate added to sparge

I mashed with 4 US gallons (15.1 Liters) of distilled water. I held the mash at 150° F for 90 minutes. I ran off the wort from the mash and then sparged with 5 gallons (18.9 Liters) of distilled water.

The boil was for 90 minutes and added hops to it based on the schedule above. I added a Whirlfloc tablet with 15 minutes to go in the boil to help with clarity. After the boil, the wort was chilled to 54°F (12° C).

I hit the wort with 2 minutes of pure oxygen and pitched the yeast. The beer was left to ferment for 5 weeks.

I did move the fermentor out of my fridge for a couple of days while I was moving kegs around. You could consider that time a diacetyl rest, I guess.

I then cold crashed the beer for a couple of days and then racked it to a purged with CO2 keg.

Original Gravity: 1.054
Final Gravity: 1.014

Brewing Plan and Tasting Notes

So, I am now a little obsessed with brewing a better pilsner. I have tried before and I felt it missed the mark. Collecting tips from others, this brewing plan brought together some of the adjustments I have picked up.

  1. Use distilled water and build up your water profile with brewing salts
  2. Bring a little acid to your mash
  3. Pitch a lot of yeast in oxygenated wort
  4. Be patient with your fermentation

With that plan, I felt like I was going to brew an excellent example of the style.

I got close.

The fermentation was clean. The body of the beer was where I wanted it to be. The brightness of the beer hit the mark.

The knocks we would give this beer are the lack of hop bitterness and a certain acidity to the aftertaste.

The things I would adjust for next time include using a high alpha acid bittering hop variety – Hello, Magnum and know my pH for the mash with an actual meter. Using other recipes to guide my acid malt addition to my grain bill was a good start, but I need data to dial it in.

BREW ON.

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