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Mosaic IPA

December 28, 2012


This sure turned out to be a good looking beer

I love what’s happening with hops right now.  Your average (craft) beer drinker is probably noticing an expansion in the flavors they’re picking up in their beer, but likely don’t understand why that is.

As craft beer explodes, hop growers are seeking to expand their offerings and stay ahead of the curve by cross-breeding hops.  The result has been hops with more intense flavor expressions, a lot of which come across as crisp, tropical fruit notes.

Two of the more buzzed about hops these days are Simcoe and Citra.  I dig both of these (particularly Simcoe), but also really enjoy some of the Southern Hemisphere hops, like Galaxy, Riwaka, Motueka and Rakau.

Having said all that, I’m feeling as if some of the novelty of the tropical fruit notes is starting to fade for me.  I want something with more character, that’s a little more honest (if that makes any sense).  Something with some of the earthy notes that I draw from hops like Columbus, Nugget and Simcoe.

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That’s why, when I read about the new Mosaic hops (formerly HBC-369), developed by the Hop Breeding Company, I was intrigued.  Mosaic’s parentage isn’t fully disclosed, but it does include Simcoe and Nugget.  While some of the descriptors include fruit, they also denote a earthiness and spiciness.

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After doing some research, I really wanted to take this hop for a test run.  It sounds like an ideal IPA hop, so I decided to do a single-hop IPA with 8 oz of Mosaic (whole leaf) that I sourced from FreshHops.  I guess, in reality I cheated a little, as I used a hopshot for the bittering.  I’ve come to really like the predictability of hop extract and don’t see myself backing away from that.

I went with a very simple, middle-of-the-road IPA grist, but my recipe does have a few exciting twists.  First, I’m using Hill Farmstead’s Ale yeast.  I propogated this from a growler of Society & Solitude #5 that I brought back from VT in September.  I’ve been slowly stepping it up, and finally had a big enough pitch for a beer this big.  As of now, I expect to wash the yeast and save for a few future uses.

I also researched and utilized the Russian River Pliny water profile – well, pretty close to it, at least.  I could have gotten closer, but didn’t feel like bothering with diluting with distilled water.  Pretty excited to see how it brings out the hop character.

While the purpose of this beer is really to get a grasp of Mosaic, I also hope to learn some things from the yeast and water profile, that I can apply in the future.

The brewday went well, but I actually overshot my gravity (1.070 v 1.065).  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I might end up watering it down a little with boiled, chilled water.  I was also trying to collect a little more wort than necessary, as I assume I’ll lose some to the whole leaf hops.  My FV was right on at around 5.5, which means my efficiency was a somewhat staggering 86.79%.

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Here’s the recipe:

Mosaic IPA
14-B American IPA
Brewed: 12/21/12

Size: 5.5 gal
Efficiency: 86.79% (measured)
Attenuation: 77.0% (estimated)
Original Gravity: 1.070 (measured)
Terminal Gravity: 1.016 (measured)

Color: 9.09
Alcohol: 7.1%
IBU: 69.1

Water (all in ppm):

Ca: 94  Mg: 13  Na: 14  SO₄: 149  Cl: 49  HCO₃: 116

Ingredients:

  • 12 lb 2-Row Pale Malt
  • 0.5 lb Caramel 40°L
  • 5 mL HopShot – Boiled 60 min
  • 1 oz Mosaic (12.3% AA) – boiled 10 minutes
  • 3 oz Mosaic (12.3% AA) – Whirlpool
  • 1.0 ea Hill Farmstead Ale yeast (variety unknown)
  • 4 oz Mosaic (12.3% AA) – Dry Hop, 7 days

Schedule:

  • Mash @ 153 (1.30 qt/lb ratio)
  • Mash out @ 170
  • Batch sparge (water alkalinity adjusted)

Listening:

  • Fleet Foxes

Notes:

  • 12/21.  Half day from work, brewed mostly by myself starting around 2 pm.
  • Chilled to 68, let stand a few hours at 65 ambient before pitching a big cell count of HF yeast (decanted).
  • Fermentation rocking by early the next morning
  • 12/22.  Left town to visit family for the holidays.  Reduced ambient to 60F.
  • 12/26.  Returned, brought ambient back to 65.  Fermentation moving, but slowly.  Gravity still 1.028.  Over the next 12 hours or so, I noticed the activity picking up as the temperature rose.  Outside, the snow fell like crazy.
  • 12/28.  Gravity at 1.020.  Will probably drop just a bit more.  Still a little activity going on.  Hoping it’ll be ready to be crash cooled, transfered and dry hopped this weekend.
  • 12/31.  Added 4 oz dry Mosaics.
  • 1/8.  Kegged, chilled and hooked up to CO2 to force carb.
  • 1/15.  First taste.  Holy-shit aroma.  Lots of melon, mango and tropical fruit.  Damn.  Does not smell like one hop (granted, a lot of one).  Taste – hmmm.  Fruity, but with kind of a weird … stinkiness in there.  It’s definitely from the hops and not an infection.  Probably used too much of them.  Not bitter enough, but that’s on me.
  • 1/24.  After another 10ish days chilling (literally) in the kegerator, the intense hop flavor has begun to mellow.  The stinkiness is much diminished and much more pleasant.  Still overpowering any grain flavors, but I bet I’ll start picking those up in a few days.  Much more palatable.
  • Conclusion.  A pretty nice IPA.  Lessons learned: Mosaic is a very interesting and desirable hop, but probably not best suited for a single-hop.  I think it would do well blended with Piney (Chinook) and/or classic Citrus american hops (Cascade, Centennial, Columbus, Citra, et al).
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