**Update** I brewed an updated clone here. It’s dead on. Use that one.
It’s been awhile since my last post, but I’ve got a good one for today. Ahh, Pliny the Younger… This beer is like the mystical unicorn to me. I would still love to try it some day, but I’ve yet to talk myself into making the trek to Santa Rosa in February. So, I decided to brew a clone. The only unfortunate part is, I won’t know how close the clone is, since I’ve never had the real thing. I’ve had the Elder so I do have something to go off of, but we’re still shooting in the dark here. Maybe I’ll build up the guts to send a bottle to Vinnie. Anyway, on to the recipe formulation.
This recipe was harder to formulate than Hop Knot, but it wasn’t terribly difficult to put together. We start with the info on the website. This is a ‘Triple IPA’, it’s around 10.5% ABV, and the OG is about 1.088. From that we know the FG needs to be around 1.007-1.008. That’s it for the easy info. The rest I had to obtain from interviews with Vinnie, and pulling info from the readily available Elder recipe. My understanding was that this beer was just 2-row and carapils, with some dextrose to dry it out. Vinnie has said a number of times that PTE has almost exactly twice the hops of their standard IPA, and PTY has almost exactly three times the hops. So I multiplied all the hop additions in the PTE recipe by 1.5.
Next, I learned that PTY uses hop extract for the bittering additions — both the 90 and 45min additions. Vinnie said he does use some CTZ at the 45min addition. I’ve heard Vinnie say he likes to use Centennial as ‘filler’, and that PTY was designed around the mix of Simcoe and Amarillo. So that’s how I put together the flavor and aroma additions. They whirlpool post boil, so we’ll do the same. For the dry hops, I again pulled the info from interviews. I know that it’s dry hopped four times over the course of four weeks. I was able to piece together which hops and when from two different interviews and one article. Last but not least, Russian River uses California Ale yeast for this beer. Vinnie said to pitch enough yeast, but don’t excessively over-pitch, as the yeast will uptake bitterness.
So with what I felt was a good recipe, I emailed Vinnie, not really expecting a response. Give the man credit, as he responded like two days later! He said he’s never scaled down the PTY recipe to 5 gallon proportions, but what I had looked pretty close. He did say there was some Crystal 40 in the recipe, which was great info. So this is what we ended up brewing.
Try to use hop extract if you can. The substitute would be around 4.1oz Warrior at 17% AA to replace the 90 minute addition. 4oz is a lot of hops to ‘cook’ for 90 minutes, hence the reason I feel the hop extract is worth it. Don’t bother calculating the IBUs. Depending on the formula you use, it’ll calc between 200 and 340IBU; obviously, it’s not that bitter. The other tip for this beer is, do whatever you must to dry it out; it really needs to finish under 1.010. Only you know your brewing system, so adjust the mash temp as needed to ensure it dries out.
The Brew Day
Against my better judgement, I decided to brew this batch on my new electric counter-top HERMS system. It did a rocking job. The HERMS held the mash temp at exactly 148* for a full 75 minutes. And my boil off rate was just about perfect. I had lots of help/company over for this batch. My boys Greg and Kiernan both dropped by while I was brewing, which meant I was a little toasty by the end of the brew day. Anyway, everything went smooth. We did a 90 minute boil, whirlpooled the hops for 10 minutes post boil, and the gravity came in at 1.089. Using this much hop extract is definitely interesting. It coats the entire brew kettle with sticky resin after the batch, which took lots of oxyclean and scrubbing to remove.
Ferment & Dry Hopping
This fermented on the slow side. I pitched at 62F, and set my fermentation chamber at 62* as well. After 4 days I let it climb to 65*, and then 68* on day 6. After twelve days, we hit 1.008, and it was ready to cold crash, to drop as much yeast as possible out of solution. Then I transferred to secondary, and started the dry hop additions. Room temp is about 78* this time of year at my place, so I cut the dry hop times down to 4 days per addition for a total of 16 days. Then kegged it, and fined with gelatin.
12oz Crystal 40
1lb 8oz Dextrose
Mash @ 148*
35ml Generic Hop Extract @ 90
5ml Generic Hop Extract @ 45
10g CTZ @ 45
1.5oz Simcoe @ 30
1.5oz Centennial @ 0
1.5oz Amarillo @ 0
2.5oz Simcoe @ 0
Fermented with 2 packs of US-05 at 62*
Dry Hop 1: .5oz ea: Amarillo, Simcoe, Centennial
Dry Hop 2: 1oz ea: Amarillo & Centennial
Dry Hop 3: 1oz ea: Simcoe & CTZ
Dry Hop 4: .5oz ea: Amarillo & Simcoe
So, it’s been in the keg about a week now, and how does it taste? Wow. It has a huge aroma that reeks of Simcoe and Amarillo. Lots and lots of the fruiter, citrusy notes from Amarillo and Centennial, but there’s some pine/resiny qualities in there that keep it from being too fruity.
Despite finishing rather dry, this beer still has a nice creamy mouthfeel, which I think might be due to all the hop oil in suspension. Clarity is pretty good at this point, but will continue to improve with time in the keg. Flavor tastes mostly like the aroma, but you definitely pick up on some sweetness from the alcohol. The bitterness is firm, but not overpowering. The Elder tastes more bitter than what I have in my glass. Overall, I’m extremely pleased with what I ended up with. The only issue is, I have nothing to reference this beer from; I’ve never had PTY. I can say it does kind of taste like the Elder, but the heavy additions of Amarillo give it a completely different hop character.
Is it cloned? I honestly have no idea, but I can’t imagine that it’s too far off. This beer definitely has one of the better hop aromas I’ve ever achieved. If someone handed me this and said it was the Younger, I would probably believe them. So if there’s anyone out there that hasn’t had a chance to try the Younger, I’d say brew this; I can’t imagine it’s any less than 95% there.
**Update** My IPA clones are two-for-two so far in competitions; ‘Penguin The Younger’ placed 2nd at a competition in Colorado. Score sheets noted a huge pine aroma with some citrus as well. The beer’s fault was the alcohol warmth was too much for the style, which I knew going in.
**Update 2** After actually trying Younger, I’m brewing an updated clone of this. Very similar to this recipe, just less Amarillo/Centennial in the dry hop. Adding some Chinook and Warrior to make up the difference. I’ll the results to this page when it’s done.