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IPA Clone Series: Pliny the Younger

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**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.

 

The Recipe
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.
DSC_6168.jpgThe 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.

Brewed: 06-02-12
Dry Hopped:06-14-12
Kegged:07-01-12
OG:1.089
FG:1.008
ABV: 10.62%
IBU: !?!!!??
6 gallons


16.5lbs 2-row
12oz Crystal 40
12oz CaraPils
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

Results
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.

9 thoughts on “IPA Clone Series: Pliny the Younger”
  1. Sergeant Stogie 07.19.2012 on 2:25 PM Reply

    How long did the hop aroma and flavor last? Did it drop off as fast as Elder does?

  2. Scott 07.19.2012 on 2:37 PM Reply

    It's been in the keg close to three weeks now, and it's still pretty damn potent. I'm going to bottle the remaining 12 or so beers left, so I'll be able to see how it holds up over the next month or two.

  3. Mbowen024 07.31.2012 on 9:31 PM Reply

    I will be attempting your recipe tomorrow, any chance you could supply the acid levels for the hops. Scored some hop shots.

  4. Brett 08.23.2012 on 3:04 AM Reply

    I'm assuming you're dry hopping with pellets by the picture? I've always used leaf but have been slightly disappointed with the hop aroma in the last few batches.

    I tackled the Younger about a year ago and compared to the real thing (A pine and citrus bomb) I got way too many of the fruitier notes from the amarillo and the simcoe. I'll definitely be making some tweaks next time around.

    How exactly did you handle the four stage dry hop? We did it in the keg but got some slight oxidation from opening it up that much. Also did you use hopshots or a different brand? We only used four hopshots and that definitely provided more than enough bitterness, can only imagine what 8 would be like.

    Just stumbled on you blog today and its great. Keep up the good work.

  5. Brett 08.23.2012 on 3:15 AM Reply

    Make that too many of the fruitier notes from the amarillo and the centennial*

  6. Scott 08.23.2012 on 4:02 AM Reply

    Sorry, I didn't see this comment. CTZ was 14%, Centennial was 10.9%, Amarillo was 10.1%, and Simcoe was 13.1%

  7. Scott 08.23.2012 on 4:21 AM Reply

    Yup, dry hopped with pellets. I added them in the secondary. I bottled off 6 beers before the keg kicked, and so far I haven't picked up any oxidation. I'll have some BJCP score sheets back soon though, so I'll have a better answer on the oxidation front then.

    As for the flavor and aroma, there's definitely some stone fruit in there. I get apricot, citrus, and lots of pine. I went pretty heavy with the Simcoe, and it shows. I'll be honest though, I've noticed some variation in Centennial lately. Sometimes the Centennial I buy is a total citrus bomb, the typical sweet, super-charged orange aroma you expect. Other times it's been very fruity, almost Fruity Pebble/Fruit Loops like.

    The Centennial I've used most f the year is from Hops Direct, but I've picked up an ounce or two from hop union, and noticed a much fruitier hop. I know crops vary from farm to farm and year to year. Maybe that has something to do with it? If I had to do it all over again, I would use a pinch less Amarillo and a pinch more Simcoe, but not much. Maybe .5-1oz spread across the whole beer

    Thanks for the kind words! I'm glad people are finding the blog useful.

  8. graymoment 11.09.2012 on 1:52 AM Reply

    I'm also interested in how you dry hopped in your secondary. Do you use a conical? From what I've heard from Vinnie, the process is to remove the previous addition before pitching the next addition, which means you need a way to remove the hops after a few days. I'm not a big fan of keg hopping. Every time that I have done it I have ended up with less aroma than I expected.

  9. Scott 11.09.2012 on 2:05 AM Reply

    No conical. Primary was in a bucket, and secondary was in a better bottle. I left the hops in, but shortened the time in between additions. Vinnie does remove the old dry hops before adding the new addition. I've done both in the past, and didn't see a big difference.

    If I had a conical I would dump the hops, but I don't, so I don't bother.

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