It’s finally here, time to brew my 2012 edition of Nuclear Penguin. This beer started off a little over a year ago when I brewed a clone of Dogfish 120 Minute. It turned out pretty awesome, and despite all the tedious work that batch required, it was really fun. So after the beer was done, tasting delicious, and aging gracefully in bottles, I starting thinking about brewing it again. But much like Sam and crew did on Brewmasters, I went back to the drawing board, and thought about what I wanted this beer to taste like. I didn’t necessarily want another 120 Minute clone, but rather a 15%+ ABV IPA that was more of a blend of Pliny the Younger and 120 Minute.
Here we are, nearly a year later, and I’m finally getting around to brewing this monster. I haven’t deviated too much from the recipe I drew up in January, but here’s the quick break down. First, I still haven’t found anyone willing to sell me a 150g AA can of Hop Extract, and considering the outrageous price that Northern Brewer sells their Hop Shots for, I’m supplementing hop extract with some Warrior. Secondly, I’m incorporating a little CTZ into the recipe to balance some of the fruity hop qualities of Amarillo and Citra. Finally, I decided to axe the massive flameout addition of hops. The fermentation of this beer is so long and vigorous, I just don’t see the value in those 4.5oz of hops.
What I was looking to achieve with this batch was a 14-16% ABV, dry, clean, IPA with a big hop character. There’s no getting around having a massive body and malt character in a batch like this, but I wanted to push the recipe closer to an IPA, and further from a big, hoppy barleywine. I love the character that Simcoe, Amarillo, and Citra blended together create, so that was the basis for the hop schedule. Some CTZ was added to balance the hop profile, and keep it from becoming too fruity. I also want a very firm bitteness that will stand up to some aging.
The brew day for this beer was a fun one. Labor Day weekend seemed like the perfect time for batch that takes awhile. My best-friend Greg is moving out of town here shortly, so we enjoyed some of my 2011-vintage Nuclear Penguin, my PTY clone, Double Jack, and 2011 vintage 120 Minute during the brew day.
We mashed for 60 minutes at 145, then 10 minutes at 150. Sparged, then boiled for two full hours. I gave the wort a 10 minute whirlpool rest before chilling the batch down to around 65*. I set the my mini-fridge (fermentation chamber) to 17C (62F), and went to bed.
Unfortunately, that’s where the problems started. For reasons that I may never know, my mini fridge never managed to cool this batch down. I walked out into the garage in the morning to see about a gallon of wort and krausen on the floor. It had been seeping out the fridge all night. As my heart sank to the floor, I saw the temp on the controller, 24C (75F). I opened the mini fridge to find the carnage.
So my fiance and I spent about 30 minutes cleaning up. I put a blow off tube on the batch, buttoned the fermenter back up, and hoped that as long as I could cool the batch back down into the 60s, it might be ok. Or it would at least be worth it to try. 4 hours later I came back to the garage to again find wort spilling all over the floor. The blow off container was overflowing with krausen, and spilling out. Again, the temperature controller told the story – 27C (80F).
At that point, I knew this batch was doomed. You can’t ferment a 14%+ ABV beer in the 75-80F range and expect it to taste good. I thought about doing a water bath, or swamp cooler setup, but knowing how fast WLP007 works, I knew the damage was done. So with a heavy heart, and a slightly deflated ego, I made the decision to dump this batch less than 24 hours after it was brewed. Heartbreaking.
To be honest, I’ve been a little too frustrated to figure out what went wrong yet. Either this batch was simply a run-away ferment (unlikely), or my used $25 mini fridge is finally succumbing to a few years of faithful service in a hot Arizona garage (much more likely). I’ll sort that out once I swallow the tough pill that this 50 to 70 dollar and 7 hour batch of beer just cost me. I’m definitely going to brew this batch again, although I’m going to hold off a few months until the weather is cooler, and today’s disaster is a little further in the rear-view-mirror.
Dumped: 09-02-12 R.I.P.
Mash @ 145* for 60 minutes, then 150* for 10
20ml Hop Extract @ 90
2oz Warrior continuously hopped 120 to 60
2oz CTZ @ 45
6oz Simcoe/Citra/Amarillo from 15 to 0
OG after the boil: 1.092
WLP007 – Fermented at 75-80F
WLP099 – N/A
4.5lbs of Dextrose was planned to be added over the course of 7 days.
Dry hop four times over the course of 3 weeks with 1.6oz per addition. Even mixture of:
Amarillo, Citra, CTZ, and Simcoe
Here’s the recipe for anyone interested. I’ll have a (hopefully successful) follow up to this in a few months when I attempt to re-brew it.