Oh Double Jack… I love this beer. I feel it’s one of the best beers in the country, and happily defend that statement. =) Seriously though, when I decided to clone some of the best IPAs, Double Jack was one of the first to come to mind. Not much warms my heart more than ripping the foil off of a DJ bomber, popping the cap, and catching a whiff of what’s inside. There’s a good reason Firestone Walker manages to win brewery of the year about 50% of the time.
Formulating a clone for this beer was interesting. It’s nearly the same recipe as Union Jack, but there are a few quirks. Between Firestone Walker’s website, a couple interviews with Matt Brynildson, and the Can You Brew It show for Union Jack, all the info is out there. So let’s get to it: The bottle states it’s 9.5% ABV, but Matt has said a couple of times this beer is actually close to 10%, so I targeted 9.5 to 9.8%. I degassed a sample of Double Jack, and the gravity reads 1.014, which puts the OG is around 1.087 to 1.089. Matt also states they use the exact same grain bill as Union Jack, they simply stop the sparge early, collecting less wort at a higher gravity. I don’t want a 4 gallon batch, so I increased the grain bill while keeping the ratios of malts the same. The kettle hops are mostly the same, but Matt does state they were shooting for a true 100IBU beer. Then in the dry hop, they add four additions over the course of a couple weeks. This beer uses close to 5lbs/bbl of hops, which equates to just shy of 16oz in a 6 gallon batch. Union Jack is 83% Centennial/Cascade in the dry hop, and 17% Amarillo/Simcoe. I get a little more Amarillo and Simcoe in Double Jack, so I went with a 73/27 split rather than 83/17.
I was a little hesitant to use WLP002 for this beer, as 002 isn’t the most attenuative yeast, and Double Jack is a fairly dry beer. The CYBI folks used WLP002 for their Firestone Walker clones, and they said it was a dead-on match for the FW house yeast. Tasty apparently didn’t have a problem getting his UJ clone to attenuate, and a number of folks on HBT had success with their UJ clones hitting FG. So, I put my reservations aside, and gave 002 a try. The one inconsistency I noticed was the Firestone Walker website didn’t list Carapils under the malts that are in DJ, but they do list it for UJ. FW tends to be fairly consistent at updating their recipes on their website, so I decided to take the Carapils out.
I have no idea why, but this batch has been pushed back half a dozen times over the past few months. It was the batch I just never got around to brewing. I took a week off of work to pack and move, but on Thursday, I took a break from packing and brewed some beer. There wasn’t anything too special about the brew day. The temperature outside has been bloody perfect lately (82*), so it was a lovely day to brew. I didn’t measure either the strike or sparge correctly, as I was about 1/4 gallon low going into the kettle. Combine that with 10oz of hops in the boil, and I only collected around 5gal of wort post boil.
Dry Hopped: 10-29-12
5oz Simpsons Caramalt
Mash @ 145 for 60 min then 155F for 10 min
2oz Warrior @ 90
1oz ea Centennial/Cascade/Chinook @ 30
2.5oz ea Centennial/Cascade @ 0
WLP002 – English Ale Yeast – 1 gallon starter
Dry Hop 1: .5oz ea Centennial/Cascade
Dry Hop 2: .5oz ea Centennial/Cascade/Amarillo/Simcoe
Dry Hop 3: .5oz ea Centennial/Cascade
Dry Hop 4: .5oz ea Centennial/Cascade .25oz ea Amarillo/Simcoe
3-4 days per addition
This beer fermented out very quick, even at 63F. By the third day it was down to 1.020, and by the fourth, I added the first dry hop addition directly to the primary. Three days later I racked the beer to secondary, to get the beer off the yeast cake, as well as to remove the first round of dry hops. Each hop addition was added 3 days after the last, although I didn’t rack the beer after each addition, only the first. With this beer I took care to keep the wort away from oxygen. I purged my secondary with co2, and purged the keg before filling. I usually don’t go to the trouble, but with this much hop oil in solution, it’s worth the effort.
Turns out my concerns with WLP002 attenuating were unfounded, as it ripped right though this beer. Both my OG and FG were a few points low, which isn’t a big deal. I’m wondering if the real Double Jack possibly has carapils in the recipe though, as it finishes at 1.014 or so. My beer has a little less body, but it isn’t noticeable until the beers are side-by-side. I don’t have enough experience with WLP002 to tell where the recipe merely needs a little carapils, or if it was a variance of mash temperature — Very slight difference though. With that said, let’s get to how it tastes!
Short version: It’s cloned. If you’ve had Double Jack, you know how this tastes.
Long version: Visually, it’s almost perfect. The color is nearly spot on, and both have a long-lasting white head. Both beers are slightly hazy. Theirs’ was a couple weeks old, I don’t filter, so we’ll call it even. The aroma jumps from the glass, mostly sweet citrus, a little pine, and lots of fruity aromas. It’s not heavily tropical, but the esters from the yeast meld right in with the hops. It’s tough to tell where the esters stop and the dry hop begins. This is without a doubt one of the best hop aromas I’ve created; it’s right up there with my Pliny the Younger clone. The beer tastes mostly like it smells: there’s a solid malt character, lots of hop flavor, some boozy alcohol, and a firm bitterness that reminds you this is a Double IPA.
There are two slight differences that keep these beers from being absolutely indistinguishable. One is the real DJ has a touch more body than mine. It’s a very slight difference, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t there. Until the beers are side-by-side, you can’t tell, but drinking them at the same time, it can be picked out. 1.014-1.015 is where the beer needed to finish; what needs to be done to the recipe to get there, I’m not 100% sure. The second difference is that my beer is slightly cleaner than the real DJ. I underestimated the ester contribution that WLP002 provides. If I had to do this all over again, I would have fermented it around 65-67F. Keep in mind these differences are extremely small.
All in all, this is Double Jack, and I’m confident calling it cloned. If I were to brew it again, I’d probably add about 8oz carapils to the grist in effort to get the FG around 1.014 or so. This beer is a pain to brew in the sense of how much work goes into it, but it’s not that hard to ‘pull off”. If you’re careful to avoid oxidation, and ferment with healthy yeast, you’ll get damn close.
I’ll admit, it’s pretty awesome having a keg of Double Jack on tap, be it the clone, or the real thing. I’d definitely recommend brewing this. It’s one of the best beers I’ve ever made.
This clone recipe took 1st place for IPAs and 3rd place BOS in a competition this weekend! It scored a 45, which is my highest score in a competition to date. I’m eagerly awaiting the scoresheets, as I’m curious what the judges thought. Not bad for a competition with nearly 400 entries.