Just like the Ruination 10th Anniversary clone I brewed, this is a beer that I hadn't planned on cloning. That changed when my fiance and I were back in California, and we happened upon some Pliny and Pig while we were out there. Turns out Kristen loves Blind Pig. I'm not throwing the word 'love' around loosely either; no, she seriously loves that beer. So I added it to my to-brew list. Clone Blind Pig we shall!
Seriously though, it is a really tasty beer. It's pretty low in gravity for an American IPA, but it's rather dry, which keeps it very drinkable. I could drink about 5 pints of Pig, and wouldn't notice until I fell off the bar stool. In terms of a clone recipe, the only thing floating around the internet is the old Blind Pig recipe from like 10 years ago; that's the recipe with oak in it. It'll mark a good starting point for us. The rest of the info I found from interviews, Vinnie's sessions on The Brewing Network, and whatever else I could piece together. I'm fairly confident the grain bill is roughly the same. I'll cut the crystal malt down to around 2%, but that will be the only change. The website says it's 1.058 and 6.1%, that puts our FG around 1.010-1.011.
Now for the hops. First, the hopping amounts are fairly easy, we just halve the Pliny recipe. .5oz @ 30, 1.75oz @ 0 and 2.5oz dry hopped. I've heard Vinnie say a number of times that he likes to blend low cohumulone hops(Magnum, Warrior, etc), in with hops like CTZ and Chinook for bittering. The existing clone recipes cite a healthy dose of Chinook as the only bittering hop, but I didn't find the Pig's bitterness to be that aggressive. So I'll cut out some of the Chinook for Warrior. We'll keep the Cascade at mid-boil and in the finish, but also add Amarillo and Simcoe at flame out. A little Simcoe makes a big flavor impact, so I only added a little bit. Dry hops are Cascade, Centennial, Amarillo, and Simcoe.
Dry Hopped: 12-23-12
Mash @ 152
1oz Chinook (12.4%) @ 60
1.5oz Warrior (16%) @ 60
1oz Cascade @ 30
2oz Cascade @ 0
.66oz Amarillo @ 0
.66oz Simcoe @ 0
1oz ea Cascade, Amarillo, Simcoe
WLP001 - California Ale Yeast
There wasn't anything too special about this brew day or fermentation. I did a 60 minute mash, and 60 minute boil. As with most of my hoppy beers, I allowed the flameout hops to steep for 10 minutes before I began chilling the batch. I re-pitched about 125ml of slurry from my Scottish 70/- into each fermenter. Fermentation started at 62F, and I let it rise to about 65F at full krausen. Once things slowed down, I let it ride up to 68F before crashing it prior to racking to secondary. This recipe has one dry hop addition which the beer sat on for 10 days prior to kegging. I would have kegged them sooner, but we were out of town for New Years. I then crashed, fined with gelatin, and force carbed both kegs.
A good friend from the gym is throwing a birthday party in early February, so I designated one of the fermenters for his party. Since I didn't need that keg to be exactly like Blind Pig, I dry hopped it with Citra and Galaxy. I haven't cracked into that keg yet, so the jury is still out there, but I can happily report back on the keg that was dry hopped to recipe.
Results: 98% there
I've only had a few bottles of Blind Pig, so I'm not terribly familiar with all it's nuances. With that said, If this isn't dead-on, it's damn close. Color and clarity are great. Pig is definitely blonde, and this looks the part. Aroma is lots of sweet citrus. Mostly orange and some pine. Grapefruit comes through in spades; very squirt-soda like. It has a big hop aroma, but it's not aggressive or pungent. Not much malt aroma to speak of. The flavor follows the aroma: grapefruit, orange, and a little pine. There's a touch of caramel sweetness, but I'm digging for it. The bitterness is moderate, but no more assertive than many Pale Ales. Mouthfeel isn't too dry which is nice. This is definitely one of those beers where after taking a sip, you immediately want to take another. It makes for an empty pint glass in a hurry.
I'd love to confidently call it cloned, as this tastes identical to the Pig I remember. Unfortunately, I've only had it a couple times, and it's been 5-6 months since my last taste. The only thing that seems slightly different is I remember Pig being slightly more bitter, or at least the perceived bitterness was higher. Fixing that could be as simple as adding some more sulfates to my water, or using a higher ratio of Chinook to Warrior on the bittering addition. If you're a Blind Pig fan, I'd definitely recommend brewing this, and tell me what you think.
I had Blind Pig last week, both on draft, and in the bottle. The real version was slightly drier, and had a little more Amarillo character to it than mine. Very close though. The dryness aided in the additional perceived bitterness I picked up. When I re-brew this, I'll go with a hopping schedule closer to the one Brett posted in the comments.