Union Jack. Probably my favorite beer in the country. It’s over-the-top hoppy, but in a floral and sweet citrus sort of way. It has a big malty flavor, but it isn’t cloying in the slightest. I just love this beer. It unfortunately gets me in trouble because I have a habit of drinking it like it’s going out of style, but that’s another story.
In terms of my little IPA Clone Series, I saved this beer for last because I figured it would be an absolute slam dunk. The boys over at the Brewing Network brewed a clone about two years ago, and according to them, it was so unbelievably cloned, it was the same beer. I figured this recipe would be a cake walk.
The funny story with the Union Jack recipe is, every time I visit the Firestone website, there is a slightly different dry hop listed. Roughly 12 months ago, it was Cascade, Centennial, Amarillo, and Simcoe. Around 4-6 months ago Chinook was added, and now Citra is listed. I’m scratching my head, thinking: Is Brylindson adding new hops to blend for flavor consistency? Or is he playing around with the recipe, looking for a slightly new aroma?
I have to imagine it would be for consistency, as commercial breweries endlessly tweak recipes to account for changes in hops and grain. Since both are agricultural products, they can vary year to year. To keep the end product tasting the same, changes are inevitable. Citra just strikes me as so odd though, since nothing smells like Citra, other than…. Citra. Galaxy is the only Citra-ish hop that comes to mind, but none of the hops in Union Jack have that quality. So the only way to sort out this mess was to track down a super fresh bottle of Union Jack and decide for myself.
After looking around town, I found a six pack that was under a month old; yep, that’ll do. Conveniently, I have one beer carbonating, and another in the secondary that were both dry hopped with Citra. I grabbed some snifters, and sat down to compare them.
UJ tastes just like I remember. There’s a big citrus aroma, tons of grapefruit, and some floral qualities. It’s almost hand-soap like, in the best way possible (I have no idea how to make that sound appealing.)
Both Citra beers reek of over-ripe mango. From experience, I know that fades some, but I’m not getting that character in the slightest from UJ. So I have no idea what to make of the dry hops listed on the website. I guess I’ll throw in a splash (.25oz) of Citra just to satisfy my curiosity. That’s a drop in a bucket considering there’s 6.5oz of dry hops, but it’ll make me feel better =)
I’m brewing this beer right on the coat-tails of my last batch to advantage of the fresh pitch of WLP002 I had from the Standard Bitter I kegged 5 days prior. There’s not too much to report about the brew day, other than it went much smoother than my last. I remembered the acid malt and whirlfloc, and it was much more stress-free. 60min mash @ 145*, 5min to ramp to 155*, then I held for 10min at 155*. I boiled for 90min, whirlpooled the hops hot for 20 minutes before I chilled to 62F. One thing to note about this beer, is that it definitely makes for a longer brew day. The mash takes 20min longer than normal, the boil is 30min longer, and the whirlpool adds another 20min. It was a solid 5.5hr brew day for me (typically 4 flat).
Anyway, I added O2, pitched the yeast, and set the fridge at 18C. WLP002 fermented out quickly as it always does, and I raised the temp to 20C once it started to slow down.
Dry Hopped: 01-25-13
Mash @ 145 for 60 min then 155F for 10 min
1oz Apollo @ 90
.75oz ea Centennial/Cascade @ 30
2oz ea Centennial/Cascade @ 0
WLP002 – English Ale Yeast – Repitched from Bitter
Dry Hop 1: 1.5oz ea Centennial/Cascade + .25oz ea Citra/Chinook
Dry Hop 2: 1oz ea Centennial/Cascade + .5oz ea Amarillo/Simcoe
3-4 days per addition
Fast ferment here. On Day 4 we were at 1.019, so I added the first dose of dry hops. It hit FG on day 6 or so. I racked to secondary after 8 days, and hit the beer with the second dose of dry hops. Those hops sat 4 days warm, then I crashed the secondary in the fridge. When I went to keg the beer, I was in for a bit of a surprise, but we’ll get to that below.
This beer did over-attenuate a bit, which my Double Jack clone did as well. I might need to tweak the mash temp a little for the 2-row I’m using. Either way, a couple points aren’t a huge deal here. What was a big deal, was my choice to let the secondary crash with too much head-space for 3-4 days. Oxidized.
I normally secondary my IPAs in a better bottle with very little head space. I’ll then cold crash them for 18-24hrs, just long enough for the hops to drop to the bottom. My better bottle was tied up, so I racked this beer into a 6.5gal bucket, which left 2+ gal of head space. I crashed the beer in the fridge, and was too busy all week to keg it. Big mistake. In the 4 days from crashing it, to kegging it, it oxidized. Bad. The beer just reeks with that sweet, toffee-caramel-candy flavor of oxidized American hops. It tasted perfect 4 days prior. Fuck.
I went ahead and kegged the beer, but after roughly two weeks, it’s clear that it isn’t getting better. I’m pretty let down, but there’s some lessons to be learned. IPAs oxidize easily. Headspace is a big deal when you crash the fermenter, as the cold beer will take in gases more readily. Finally, I’m going to start using corny kegs as secondaries, as they are air tight and can be easily flushed with CO2. I’ll probably get around to re-brewing this again sometime during summer. For now I’ve got some other beers planned, and I’d rather forget about having to dump this batch for now. (Fuck.)