Thursday, June 12, 2014

Azacca Single Hop IPA - Recipe & Tasting Notes

Azacca Single Hop IPA

Beer: Killshot IPA - Azacca
Brewery: Bear Flavored
Style: IPA
Brewed: 5.10.14
Kegged On: 5.26.14
ABV: 6.8%

Appearance: pale golden yellow, hazy, ample head, good retention
Smell: melon, grapefruit, peach, bubblegum, fruit candy, tart apricot
Taste: orange rind, grapefruit, apricot, tangy / tart fruit, slightly grassy / earthiness
Mouthfeel: light body, medium carbonation, crisp finish, soft bitterness

Each year around the summer, I find myself knocking out a couple of single-hop IPAs and pale ales to test out the various hop varieties that have caught my attention. They're not necessarily as exciting as a multi-hop IPA with a carefully engineered recipe, but they're still valuable in tweaking the base recipe below the hops, and of course, for finding out how to use these hops in the future. While I don't often re-brew exact recipes, I have been aiming for a target and inching closer with every variation. The hops may change, but I must find the perfect vehicle with which to deliver them

Having said that, the more I brew, the more I feel like recipes are nothing more than a framework; ultimately fairly arbitrary when it comes to most styles. There are many paths to reach a similar end, and many other things that affect the resulting beer. Beyond your handling of water and yeast, there are still other factors that come into play for a homebrewer: a chaotic or interrupted brew-day, an oversight of some important addition down the road, and the packaging method you employ. I'm happy to say that my Keg Brite Tank ----> Serving Keg methodology is now working just about flawlessly. And this brew-day went very smoothly, despite it being a totally out-of-my-element demonstration at a local hop farm, Dutchess Hops. Brewing beyond the comfort of your own kitchen (or driveway), it's very easy to realize you forgot something crucial: a thermometer, oven mitts, maybe even all your hops. Leading a demonstration requires focus and organization, and it's probably inevitable that you'll miss something or other and have to improvise. Given that, this one... actually went really well. The hop farm was a beautiful venue for a brew-day, and we had a gorgeous day and a nice crowd. Other than the stress of loading my entire laboratory into my tiny car, I could get used to brewing like that all the time.

In fact, every part of this brew came together pretty perfectly. Of the other variables, with this batch I tried out a new yeast strain I'd been curious about: Wyeast's new West Coast IPA strain, which I've heard said is the Stone strain (given the name, that would make sense.) I don't have too many thoughts on it; it fermented out fine, it's nice and clean, hit the expected attenuation, and would probably make a fine substitute for 1056, though I doubt you'd be able to pick out any major differences between them. Unlike my IPAs fermented with Conan, this one is finally starting to clear after two and a half weeks in the keg. Not that I mind the haze.

That said, this is a [mostly] single hop IPA, and those will rise and fall based on the hop they showcase, of course. (My single-hop IPAs are rarely true single hops, because I strongly feel that these elusive, expensive, highly popular flavor hops are completely wasted as a bittering addition.) Given the chance to shine in one of my most-solidly-brewed IPAs to date, Azacca is really impressing me. It's not quite another Citra or Simcoe, but it's lovely and unique and crazy aromatic, and right now, that's what I'm looking for. In fact, it's one of the rare IPAs I've brewed where the nose is maybe better than the flavor — it's explosively juicy, full of sweet fruit notes, almost candy-like, as described above. Unlike some comparable varieties, Azacca isn't so much tropical as just ripe and tangy. One friend described it as "tart apricot," and went on to suggest that such a profile is a running theme in my beers, which is probably true. But he wasn't the only one to get apricot character out of this. So let's go with apricot as the main theme. There's a bit of grassy and earthy character towards the back, and I think how you structure your beers will affect how high the different volume knobs were set. I'm favoring the fruity character here, with a very clean malt base, low bitterness, and a touch of sweetness to accentuate it, but Azacca has more depth than just that.

Most importantly, I think Azacca will pair well with a number of hops. Citra immediately springs to mind, Apollo, Centennial, just about any C-hop, probably Simcoe, though Amarillo sounds a bit redundant to me. Time to order another pound.

5.25 Gal., All Grain
Brewed 5.10.2014
Mashed at 148 degrees for 60 minutes
Fermented at 68 F
OG: 1.061
FG: 1.009
ABV: 6.8%

84.4% [9.5#] 2-row malt
6.7% [12 oz] white wheat malt
4.4% [8 oz] Golden Naked Oats
4.4% [8 oz] corn sugar

Hop Schedule-
0.5 oz Warrior @FWH
4 oz Azacca hop stand for 45 minutes
1.5 oz Azacca dry hop for 5 days [primary]
2.5 oz Azacca dry hop for 5 days [brite tank]

Wyeast West Coast IPA


  1. Could you maybe put together a post about your homebrew setup? I always find this aspect most inspiring as a beginner.

    I'm fairly lazy, and just looking at all the equipment I acquired made it seem like the process would be a nightmare. It wasnt until I actually watched a dozen youtube videos that I saw how it all fit together, and it no longer seemed like a jumbled mess to me.

    There's a certain aspect of order I appreciate when I see a well put together setup, especially if its basic, and creatively making the most out of very little. It also demystifies the whole thing somewhat, and gets me going.

  2. There are indeed many variables that go into brewing a beautiful pint of beer. However, you lost me on your statement that recipes are "ultimately fairly arbitrary when it comes to most styles." I do not agree with this statement. I have seen many people with precise techniques and know how but could not write an amazing recipe for the life of them. It, to me, is a crucial element and far from arbitrary. There may be many paths to get to the same end but there are a lot of "ends" for any specific styles.


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