Thursday, January 24, 2013

Bridgeport Hop Czar

The first IPA I ever tasted was a Bridgeport IPA, back in the early nineties.  It was a memorable experience, and when I think of traditional IPAs, I still have that first Bridgeport in my head.

Hop Czar takes that well-balanced traditional IPA and just turns it up  a couple notches.  It's got more hops and more malt and alcohol to balance it, but it's still very drinkable.  It is deceptively strong and I've been known to have a few pints of this and then be surprised at how difficult it was to stagger in a semi-straight line away from the table.

Nice floral hop nose, excellent flavor with good malt and a proper  amount of bitter finishing hops to clean up.

Damn good stuff!

11 comments :

  1. Hmm, not at the local store yet I think...

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    1. Not sure what Bridgeport's availability is like elsewhere, but it's a pretty big Oregon brewery (by "micro" standards) that's been around a while. Hopefully it'll show up for you.

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  2. Looks like they distribute to IL. I'll have to give this one a shot, I'd say IPA is one of my favorite styles.

    btw, my first batch of extract brew is bottle conditioning now (its been in bottles for about 10 days). I couldn't resist and tried one on Saturday. Its a very nice Irish Red Ale, not a style I'm that familiar with. Considering it was my first go I'm just glad it didn't have any funky flavors. I did try pretty hard to get it right. I can see that I'm going to want to switch to all grain sooner rather than later. Gotta start getting my mash tun built.
    I know I'm getting obsessed when I'm commenting on beer at 745am.

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    1. It's definitely worth trying if you can get it. So is their standard IPA if Hop Czar isn't available.

      Glad your first batch turned out! Extract is convenient, but all grain is definitely the way to go. My first mash/lauter tun was a rubbermaid water cooler with a false bottom and spigot added to it. Cheap, it worked great, and I used it for years. You may even be able to find one second hand on Craigslist. I seem them there pretty frequently.

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  3. It's actually kind of intimidating when you see what kind of elaborate setups people are doing now. I've consumed so much information about brewing, sometimes my head is swimming and I have to back off a bit. I'm going to be doing another extract batch this weekend, Lady Liberty Pale Ale link The recipe is a bit different in the later edition of his How to Brew book. I will be adding 1/2 oz of cascade hops in the 2°fermentor.
    Thanks for the tips! Cheers!

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    1. Yeah, don't let it overwhelm you. Stick with simple equipment, especially at first. Find stuff that's cheap to try and/or easy to implement, and then get a solid system down of how to work with it. As far as bang-for-the-buck goes, as far as I'm concerned the quality of homebrew improves dramatically with one big thing:

      Full wort boil -- boiling the entire volume of beer, not just boiling a concentrate and adding water at the end.

      You need a large pot (bigger than your fermenter, e.g. 7 gallon for a finished batch size of 5 gallons)) and a propane burner at minimum. Ideally the pot would have a false bottom and a wort chiller is great too, but technically you can make it work without those. The wort chiller really helps, improves quality and convenience also and even the simplest immersion coil ones make a big difference.

      This will improve the quality of your beer immensely, regardless of whether you're using extract or all grain.

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    2. Obviously assuming you're not already doing that...

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  4. Ha! I am. My wife got me the 32qt SS brew kettle (no false bottom) and I bought an immersion chiller so my first batch was much like you describe, full boil. Don't have the propane burner but we have a "power-plus" type burner on our gas range that puts out plenty btus to keep a full boil on 5 gal.
    One thing I'm going to change on my extract technique is to only add part of the extract at the beginning and then the balance at the last ten minutes or so.
    I think I'll do a few more extract batches while I amass my equipment for AG.
    I'm an analytical/formulation chemist by trade plus I love to cook so this is great fun for me!

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    1. Well then I'm glad I added that addendum! The first few batches I did were partial boils and the quality improved dramatically when going to the larger pot with the chiller. Sounds like you're definitely most of the way to all grain, keep an eye on craigslist for a mash tun and you'll be set.

      What are your thoughts of adding the extract at separate times? With all grain you have all the sugars in the pot before you boil and add hops, why not do the same with extract?

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  5. I actually think the late extract addition is better for partial boils, now that I read more about it. Apparently a partial boil with all the extract in the beginning can result in too much caramelization. Late extract addition also affects hop utilization so you can end up with a more bitter beer than.intended. I'll probably stick with full boil and add all the extract up front, iow follow the recipe.
    Lots to learn yet. Looking forward to setting up my lauter tun and making a nice ag pale ale or wheat beer. cheer and thanx for the tips!

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    1. Ok, yeah, that makes much more sense -- both for the hops and caramelization . I look forward to hearing how it all works out.

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