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Electric Creamsicle (New England Pale Ale)

 

Electric Creamsicle (New England style Pale Ale)Electric Creamsicle: It's all about the orange and cream flavours.

 

Testimonials

"This recipe is amazing Kal! I did a small 2.5 gal BIAB batch in my kitchen and it turned out great! I'll probably stock up on ingredients immediately for a 12 gallon batch. Sabro might be my new favorite hop." - Shmeffrey

"Hey Kal, I tapped the beer over the weekend (I quick carbed at 40 psi and then turned down to serving pressure) as I was impatient. I know it's a little young but man oh man, you did it again! Very nice beer this one is. I can't get over the flavor that this one hop imparts in this recipe. I am having one right now and it's even better! Very nice citrus, hint of creaminess, and so very drinkable. That's the thing I like most about your quality recipes and in the beers I try and come up with is the drinkability! Yes sir another Dandy! Thanks again for posting!" - John

 

Introduction

As hop forward beers such as IPAs and Pale Ales continue to grow in popularity, interest in hops has also grown as they are the defining ingredient that brings unique flavours and aromas to these styles. By combining and using hops in different ways there are literally an infinite number of flavour profiles available to the brewer. Citrusy, dank, floral, earthy, tropical, spicy, piney, lemony, and other colourful descriptors are used to describe the various flavours possible through the use of hops. Today there are over 140 hop varieties with more being added continuously, allowing brewers to experiment with new and exciting flavours.

So where do new hops come from anyway? New hop varieties are not discovered, they are created, or more accurately, engineered. Hop farmers and scientists purposefully breed two or more existing hops to create something new. Like panning for gold, hop breeding is decidedly unrewarding most of the time. It's a time consuming process that takes years. From the thousands of cross-pollination tests, only a handful will be viable, and even less will be interesting enough for brewers to consider using. It's not uncommon for a hop breeder to produce 20,000 genotypes per year and have zero new varieties come to market from all that work.

As brewers we all see this: There are extremely few new hop varieties released to the market every year, and the popular new ones that everyone uses and remembers are few and far between, typically years apart. Bringing a successful hop to market is a very long and drawn out process. It may have only taken you, the brewer, a few weeks to produce that perfect beer but that fancy new hop you used probably took hop breeders 10 or more years to perfect. For more information on the hop breeding process, check out the excellent book For the Love of Hops.

Every once in a while a new hop variety comes along that helps redefine the IPA / Pale Ale styles and takes the brewing world by storm. Citra (released in 2007) was one such hop, used in award winning beers such as Kern River Citra Double IPA. Mosaic (released in 2012) is another. Both were products of the Hop Breeding Company (HBC) of Yakima Valley, creators of unique hop varieties.

The latest hop to come out of HBC that has brewers very excited is Sabro (formerly referred by the experimental name HBC 438). It was released commercially in 2018, after 14 years of breeding and testing. It is the hop that defines our Electric Creamsicle beer. Sabro the only hop we use in this recipe as it's complex enough to stand on its own (when used correctly).

To quote hop breeder Michael Ferguson on Sabro (HBC 438) back when it was still in the experimental phase:

HBC 438 provides the most complex flavours that I’ve tasted in a beer, when flavour is solely derived from hops. I believe it is a worthy candidate of being the spotlight ingredient in a single-hop beer—not many varieties are balanced enough to make that work. There are bold aromas and flavours, but also a plethora of subtleties and depth. A good friend of mine was visiting during harvest and tasted the HBC 438 beer we had on tap; he described it as "mind bending".

Sabro (HBC 438) hops growing at Yakima Chief RanchesSabro (HBC 438) hops growing at Yakima Chief Ranches

Some of the flavour descriptors for Sabro are definitely unique:

Sabro’s flavour is notable for its complexity of fruity and citrus flavours, including distinct tangerine, coconut, tropical and stone fruit. In addition, there is a pronounced cream character and secondary flavours of vanilla, cedar, dill, and mint.

Don't let some of the secondary flavours throw you off. We're not making dill pickle beer here. 😉 The primary flavours that Sabro brings to this beer through our recipe and recommended brewing process are tangerine / sweet fruit mixed with creamy hints of coconut and vanilla, hence the name. Think of it as an "orange Creamsicle in a glass".

Sabro hop flavour profile

Some of the unique flavours that Sabro brings to the table may come from its pedigree. While most new hops are cross-bred from European hops, Sabro is different. It is a true North American hop that was created through a unique cross pollination of a female neomexicanus hop, a genetically distinct sub-species of the hop family that has been growing wild in the mountains of New Mexico for the past million years. The father is unknown, a true bastard hop, as Sabro was created through open pollination.

 

What a difference a hop makes

If you've skipped ahead and have also brewed some of our other recipes, you may find our Electric Creamsicle recipe below strangely familiar. That's because it's pretty much our Electric Hop Candy Jr with Sabro hops!

In beers like this hops are everything. As mentioned above different hops can completely change the resulting beer. How the hops are used (the brewing process) along with the other ingredients in the beer will also affect the outcome. In this recipe we use Sabro in many brewing process steps including first wort hopping, end of boil (5 minutes or less), steeping post-boil at lower temperature, fermentation, and finally dry hopping. Each produces different results and enhances flavour compounds differently. This is definitely an aroma hop so we avoid using it for long boils and also want to keep the resulting bitterness low. Use this hop incorrectly and some have warned that you may end up with something catty (as in "smells like a litter box").

Sabro fits very well in a New England style beer so the water adjustments and grist composition meant to produce a smooth mouthfeel compliment the hop cream / vanilla / coconut flavours. For more information on the New England style of beers, refer to our original Electric Hop Candy recipe where we break down the style in detail.

Sabro has a higher alpha acid level than most of the kettle hops we use in Electric Hop Candy Jr so the amounts has been adjusted accordingly to keep bitterness in check. The end result turns out to be exactly one pound of hops in our 10 gallon (packaged) batch which is nice to see as it makes planning and purchasing easier (we purchase all our hops by the pound). 

 

What about Lactose?

New England style beers (both IPA and Pale Ale) are low in bitterness, with a very soft and “pillowy” mouthfeel, often derived from the use of copious amounts of unmalted oats which add a silky and full texture to the finished beer.

In a 2015 collaboration brew Omnipollo and Tired Hands Brewing Company took the style a step further by adding Lactose (along with fruit and vanilla) to create their "Milkshake IPA" beer, thus creating a new sub-genre to the New England style that was softer and creamier than ever before.

Lactose is a non-fermentable milk based sugar that adds a bit of sweetness (it's one fourth as sweet as cane sugar), a creamy texture, and a subtle "milky" flavour. Originally used to add sweetness and body to Milk Stouts, it has recently seen a resurgence in use in these new Milkshake style IPAs and other New England style spin-offs.

Given the tangerine and creamy vanilla / coconut flavours in our Electric Creamsicle beer, adding Lactose would seem like a perfect fit. We include in our recipe but leave it as optional as not everyone seems to enjoy it in an IPA or Pale Ale.

While a Milk Stout or other Milkshake IPA may use one pound of Lactose in a single 5 gallon batch, if you're interested in using it here we recommend starting with only 50% of that amount (one pound in approximately 10 gallons of packaged beer if you're following this recipe). Lactose can be added either in the last 10 minutes of the boil, during fermentation, or right before packaging (as the sugar is not fermentable by brewer's yeast). 

Before committing to an entire batch, we recommend trying a bit of Lactose in a sample right before packaging to see if you enjoy the results and to assess how much to use. Adding 0.15 oz (just over 4 grams) to 12 oz of beer will result in the same amount as adding one pound to 10 gallons. Use your jewelry scale to measure. If you decide to use Lactose in this recipe you may want to reduce the Carapils / Carafoam to avoid increasing the OG and FG. For example, if adding 1 lb of Lactos reduce the Carapils / Carafoam amount by 1.4 lbs (these have approximately equal amounts of unfermentable sugars). 

Testing different amounts of Lactose in Electric CreamsicleTesting different amounts of Lactose in Electric Creamsicle

 

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Electric Creamsicle (New England style Pale Ale)

Size: 12 US gallons (post-boil @ 68F)
Mash Efficiency: 95%
Attenuation: 73%
Calories: 174 kcal per 12 fl oz
Original Gravity: 1.052 (style range: 1.045 - 1.060)
Final Gravity: 1.014 (style range: 1.010 - 1.015)
Colour: 5.6 SRM (style range: 5 - 10)
Alcohol: 5.0% ABV (style range: 4.5% - 6.2%)
Bitterness: 26? IBU (style range: 30 - 50) (Ignore*)

Mash:
4.8 lb Domestic 2-Row Malt (1.8-2L) (24.9%)
4.8 lb Maris Otter Malt (2.5-4L) (24.9%)
2.9 lb Pale (or White) Wheat Malt (1.5-2.4L) (15%)
2.9 lb Flaked Oats (1-1.5L) (15%)
1.5 - 2.9 lb Carapils or Carafoam (1.4-2.9L) (7.9-15%) (see 'What about Lactose?' above)
1 lb Honey Malt (25L) (5.2%)

Boil:
1 oz Sabro Hops (14.3%) - added first wort*, boiled 60 min [12.5 IBU]
1 Whirlfloc Tablet (Irish moss) - added during boil, boiled 15 min
0 - 1 lb Lactose (0-5.3%) (optional, see 'What about Lactose?' above) - added during boil, boiled 10 min 
3 oz Sabro Hops (14.3%) - added during boil, boiled 5 min [13.4 IBU]

Post-boil:
4 oz Sabro Hops (14.3%) - added after boil, steeped at 180F for 30 min

Yeast:
Wyeast 1318 London Ale III yeast
(~438 billion cells [4-5 fresh packs] or an equivalent starter)

Dry hop: 
4 oz Sabro Hops (14.3%) - dry hop #1 (added to fermenter at high krausen, 1 day after pitching yeast)
4 oz Sabro Hops (14.3%) - dry hop #2 (added to brite tank, steeped 3 days)

*First wort hops are added to the boil kettle at the start of sparging (before the wort is boiled). For IBU calculations, first wort hopping is said to be similar to a 20 minute addition, but we wouldn't worry about trying to figure out the IBU in this recipe. Ignore IBU calculators on beers like this where most of the hops are added late in the boil as the numbers will vary greatly depending on who's calculator you want to believe/use.

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Notes / Process

  • Add 500mg potassium metabisulphite to 20 gallons water to remove chlorine / chloramine (if required).
  • Water treated with brewing salts to our Hoppy New England flavour profile: Ca=100, Mg=18, Na=16, Cl=200, SO4=100 (Higher Chloride and lower Sulphate as compared to what is normally done with most American IPAs. This helps create the silky smooth and rich mouthfeel, pushing the hop flavours to be rounded and less sharp/dry). For complete details on how to adjust your water, refer to our step by step Water Adjustment guide.
  • The Flaked Oats (1-1.5L) do not need to be milled as they have already been rolled flat and toasted. Add them to the mash as is.
  • 1.25 qt/lb mash thickness.
  • Single infusion mash at 160F for 90 mins. While normal mash pH is typically 5.2-5.4 (when measured at mash temperature) you may want to aim on the higher end of this range to get a beer that is rounder/more full instead of sharp.
  • Raise to 168F mashout temperature and hold for 10 mins.
  • ~90 min fly sparge with ~5.6-5.8 pH water (measured at mash temperature). At start of sparge add First Wort Hops to the boil kettle to let them steep as the wort is collected. Collect 13.9 gallons.
  • Boil for 60 minutes, adding Whirlfloc, Lactose (optional), and hops per schedule at 15, 10, and 5 minutes left.
  • Once boil is completed, quickly chill the wort to 180F (a copper immersion chiller works well - even the cheapest 25' x 3/8" immersion chiller will only take 2-3 minutes to chill from 212F to 180F). On our control panel, switch the BOIL PID to AUTO mode and set the temperature to 180F. This will hold the wort at 180F. Do not worry if you undershot the 180F target temperature slightly when chilling with the immersion chiller. Our control panel will quickly raise the temperature back to 180F and hold.
  • Add the steeping hops, put on the kettle lid, and wait 30 minutes. There is no need to stir the wort during this time. The control panel will fire the heating element periodically to maintain the 180F temperature which also gently stirs the wort through convection currents.
  • After the 30 minute steep turn off the heating element and chill the wort quickly to 66F (we use a one-pass convoluted counterflow chiller to quickly lock in hop flavour and aroma) and transfer to fermenter.
  • Aerate well. Pure oxygen from a tank may be used at a rate of 1 litre per minute for 60 seconds per 5 gallons.
  • Pitch yeast and ferment at 68F (wort temperature). We use modified stainless fermenting buckets in wine fridges.
  • Assuming you did not underpitch the yeast, after 24 hours you should be at high krausen (highest point of foaming). Add dry hops #1 directly to the fermenter.
  • Continue to ferment at 68F (wort temperature) until approximately 5 points from final gravity and then raise the temperature to 70-72F until finished. In our case we simply turn off the fermenting fridges and allow the beer to naturally rise to room temperature. Assume fermentation is done if the gravity does not change over ~3 days.
  • Add dry hops #2 to brite tank (we use 5 gallon glass carboys), purge with CO2 to avoid oxygen pickup, then carefully rack in the beer on top of the hops. Allow to steep for 3 days at 70-72F room temperature, gently swirling a few times a day. We do not recommend using hop sacks or other containers as you'll get the best flavour extraction from the hops if you let them roam free.
  • After 3 days in the brite tank package as you would normally. We rack to kegs that have first been purged with CO2, and then carbonate on the low side (around 2 volumes of CO2) to minimize carbonic bite and let the fruity hop and subtle malt flavours shine through. We chill the kegs to near freezing while carbonating at the same time in a 6-keg conditioning fridge. After ~1-2 weeks at serving pressure the kegs will be carbonated and ready to serve. Like most hop forward beers this New England Pale Ale is best consumed fresh so feel free to raise the CO2 pressure temporarily to 30-40 PSI to carbonate fast over a 24 period, and then turn back down to serving pressure. Some hop bits will have invariably made their way into the keg so we use a Hop Stopper Keg Edition filter to ensure that hops do not clog the dip tube and/or end up in the glass. Force carbonating at high pressure and using the Hop Stopper filter allows us to serve this beer 24 hours after kegging. There's no need to wait a few days for any hop bits that made their way into the keg to first settle out.
  • We do not recommend using finings such as unflavoured gelatin as it may "round off" hop flavours / aromas.

For detailed brewing instructions, see our Brew Day Step by Step guide.

Enjoy!

Questions? Visit our Electric Creamsicle (New England style Pale Ale) forum thread

 

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Pictures / Videos

Interested in seeing what we're brewing right now? Follow us on Instagram for pictures and videos of our brewing activities as they happen.

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Experimenting with new (to me) hops: Idaho 7, Sabro, Azacca, and El Dorado. One easy way to see what flavours/aromas a hop adds is to dry hop in a lighter tasting beer. Here’s how: (1) Chill empty bottles (2) Add 1 gram of hops per 341ml bottle (equivalent to 2 oz per 5 gals) (3) Purge with CO2 and fill with a light tasting lager, capping on foam (4) Leave at room temp for 3 days then 24 hours in the fridge to let the hop bits settle out before pouring into glasses and sampling (blending possible too) I used a very light German lager I had on tap that only had one noble hop bittterness addition at 60 min for this, but many will use Bud Light or similar. ・ 👉 shop.TheElectricBrewery.com 👈 Parts, kits, and pre-assembled brewing products built in the USA with lifetime support. Guides to building and using your brewery. Tons of recipes!

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Time to boil! To avoid boil-overs which can happen due to distraction I like to set the temp to just under boiling (208F) and turn on the alarm. The control panel then heats the wort up to (but not over) 208F and sounds the alarm. I then switch to 100% power while stirring to avoid boil-overs. Some people like to use chemicals to avoid boil-overs but I don’t like adding unnecessary things to my beer that can have other effects. Making an all Sabro experimental batch of Electric Hop Candy Jr. ・ 👉 shop.TheElectricBrewery.com 👈 Parts, kits, and pre-assembled brewing products built in the USA with lifetime support. Guides to building and using your brewery. Tons of recipes!

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For more pictures and videos of Electric Creamsicle search Instagram for #ElectricCreamsicle.