Electric Hop Stand Pale Ale
Electric Hop Stand Pale Ale was brewed as an experiment in 2013. The entire process was photographed and documented. It's important to point out that at the time, steeping all hops after the boil at lower temperatures was somewhat unheard of. Since then styles like New England IPAs have emerged that push most of the hops towards the end of the boil or after, making this somewhat commonplace.
Some say that you get the best hop flavour and aroma (as well as some added bitterness) doing a "hop stand" where you add additional hops at flameout after the boil and then let it sit for 60-90 minutes.
So we thought we'd try and take this experiment to the extreme: Push the aroma and flavour as far as possible by only doing a hop stand. That is, not add any hops during the boil at all, only after and held at specific temperatures. After the boil is complete, hops are added at varying times and then held for up to 60-90 minutes at specific temperatures below boiling. Our control panel with advanced temperature control in the boil kettle allows this (unlike a dial-type boil control). This process is used by new popular beers like The Alchemist's Heady Topper and more recent New England IPAs.
So what beer to brew? We think a 1.050-1.055 fairly standard American Pale Ale (APA) with its lower bitterness could pull this off. What we need to make sure of is that we get enough bitterness to not have the beer end up overly sweet. The target is to get an extremely hop flavoured and aromatic APA that doesn't have much bitterness. On the flip side we also need to make sure we don't overdo the bitterness. While we don't think you can overdo hop flavour and aroma, the bitterness on an APA most certainly can be overdone. This is not an IPA or IIPA.
The problem we face is that there is little to no science behind the bitterness imparted by hop stands. Hop stands are somewhat new, the science not entirely understood. Some say that with a hop stand you get 10% hop utilization instead of the usual 30% assumed by most IBU curves. This means we need to add approximately 3 times as many hops at flameout as compared to hops that we'd boil for 60 mins if we want the same bitterness. Others say hop stands behave more like a 20 minute addition.
IBU calculations used in software completely break down when the closer you get to flameout as all of the IBU curves use boil time as a factor. When boil time reaches zero, the IBUs drop to zero as well. According to our software Beer Tools Pro, our bitterness should be 0 IBU which shows you are accurate software can be when it comes to calculating IBUs of late hop additions. 😉
It's said that below 175F bitterness is no longer extracted but there's no hard/fast brick wall numbers to this. It likely depends on the type of hop, the oils it contains and the contact time. It's also said that different flavours/aromas are extracted as the temperature varies. Extraction is slower at room temperature which is why dry hopping requires many days. At 140-200F the contact time can be much shorter and the results likely different.
So for this experiment we decided to try ~16oz of hops for a 12 gallon (post-boil) batch as follows:
- 5.6 oz at flameout, temperature allowed to drop naturally for 30 minutes
- 10.5 oz 30 minutes into flameout and held at 170F for an additional 50 minutes
Hops will steep with the lid off and stirred gently on occasion. The boil kettle will be set to 170F to ensure the temperature never drops below. The boil time is also increased to 90 mins from 60 based on a study which stated that "A long wort stand is ok if you have a strong vigorous 90 min boil". They're probably worried about driving off the precursors to DMS. Normally we only boil for 90 mins when using pilsner malt (since it has DMS precursors).
To make things interesting, we decided to brew this beer as part of a local competition that featured only APAs. The rules stated that everyone must stick to the same predefined grain bill and yeast, but that the hop bill may vary. We figured we'd try something completely different/new than what anyone else would be entering in the competition. (Pictures/results found further below).
- A lot of the thoughts and ideas behind this experiment can be found in our forum thread How much hops if only hopping during flameout (hop stand)?
- BYO has an article on Hop Stands from their March-April 2013 issue which is a good read.
- A presentation by Kristen England on the subject of Hop Stands (and other topics). It was determined that an 80 minute hop stand plus dry hopping results in maximum flavour and aroma. This information is also mentioned on page 201 of the book For the love of Hops.
- NEW! The 2019 book The new IPA: Scientific guide to hop aroma and flavor is a must read for anyone looking to better understand the science behind hop flavours and aromas.
This experimental beer was brewed on March 14, 2013. Brew up a batch yourself and see what you think!
Electric Hop Stand Pale Ale
Size: 12.0 gal (post-boil @ 68F)
Mash Efficiency: 95%
Original Gravity: 1.052 (style range: 1.045 - 1.060)
Terminal Gravity: 1.010 (style range: 1.010 - 1.015)
Colour: 7.5 SRM (style range: 5 - 14)
Alcohol: 5.5% ABV (style range: 4.5% - 6.2%)
Bitterness: No friggin' idea (style range: 30 - 50)
1 Whirlfloc Tablet (Irish moss) - added during boil, boiled 15 min
2.6 oz Centennial Hops (11.1%) - added immediately after boil
1 oz Cascade Hops (6.0%) - added immediately after boil
1 oz Chinook Hops (11.4%) - added immediately after boil
1 oz Citra Hops (11.1%) - added immediately after boil
5 oz Centennial Hops (11.1%) - added 30 minutes after boil, steeped at 170F for 50 min
1.5 oz Cascade Hops (6.0%) - added 30 minutes after boil, steeped at 170F for 50 min
2 oz Chinook Hops (11.4%) - added 30 minutes after boil, steeped at 170F for 50 min
2 oz Citra Hops (11.1%) - added 30 minutes after boil, steeped at 170F for 50 min
1 oz Centennial Hops (11.1%) - added to brite tank, steeped 3-5 days
0.5 oz Cascade Hops (6.0%) - added to brite tank, steeped 3-5 days
1 oz Chinook Hops (11.4%) - added to brite tank, steeped 3-5 days
1 oz Citra Hops (11.1%) - added to brite tank, steeped 3-5 days
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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 flavour profile: Ca=110, Mg=18, Na=16, Cl=50, SO4=275 (Basically Randy Mosher's ideal Pale Ale numbers with slightly less Sulphate). For complete details on how to adjust your water, refer to our step by step Water Adjustment guide.
- 1.25 qt/lb mash thickness.
- Single infusion mash at 150F for 90 mins.
- 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). Collect 14.9 gallons.
- Boil for 90 minutes, adding Whirlfloc and hops per schedule. Add first post-boil hops immediately after boil is done. With lid off whirlpool by gently stirring every ~10 minutes for a total of 30 minutes. The temperature will slowly drop. On our control panel, switch the BOIL PID to AUTO mode and set the temperature to 170F. This will hold at 170F and avoid the temperature from going any lower.
- 30 minutes after adding the first round of post-boil hops, add the +30 minute post boil hops. Steep for another 50 minutes at 170F for a total of 80 mins. There is no need to stir the wort during this time. The control panel will fire the heating element periodically to maintain the 170F temperature which also gently stirs the wort through convection currents.
- one-pass convoluted counterflow chiller to quickly lock in hop flavour and aroma) and transfer to fermenter. Cool the wort quickly to 66F (we use a
- 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 66-68F (wort temperature) until complete. We use modified stainless fermenting buckets in wine fridges.
- Add dry hops to brite tank (we use 5 gallon glass carboys) and purge with CO2 to avoid oxygen pickup. Rack beer on top of hops and allow to steep for 3-5 days at 70-72F room temperature. Gently swirl a few times a day.
- After 3-5 days of dry hopping optionally add 1 tsp of unflavoured gelatin dissolved in a cup of hot distilled water per 5 gallons of beer, and let clear for an extra 2-3 days. Gelatin may "round off" some hop flavour / aroma so we do not tend to use it on hop forward beers like this.
- 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 hop and 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 all hop forward beers this 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 during transfer 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 a 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.
For detailed brewing instructions, see our Brew Day Step by Step guide.
Questions? Visit our Electric Hop Stand Pale Ale forum thread.
Interested in seeing what we're brewing right now? Follow us on Instagram for pictures and videos of our brewing activities as they happen.
Pictures / Videos
March 14, 2013 - Brew day (Day 0)
Water heating up in the Hot Liquor Tank
16 oz of hops blended up (before split it into 6 and 10 oz), pen for scale
That's a lot of hops for 12 gallons of American Pale Ale!
Mashed in and hit 5.25 pH (when measured at mash temperature) with only the grain and the salts that were added, so no need for any extra lactic acid to bring the pH down further.
Wort already running fairly clear approximately half way through the mash
After the 90 minute mash is done the Hot Liquor Tank temperature is raised from 150F to 168F to perform a mashout. No valves or hoses are touched. The Mash / Lauter Tun automatically follows and rises in temperature as it is heated as it passes through the HERMS coil in the Hot Liquor Tank.
15 minutes into the mash-out the Hot Liquor Tank has already reached and is holding at 168F, and the mash has gone from 150F to 162F
The entire mashout-out took approximately 20 minutes and then sparging starts.
The sweet work is perfectly clear after having been circulated through the mash grain bed (which acts like a filter) for 90 minutes.
Sparging finished and we end up with exactly 14.9 gallons of wort at the expected gravity.
14.9 gallons of wort, ready to be boiled
Vigorous rolling boil has started and will continue for 90 minutes. It's mostly domestic 2-row malt so a 60 minute boil would normally be fine, but given that the wort will be chilled lightly after boil when hops are added, we're going to boil longer to minimize SMM/DMS as much as possible.
Waiting patiently for the boil to finish (less than 3 minutes to go)
Boil is over and we hit 12 gallon target bang on (at boiling it's actually 12.5 due to thermal expansion)
Heat off, the hot break and vigorous boil have made the wort look like egg drop soup
The 5.6 oz of hops about to be added after the boil
First set of post-boil hops in!
This thick hoppy film quickly dropped. We stirred gently every 10 minutes, for 30 minutes while the temperature slowly dropped.
The 10.5 oz that will be added after 30 minutes. These will be steeped for 50 minutes, for a total of 80 minute steep of all hops combined.
Second set of post-boil hops in!
After a minute the hops fall below the surface
We were surprised at how fast the 12 gallons of wort was cooling off, so on our control panel we switch the BOIL PID to AUTO mode and set the temperature to 170F. This will cause the heating element to fire periodically to maintain the 170F temperature which also gently stirs the wort through convection currents.
Wort temperature has dropped to 174F after 39 minutes
We've had no experience as to how fast 12 gallons of wort cools naturally as we've always used the "lid on at flameout and chill ASAP" approach because (up until now) this is what we had read was the best thing to do to "lock in" hop flavours and aromas. This is similar to what is done with a hop back where wort flows through hops and contact time is minimal and the wort is chilled immediately, locking in the flavour/aroma).
Below are the temperature drop times we observed in 12 gallons of wort (post-boil), ambient indoor temp of 65F. The lid was off at all times, the wort stirred gently every 10 mins.
- 00:00 - Upon turning off the power the wort temperature dropped from 210F to 208F almost immediately.
- 01:00 - Added 6 oz of room temperature hops. Wort temperature dropped to 206F.
- 03:00 - Wort temperature at 203F
- 08:00 - Wort temperature at 196F 13:00 - Wort temperature at 192F 25:00 - Wort temperature at 182F
- 30:00 - Wort temperature at 178F. Added second dose (10.5 oz) of hops.
- 30:00 to 80:00 - During this period we set our control panel boil kettle temperature to 170F. The temperature settled out at 170F and stayed there for the rest of the hop stand with the boil kettle heating element firing periodically. The firing of the element did not create a violent boil or stir, just enough movement to keep the hops moving around without me having to stir as much.
Filling bucket fermenters
Hop Stopper boil kettle filter with massive amounts of hop sludge
This amount of hops left behind in the kettle reminds of me of when we've brewed Pliny the Elder. Similar but different... the sludge this time was denser and more compact.
All cleaned up!
Time for a beer!
So how did the wort taste? Very hoppy as you would imagine, but not a bitter as when we've made other extremely hoppy beers such as Pliny the Elder or HopSlam, but given that those are double IPAs so we certainly hope not! This is only supposed to be an APA. The aroma is over the top, which is what we hoped for.
March 24, 2013 - Nearing end of fermentation (Day 10)
It's been 9-10 days since we pitched the yeast and the gravity is down to 1.012 - we figure it'll end up around 1.010 once fermentation is done.
Normally we don't take readings until a good two weeks or so (depends on the beer / fermentation temp / etc.) have passed and we know it's done fermenting and cleaning up, but this one was a special case since we only added hops only after the boil (16 oz).
We tried a taste of this beer when we took the gravity reading. We were worried that it would be overly hoppy but it's actually the opposite: If we were to get this analyzed, the measured IBUs is likely in the 30-40 range at the most. It's really hard to tell. There's bitterness but it's extremely smooth with a ton of hop flavour and aroma. The best way to describe it is it tastes the way a handful of hops smells when you hold them up to your face. Not astringent or bitter, just tons of flavour.
It'll be interesting to see how it behaves over time, if it fades at all. The competition this will be entered in is in exactly 6 weeks. By the time we dry hop and keg, it will have been in the kegs keg carbonating and conditioning for 4 weeks. It should be in its prime.
March 26, 2013 - Racking and dry hopping (Day 12)
Gravity has dropped to 1.010 - 1.011 and is not going any lower so fermentation is done. The beer was racked to CO2 purged 5 gallon glass carboys that already had the dry hops added.
The hop flavours / aromas have not subsided as far as we can tell. Hopefully it'll stay that way. At nearly 6 % ABV this beer teeters on the edge between an American Pale Ale and an American IPA, so it can take the extra hop flavours / aromas.
March 29, 2013 - Kegging (Day 17)
Beer was kegged but there are no pictures to show as we forgot to take photos. There isn't much to say or show anyway. The two kegs are now sitting in our 6-keg conditioning fridge at just above 32F with the CO2 gas attached so they they'll carb up to about 2 - 2.2 volumes.
Not much to see. It's kegs in a fridge. 😉
We did taste it after 24-36 hours and now that it's cold (but not 100% carbonated) it still has a ton of hop flavour, not much aroma from what we can tell and isn't overly bitter.
To use what is probably overused marketing terms: It tastes like liquid hops. To use a term from the wine industry: The hop flavour seems to have excellent 'length' (the amount of time the flavour stays with you after you swallow it).
It reminds us a lot of sorts of American IPAs we like to make (lot of late hop additions) but without the upfront bitterness that is usually included as well. So far it's definitely the most flavourful APA we've had.
It'll be interesting to see how it fares in ~2 weeks once it is fully carbonated and cleared. It's going into a local tasting that a bunch of brewers are doing in early May.
May 4, 2013 - Competition day (Day 51)
The local APA brewing competition was held for which we originally brewed this recipe. This beer came in 3rd out of 11 entries. We're actually surprised it scored that high given that we were trying something we've never done before, and as it was by far the most bitter and hop flavoured beer.
Judging was 50% people's choice from blind sampling (the brewers chose their top 3 and awarded 1, 2, or 3 points) and 50% by two BJCP judges who filled out score sheets.
Here were the rules as it's not your typical BJCP competition, nor was it BJCP sanctioned:
Have multiple people brew either the exact same recipe or a recipe with restrictions so that participants show off their skills and to evaluate the differences between beers with minimal variables. This one is a little more open. Enjoy!
Style: American Pale Ale
- Sign Up
- Brew the recipe. Only substitutes are those noted.
- Present your sample at the Throwdown on May 4th.
- Bring your recipe/brewsheet to the Throwdown for comparative purposes.
- One official entry per person.
Targeted OG (adjust grain bill to hit this OG): 1.052
5% Crystal 60L or Caramunich equivalent
5% Carafoam/Carapils/Oatmeal/Barley Flakes/Wheat (choice of 1 of the 5)
Hops (Targeted IBU is 40):
You can use 1 or any combination of ONLY the following hops: Chinook, citra, amarillo, cascade and centennial.
No specific hop schedule.
0-2oz using hops listed above.
US-05 or WLP001 or Wyeast 1056
Whirfloc, Irish Moss, Gelatin (all optional)
As mentioned previously the big difference in our beer was the hop schedule. With only post boil hops it's definitely a bit 'out there'.
The stated 40 IBU requirement caused us some concern. We knew we'd have no way of guessing what the results would be like but that also nobody could argue that ours was or wasn't 40 IBU. 😉
As it turns out, out of the 11 blind samples we tried (as a brewer we were part of the 'peoples choice'), our was definitely the hoppiest both in terms of hop flavour and bitterness. After trying all 11 we was able to pick our out without difficulties. We found it had the most hop flavour but was surprisingly low in hop aroma given the amount of post boil kettle hops and dry hops used. We're not sure why. We would have expected more hop aroma. Next time we may try lowering the amount of hops at flameout to by 50% and add some first wort hops instead. We may also brew it as an IPA (higher ABV). There's definitely room for lots of experimentation.
There were a few other beers that were fairly hoppy in terms of flavour but used decidedly less late boil hops. It may be that we hit a brick wall in terms of hop flavours with only a few ounces and that after a certain point adding more hops wasn't going to add more much more flavour.
There are a lot of variables at play including steeping temperature, steep time, and even the type of hop (as different hops have different oils that isomerize at different temperatures).
The beer tasted 'greener' (grassy) longer than most similar beers. It took a good month before this faded into the background. This is not surprising given the amount of vegetal matter (hops) that were used.
We definitely like the resulting beer and our fears of it being not bitter enough were completely unfounded. Compared to the other competition beers (and the 30 IBU commercial beer used as the 'calibration'), ours was definitely more bitter, but not what we'd consider too bitter. We've had a few more pints of since the competition and find that it's not a beer to be drunk even slightly warm. It needs to be very cold (35-38F) with low carbonation. It's extremely thirst quenching when served this way and the hop bitterness and flavours work well.
If anyone ends up brewing something similar post your results in our forum thread. We'd be very curious to read them!
Below are some of the pictures we took at the competition.
BJCP score sheets were provided to the 'peoples choice' voters for those who wished to refer to them
The 'calibration' beer was Lake of Bays Crosswind Pale Ale, a somewhat middle of the road example (low malt taste, low IBU)
The 'peoples choice' brewers trying out the various samples
The samples were all marked anonymously with letters. This brewer managed to spill the sample labelled 'P' on himself, effectively 'P-ing' himself. Hilarity ensued. 😉
The BJCP judges filling out the score sheets
While the malt bill was fixed, at least one of the samples was noticeably darker in colour
Our illustrious host tallies up the results
... and then takes the prize (congrats!) while a disbeliever has to confirm the tally himself