When I brewed it last Winter, Mount Hoodie was my first lager. It turned out great and I decided to make it again this year. The first batch was a brew in a bag partial mash and everything went smoothly. This year’s recipe was adapted for all grain, but there was an issue. I’m not sure what happened, but my efficiency was terrible. I already normally don’t have great efficiency, but this time, I was planning for about 1.054 OG and only got 1.040.
I decided to add some extract, but I didn’t have any on hand, so it had to wait a few days. I began fermentation normally, then three days later, I dissolved two pounds of DME in as little water as I could and then boiled it for about fifteen minutes. After it cooled to room temperature, I added it to the fermentor. I have never done this before and I’m not sure if it was the best way to go about it. By my calculations, it should have added about .015 to the gravity of the beer, putting it right around where I wanted it, I just hope it doesn’t throw off the hop aroma too much or negatively change the malt flavor. I used a blend of Vienna and Pale Malt for the base and used light DME to top it up. It leaned slightly more toward Vienna originally, I’m guessing the light DME is basically just Pale Malt.
Now, with that out of the way, a little about the what the beer is supposed to be. I call it an American Amber Lager, or a hoppy amber lager. I love Mount Hood hops and wanted to showcase them. The hop schedule is somewhat similar to a what you would find in a German Pilsner while the grain bill is kind of like a Vienna Lager. I’m not sure what made me decide to make this combination originally, but it turned out great and I decided very quickly that it would be an annual repeat brew.
Mount Hood hops were bred from Hallertau Mittelfruh and an experimental US hop in the late 1980’s in an attempt to create a Noble style hop that would grow in America. Hallertau, Tettnanger, Spalt and Saaz are the tradition European Noble hops. They are all named for the regions where they originated. They were wild hops in those regions, not specifically bred for brewing, but have become legendary for fine aromatic qualities. They generally have low alpha acid, but high humulene content, which means, in short that they are great aroma hops, not really to be used for bittering.
A lot of the Noble hops have been grown in regions other than where they originated, but the results are never really the same. Different soil and climate leads not only to poor yields, but also to changes in the hops’ character. Mount Hood was one of several attempts to bring Noble hop aroma to a hop cultivated for growth in America.
It has a lot of the spicy, earthy aroma of the Noble hops, but I find it to also have a mild citrus aroma, like a restrained version of other American hops. I think it is a great, complex combination that isn’t often found in a single hop variety.
I was looking to bitter this beer to around Pilsner levels, and Mount Hood retains the Noble hops’ low alpha acids, so I decided to bitter with Cascade. A single addition of the classic American hop at the beginning of the boil doesn’t leave much of it’s hallmark aroma but gives a clean bitterness and gets out of the way for Mount Hood. I upped the level of the late hops in this year’s batch. I was kind of nervous to do this, as I already liked last year’s, but I wanted to really show off the aroma this year. With the extra water and DME added, I’m thinking it’s probably good I added the hops.
This year’s grain bill is substantially different from last year’s version. Last year I mashed with the brew in a bag method and added three pounds of DME in the boil. Since I ended up adding two pounds this year, the main difference was that I added a lot more Vienna malt. Last year, I only used one pound along five pounds of Pale malt. I loved last year’s batch, but it was on the light side for an amber lager. Since I added more finishing hops and thought the beer could be slightly darker, this change seemed to make sense for balance.
My full recipe is below. I will do a post with last year’s recipe around the time that this batch is ready to drink along with tasting notes and pictures for both.
Style: American Amber Lager (Pilsner hopped Vienna lager?)
Brew Date: 2/5/2014
Expected Serve Date: April, 2014
OG: 1.040 pre-DME, approximately 1.055 with DME
Expected FG: 1.012
Estimated ABV: 5.6%
55% Vienna Malt
36% Pale Malt
4.5% Aromatic Malt
2.3% Crystal 10L
2.3% Crystal 60L
plus 2 lb of Light DME during primary fermentation
60 min 27 IBU Cascade 1 oz
20 min 12 IBU Mount Hood 1 oz
10 min 4 IBU Mount Hood .5 oz
0 min 0 IBU Mount Hood 1.5 oz
7 days 0 IBU Mount Hood 1 oz (dry hop)
16 quarts of water at 163º added to grain to achieve a temperature of 152º and held for one hour.
Sparged with 170º water to get six gallons over one hour.
One hour boil and then cool to room temperature as quickly as possible.
Fermented cold in the basement in a six gallon carboy. Two pounds of DME added three days into fermentation.
Will rack to a five gallon carboy after signs of active fermentation of stopped and then continue to condition for four to six weeks, with an ounce of Mount Hood hops added in the last week, before bottling.