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How do you get more hop aroma and flavor in your beer without adding more hops? Have you heard of using Phantasm Powder and specialty yeasts to unlock thiols? Read on!
Hops have been used for centuries to provide bittering and preserver beer. Without hops, beer would taste unbalanced and too sweet. With the craft beer movement, pale ale became a huge hit. This hoppy nectar of the gods quickly grew a cult following and Hop Heads demanded more! So craft brewers gave them what they wanted…more hops…India Pale Ales. Still they wanted more, and hop producers responded with new varieties that held increased strengths, stronger aromas, and New Zealand hops introduced us to new fruity and tropical flavors. West Coast IPA’s, New England IPA’s, Haze IPA’s, each packing more and more hops into each swallow of hop infused liquid pleasure. More research had to be done to pack in more hop flavor and aroma. (speaking of research, if you love IPA’s you absolutely HAVE TO HAVE Scott Janish’s book The New IPA, A Scientific Guide to Hop Aroma and Flavor).
It has been known that adding hops early in the boil will isomerize the alpha acids in the hops, producing bitterness to balance out the sweet malt flavors. Dry hopping also has a long history, adding more intense hop aroma. Experimenting with hop additions at different times of the boil, or even in the mash, were not uncommon, but the hop craze took things to an entirely new level. Dogfish Head came up with the idea of constant hopping in their 60 Minute IPA, literally adding hops continuously throughout the boil. To reduce bitterness and maximize hop character, brewers were making beers with almost all of the hop additions in the whirlpool and fermenter. Hop extracts and powders were created to allow brewers to add more hop flavor without being overcome with undesirable vegetal flavors. There had to be another way to get more hop flavor and aroma without adding more and more hops… and there is!
As all of this progress was happening in hop land, brewers started looking at other ways to get more hoppiness out of their hops. They experimented with new yeast strains, experimented with the timing of when hops were added, and even experimented with grape additives (Phantasm Powder-powder made from Marlborough New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc grape skins is incredibly rich in Thiol precursors ) to achieve unique and more intense hop flavors–unlocking thiols.
Thiols are compounds found in grapes, in hops, and to a lesser extent, in malts. They have been known to create amazing tropical fruit and citrus flavors in some wines, but traditional lager and ale yeasts are unable to access these aromas and tastes. Omega Yeast has introduced a line of yeasts that break the thiol code, unlocking a vast array of complex fruity and exotic flavors that perfectly complement juicy IPA’s and hop-forward lagers.
Keys to the Thiols - Omega Yeast
Cosmic Punch is based on the British Ale V (OYL-011) commonly used in haze and New England style IPA’s. You’ll got all of the hazy, juicy goodness of British Ale V with a bonus wave giving you vibrant passionfruit, grapefruit, and guava notes. Helio Gazer is Cosmic Punch 20X!!! Where Punch gives you waves, Helio is a tsunami of intense tropical fruit aromas and flavors!
Star Party is based on the Chico yeast commonly used in West Coast IPA’s. This yeast will have the same characteristics of Chico, fermenting out a nice clear brew but add to it a complexity bursting with aromas of passion fruit, dank pink guava, and citrus zest.
If hop-forward lagers are your thing, and you’re looking to take them to the next level in flavor complexity, Omega Yeast’s Lunar Crush will deliver a whole new palette of flavor and aroma!
Slowpaddle is preparing to take the plunge, and we hope you join us for the adventure! Our next planned beer is going to be a hazy IPA using these new thiol unlocking yeasts. We’re going to brew a split batch, and in addition to pitching the thiol yeast, we’re going to add Phantasm powder to one of the batches to get a side by side comparison. There will be more info and data to come as we lock down the recipe and put a brew day on the calendar, but we’re really pumped about this experiment and hope you are too! Cheers!
Update 1: Brewday using Phantasm and Helio Gazer
It was time to plan a brewday!
We decided to try out this new thiol induced beer trend, and we had a perfect event upcoming to get some great audience reaction. Our friend Big L was having a wing competition in a few weeks. This would give us just enough time to brew a split batch of IPA, adding the Phantasm and thiol unlocking yeasts to half, and traditional dry hops and yeast to the other. In two weeks we would set up a side-by-side taste test at the wing competition. This would serve to give us great feedback on the recipe, as well as make for great video footage! Stoked!!!
Having no experience brewing with Phantasm or thiol-unlocking yeast strains, we relied heavily on the information coming from Scott Janish and Omega Yeast in designing the recipe. We started out with Janish’s “The Locksmith” recipe, which can be found on his website
We wanted to drop the ABV down from 8.4% to 7.5%. We bumped up the IBU’s with a shot of HopShot extract from 54 to 69. We replaced the rye malt with flaked oats and malted wheat, and the chit malt with carafoam. And instead of brewers crystals we used plain old white sugar. In his post, Janish comments that he would like to make the recipe slightly drier and less sweet. So we dropped the mash temp from 156F to 152F, reducing the OG and FG for a drier finish. It’s also commonly mentioned that pellet or leaf hops in the whirlpool or dry hopping can reduce thiols, and should be used sparingly. We start with RO water. Janish recommends a 200ppm chloride/200ppm sulfate ratio, but we cut it back to a 200ppm/100ppm ratio, which worked really well.
That said, hops do produce thiols, and some are better than others. Janish recommends using mash-hops to promote thiol production, and uses them in his recipe. We had never tried mash-hopping before, so we added that to the list of new things to try with this recipe.
Thursday before our planned brewday, our package of hops and yeast came! Anxiously, I opened the box and was immediately excited to see a plethora of hops, including cryo-Citra!!! And then I saw the yeast…at the bottom of the box…..Whilte Labs WLP005 British Ale Yeast….NOOOOO!!!!!!
Now WLP005 is a fine yeast indeed, but not what I ordered and certainly not capable of releasing an avalanche of thiol-induced tropical aromas and flavors! With the Wing competition only 2 weeks away, we were in danger of not having any beer, after already hyping that there would be two!
We needed a new plan.
In the meantime, we became aware of a new product from Yakima Valley called Incognito, that was now being sold in homebrew-friendly sizes. I had ordered both Citra and Mosaic varieties, but with no expectation of receiving them in time for this experiment. But now things have changed. We did not have the thiol unlocking yeast, but we did have plenty of grains and hops and a quality viable yeast, though traditional, that was certainly adequate for creating a great IPA. So we unlocked Janish’s Locksmith recipe… brewing our version but without the thiolized yeast and Phantasm, and worked with the homebrew supplier to get the Helio Gazer yeast to brew the thiol version the following weekend.
This was no longer a split-batch, but would be two separate batches, and there was a strong possibility the 2nd batch would not be ready in time for the event, so we wanted at least one crushable beer that would be ready to go in time for the wingfest, but not completely abandon the original planned experiment. For the non-thiol recipe we decided we would still do the mash-hop and follow the original hopping schedule, but double the dry-hops to try to compete with the Phantasm. For the thiol recipe, we would reduce some of the thiol-stripping vegetal matter by replacing the Mosaic and Citra hops in the whirlpool with Incognito. Our final recipes looked like this:
6 Gallon batch size WLP005 IPA
- 7 lbs Pale Malt
- 5 lbs Pilsner Malt
- 1 lb Carafoam
- 1 lb Flaked Oats
- 1 lb Whilte Wheat Malt
- 1 lb Honey Malt
- 4 oz sugar
- 5 oz Cascade Hops
- 0.1 oz Cascade HopShot hop extract 60 minutes
Hopstand at 170F:
- 1 oz each of Azacca, Citra, Galaxy, Mosaic, Simcoe
Dryhop Days 2 and 4
- 1 oz each Cryo Citra, Cryo Mosaic
11 Gallon batch size Omega Yeast Helio Gazer IPA
- 13 lbs Pale Malt
- 9lbs Pilsner Malt
- 1 lb 10oz Carafoam
- 1 lb 10oz Flaked Oats
- 1 lb 10oz Whilte Wheat Malt
- 1 lb 10oz Honey Malt
- 6 oz sugar
- 1 lb Cascade Hops (Yeah I said POUND!!!)
- 0.4 oz Cascade HopShot hop extract 60 minutes
Hopstand at 170F:
- 2 oz each of Azacca, Galaxy, Simcoe
- 1 capful Citra Incognito, 1 capful Mozaic Incognito
Dryhop Days 2 only
- 2 oz each Cryo Citra, Cryo Mosaic
- 10 oz Phantasm Powder in the Whirlpool
The first batch came out as a really fantastic semi-hazy, IPA with great mouthfeel and hop aroma. The flavor is a fabulously strong hop-forward but not bitter. This beer was a big hit at the wingfest, and several people commented that they were NOT IPA fans, but they really enjoyed that beer.
Not to draw this out, but the second batch, the Phantasm/Helios Gazer batch, was very green and needed more time. The aromas are there, the hop-flavors are there, but it was not finished fermenting. I still have 6 gallons in the fermenter and have left the keg sit, so we’ll get you an update soon, as well as comments on recipe tweaks, and overall impressions….More to come!