Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Naked: Simcoe vs Azacca Hop Experiment & Tasting Session

Russian Rivers' all Simcoe Row 2 Hill 56 Pale Ale might be the perfect Pale Ale.  To understand how well put together this beer is you don't need to be a hop head or a beer nerd.  Its perfectly balanced against the simple hop bill.  Tossing Simcoe on top of Simcoe to create a ubber drinkable Pale Ale.  Russian River has out done itself showcasing how beautifully Simcoe can stand alone in a recipe. But is this recipe built around Simcoe?  Or is this recipe build around a malt base that just works?  Personally, I think this recipe so well crafted that almost any hop will work within it's grain bill.  So I chose to put it to the test. 

The recipes are based off HomebrewTalk's.com Row 2 Hill 56 (R2H56) clone. (The recipe seems/tastes spot to the original.)  Then brewing another beer with Azacca Hops (same grains and expected IUB's) with all Azacca hops to test out the sturdiness of the recipe for a planned "Naked:" Single Hop Pale Ale Experiment using my personal favorite hop varietals. 

Azacca is a new highly talked about hop formally known as Experimental Hop #483.  This hop is going for the nitch IPA market.  With keywords of grapefruit, fresh citrus, orange, tropical, pineapple and fresh. Which, just about every hop is using now days.  Making the selection of a new hop very difficult for a homebrewer. 

Copying these 2 beers is the key, ensuring a spot on comparison by brewing them back to back in the same fermentation chamber.  Comparing the pros and cons of each single hopped beer paired together with the same base grain, hopefully better educating myself with this new hop "Azacca".

As you can see from the above picture, Simcoe (above left) has a small amount of chill haze compared to the Azacca (above right) which is much clearer. But the numbers and colors are spot on to each other, but how do they stack up?

Naked: Azacca Pale, Tasting Notes:

Aroma:  Big bunches of grapefruit pith (white meat), much more than the zest I smelled when opening the bag of  hops.  Somehow some orange and something resembling cascade are showing up in the backround.  

Appearance:  Crystal clear, golden brilliance with a perfect white pillow head resting on top.  I love the burnt amber to sunburst yellow highlights in the picture above.  
Flavor:  The grain bill is perfect for showcasing a single hop beer.  The hops shine through with a balanced back round malted feel.  Not to be confused with "Traditional Malty" the hops are the shinning star here.  Cleanly brewed fermentation wise.  The grapefruit zest or pith is back again.  It (for me) is on the verge of being to much for the style.  However at this level it is interestingly orangey.  The (citrus) orange to lemon notes also come forward, holding onto the pine flavors associated with Cascade.  It's just hard to pinpoint.  If I have this after another beer, the delicate orange flavor is lost.  However for a first pint it gives a unique grapefruit, orange into cascade twist.   

Overall Impression:  This is a bigger better example of the style.  It balances the edge of an IPA without the higher alcohol normally associated with the style. The orange zest to meaty flavor is refreshing and drinkable which is the point of a Pale Ale, right?

Brewing Timeline/Notes:  This was brewed along with the Row 2 Hill 56.  No brew day issues or concerns.  Mixing this hop into a bigger piney IPA would work really well giving the orange flavors this hop puts out.  Or using this as a hop in a American Hefe would be interesting.  This hop

Row 2 Hill 56 Pale, Tasting Notes:*

Aroma:  A sweet pine note, hints of a berry I can't pinpoint.  Very clean, crisp profile

Appearance:  Golden burnt amber with sunburst highlights.  Same as above.  This pour (and most others in this batch) appear with a small haze.  The head on this batch is thinner and less resilient, ending in a small patchwork of carbonation floating on top of the beer.
Flavor:  The malt vs the hops pair perfectly.  This is why Simcoe is the king IPA hop.  No off flavors, great fermentation. I did get a small amount of bubble gum about 3 weeks into the pouring, which quickly faded after a couple days. (Any ideas why?)

Mouthfeel:  Nice balance of carbonation and drink-a-ability per the style.

Overall Impression:  This is a better example of the style.  It balances the edge of an IPA without the higher alcohol normally associated with it.

Brewing Timeline/Notes:  This was brewed along with Naked: Azacca Pale, no issues or concerns during the brew day.

*I didn't post the recipe for Row 2 Hill 56 below because it is easily located on the web.  

After having these two beers on draft for the last couple weeks I started working on a new Naked:  Chinook, (Which I brewed last weekend) my personal favorite style of hops when I started brewing back in 2001.  This grain bill and IBU level is spot on for these single hopped pale ale experiments, I'll slowly go through the styles of hops I think will be suited for this type of style.

As for the Azacca hops, they are not the next best thing in IPA's that's for sure.  But they could be a well placed hop in a complex recipe that needs something else to push it ahead of the pack.  I do have to note that while drinking the Azacca Hopped beer, I kept thinking about how well it would be in a American Hefe style if used in small amounts.  Adding a little zest to the beer. Or used as a 1/3 part of a dry hop in a IPA for starters.  So it turns out that Russian River really knows what its going on this malt bill. 

Naked: Azacca
American Pale Ale
Type: All Grain Date: 05 Apr 2014
Batch Size (fermenter): 6.00 gal Brewer: Chris Lewis
Boil Size: 6.86 gal Asst Brewer:
Boil Time: 60 min Equipment: Lewys Tower
End of Boil Volume 6.24 gal Brewhouse Efficiency: 72.00 %
Final Bottling Volume: 6.00 gal Est Mash Efficiency 72.0 %
Fermentation: Ale, Two Stage Taste Rating(out of 50): 30.0
Taste Notes:
Amt Name Type # %/IBU
7 lbs 4.8 oz Pilsner (2 Row) Bel (2.0 SRM) Grain 1 60.8 %
3 lbs 14.4 oz Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM) Grain 2 32.5 %
12.8 oz Caramel/Crystal Malt - 20L (20.0 SRM) Grain 3 6.7 %
0.40 oz Azacca ADHA 483 [14.86 %] - Boil 90.0 min Hop 4 20.9 IBUs
0.55 oz Azacca ADHA 483 [14.86 %] - Boil 30.0 min Hop 5 20.6 IBUs
1.20 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 15.0 mins) Fining 6 -
1.00 oz Azacca ADHA 483 [14.86 %] - Steep/Whirlpool 0.0 min Hop 7 0.0 IBUs
1.0 pkg California Ale (White Labs #WLP001) [35.49 ml] Yeast 8 -
1.20 tsp Yeast Nutrient (Primary 3.0 days) Other 9 -
2.00 oz Azacca ADHA 483 [14.86 %] - Dry Hop 10.0 Days Hop 10 0.0 IBUs
Beer Profile
Est Original Gravity: 1.052 SG Measured Original Gravity: 1.052 SG
Est Final Gravity: 1.015 SG Measured Final Gravity: 1.010 SG
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 4.8 % Actual Alcohol by Vol: 5.5 %
Bitterness: 41.5 IBUs Calories: 172.0 kcal/12oz
Est Color: 5.3 SRM
Mash Profile
Mash Name: Single Infusion, Light Body, No Mash Out Total Grain Weight: 12 lbs
Sparge Water: 4.55 gal Grain Temperature: 72.0 F
Sparge Temperature: 168.0 F Tun Temperature: 72.0 F
Adjust Temp for Equipment: TRUE Mash PH: 5.20
Mash Steps
Name Description Step Temperature Step Time
Mash In Add 15.00 qt of water at 170.5 F 156.0 F 60 min
Sparge Step: Fly sparge with 4.55 gal water at 168.0 F
Mash Notes: Simple single infusion mash for use with most modern well modified grains (about 95% of the time).
Carbonation and Storage
Carbonation Type: Keg Volumes of CO2: 2.3
Pressure/Weight: 10.59 PSI Carbonation Used: Keg with 10.59 PSI
Keg/Bottling Temperature: 41.0 F Age for: 10.00 days
Fermentation: Ale, Two Stage Storage Temperature: 65.0 F
Fermentation Notes
Primary Fermentation:  62 Degrees for 5 days, slow ramp to 71. 
Created with BeerSmith


  1. AnonymousMay 21, 2014


    Well done....
    Suggestion on the Azacca.
    It is truly a duel purpose hop. Heavily hoped IPA will give you the strong grapefruit, citrus pine notes.
    A lightly hopped Pale Ale will give you a clean tropical nose and flavor that opens with Mango and Papaya and then a subtle finish of grapefruit....Give it a try

    1. I think your right. While I can't test every dry hopping technique and recipe style, I think a simple pale ale base with 2oz of dry hopping gives a good example of what the hop can do.

      I re-read my thoughts and I was a little critical of Azacca above. Don't get me wrong its a great hop ( have 1.5# left over) so I intend to use it all over the place, including what you recommend above.

    2. The other anon pretty much hit it spot on. Oxbow used Azacca in a grissette that blew my mind. I definitely get the cascade aroma against a beefier malt bill, but it has enough character to stand out from something like SN pale. Cheers!

    3. Cheers back at ya. The Azacca really impressed me in these beers.

  2. Great idea subbing Azacca in a single hop beer you know and love, good way to really see what you like and do not like about it. I have been enjoying the hopped up amber i brewed with it, I would like to use it again at some point in a blend of hops like you mentioned. I think it stands on its own just fine, but could do well to round out a bigger IPA hop bill.


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Thanks for Commenting, Prost!