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Homebrew #22: Vicious H-Bomb

by Rob Friesel

This one started when my older boy realized that Boo Beer had been named after his younger brother and asked: “Dad when are you going to name a beer after me?” Thus: Vicious H-Bomb, a Belgian IPA:

Vicious H-Bomb

The “H-Bomb” as a direct homage to him (that being his nickname and all; also evokes “hop bomb”). And the “Vicious” being an homage to the friend that came up with “H-Bomb” nickname in the first place.

But why stop with the name alone? I wanted this beer to have as many ties to my H. as possible.

  1. Peterson Quality Malts for the entire grist. Malts from Vermont and Maine? Well, he was born in and is growing up in Vermont: check! And his grandparents live in Maine: check! 1
  2. Sterling hops because “Sterling” is his middle name — and they should go nicely with the style.
  3. Apollo hops because he loves outer space and something something Apollo space program
  4. Candi sugar because… uh… (reaching here) what young boy doesn’t love sugar?
  5. And some Belgian yeast because… uh… (really reaching here) because the yeast is lively and funky and so is he.

Ah yes. There we go. Having settled on a (partial mash) formulation, I picked up my ingredients from 1st Republic, got my yeast started, and thought I’ve got a good feeling about this one…

Cooking up the 1500mL starter for the 1214 that's going into Vicious H-bomb this weekend. #homebrewing

Brew Day

Brew day was straightforward enough. I got an early start (7:20am or so) and mashed in at 148.6°F, dropping in ½ tsp. of pH stabilizer. I did my usual towel wrap for insulation and let it mash for 90 minutes, wherein the temperature held pretty steady throughout.

mashing Vicious H-Bomb

I did a mash-out and then took gravity readings. Refractometer gave me 16.2%Br (1.069 or so) before any extract additions; 24.8%Br (1.109) after adding the Pilsen Light LME. Comparing this to the BeerSmith notes, it looked like I was shy a few points still — but I opted not to boost further. Anyway: time to get that sucker BOILING!


Followed my hop schedule. One pound of clear candi sugar. Added the 2½ tsp. yeast nutrient. Dropped in the 1 tsp. Irish Moss. De-escalated a fight between two boys that both wanted to add hops.

H-bomb dropping in the first ounce of Apollo for his namesake beer. #homebrewing

Get to the end of that boil. A 5 minute whirlpool stand for the last 2 1 oz. of Sterling hops. Chill it; 7 minutes to 70°F. Refractometer says 31%Br (1.139!?). Two gallons cold into the carboy, followed by the wort, and a good vigorous shake. Draw that sample; refractometer gives 17.2%Br (1.073) and we top-off that final ¼ gallon. And then a full hydrometer sample…


1.072 at 68°F = 1.073 for our original gravity. Three points over, even.

Give it another good shake to aerate, and pitch about 246 billion cells of Wyeast 1214.

Beyond Brew Day

By +19 hours, this was already one of the most vigorous fermentations I’d ever seen. By +33 the airlock bubbles were off my usual charts. And I mean, I know and I keep saying that airlock activity isn’t a direct read on how things are really going in there. But damn.

Vicious H-Bomb about 19 hours post-pitch. Steady stream of airlock bubbles (90+ per minute). #homebrewing

I think things were going pretty good. But it’s also around this point that I start to get the itch to dry-hop this beer. And after asking around a bit, I got the sense that these were good instincts. So… 2 oz. more of Sterling went in.

Vicious H-Bomb. Decided it could do with a little dry-hopping. +2 oz. U.S. Sterling. #homebrewing

Dry-hopped for about three days. Then cold crashed for 24 hours. Then bottling.

Finishing gravity reading from the hydrometer gave 1.012 — thus looking at 8.1% ABV. 3 Primed with plain ol’ boring corn sugar. Siphoned and packaged about 4 gallons of this beer.

Vicious H-Bomb (bottling day)

Two weeks to condition and then… whoa.

The bottles open with a satisfying pop. There’s a nice fluffy head that has good retention. Aroma goes to peppery and spicy notes; the Sterling doubles down on those spicy notes and brings something herbal as well. The palate is bone dry; more spicy/peppery esters and phenolics that just make it serenade the tongue. Lively carbonation. A strong-willed beer. A winner.


The partial mash recipe for Vicious H-Bomb is as follows.

Mash Grains

  • 4 lb. 2 oz. PQM Heavy Base
  • 2 lb. 2 oz. PQM Provenance Pils
  • 1 lb. 2 oz. PQM Provenance Wheat


  • 3.3 lb. (1 can) Briess Pilsen Light LME
  • 1 lb. Belgian Clear Candi Sugar (20 min. late addition)

Hop Schedule

  • 1 oz. Apollo (60 min.)
  • ½ oz. Apollo (40 min.)
  • 1 oz. Sterling (20 min.)
  • ½ oz. Apollo (15 min.)
  • 1 oz. Sterling (flame-out; 5 min. steep/whirlpool)


Wyeast 1214 Belgian Abbey 4

Brew Day

  1. Collect 13.52 qt. water and heat to 155.5°F. Mash in; hold at 147.9°F for 90 minutes.
  2. Mash out. Heat to 168° over 7 minutes; hold for 10 minutes.
  3. Remove filter bag from water. Squeeze filter bag to extract as much liquid as possible for wort.
  4. Top off to approx. 2.84 gal.
  5. Add 3.3 lb. Pilsen Light LME, and bring to a boil. Boil for 60 minutes, following hop schedule described above.
  6. Cool to 70°F as rapidly as possible and top off the fermenter to reach 5 gal.
  7. Aerate wort and pitch Wyeast 1214 yeast.

Beyond Brew Day

  1. Allow fermentation to complete (approx. 1-2 weeks).
  2. Rack to carboy. Allow beer to condition approx. 2 more weeks.
  3. After reaching terminal gravity, consider cold crashing for 1-2 days before priming.
  4. Use corn sugar to carbonate on bottling day. Rack beer into bottling bucket and bottle.
  5. Allow at least 2 weeks to carbonate.
  6. Enjoy.


Vicious H-Bomb, a Belgian IPA by Tilde Gravitywerks

Original Gravity 1.073 (17.2%Br)
Final Gravity 1.012 (7.2%Br)
ABV 8.1%
Attenuation 82.6%
IBU 59
SRM 5.5
Links Untappd
  1. Not to mention that our best friends live just up the road from PQM in Monkton…[]
  2. Well… not last.[]
  3. In an off coincidence, both times I’ve named a beer after one of my boys, the ABV winds up being roughly the same as their age. Anyway, I better be careful about that.[]
  4. Given the age of this particular culture, I went with a 1500 ml starter; adjust the size of yours accordingly.[]

About Rob Friesel

Software engineer by day. Science fiction writer by night. Weekend homebrewer, beer educator at Black Flannel, and Certified Cicerone. Author of The PhantomJS Cookbook and a short story in Please Do Not Remove. View all posts by Rob Friesel →

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