The time came for the fourth installment of my single-hop APA series. Having heard a thing or two about Huell Melon, it seemed like a perfect candidate for this experiment. And so… Prosody (Huell Melon):
The description that showed up on Yakima Valley sounded right up my alley:
Hüll Melon is a new variety from Germany with distinctive honeydew melon and strawberry aroma.
So I ordered up a ½ lb. of pellets, re-visited my formula to make sure it was ready for all-grain BIAB prime time,1 and fit it into the ol’ schedule.
Despite my best efforts for planning, my just-in-time approach to shopping got me again this time. My local HBS was completely out of the Briess Pale Ale malt, and I had to swap in some 2-row. They were also out of my usual 1332, and I had to make a game-time decision about whether to sub in a different strain or make a separate trip. In the end, I decided I would live adventurously here and see how 1272 played in this beer. Cool… cool… let’s get home and make a starter.
Come brew day, I got everything set up that morning, dosed my water to adjust, and got the flame going under it. Milled my grains and before I knew it, we were at 158°F and ready to mash in. Mashed at 152°F for 75 minutes and nailed the pre-boil gravity of 1.044. Got the flame going again, skimmed the hot break, and added the first round of hops to mark the start of the 60 minute boil.
Followed along with my recipe, adding one more addition of Huell Melon at flame-out, and chilling just as fast and low as my ground water (and the hot day) would let me. I ran off 5.5 gallons into the fermentor at 1.057.
That evening, after the starter had spent 24 hours on the stir plate, I pitched 1 L of 1272 into the wort at 65.5°F.
Having pitched, I locked in my controller at 67±1°F — this being the temperature I’ve historically used for 1332, and right smack in the middle of the published range for the 1272 strain.
Fermentation kicked off right away, with moderate activity evident in the blow-off bucket after 4 hours, and tremendously vigorous activity observed at 14.
By +37, activity had tapered off substantially, and the gravity reading showed it had dropped to 1.014. I let the beer sit tight for five more days, bringing the temperature up about 1-2°F during this time to let it fully attenuate and for the yeast to clean up after themselves. At +160 hours activity in the blow-off bucket had effectively ceased and the hydrometer sample read 1.011 after temperature and offset adjustments.
Confident that it was at its terminal gravity, I dry hopped with 5 oz. of Huell Melon for 3 days. After pulling the dry hops, I cold crashed the beer for 24 hours, fined with gelatin for another 48, and then proceeded to keg the beer. It was put on 14 PSI of CO₂ at 40°F for a couple of days before I started pouring.
It reads more like an IPA than an APA, but I’m pretty happy with the results, and it showcases the Huell Melon varietal nicely.
AROMA. Hop aromas come through like moderate strawberry and mild melon rind. Malt aromas are low and neutral; gentle aromatics of light spongy bread and low toasty elements. Overall fermentation characteristics are clean; esters hint at raspberry, but very low and overlapping with the strawberry notes from the Huell Melon. No diacetyl. No DMS. No phenolic notes.
APPEARANCE. Pale gold. White head with dense foam, 1-2cm; average retention. There’s a significant haze — and maybe these early pours are pulling some sediment off the bottom of the keg (despite the cold crashing and fining)? Or maybe that’s the result of using 1 oz./gal. of hops?
FLAVOR. Decidedly a hop-forward beer, with notes of mild ripe strawberry, moderate melon rind, and a moderate element of honeydew flesh. Bitterness is assertive but smooth. Malt flavors are largely neutral and supportive; similar to aroma with respect to the low toasty elements, but otherwise more like cracker than bread. Fermentation character is a low citrusy ester. As it warms, a whisper ethyl acetate shows up — not overwhelming, but hey maybe this strain needs to ferment cooler. Hoppy in the balance. Finishes dry.
MOUTHFEEL. Medium-light body — and maybe a little lighter than I want. Medium carbonation. Hints of alcohol warming. No noticeable astringency. No noticeable creaminess.
OVERALL IMPRESSION. Good example of the style, though if I were sending it to competition then I would classify it as an American IPA rather than an APA. It’s a little on the hazy side which would be acceptable if it were slightly less; that said, I was going for a much clearer beer — and while I’m hoping that it clears up over the next couple days and pours… I’m not betting on that outcome. Carbonation level seems about right. Getting more or less what I expected out of the hops.2 I’m missing the pale ale malt though — the malt character in this batch is too far in the background. The body also seems a little light to me. Just the same, the beer turned out nicely drinkable even though it leans closer to an IPA than an APA. Fermentation was well-managed and clean, but I like 1332’s character more than 1272 for this project.
Changes for next time around?
- Lock in on 1332 for yeast. This 1272 strain is fine, and I can think of other places where I might use it, but 1332 really is part of the overall package on this base beer.
- That said, with respect to 1272 — ferment it cooler. I’m thinking low-60s °F.
- Insist on the Briess Pale Ale malt. The 2-row is just fine, but the ever-so-slightly richer character of the Pale Ale malt is a necessary component to provide the right back drop for this single hop experiment.
- Reduce the dry hop rate. Previous dry hopped versions got 2 oz. — and while I really wanted to bump up the hop impression, I failed to account for just how much haze that might impart.
- Process-wise, I might want to start looking at a strainer to help reduce the amount of material going into the fermentor. The Ss Brew Bucket’s cone does a great job of collecting trub, but it seems I have a talent for… overflowing the cone? Disturbing the material? Angling the racking arm too low? In any case…
I don’t know if I’ll submit this to any competitions (there are a couple regional ones coming up) — but I do know that I’ll have no problem drinking and sharing this one around.
The all-grain (BIAB) recipe for Prosody (Huell Melon) is as follows:
Starting with the Champlain Water District profile as a base:
- 1.64 g/gal Gypsum
- 0.54 g/gal Epsom Salt
- 0.29 g/gal Calcium Chloride
- 0.24 g/gal Baking Soda
- 1.00 ml/gal lactic acid (88%)
- 9 lb. Briess 2-row malt3
- 1 lb. BestMalz Munich Dark
- 8 oz. Briess white wheat malt
- 1½ oz. Huell Melon (60 min.)
- 1½ oz. Huell Melon (0 min.)
- 5 oz. Huell Melon (dry hop 3 days)
Wyeast 1272 American Ale II (1000 ml starter)
- Collect 30.40 qt. water and heat to 159.7°F. Mash in; hold at 152.1°F for 75 minutes. No mash out.
- Remove filter bag from water. Squeeze filter bag to extract as much liquid as possible for wort. No sparge. Pre-boil volume should be 6.83 gallons.
- Bring to a boil. Boil for 60 minutes; follow hop schedule as described above.
- Cool to 65°F as rapidly as possible. Post-boil volume should be approx. 5.52 gallons.
- Aerate wort; pitch 1272 yeast from starter.
- Start fermentation at 67±1°F.
Beyond Brew Day
- Allow fermentation to complete (approx. 2 weeks) at approx. 67±1°F. When activity in airlock slows down significantly, consider bumping up temperature a couple degrees to help complete attenuation.
- Monitor gravity. When beer has reached final gravity, proceed with dry hopping.
- Dry hop with 1 oz./gal. Huell Melon for 3 days.
- Remove dry hops and cold crash for at least 24 hours. Fine with gelatin and let settle for 24-48 hours.
- Rack to a keg and force carbonate to approx. 2.5 vols (e.g., approx. one week at 14 PSI at 40°F).
Prosody (Huell Melon), a single-hop American pale ale by Tilde Gravitywerks
The Prosody Project
|Hop Varietal||Brew Date|
- There have been incremental tweaks along the journey with this project, and while the partial mash to all-grain leap happened last time, I’d also been trying to adopt more of that “less is more” stuff thinking and simplify the grist and round off the quantities. [↩]
- Oddly enough, the descriptors I wrote down were almost identical to the ones on Yakima Valley’s website. It’s possible that I managed to have them stashed away in my memory but… well, the exact match on “honeydew” was uncanny. [↩]
- Normally this would be Briess Pale Ale malt but had to make a last minute swap when I was at the local HBS. [↩]