Avery's Twenty Two was definitely my favorite beer of 2015. I thought I'd never see it again, but slowly, seemingly randomly, they appeared in the DC metro area. I think I have picked up 6 bottles so far and might pick up more if I run into them again.
Taking a step back, I think between talking to Mike Tonsmeire about dry hopping at last year's DC beer week and dicussing IPAs at multiple breweries, I finally discovered the downfalls of my previous IPAs.
First off I wasn't drying my IPAs out enough, their final gravities were just too high. Admittedly I think a few of my earlier IPAs were "kitchen sink" beers and had all my left over malts with hops I wanted to play with. Between bad mashes, tons of crystal malts, and what ever adjuncts, the yeast just couldn't dry them out. Not all IPAs need to be bone dry but it really helps accentuate the dry hops. That brings me to my second point, I was not dry hopping with nearly enough hops. One ounce into 5 gallons didn't have a big enough impact nor enough staying power.
This time around I was going to do things differently.
Avery had already teased me enough with Brett Drie. Crooked Stave had incredible brett beers. I was going to do my own Brett IPA, with HBC-438. HBC-438 is a neo-mexicanus descendant hop also known as "Ron Mexico". It was the first harvest of this hop and it was only available to homebrewers.
I took this opportunity to try out the Yeast Bay's Beersel brett blend. Planned to use a high alpha acid hop to bitter then everything else would be HBC-438 and then further dry-hop it with more HBC-438.
Experiment Ale #438
1.68 White wheat
5.03 2 row Brewers malt
2 campden tablets
1 tsp gypsum
Mashed in 3 gal to hit 130
2 gal 172 step mash up to 140
Drew 2ish gal thin mash to heat up to 152
.5oz Magnum 12.3 aa, first wort
1oz HBC-438 @15 (16.6aa)
Beersel Brettanomyces Blend
3oz HBC-438 dry hop for 5 days while cold crashing
Brewed 11/11/15, Kegged 1/24/16
Notes: Tropical and phenomenal. Bright sunshine and tropical fruit with a slightly bitter edge.
This was exactly what I was hoping it would be. Tropical when cold and a little herbal bitterness as it warms, but the earthy brett really comes through in the finish. I think the Beersel blend from Yeast Bay worked really well for the HBC-438 myriad of flavors.