First homebrew in the books!! Citra IPA

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by wingnutter, Sep 13, 2014.

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  1. wingnutter

    wingnutter Zealot (502) May 18, 2005 Florida

    So last month I got a 1 gal extract kit as a gift. Never thought about brewing before, I always thought it was too technical. So I gave it a shot, went in blind, and screwed it up (maybe old yeast, pitched too hot, fermed too hot, didn't sanitize properly, etc...a real hot mess) I started reading and reading, dropped a few hundred on some supplies/equipment, and decided to get serious. Even bought a chest freezer from craigslist and a Johnson digital temp controller for a temp controlled ferm chamber...I figured if I'm gonna do this, I'm gonna do it right.

    So decided my first beer was gonna be a single hop Citra IPA (my favorite style) in an attempt to clone Cycle Brewing's Crank IPA (a hazy, 6% ABV delicious beer). Came up with a recipe and downloaded beersmith and plugged it in. Then I came across a Zombie Dust clone recipe that was really close to what I came up with so I figured I was on the right track.

    Just finished up my first batch (2.5 gallon) and everything went according to plan, except for forgetting to add fermcap and barely catching the hot break before it boiled over. Lol.

    Crank is real hoppy but not overly bitter so the recipe I came up with has kind of a low IBU/OG ratio - 53.1 IBU/1.061 OG ratio, with a target FG about 1.014 for about a 6.2% ABV and an SRM of 7.5.

    Steeping Grains were 3.2oz 20L crystal (4.9%)

    2lbs Mallard golden LME (48.8%)
    1lb Northern Brewer IPA super structure LME (24.4%)
    14.2oz light DME (22%)

    I tried a First Wort Hop technique that I've read sort of works for extract. Added some hops when I pulled my steeping grains, left them in for the boil, and then went with this schedule of Citra (14.2% alpha):

    1/4oz @ 20min
    1/4oz @10min
    1/4oz @ 5 min
    1/4oz @ 1min
    1oz dry hop for 5-6 days when the time comes.

    Target OG was 1.061, actual was 1.059 (ATC refractometer), and 1.060 (hydrometer @ 60*).

    Pitched at 67*, and am fermenting at 65* for the first few days...I might move up the ferm temp to 69*ish once initial ferm is done.

    I have some whirlfloc but skipped it because Crank is hazy and I wanted to try to recreate it as close as possible. I sanitized like a madman and am pretty sure I nailed this brew.

    Here she is in my ferm chamber, with lots of room for more carboys/buckets. Now I wait.


    Just thought I'd share my first real brew with y'all. So far so good!

    #1 wingnutter, Sep 13, 2014
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2014
  2. cmmcdonn

    cmmcdonn Initiate (188) Jun 21, 2009 Virginia

    Congrats. For your first beer, I'd say you're well above the bell curve for newbies.
  3. ssam

    ssam Aspirant (292) Dec 2, 2008 California

    Looks good. What is this IPA Super Structure Extract? Sounds interesting.
  4. Wanda

    Wanda Initiate (128) Nov 23, 2006 North Carolina

    Nice one man. Sounds like you got a sweet set up. I'll be dry hopping my second batch of the zombie dust clone today. The first one turned out so good the wife begged me to make it again. Unfortunately the keg of the first batch just kicked yesterday before the current batch was ready :-( empty keg =sadness.
  5. scurvy311

    scurvy311 Aspirant (261) Dec 3, 2005 Louisiana

    I've never used it, but super structure is an extract that northern brewer sells that is supposedly specifically formulated for IPA/IIPA.
  6. scurvy311

    scurvy311 Aspirant (261) Dec 3, 2005 Louisiana

    Congrats on doing research and jumping in loaded for bear. Temp control, yeast pitching rates, and sanitation are the most important things to address assuming you have a decent recipe and general technique down. In no time you will be consistently making great fresh beer. Oh and it helps to be a trust-fund baby. Otherwise, be patient/decisive about upgrading equipment.
  7. VikeMan

    VikeMan Poo-Bah (1,953) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania

    Sounds like you are on the right track. I wish more people would do some reading before jumping in. This post is so much better than "Is my beer ruined?" or "How can I make an 18% ABV beer?"
  8. JohnSnowNW

    JohnSnowNW Zealot (565) Feb 6, 2013 Minnesota

    Congrats on the first brew!

    Read about your fermentation temps, and was thinking someone was going to have to post the difference between ambient temp and wort temp. Then I scrolled down and saw the ferm chamber...and I thought the world had been turned upside-down :wink: As others have said, you're definitely going about this properly.
  9. utahbeerdude

    utahbeerdude Devotee (408) May 2, 2006 Utah

    Yes, but he has avoided a lot of the fun that awaits the typical newbie homebrewer.

    In general, I think that raising the temperature after the most vigorous fermentation is completed is a really good idea. It helps to clean up things like diacetyl and encourages the yeast to finish their job. I like to raise the temperature a couple of degrees a day, finishing in the low to mid 70s for a typical ale and mid 60s for lagers. Along with this it pays to be patient before packaging the beer. A bit longer than necessary in the fermenter is better that a bit shorter than necessary.
  10. FATC1TY

    FATC1TY Champion (863) Feb 12, 2012 Georgia

    Congrats.. It sounds like your research and reading has paid off, and it sounds like you made some smart investments in brewing gear as well.

    Temp control, chilled to proper temp for pitching yeast, were some of the best things you could do for your beer. Unheard of for new brewers, so you have a leg up already.

    I suspect you will have a nice beer if handled properly to avoid oxidizing it, and you'll have that chamber filled in no time.
  11. PapaGoose03

    PapaGoose03 Poo-Bah (2,830) May 30, 2005 Michigan

    Nice job, wingnutter. I wish that I had chosen a single-hop citra beer for my first brew, but I probably would never use any other hop again since I love that hop flavor so much. Enjoy your beer when it's finished.
  12. wingnutter

    wingnutter Zealot (502) May 18, 2005 Florida

    Thanks guys, I'm really excited to have got through the first batch without a hitch (knocks on wood).

    Its been about 12 hours since I pitched, and the airlock (filled w/starsan solution) is showing signs of fermentation, albeit very slowly. Once it really takes off, how active can I expect the airlock to bubble? A couple of times a minute? More than that? I know airlocks arent always a good indicator, but Im just wondering what I might expect. Ive got the Johnson probe taped to my carboy and insulated with some bubble wrap...rigt now its reading 3 degrees warmer than the ambient temp of the I figure that's a good sign that there is some yeast activity going on.

    Im already thinking about what I'm gonna brew next, I've got 8 different hop varieties on hand so I have room to experiment with some different combos.

    I'm also thinking about trying partial mash, but I think I'm gonna get a few batches under my belt before I give it a shot. Im pretty sure I'll move up to AG before long.

    My next batch will be bucket fermented, which do you guys prefer to ferm in, buckets or carboys, and why?

    Thanks again for the kind words, I can see how this hobby can get real addicting and a bit expensive...but I'm all in, no going back now! Lol

  13. BaalDagon

    BaalDagon Initiate (0) Jul 17, 2014 Tennessee

    CONGRATS!!! I am a few days out from my first bottling!!!
  14. Wanda

    Wanda Initiate (128) Nov 23, 2006 North Carolina

    I think every fermentation is different. Some might be understated, some might blow the airlock off (makes a mess too :grinning: ) said Johnson probe....

    Carboy because it's glass and totally airtight...plastic still allows air to reach the wort/beer. Plus I like to be able to see whats going on in there as far as when the krausen has peaked and whatnot. Some stay away from glass carboys because cleaning is harder and the chance for breakage but I'm pretty sure handed so I'm not fussed about far as cleaning, definitely get a carboy brush and you're all set.
  15. ssam

    ssam Aspirant (292) Dec 2, 2008 California

    Just a point of reference, my 4th batch was a very successful partial mashed Oatmeal Stout. The recipe and partial mash instructions are in the Recipe Subforum-- here's a link if you're interested
    I was still a total noob, so don't be afraid to jump into partial mashes.
    Buckets are great because they are easy to clean and easy to rack into (just dump your kettle contents in... through a strainer if you want). Also, they are already cut off from light, but since yours is in a chamber light won't be a problem. The oxygen permeability of the plastic is only an issue when aging or conditioning the beer for a long time. If you do that, racking to a glass carboy secondary fermentor is the way to go. I used to use a 6 gallon carboy for primaries, but for years now I only use buckets and then carboys for optional secondaries.
  16. wingnutter

    wingnutter Zealot (502) May 18, 2005 Florida

    Thanks for the link, ssam.

    Krausen now starting to form, and the airlock is bubbling every 10-20 seconds. Success!

    Finished up brewing a 1 gallon batch about an hour ago, a Dead Ringer kit I got from Northern Brewer before I decided to do my own recipes....I added a couple grams of both Citra and Mosaic just to switch it up a bit. I'm gonna experiment with single gallon batches every now and again but its a lot of work for 6-8 bottles.
  17. Bwhamon

    Bwhamon Initiate (82) Aug 29, 2014 Kentucky

    Congrats. I am about to start my second batch. Will be making a Citra Bomb. Can't wait. What are you using to cool? I bought a immersion wort chiller for my first batch. Wanted to do it right the first time. Sounds like you are in the same boat. I don't have a beer fridge yet though. Good choice.
  18. dirtyhalos

    dirtyhalos Initiate (123) Apr 10, 2014 California

    congrats and im curious on you final thoughts, my initial reaction was it the recipe felt light on hops, but you are doing a small batch... be sure to post back your thoughts on the recipe, citra pales are my favorite too

    and welcome to the obsession!!
  19. wingnutter

    wingnutter Zealot (502) May 18, 2005 Florida

    I was going for hoppy but a bit light on bitterness...should be a poundable beer. Next time I'm going more hops and higher ABV, but for this batch I wanted to see how a beer light on the IBU in relation to the OG would turn out. I'm hoping it doesn't end up too sweet for my taste, but I'll drink it either way :-)

    Used an ice bath to cool, but I'll have a wort cooler for my next batch. Not a fan of having to use ice.

    The ferm chamber was $140 total ($60 for 7.2 cubic ft freezer on Craigslist, $80 digital controller from northernbrewer). Money well spent, IMO, especially since I'm in Central Florida and the coolest spot in my house is usually around 74*. Having complete control of temp to a degree or 2 makes the process much easier and stress free, and I can make lagers and use it as a fridge or freezer if I ever take a break from brewing.

    Ferm has kicked into overdrive, the airlock is bubbling nonstop now.
    PapaGoose03 and dirtyhalos like this.
  20. wingnutter

    wingnutter Zealot (502) May 18, 2005 Florida

    5 days after brew day, looking good.

    PapaGoose03 likes this.
  21. scurvy311

    scurvy311 Aspirant (261) Dec 3, 2005 Louisiana

    I guess that's possible now, but it will be nearly impossible once you hit your stride and you nail every batch.
  22. wingnutter

    wingnutter Zealot (502) May 18, 2005 Florida

    Couldn't resist, had to take a small sample for a taste/gravity check...I know I probably shouldn't but its my first beer so I kinda had to. Been fermenting for 5 days, Krausen has crashed.

    Gravity is down from 1060 to 1032...about halfway. Tastes pretty good but still pretty sweet.

    Won't touch it again til Oct 4th, which will be 3 weeks. Will dry hop at that point for 5-7 days and bottle.

    This is fun!
  23. WeaponTheyFear

    WeaponTheyFear Aspirant (222) Mar 9, 2008 Connecticut

    I'm pretty damn jealous you already have a ferm chamber when you just started brewing. Good luck!
  24. bgjohnston

    bgjohnston Initiate (0) Jan 14, 2009 Connecticut

    My first IPA was an all-Citra SMASH recipe. Very tasty. I am sure you will be pleased!

    Congratulations on your well-researched, careful process.
  25. AlCaponeJunior

    AlCaponeJunior Poo-Bah (2,466) May 21, 2010 Texas

    Can I somehow take credit for this? I figure it must be cuz of me.

  26. DerekSmigelski

    DerekSmigelski Initiate (0) Sep 17, 2014 Texas

    Congrats on your first beer!
  27. ZDSmith87

    ZDSmith87 Initiate (177) Jul 18, 2014 Massachusetts

    What's your fermentation chamber made out of?
  28. wingnutter

    wingnutter Zealot (502) May 18, 2005 Florida

    Its a 7.2 cubic foot Magic Chef chest freezer with a Johnson A19 digital temp controller.

    Got the freezer on Craigslist for $60, and the temp controller was $80 from Northern Brewer.

    Completely worth the $140 investment.
  29. wingnutter

    wingnutter Zealot (502) May 18, 2005 Florida

    So I used a refractometer for that reading and read the SG side instead of the Brix side and didn't calculate the correct gravity...actual gravity was 1.014.

    Last night took new readings with refract and hydrometer...gravity is now 1.011. Target FG going in was 1.014, so its going to finish with a bit lower gravity than I anticipated, which is fine with me
    PapaGoose03 likes this.
  30. wingnutter

    wingnutter Zealot (502) May 18, 2005 Florida

    Update: I'm going to dry hop tomorrow (3 weeks in), and will bottle 5-7 days later.

    I've gradually raised the ferm temp from 65 to 73, and I think Im gonna move it back down to 70 for the dry hop duration.

    The plan is to let it condition in the bottles for 3 weeks at about 70-72 degrees, although I'll try one after 2 weeks to see how its doing and how it tastes.

    As Tom Petty once said, the waiting is the hardest part.
  31. wingnutter

    wingnutter Zealot (502) May 18, 2005 Florida

    Beer is bottlled! Everything went smoothly!

    2.5 gal batch of Citra IPA:
    OG: 1.066
    FG: 1.011
    6.4% ABV

    1 gal batch of NB Dead Ringer IPA w/Citra and Mosaic added:
    OG: 1.066
    FG: 1.013
    7% ABV

    Both beers sat in primary for 2 days shy of a month, with the Citra IPA being dry hopped for the last 5 days.

    Trub loss was more than expected - from 3.5 total gallons I got 22 16oz bottles - about 2.75 gallons. I didn't strain either batch before going into the fermenters, but I will from now on.

    As an experiment, I primed the 1 gal batch with fizz drops that came with a kit. The 2.5 gal of Citra IPA got primed w/corn sugar.

    Overall I think everything went smooth. Bottles are in a closet at around 73-74 degrees, will let it go for 3 weeks before drinking, although I'll probably try one after 2 weeks because I can. Lol

    Next up: White House Honey Ale kit I got from NB (free with a big order), as well as another IPA, I just gotta come up with a good combo of good to use (I've got 8 diff hops to work with at the moment).

    The plan is to make one batch in the next day or two, and another in a week or so to get a pipeline started.

    Making these beers was a lot of fun and I think I'm hooked! :slight_smile:
    prock180 likes this.
  32. FATC1TY

    FATC1TY Champion (863) Feb 12, 2012 Georgia

    As a quick heads up, I'm sure you know, refractometers aren't accurate without using a calculator once alcohol is produced.

    They are great for checking 1st runnings, checking your sparge, checking pre and post boil gravities. I put mine away once I pitch the yeast and just use my hydrometers. I do however, grab pre and post boil OG's randomly and compare them to the refractometer to confirm both are reading the same.
  33. wingnutter

    wingnutter Zealot (502) May 18, 2005 Florida

    I was referred to a calculator at Northern Brewer that will convert to SG during/after fermentation, but for the most part I'm gonna stick with the hydrometer after pitching.
  34. wingnutter

    wingnutter Zealot (502) May 18, 2005 Florida

    So I just tried one for the first time...13 days in the bottle...when I popped the top I got a great POP...poured it...nice head that subsided a bit after a minute...looked great and I could smell the Citra the second I popped the top...its a little darker than I was going for but its got a slight haze, which is exactly what I wanted...overall I'm super happy with how it looks!

    Then I tasted it...WOW! Its a little green and needs to round out a bit, but holy crap it turned out great, and better than I expected. Great Citra flavor, nice bitterness with a bit of malt sweetness...I didn't chill it, poured it straight from the closet, but I am blown away by how good it is! Now I can't wait to let it sit for another week and see if its even better.

    ssam, ZDSmith87, JohnSnowNW and 2 others like this.
  35. JohnSnowNW

    JohnSnowNW Zealot (565) Feb 6, 2013 Minnesota

    Those look to be Klipsch RF-5's...I also own a pair of those.

    Glad you're happy with your first brew, as I mentioned earlier, you went about it the right way. Enjoy!
  36. wingnutter

    wingnutter Zealot (502) May 18, 2005 Florida


    They are Klpisch but theyre RF IIIs, I love em. Bought em about 10 years ago. The cat ruined the screens tho, I tossed em years ago. Still have the cat. Lol

    I'm gonna tweak the recipe to increase the IBUs, but other than that I think this ones a keeper.
  37. JohnSnowNW

    JohnSnowNW Zealot (565) Feb 6, 2013 Minnesota

    I, too, bought mine 10 years ago, Jan. 04. One of my ex-gf's cats used mine as playground and scratched the hell out of the veneer. I did not keep either of them.
  38. ssam

    ssam Aspirant (292) Dec 2, 2008 California

    Contrary to what some may say, if you use the proper correction factors in your calculator, refractometer readings are just as accurate as hydrometer readings. They also come with the benefit of only needing a drop instead of 8oz. Also you don't need a wine thief/turkey baster just a pipet. Oh, and they don't break easily.
  39. AlCaponeJunior

    AlCaponeJunior Poo-Bah (2,466) May 21, 2010 Texas

    NB IPA super structure LME? Make a smash out of it and get back! Or send me a few lbs and I will!

    Double the Citra, then add two ounces at flameout... (oh wait, that's willamette) :rolling_eyes:

    love the ferm control and low fermenting temps. Try 62 tho and do a smash saison with whatever malt or extract, no higher than 1.060, with willamette, you'll thank me later. :sunglasses:
  40. VikeMan

    VikeMan Poo-Bah (1,953) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania

    The best calculator I have found is Sean Terrill's, so I incorporated it into Brewcipher, with a few modifications. The other online calculators had not been as accurate for me.
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