Heady Topper Clone?

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by geneseohawk, Mar 24, 2012.

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  1. geneseohawk

    geneseohawk Initiate (0) Nov 4, 2008 Illinois

    Does one exist? I've never had it- but am in the process of trading for it! Was wondering though if a clone recipe exists?
  2. skivtjerry

    skivtjerry Pooh-Bah (1,779) Mar 10, 2006 Vermont

    There is an old thread from before the meltdown where we talked about this quite a bit.

    What we know for sure: OG~1.070, FG~1.010, ABV = 8%. Golden Promise malt (I think this is it, a good English 2 row anyway), Simcoe for sure, and lots of them.

    Speculation: About 7 hops used. I think Chinook, Amarillo, and CTZ are among the unknown 6. Probably about 5% sugar. Little to no crystal; the base malt has plenty of character. Tons of late additions, little to no traditional bittering hops. I suggested "a shitload at 15min, another shitload at flameout and dry hop twice".

    Anybody else still working on this?
  3. nathanjohnson

    nathanjohnson Initiate (0) Aug 5, 2007 Vermont

    Jerry's spot on in regards to the previous thread.

    Few more things: the base malt is Pearl, and it definitely includes hop extract for bittering purposes.

    Also, the yeast is not available through wyeast/white labs, so I would suggest the classic chico strain.
  4. koopa

    koopa Initiate (0) Apr 20, 2008 New Jersey

    I've got 27.5# of Pearl malt on the way and plan on taking a couple of stabs at this one over the summer! It will probably take much more Pearl and many more stabs than a couple to get the hops down though :slight_frown:
  5. skivtjerry

    skivtjerry Pooh-Bah (1,779) Mar 10, 2006 Vermont

    Yep, Pearl is the malt; I was too lazy to look up the thread. I drank one a few minutes ago while finishing up my own IPA brewday (NOT a Heady clone) and I have to think there is some Centennial and/or Cascade in there too. I won't pretend to be able to pick single hops out of that delicious mess, just guessing. Extract for bittering makes sense; from a chemistry standpoint, that is the only way to get to the advertised IBU (though there is a vast difference between calculated and laboratory measured IBU at the high end; not sure which is given). If anyone with access to a GC/MS could run a sample that might give us some more clues as to the hop bill, but there would still be plenty of guessing involved.

    Heady is not filtered or pasteurized so we could theoretically culture the yeast from a can, though it has had a rough life by the time it gets to us. Yeast is not the driving force here. It just needs to stay out of the way.

    And to belabor the obvious, John Kimmich could post the recipe right now and few, if any, of us would be able to make a beer that tasted just like Heady. There is some science involved but brewing is still a magical art at times.
  6. koopa

    koopa Initiate (0) Apr 20, 2008 New Jersey


    Centennial sounds more probable than amarillo to me personally. Amarillo gives me a distinct "peach" flavor that I've never picked up in Heady.

    Centennial, Columbus, Simcoe would be my three "safe bets" although the Columbus could easily be Tomahawk or Zeus. I know (and mentioned in our previous thread) that I always get a faint "onion" flavor off of heady, which is normally associated with summit hops, but it was suggested in that previous thread that any of the CTZ hops can produce the "onion" note. I've used Columbus many times though and never got a hint of onion off of it. So perhaps Tomahawk or Zeus (if not Summit).
  7. skivtjerry

    skivtjerry Pooh-Bah (1,779) Mar 10, 2006 Vermont

    I do get a very distinctive peach/mango character from Heady. My daughter-in-law is a native of India and she says, "tastes like mango". I can't argue with that. My prime suspect here would be Nugget, which I know John has used quite a bit in other beers at the brewpub. (BTW, WLP001/WY1056/US05 can also give a funny peachy note if fermented cold).

    CTZ hops can definitely give an onion note. I used some when I brewed today and they were downright rank with onion; could probably still smell them if I went downstairs. Also, hop growers have said that pretty much any hop can pick up an onion note if it's picked too late.

    I kind of threw in Amarillo just because everybody is using it and it has characteristics that crop up in Heady. You can certainly get an equivalent character with a mix of other hops, and maybe more complexity to boot. Maybe Amarillo should not be in the equation?
  8. koopa

    koopa Initiate (0) Apr 20, 2008 New Jersey

    Not saying Amarillo shouldn't be in the equation...your opinion is every bit as valid as mine. Just chiming in with my own impression. I would also believe that, mixed in a small enough proportion with enough other hops, it would be quite possible for it to be in the mix and lack distinction.

    I have had a bubblegum experience while using US05 (dry yeast equivalent of WLP001 Wyeast 1056) with a cool ferment once myself. My experience that time was like a peach flavored bubble gum actually, but I used a boat load of Amarillo hops in that batch!

    Nugget comes off more like pear than mango to me, but I could see either Nugget or Amarillo easily being interpreted as mango to the palate of others.

    Which of the CTZ hops did you use today? Are you saying that the hops smelled like onion prior to adding them to the boil or that the smell of onion wafted out of the kettle during the boil? My statements about onion notes were exclusively based on drinking the final product.
  9. skivtjerry

    skivtjerry Pooh-Bah (1,779) Mar 10, 2006 Vermont

    I used Columbus, purchased from hopsdirect (who I highly recommend BTW). The hop pellets gave off a strong onion smell as soon as I cut open the package, right out of the freezer. Not totally new to me, but more than usual. I expect that the aroma will diminish and convert to a more cannabis-like character in the packaged beer, based on previous experience with CTZ. To my unsophisticated (at least in mango appreciation) palate, mango basically tastes like peach + pine, though that is a gross oversimplification. That says Simcoe + Nugget to me.
  10. koopa

    koopa Initiate (0) Apr 20, 2008 New Jersey

    Thanks for the feedback. I have 1lb of this years Columbus crop from Hopsdirect.com myself, but haven't used them as of yet. I'll be on "the smell out" for the onion note when I open the bag :slight_smile:

    BTW: I do remember somebody degassing a can of Heady in the last thread and I believe they did post that it finished at 1.010, but Beersmith 1.073 (rather than 1.070) to 1.010 is needed (along with 1 pound of corn sugar) to get the abv to 8% for what its worth.
  11. gdkersey

    gdkersey Initiate (0) Mar 6, 2008 Massachusetts

    The most unique part of Heady Topper for me is the way the hops come through. There is no abrasive bitterness, just waves of flavor and absurd aroma. I imagine you could get relatively close with a few of the hop varieties, but nailing down the hopping process would be the challenge. I keep reading FWH leads to a "smoother" bitterness...maybe that has a role?
  12. skivtjerry

    skivtjerry Pooh-Bah (1,779) Mar 10, 2006 Vermont

    I was the one who degassed the Heady. I could not believe the FG was so low and double checked it with a NIST calibrated hydrometer from work, as well as weighing a small sample on a 5 place analytical balance. I'm willing to swear in court that the FG is 1.010, at least for the batch I checked. I use a spreadsheet calculator for ABV, which is virtually identical to the tool on www.kotmf.com. My calculations also jibe with the formula in a textbook I have (Brewing Science and Practice by Briggs, Boulton, Brooks & Stevens), but that is splitting hairs. I don't think Heady contains any significant crystal except maybe for color adjustment; it's pretty highly attenuated.
    Pahn likes this.
  13. koopa

    koopa Initiate (0) Apr 20, 2008 New Jersey

    Actually I just selected US05 as the yeast in the recipe I built and now it looks like 1.071 OG to 1.010 FG will yield 8% abv. Never doubted your 1.010 FG btw, just had brewing software telling me that 1.070 to 1.010 wouldn't yield 8% abv. Heady definitely drinks that dry to me.

    Any guess on the SRM? I'm guessing in the 5-7 range....
  14. skivtjerry

    skivtjerry Pooh-Bah (1,779) Mar 10, 2006 Vermont

    I think the process is an insane amount of late hops with much less than the usual bittering addition.
  15. skivtjerry

    skivtjerry Pooh-Bah (1,779) Mar 10, 2006 Vermont

    It all makes sense. I think I postulated an OG of 1.070 to 1.072 so we are in total agreement here.
  16. koopa

    koopa Initiate (0) Apr 20, 2008 New Jersey

    I'm leaning towards skivtjerry's idea of late additions (mainly because FWH'ing lends a strong flavor and usually is done with one or few hops and Heady doesn't seem to have any 1 hop taking the lead) but if it were FW hopped, then I will say that both Simcoe and Nugget have both low enough cohumulone levels to make them good candidates for FWH'ing and high enough alpha acid levels to get the bitterness where it needs to be for Heady Topper. Then again, would Mr. Kimmich FWH if extract is being used in the beer? Not saying the two are mutually exclusive, but my gut reaction is that it doesn't seem likely to me.
  17. gdkersey

    gdkersey Initiate (0) Mar 6, 2008 Massachusetts

    Yea, definitely agree with lots of late hop additions, especially with all that flavor and aroma. Was thinking FWH as a reason for milder perceived bitterness. I've never done FWH, so interesting to know it lends a strong flavor.
  18. koopa

    koopa Initiate (0) Apr 20, 2008 New Jersey

    From my limited experience with it (only a couple of batches) it did enhance flavor in addition to smoothing out bitterness. Did it with EKG hops once and Simcoe another time, although I will say that by smoothing out the bitterness of the Simcoe it almost seemed to change the flavor profile of the Simcoe that I know "so well" to some degree!
  19. koopa

    koopa Initiate (0) Apr 20, 2008 New Jersey

    Maybe my first stab at it this summer will be along the lines of:

    2.00oz Columbus @ 60

    0.50oz Nugget @ 20
    0.50oz Amarillo @ 20
    0.50 oz Simcoe @ 20
    1.00oz Centennial @ 20

    1.00oz Nugget @ 10
    1.00oz Amarillo @ 10
    1.00oz Simcoe @ 10
    1.00oz Centennial @ 10

    1.50oz Columbus @ 0
    1.50oz Simcoe @ 0
    1.50oz Centennial @ 0

    1.00oz Columbus @ Dry Hop
    1.00oz Simcoe @ Dry Hop
    1.00oz Centennial @ Dry Hop

    144.6 calculated IBU's
  20. koopa

    koopa Initiate (0) Apr 20, 2008 New Jersey

    Alright I have too much fun playing around with hop schedules :slight_smile: This one finishes at a nice even 16oz of hops and is quite "symmetrical" so it is probably more due to mild OCD than anything else :slight_smile:

    1.00oz Columbus @ 60

    1.00oz Columbus @ 20
    1.00oz Centennial @ 20
    1.00oz Simcoe @ 20
    0.50oz Amarillo @ 20
    0.50oz Nugget @ 20

    1.00oz Columbus @ 10
    1.00oz Centennial @ 10
    1.00oz Simcoe @ 10
    0.50oz Amarillo @ 10
    0.50oz Nugget @ 10

    1.00oz Columbus @ 0
    1.00oz Centennial @ 0
    1.00oz Simcoe @ 0
    0.50oz Amarillo @ 0
    0.50oz Nugget @ 0

    0.50oz Columbus @ Dry Hop
    0.75oz Centennial @ Dry Hop
    0.50oz Simcoe @ Dry Hop
    0.75oz Amarillo @ Dry Hop
    0.50oz Nugget @ Dry Hop

    143.7 calculated ibu's
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