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 Zealot (597) 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 Aspirant (286) 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 Zealot (597) 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 Zealot (597) 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 Zealot (597) 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 (103) 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 Zealot (597) 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 Zealot (597) 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 Zealot (597) 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 (103) 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
  21. koopa

    koopa Initiate (0) Apr 20, 2008 New Jersey

  22. koopa

    koopa Initiate (0) Apr 20, 2008 New Jersey

    Oh and Amarillo hops became available to the "general public" around 2008 so that may be a reason to discredit it being in the Heady Topper recipe (unless it has changed over the years) considering the Alchemist has been selling it since at least early 2004. I myself first tried Heady around 2008 so I wouldn't know if the recipe has changed throughout the years or not.

    I'm revamping to:

    Centennial, Columbus, Simcoe and Nugget

    Amounts for each:
    0.75 @ 20
    1.50 @ 10
    1.00 @ 0
    0.75 @ Dry Hop
    119 IBU's
  23. geneseohawk

    geneseohawk Initiate (0) Nov 4, 2008 Illinois

    Has anyone ever written them to get some help? Are they pretty tight lipped?
  24. koopa

    koopa Initiate (0) Apr 20, 2008 New Jersey

    Notoriously tight lipped. Rightfully so of course. While some brewers are very open with said information, it is never to be expected.
  25. mjw52

    mjw52 Initiate (0) Jul 14, 2010 New Jersey

    They are probably very tight lipped since this is the only active beer they really brew.
  26. koopa

    koopa Initiate (0) Apr 20, 2008 New Jersey

    They have been tight lipped about the recipe for over 9 years now and its been "the only active beer they really brew" for just the past 7 months. Again, not knocking them for it, just responding to your point.
  27. mjw52

    mjw52 Initiate (0) Jul 14, 2010 New Jersey

    This forum is making me anxious for the case I have coming next week.
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  28. telejunkie

    telejunkie Aspirant (250) Sep 14, 2007 Vermont

    while i realize it doesn't seem right given the timeframe, I'd be looking at adding some Galaxy & Citra into my hop mix if I were to brew a heady topper clone. Not saying that they use it in the mix...but man it tastes like they do.
  29. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Poo-Bah (1,898) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

  30. Longstaff

    Longstaff Initiate (0) May 23, 2002 Massachusetts

    What is the source of this info? I have a hard time believing that this inishes @ 1.010 considering the residual sweetness and mouthfeel of this beer. That would be ~86% apparent attenuation too...
  31. nathanjohnson

    nathanjohnson Aspirant (286) Aug 5, 2007 Vermont

    See reply #12 above.

    Sweet taste and actual sugar levels are not completely linear. Fruitiness can lend a sweet impression, without actual sugar. I think a large part of it is the base malt, Pearl, which gives a soft toastiness without sweet maltiness.
  32. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Poo-Bah (1,898) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    "Oh and Amarillo hops became available to the "general public" around 2008"

    I checked my records in Promash, and I brewed my first Amarillo Pale ale in 2005. Patent was granted in 2003. They may have been available for the 2004 to the pros. I had read about Amarillo in Zymurgy and based my recipe on an article written about a pro who had been brewing with Amarillo.
  33. koopa

    koopa Initiate (0) Apr 20, 2008 New Jersey

    Thanks for the correction on the Amarillo hops everybody. I was going off of a web link (which of course I can't find now) that stated Amarillo hops were first introduced to the World Brewers Conference (I believe that was the title) in 2008. Shouldn't have assumed that meant they were patented at that time.
  34. skivtjerry

    skivtjerry Zealot (597) Mar 10, 2006 Vermont

    The source is me. I degassed a sample and measured FG with my ordinary brewday hydrometer. I was not prepared to believe that it was this low so I checked it with a hydrometer from my work that we pay several hundred dollars every 2 years to have calibrated and certified by NIST (yes, we are a government lab :slight_smile:). 1.010 again. I also took a little to work and compared it to distilled water on our 5 place (i.e. 0.00001g) balance. 1.010 again, making the gross assumption that pure water is about 1.0000g/ml at room temp.

    But what if I failed to remove all the CO2 when I degassed? Good question. That would raise the FG above the true value due to the bouyancy of the gas bubbles coming out of solution (no, dissolved CO2 doesn't add much to the density of the water, at least in quantities you can keep dissolved at familiar temperatures and atmospheric pressures). So I see 1.010 as a maximum FG - could be a little lower.

    To be fair, as noted, it tastes a lot thicker to me too. As far as the fruity sweetness goes, I'll quote Vinnie Cilurzo: "Coming from a wine background, I got an understanding that a fruity wine can be dry". To my palate, the hops contribute some sweet notes as well. The hop floaties could give a heavier mouthfeel too. Finally, I only degassed one can from one batch. Things can change (though probably not much, in my several Headies per week opinion).
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  35. skivtjerry

    skivtjerry Zealot (597) Mar 10, 2006 Vermont

    I love Galaxy and wish I had a few pounds in the freezer. The most amazing thing about it to me, though, is it's uncanny resemblance to a mixture of 3-4 other great hops. John might have approximated that mixture pretty well before Galaxy even existed. I could be wrong but I don't think John is a big Citra fan... that doesn't mean he couldn't use it to good effect in small quantities though.
  36. koopa

    koopa Initiate (0) Apr 20, 2008 New Jersey

    I literally just read that Cilurzo quote no more than 5 minutes ago (and just prior to logging on and reading this thread) in "Brew Like a Monk" by Hieronymus!
  37. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Poo-Bah (1,898) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    Malty beers can also be well attenuated. Read through Gordon Strong's book.
  38. brkstoutfiend

    brkstoutfiend Initiate (0) Feb 5, 2010 Michigan

    What about the mash schedule?? Lower temps with a protein rest??
  39. koopa

    koopa Initiate (0) Apr 20, 2008 New Jersey

    No idea about the protein rest but I would assume a lower temperature mash (say 148 - 152F at most) would be necessary to get the FG down to 1.010 I also feel Heady has a medium (at thickest) mouthfeel so that would support a lower mash temperature as well. My guess would be 148-150F for the sacch. rest.
  40. BattleRoadBrewer

    BattleRoadBrewer Zealot (591) Oct 8, 2005 Massachusetts

    How does he get that "raw" hops aroma? And I mean that in a good way! I can't think of any other beer, not even Pliny the Elder or Unearthly, which smells like hops crushed between your palms the way HT smells. It's an amazing nose.

    This beer is not very bitter at all--on the hairy edge of being insufficiently bitter, with tons of hop flavor and aroma. I wonder if all bittering is from late editions like Evil Dead Red. And does he dry hop like 24 hrs before canning, or even run it though a hop bed while canning? Is all that haze just from lack of fining and filtering, or is it hop matter?

    As far as the hop bill, I think it's fruity with some sweet noble, like Hallertauer maybe?

    Unbelievable that such an amazing beer has such a modest price. Lesser beers put in bombers for 4x$ or more oz for oz.
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