Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Clone Brew: 3 Floyds' Zombie Dust

We've been resting on our laurels long enough, so we brewed this weekend. This time, I wanted to jump into the realm of very hoppy IPAs. I have brewed a few IPAs before, but I don't know the first thing about the basics of a good American IPA recipe. I should really grab Mitch Steele's book - IPA: Brewing Techniques, Recipes and the Evolution of India Pale Ale. Yup, all of those words are what I need.

I decided on a fan favorite from the extensive recipe database on HomeBrewTalk.com: a clone of Zombie Dust IPA by 3 Floyds out of Munster, Indiana. Many brewers and craft beer nerds rave about this beer, claiming it is one of the best IPAs they've ever had when found fresh (within a few weeks of its brew date). IPAs should always be enjoyed fresh since hop aroma and flavor fade over time. True enough, the original India Pale Ales were simply standard British Ales infused with ridiculous amounts of hops to act as a preservative for long journeys from the UK to India. However, through countless years of "research," we've discovered how tasty fresh, hoppy beer can be.

Photo: naptownbeer.wordpress.com; Artwork: Tim Seeley

Now, I know a few of you are reading the name of the beer and thinking, "This is just another example of people jumping on the Zombie bandwagon." This is just not the case. It has nothing to do with the famous graphic novel and AMC television series, The Walking Dead. If you check out 3 Floyd's website, you'll notice nearly every beer or piece of merchandise centers around an amazing graphic style that accentuates the macabre. They've been dark and mysterious since 1996, and I personally dig the overall attitude captured by their motto, "Not Normal." Even though they don't distribute to Texas (yet), they partnered up with Real Ale Brewing (Blanco, TX) and Surly Brewing (Minneapolis, MN) to create an amazing Imperial Black IPA called Blakkr. Seek this one out, folks. It's worth it.

Photo: beerpulse.com; Artwork: Michael Berglund
On to the actual brew. The recipe on HomeBrewTalk.com is as follows:

Batch Size: 6 gallons
Estimated Original Gravity: 1.065
Estimated Final Gravity: 1.018
Estimated Color: 8.5 SRM
Bitterness: 65.9 IBU
Mash Temp: 152 F

Ingredients Amount Item Type % or IBU
11.75 lb 2 Row (2.0 SRM) Grain 81.7 %
1.13 lb Munich Malt - 10L (10.0 SRM) Grain 7.8 %
0.50 lb Carafoam (2.0 SRM) Grain 3.5 %
0.50 lb Caramel/Crystal Malt - 60L (60.0 SRM) Grain 3.5 %
0.50 lb Melanoiden Malt (20.0 SRM) Grain 3.5 %

1.25 oz Citra [12.40%] (15 min) Hops 21.1 IBU
0.75 oz Citra [12.40%] (First Wort Hop) Hops 17.0 IBU
1.25 oz Citra [12.40%] (10 min) Hops 15.4 IBU
1.25 oz Citra [12.40%] (5 min) Hops 8.5 IBU
1.25 oz Citra [12.40%] (1 min) Hops 1.8 IBU
3.00 oz Citra [12.40%] (Dry Hop 5-7 days) Hops

SafAle English Ale (S-04) or Wyeast 1968

I tweaked a few parameters to match my setup on Beersmith, and I was off to Dr. Jeckyll's Beer Lab to pick up my ingredients (as well as toss back a few excellent IPAs on draft). For those of you looking for an awesome Halloween party, Dr. Jeckyll's is finally having their Grand Opening this Saturday, October 31st to truly christen the expanded shop and bar space. With 40 taps of fine craft beer, plenty of local offerings represented, 4 regulation dart boards, and a fully stocked homebrew and home wine making supply shop, Dr. Jeckyll's really does have everything you need for libation celebration. (end plug)

Dr. Jeckyll's Beer Lab
One technique to bring out excellent hop character in an IPA is to treat your mash water with gypsum. Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) is a brewing salt you can pick up at any homebrew store, and it helps accentuate the "crisp" quality in a hoppy beer. That's not to say it makes the beer more bitter; rather it gives the impression of a clear cut beginning and end to the taste of each sip. This impression also prevents a sensation of an overly sweet, lingering taste on the palate. In short, it makes hops pop.

As you may have noticed, this recipe is all Citra
I chose to use whole cone hops on this batch to see if there was a difference in the amount of trub (pronounced troob) at the end of the boil as compared to pellet hops. Trub is made up of fine hop particles as well as coagulated proteins from the grain from the hot/cold breaks. This material settles to the bottom during cooling and helps to clarify the beer going into the fermenter. In my experience, whole cone hops do produce less left-behind material, but only slightly. Depending on how you add them to your kettle - whether you dump them in naked or tie them in a muslin/nylon filter bag - your results may vary. For my purposes, I was just looking to clean less crap out of my kettle at the end of the brew day, and I think I achieved that.

Readying a whole cone Citra addition for the boil
Once I had cooled the wort down, I packaged right at 5.5 gallons and pitched the yeast. I have recently discovered that a flavor I perceived as a fermentation flaw was really just a characteristic twang in the yeast I was using, S-04 Safale English Ale yeast. Most people aren't that sensitive to this flavor, and they claim that it accentuates maltiness in the beer. It's a little, well, twangy to me. I chose to substitute the White Labs version, WLP007 Dry English Ale yeast, because I've had some success with it in my Russian Imperial Stout. It provides that malty emphasis without whatever it is that I don't like.

If I could post smells to this blog, I would
The batch is currently bubbling away in my fermentation chamber, and within a few days I'll be tossing in the dry hop charge to really make that hop aroma explode out of the glass. I can't wait to see what this beer has in store. I'd like to develop my own IPA recipe, but the first steps are diligent tasting, reading, recipe research, and more tasting. It's a tough job, but I'm up to the task.

On a side note, we recently took the Grainfather on a field trip for an on-location brew day at the Tarrant County Hope Walk for the AIDS Outreach Center. We were representing Dr. Jeckyll's team, the Rebel-Alers and the Beer Lab by showing off the Grainfather in action. We brewed what's come to be known as Dr. Jeckyll's house Hefe, which was the Hurricane Wheat we brought to Deep Ellum's Labor of Love Homebrew Competition and Festival a few months ago. Just goes to show, as long as you have electricity, a water hook up, and your ingredients, you can brew beer anywhere, any time with the Grainfather!


  1. nice! looks like the one I used a few years ago. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UpEatIyjoKA

    1. Yeah, I pulled the recipe from a popular homebrew resource site called homebrewtalk.com, and most people really like it. Thanks for the video!