Heady Topper is the name of a fantastic double IPA brewed by the Alchemist, a small brewery in Waterbury, Vermont. Tropical hop goodness ride into your mouth on a waves of copper-hued imperial IPA goodness, laced with a hint of malt and balanced bitterness you wouldn’t expect in a double IPA. The aromas give the sense of tropical fruit, grapefruit, mango, and a little earthiness. Hands down one of the greatest beers on Earth.
The key to this beer, according to Alchemist owner and brewer John Kimmich, is his private strain of yeast, which he calls Conan. Conan is a highly attenuating yeast strain known to get over 80% attenuation and delivery a peachy aroma and accentuate the hop aromas in a beer. To read more about the Conan yeast strain, check out a post I made about culturing Conan yeast from a can of Heady Topper or head over to Bear Flavored and read his great write-up on the yeast.
While I was culturing the yeast over the last month or so I have been busy working with a bunch of great folks over at www.homebrewtalk.com formulating a clone recipe for this awesome brew. The research process has had some surprising twists and turns and even included getting some very useful feedback from John Kimmich, head brewer over at the Alchemist.
As we turn over a new year and head into 2013 the first official clone attempts are in the fermentors of a few homebrewers around the country. There are still some unanswered questions that will get ironed out as the first attempts get on tap and second tries go into production. For now, the missing links are the secondary grain bill, the hop blend, and dry hopping schedule.
Here’s what seems to be agreed to as of 2/20/2013:
*Edit on 3.28.2013. I’ve come across some more information on Heady Topper. I have been testing gravities and taking refractomer readings from every batch of cans I get and found really variable numbers. Sometimes it was 1.010 FG, other times 1.014. I’ve also seen it at 1.012. I thought my instruments were out of whack until I had the chance to raise the question to John at the Alchemist, “Do you change the Heady recipe over the yeast life cycle?” His answer was no, and he verified the final gravity does in fact vary from 1.010 to 1.014. I’ll have a link up for some new recipe formulations based on these findings.
- 1.074 OG and 1.014 FG or 1.071 OG and 1.010 FG*
- Pearl Malt as base. Possible small amounts of caravienne, caramalt, or carapils.
- Use hop extract to bitter
- Blend of 6 American hops used for other additions and dry hop (Simcoe, Centennial, Columbus…??)
- 120 IBUs
- All hops added at 5 minutes to go in the boil or less
- Big whirlpool
- Multi-stage dry hop
- Use Conan yeast and ferment between 58-62 degrees
- Crash cool and age for 2 weeks at 40 degrees.
Here is my first attempt: 5 gallon batch, all-grain
The Mash: 60 minutes at 149 degrees
11 Pounds of Pearl Malt
1 pound of Munich Malt
6 ounces of Carapils
6 ounces of Dextrose
6oz of Hopshot @60 min
1.5 oz Simcoe @ 5 min
1 oz Centennial @ 5 min
1 oz of Columbus @ 5 min
0.5 of Chinook @ 5 min
0.5 oz of Cascade @ 5 min
0.25 oz of Nugget @ 5 min
Whirlpool 1.5 oz Simcoe, 1 oz Centennial, 1 oz Columbus, 0.5 Cascade, 0.25 Chinook, 0.25 Nugget around 180 degrees for 20 minutes
Dry hop package:
1.5 oz of Simcoe dryhop
1 oz of Centennial dryhop
1 oz of Columbus dryhop
Ferment at 62 degrees for 10 days, check gravity, once at around 1.012, crash cool to 40 degrees. Hold for 1 week and then add first dry hop for 4 days. Remove dry hop and add 2nd dry hop. Remove and keg/bottle immediately.
Have you had the beer or tried to clone it before and have anything to add? Let me know in the comments. Don’t forget to subscribe so you can stay up-to-date on this clone and many more planned for 2013. Happy New Year everyone.