XJA – An Experimental Hop IPA

One of the nice side effects of my blog and yeast exchange is that people sometimes send me stuff. Recently, one of my frequent yeast-exchangees, Todd, sent me some yeast alongside an experimental hop from South Africa. This hop – XJA/2436 – doesn’t seem to have been used too widely, so I was not able to find a lot of information about it. But most of the information I found claimed this hop gave a fruit-salad like note with hints of tobacco in the background. Which, to me, sounds like a great hop for an IPA!

My concept for this recipe was simple – I wanted a light and hoppy IPA whose malt and yeast character got out of the way of the hops. This would let me experience this experimental hop in all of its unadulterated glory.

Rehydrating the kveik

I used my standard light/hoppy water profile (150PPm sulfate:50 PPM chloride), and used only small doses of light character malts to provide a bit more of a malt backbone than would be provided by a straight 2-row grist. I upped the bitterness with a few hops at the beginning of the boil, and split the 100 g sample of XJA/2436 evenly between a 30 minute whirlpool and 5-day dry hop.

For yeast, I used some of the Voss kveik I dried for my dried kveik series. This yeast was dried out of the yeast cake from an IPA, and as such had a lot of residual hop matter. I wanted to avoid carry-over of this flavour, so I rehydrated the kveik in some distilled water. Once rehydrated, I shook the tube and let it sit for 5 minutes. I then poured off the yeast-rich supernatant, leaving the trub and hop matter behind. I wanted a clean ferment, so I used a starter to build up the yeast numbers to a normal ale pitch rate.


Recipe – XJA Experimental Hop IPA

Recipe Specifications
--------------------------
Boil Size: 30.56 L
Post Boil Volume: 26.56 L
Batch Size (fermenter): 23.00 L   
Bottling Volume: 22.50 L
OG: 1.059 SG
FG: 1.011
ABV: 6.5%
Color: 5.3 SRM
IBU: 57.3 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 72.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 79.8 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Ingredients:
------------
Amt        Name                           %/IBU
0.10 kg   Rice Hulls                      1.5 %
5.50 kg   Canadian  2 Row Pale Malt      85.0 %
0.30 kg   Munich 10L                      4.6 %
0.23 kg   Carafoam (2.0 SRM)              3.5 %
0.23 kg   Carapils (Briess) (1.5 SRM)     3.5 %
0.11 kg   Crystal 40L                     1.8 %      
18.00 g   Warrior [15.50 %], 60.0 min    27.5 IBU                           
15.00 g   Target [9.00 %], 60.0 min      13.3 IBUs     -             
0.50      Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 10.0 mins)
50.00 g   XJA/2436 [12.90 %], Whirlpool 30.0 min, 16.5 IBUs
Voss Kveik, large starter
50.00 g   XJA/2436 [12.90 %] - Dry Hop 5.0 Days

Mash: 
Single Infusion, Light Body, Batch Sparge
Mashed-in at 65.0C, hold for 90 min, batch sparge with 75.6 C water

Ferment:
Pitched a large (1.5L) starter of Voss kveik and fermented for 3 days at 18C. At this point primary ferment was completed, and the dry hop charge added. 5 days later the beer was racked into a keg with gelatin and force-carboanted for serving.

Tasting Notes

IPA in the sun
XJA IPA in the sun.

Appearance: Lightly golden in colour, clear as glass, and pours with a dense, pillowy white head.

Aroma: Strong tobacco note on top of the aroma of over-ripe melon.

Flavour: Up-front is an intense tobacco/leather note that boarders on harsh. Behind that is a more subtle fruit note – much like the character of over-ripe melons in a fruit salad. The malt and yeast characters get out of the way, to let the hops shine through.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, effervescent, but slightly astringent thanks to the strong tobacco/leather character.

Overall: A bit of a disappointment. I read several sources claiming a strong fruit-salad character from this hop. In my hands this desired character was present, but dominated by the intense tobacco/leather character of the hops. I do not know if this is the “real” character of the hop, or a flaw introduced by the long transhipment from South Africa to Canada. The hops were well packaged, but I have no idea as to their age. Overall an interesting IPA, but I don’t know if I’d go out of my way to brew with this hop again.

2 thoughts on “XJA – An Experimental Hop IPA

  • August 13, 2019 at 5:38 pm
    Permalink

    Sounds like this hop would be much better suited in bourbon barrel aged beers, or a Scotch ale.

    Reply
    • August 14, 2019 at 12:09 pm
      Permalink

      Perhaps, but the character was rather sharp so it may be hard to keep it in balance.

      Reply

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