Recently, there’s been a lot of chatter in homebrewing circles (particularly on the HomeBrewTalk forums) about no-boil brewing. It’s actually a very old concept in brewing in general—particularly in the Nordic and Baltic states, and heck, even AB InBev does it—but it’s a relatively new idea in modern homebrewing. It’s easy to see the appeal, though: you can brew a batch in half the time it usually takes, or even less.
When I saw a thread about a no-boil NEIPA recipe, some things clicked into place in my head. First, you want haze in an NEIPA, and skipping the boil creates haze (or at least prevents clearing). Second, most NEIPAs don’t even use bittering hops, they just add them at flameout and as dry hops. This might be the perfect style for a no-boil beer! And then I had another thought: I know dry malt extract (aka DME) can make a damn fine beer, so why not use it here and save even more time?
No mash, no boil, no time wasted!
So I decided to try my own attempt at a no-boil NEIPA. After all, what’s the worst that could happen?
What’s in it?
- Method: Extract
- Batch size: 4 gallons
- Mash: Nope
- Boil: Nope
- OG: 1.064 (15.7 Brix)
- FG: 1.011 (7.6 Brix)
- ABV: 7.0%
- IBU: Not sure! 40ish?
- 6 lbs Briess Bavarian Wheat DME
- 60g CTZ [17.1% AA] @ Whirlpool (20 mins @ 170F)
- 66g El Dorado [14.4% AA] @ Dry Hop (3 days)
- 40g Idaho 7 [12.8% AA] @ Dry Hop (3 days)
- 26g CTZ [17.1% AA] @ Dry Hop (3 days)
- Yeast: Safale S-04 English Ale (1x, dry)
- Water: Distilled/RO + 2g calcium chloride
- Etc.: A few process notes, if you please: First, add the CaCl2 and heat the water to around 160F. Turn off the heat and dissolve the DME. Then add the whirlpool hops and circulate for 20 minutes. Chill to pitching temp and ferment, adding dry hops on day 2. Bottle or keg after 2 days at steady final gravity.
How’d it go?
Brew day was a breeze. I used my brand-new AMCYL 10 gallon kettle on my (gas) kitchen stove to bring 4 gallons of store machine-bought water to around 160F, then cut the flame, mixed in the 6 pounds of DME, and stirred thoroughly to dissolve. Then I briefly lit the burner again to get it back up to 160, turned it all the way down to the low setting, and added my whirlpool charge of 60 grams of CTZ.
Then I started my upper body workout for the day: manually whirlpooling for 20 minutes using a spoon. Don’t laugh, it’s hard work!
After about 10 minutes, I cut the flame entirely and kept whirlpooling to gradually chill the beer. Once the whole 20 minutes was up, I hefted the kettle (no rest for tired arms!), carried it outside, and chilled it to 65F with my trusty copper immersion chiller while enjoying the balmy 20F ambient outdoor temps.
Back inside, I used the kettle ball valve to transfer the wort to a fermentation bucket, pitched a pack of Safale S-04 English Ale yeast dry, and stuck it in my “fermentation chamber” (aka the guest bathroom shower) with the window cracked to ensure ferm temps wouldn’t get out of control.
Within 6 hours I had airlock activity, and the following morning it was bubbling like crazy. The smell in the guest bathroom was… intensely hoppy.
Around midday on the second day, with fermentation still ripping, I added my dry hop charge: 66g El Dorado, 40g Idaho 7, and 26g CTZ. (I was slightly concerned about the El Dorado hops, because they were much more of a golden color than the typical green you see in pellet hops, but they smelled fantastic so I just went with it.) Anyway, let’s just say the aroma in the room got exponentially stronger from there.
If you’ve never made a hazy IPA, adding dry hops during active fermentation—usually at high krausen–is a useful way to both add permanent haze and intensely citrusy flavors. Through something called biotransformation, the active yeast interact with the hop oils to transform both flavor and appearance. The underlying science is very much in debate, but the results seem thus far seem to indicate that it’s a good strategy if haze and “juiciness” are what you’re after.
Dry hopping during fermentation also minimizes oxidation caused by dry hopping. Since the yeast are still producing CO2, any O2 introduced by dropping the hops into the wort gets scrubbed out of the airlock by the CO2 pressure, or used by the yeast to reproduce.
But let’s get back to the brew! On the evening of the second day, a few hours after dry hopping, I did a gravity reading and found the SG had already dropped to 1.022. BeerSmith predicted a FG of 1.018 (though I often find its predictions conservative, to say the least) so I knew I was getting close. The following morning, it had dropped even further, to 1.016. Several days later, it was down to 1.013. Another couple and it was at 1.011 and FG. The sample was amazing, with a huge tropical/citrus aroma and flavor, light but present bitterness, and soft mouthfeel.
One problem, though: In those intervening days, I slipped on the ice while walking the dog and absolutely destroyed my ankle. So, six days after brew day, I found myself in the hospital for surgery and trading my usual diet of a beer-or-two a day for six times daily Percocet. The injury is going to put a damper on my brewing activities for the next couple months, but I have three beers in process and I’ll be damned if I’m going to let them go to waste!
Soon after getting home from the hospital and confirming the beer was at FG, I sweet-talked Allison into taking the fermenter out to the garage (where it’s hovering around freezing most of the time) and setting it on top of the keezer. I let it cold crash for the better part of a week before using gravity to transfer it to a purged keg. This time I burst carbed it at 30 psi for a day before reducing to a target of 2.4 vols (42F and 12 psi).
How’s it taste?
I’m learning quickly that beer needs at least a week in the keg to achieve peak flavor, even a must-drink-fresh beer like a no-boil NEIPA. When I first sampled it after the 24-hour burst carb at 30 psi, it was muted, with limited hop character and more bitterness than I wanted or expected. Four or five days later, it’s a different beer entirely.
Appearance: Well, if haze was my aim (and it was), I hit a bullseye. This beer is a totally opaque orange that absolutely glows in the right light. I intentionally carbed a little low for softer mouthfeel, and the head reflects that. A thin layer of lacing that sticks around and sticks to the sides of the glass as you drink.
Aroma: Dankness hits you first, and then wisps of citrus—mostly mandarin and cara cara orange, in my estimation. The weed smell is quite strong, though, which I figure has to be the CTZ and Idaho 7 tag-team in action. Can’t smell the alcohol, which is nice since this finished up a little higher than I intended at 7%.
Taste: Huge hop flavor, again mostly dank weediness with a strong undercurrent of orange and a hint of lemon. I think I hit the water profile pretty close to just right, because the hoppiness comes across almost entirely as flavor and not as bitterness. There’s a bit of bitterness coating the back of the tongue, but just enough. Again, the alcohol is well-hidden.
Mouthfeel: This beer is really full on the tongue, but with just enough prickly carbonation to add a little zing. It finishes dry, which means there’s a nice journey from the start of the sip to the finish, and makes you want another sip right away. I don’t think this keg is going to last long.
Would I brew it again?
That’s a resounding yes. This is going to be a staple in my keezer, especially over the summer months, given how quick and easy it is to make. That said, I’ll be interested to see how well it holds up—and whether the haze hangs on—over the next few weeks, given the no-boil nature of the brew. (Purportedly, no-boil beers go off faster than traditionally brewed beers, even when kegged.)