Tuesday, February 9, 2010

You down with OPB?

Well, Pinball Blizzard has been brewed and based on tastes from the fermenter, it will be exactly what I am aiming for. An AIPA with hopping rates at the very heights of the DIPA range, but still with some balance.
How is this possible? Well, instead of merely shooting for IBUs (International Bitterness Units) by loading up the bittering additions in the quest of a higher number, my philosophy has been to focus on creating hop flavor and aroma and simply letting the IBUs come along with those hopping techniques.
However, all of this flavor and aroma are difficult things to quantify, unlike IBUs (which, get mangled and misinterpreted, as many statistics do). I believe the time has come for a new unit to measure hoppiness.
I hereby propose the 'OPB' or Ounces of hops Per Barrel of beer. For instance, our Homeward Brown has 16.4 OsPB and 30 IBUs, 1984 Golden Ale has 13.5 OsPB and 25 IBUs, HOPtimal APA has 48 OsPB and 45 IBUs. The IBU is still a useful unit for relaying relative bitterness. Both the 1984 and Homeward Brown are blanced beers and their OsPB:IBU ratio falls near 1:2. Unlike the very hoppy HOPtimal APA whose ratio approaches 1:1.
Now, let us take a look at Pinball Blizzard. While HOPtimal APA tips the scales at 3lbs of hops per barrel, Pinball Blizzard is way off the scale at 6 lbs per barrel, giving it 96 OsPB, but it only racks up an IBU rating of 66. The ratio has swung the other way and approaches 3:2.
Here is a glimpse at Double IPA at the very top end of its style, Pliny the Elder from Russian River Brewing Company. Based on the homebrew recipes provided by Vinnie Cilurzo, RRBC's Head Brewer and creator of Pliny the Elder (and arguably the entire DIPA genre), PtE also packs the massive hop whallop of 6 pounds per barrel. However, those 96 OsPB are shifted more towards the bittering addition, yielding a proclaimed 92 IBUs for a ratio approaching 1:1.
Where the OsPB come from can shed further light on the hoppiness of a brew.
Here is a breakdown of Pinball Blizzard Rye IPA:
10.37 OsPB - First Wort Hops
0.74 OsPB - Bittering addition
11.11 OsPB - Flavor additions
51 OsPB - End of Boil and Hopback
23.7 OsPB - Dry Hopping

Hopefully this new methodology for quantifying hoppiness will shed some light on the brews to which they are applied. Additionally, brewers wishing to express hoppiness in terms other than mere bitterness are welcome to adopt the new unit as they see fit. I will continue to use it as long as I brew aromatic and flavorful hoppy beers!
Now...lets get to dry hopping!