Monday, 16 February 2015

Spanish Cedar Aged IIPA

This is a block of Spanish Cedar, but Spanish Cedar is neither Spanish, nor Cedar. I mean, it's not even a soft wood related to cedar. Spanish Cedar is a mahogany from South America. This lignin-laden piece of goodness is the same wood that cigar humidors are made from. Aging beers on Spanish Cedar is not a new thing; in fact Cigar City Brewing does a lot of it. From what I've had of Spanish Cedar aged beers, the wood imparts a peppery flavor with citrus notes that goes really well with IPA's. The main issue that I am facing with this beer is not knowing exactly how much wood to use. I will probably chop off about a third of this block and cube it, weigh it and see what kind of flavor I get from it.

I made a giant starter of yeast for this beer stepped up from 250 ml to 1200 ml to 3L. To be clear, I didn't use all of the starter, I saved about half of it for another batch. I used White Labs Brett trois, but I am hesitant to call it a brett beer, as it is almost irrefutably saccharomyces rather than brett. I don't know what to call it, but that's what I used to make this. I'm hoping that the fruity flavors from the yeast couple well with the fruity hops and the pepper notes from the cedar.

The water that I have is pretty high in carbonates, which I've heard muddles the flavors from hops. In order to let the hops shine I've decided to start with RO water and build the profile using minerals. I once tried the same pale ale side by side with one having been made with unfiltered water, and the difference is immense. Here is the water profile that I ended with:
Ca: 54
Mg: 8
Na: 8
SO4: 106
Cl: 45
HCO3: 16

The grain bill was pretty simple, base malt with a dash of crystal malt. For some reason, the mash and sparge ran rather slow during this brew day, and appeared rather turbid despite an extensive vorlauf. I'm hoping to end this IPA at about 7% ABV, to help it stand up to aging with the cedar and onward.

I used Cascade, Citra and Columbus hops. I wanted some nice fruitiness upfront but with a bit of a balance with the pineyness of the columbus hops that I hope will pair very nicely with the pepperiness of the spanish cedar. I used hop-bursting in this IPA, with no bittering hops addition but instead just a massive dose of hops at the end of the boil.

Spanish IPA
OG: 1.070
60+ IBUs
12# 2-row
0.25# Toasted Malt
0.25# Crystal 40
0.25# Crystal 75

1oz Citra - 5 mins
1 oz Cascade - 5 mins
1 oz Columbus - 5 mins
1 oz Citra - Flameout
1 oz Cascade - Flameout

1 oz Columbus - Flameout

2 oz Citra - Dryhop
2 oz Cascade - Dryhop
2 oz Columbus - Dryhop

Fermented with White Labs "Brett Trois"

1 week of fermenting followed by aging on Spanish Cedar, with tasting as time goes on; once the wood flavor is just a touch too strong I will rack the beer onto dry hops.

OG: 1.070

Further notes and tasting


  1. How did this turn out? It looks delicious!

    1. Still ageing on the Spanish cedar, the wood hasn't given much flavour yet but I've heard of ageing it on the wood for up to 6 weeks. I may wait that long, and if the flavour still isn't there then I'll rack it onto dry hops and try more wood next time.


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