Thirsty Nomad Brewing

Thirsty Nomad is a small craft brewery and taproom in the Charlotte, NC area. We have a steampunk aesthetic with a healthy dose of geekiness. We love great beer, great friends, and great experiences. Starting 7/29, we're open Fridays 4pm - 10pm, Saturdays 12pm - 10pm, and Sundays 12pm - 8pm

Recipe Profile #3: Mosalypso Pale Ale

This is one of the "younger" recipes in my usual rotation, and also one of the best liked. I'd brewed a few American Pale Ales and IPAs before, but they never wowed me. I'm sure you've noticed that everyone has some kind of Pale Ale. The prominence of the IPA has lasted beyond the fad stage, I think. And then I brewed Marilyn and my eyes were opened to a whole new world of New Zealand hops and the unique and interesting aromas and flavors they offer. I found out about Calypso and Mosaic and decided to experiment with a basic American Pale Ale.

Before I got started, I did some research. I read up on Calypso and Mosaic online, looked through the usual forums, and read what Brewing Classic Styles and Designing Great Beers had to say about the style. Nothing was so simple, direct, and helpful and the Brewing Network's The Perfect American Pale Ale DVD. Matt Brynildson (Brewmaster, Firestone Walker) and his team brew one of the best APA's out there (Pale 31), and his knowledge of the style and brewing in general comes through in the DVD. The malt bill is simple: 80% base malt, 15% Munich, 5% Carafoam. Roughly 35 IBUs. Typically, you'd use the C hops (Centenniel, Chinook, Columbus, Cascade) in an APA. For my first attempt, I substituted my New Zealand C: Calypso. I added in a little Saaz for some base bittering that wouldn't clash with the Calypso. I used the same hopping rates (adjusted for IBUs) and times that Brynildson uses in the DVD. You'll notice there is some heavy late hopping in this beer. The results from this line of recipes sold me on that technique, and I use it any time I want a bold hop aroma and flavor in a beer.

It was pretty great. Tropical fruits, mango, pineapple, and not a hint of resiny pine that I am pretty much done with. For my next batch, I used Mosaic. It was also great, but I preferred Calypso, so I stuck with that. I wasn't done with Mosaic, though.

For version two of the Calypso Pale Ale, I had some CTZ hops left over from another beer, so I decided to use that for my base bittering. Adjusted for IBUs, of course. That was a mistake. The piney flavors almost completely overwhelmed the fruit flavors of the Calypso. I did add a little more dry hops, but it didn't do much against the overpowering pine of CTZ. 

After the second version, I got a request from a friend to provide about 150 bottles for an event he was holding. I felt it would be a fun challenge, so I suggested the Calypso Pale Ale. I also got the opportunity to put a keg in the homebrew tent at Charlotte Oktoberfest, so I decided to brew one more batch. In all, we (my brother was helping me by this time) brewed 4 batches of Calypso Pale Ale over the course of a month. I went back to Saaz for base bittering, of course. The malt bill hasn't changed much over time; just a little tweak to adjust the gravity up a bit. Mostly importantly, I blended the 4 batches to maintain consistency. Blending is a skill most home brewers ignore in my experience, and it is one of the most useful in the trade. 

For my next trick, I wanted to blend Mosaic and Calypso together. I felt that Calypso could provide a nice base bitterness and flavor, and that I could get a lot of aroma from Mosaic with late and dry hopping. I also wanted to make a 10 gallon batch because it's competition season, and it will be good to have some pale ale around. This latest version is just slightly more bitter than I prefer my APA's to be, but well within the style. We'll see how it fares at the All Ale to the Queen competition in March. Wish me luck!