July 21, 2013

Tropic Bling -- Clone of Funkwerks Tropic King

My wife and I are huge fans of Funkwerks beers and I've raved about them in my reviews of beer vacations (beercations?) every time I make it out to Colorado. Funkwerks has a fairly solid reputation, although some people do criticize their beers for not being very extreme. It's probably a fair criticism, although some of their beers pack some really interesting flavor. Still, Funkwerks definitely focuses on putting a lot of subtle flavor in their saisons and other Belgian-style beers and that's something I can get behind. (One thing I will criticize is that they really love those damn 750ml bottles but the whole large format bottle issue has been debated to death so I will leave it alone.)

I don't love all of their beers and one I am not a huge fan of is Tropic King. Tropic King is a saison with a little more malt kick than the typical saison and relies heavily on Rakau hops to provide tropical fruit flavors. Rakau is heavy on the mango, which is why I don't like it. I'm not a huge mango fan. My wife loves mango and loves this beer so I agreed to clone it and cajoled the recipe out of one of the brewers.

Getting any of the New Zealand/Australia hops can be a challenge and Rakau seems to be a particularly challenging hop to source. It doesn't seem to be grown a lot and it isn't loved by many brewers. It appears that Rakau is getting overshadowed by some of the even-fruitier NZ varieties coming out. So far the only place I have seen selling Rakau right now is Seven Bridges Cooperative at a pricey $3.50/oz. I know the Austrian/NZ crop is coming in so maybe Rakau is just grown within the contracts already purchased. However, I was extremely lucky that a generous user on the AHA forum was willing to part with a couple ounces he wasn't planning on using. So with the critical hop in hand I could move forward with plans to brew my clone.

Funkwerks makes an interesting blended beer called Exotic King, which is two parts barrel aged Tropic King and one part fresh Tropic King. I like the blend. The barrel flavor cuts through some of the tropic flavor from the hops and the hops age down to a tolerable prominence. I decided I would brew enough Tropic King so I could bottle most of the batch fresh and age a small portion with some whiskey-soaked oak chips (trying to use up my oak chips so I can buy a better oak product). I'm going to bottle the aged portion straight with no blend because I want to see how it tastes unblended and I don't feel like brewing a second batch.

The Funkwerks recipe actually relies on Rakau and Opal hops but I have modified the original recipe slightly to sub out the opal hops. I didn't want to buy an ounce of Opal hops and have the rest just sitting there unused in my freezer when I already have a spare ounce of Spalt in the freezer. So if you are interested in replicating the Funkwerks recipe exactly then sub out my Spalt addition with a 0.33 ounce addition of Opal per 2.5 gallons. Spalt is a little different than Opal but they are both within the same German/noble family of hops so I don't think it will detract too much from the clone.

Tropic Bling - Funkwerks Tropic King clone

Batch size: 2.5 gallons
ABV: 5.9%
SRM: 6.1
IBU: 24.4
Est. OG: 1.053
Est. FG: 1.007

Grain bill

3lb 12oz Belgian two row [3 SRM]
13oz Munich malt [9 SRM]
5oz White wheat malt [2.4 SRM]
2oz Carapils [2 SRM]

Water supply 

3.765 gallons total - used RO water with brewing salts
6.5 quarts mash water
2.14 gallons sparge water

Mash water additions:

Gypsum 0.7g
Epsom salt 0.7g
Calcium chloride 0.7g

Sparge water additions:

Gypsum 0.9g
Epsom salt 0.9g
Calcium chloride 0.9g
Lactic acid 1.1ml

Mash schedule

Dough in 6.5 quarts at 163F for 75 minute mash at 149F
Sparge with 2.14 gallons at 180F

Boil schedule

60 minute boil
0.18oz Rakau [12.7%] at 60 minutes
0.33oz Rakau [12.7% at 10 minutes
0.5oz Spalt [4.5%] at 0 minutes

Fermentation schedule

  • Ferment with 3711 at 75F for 24 hours then increase temperature to 89F until fermentation is complete (4-5 days)
  • Cold crash for 24 hours
  • Dry hop 0.33oz Rakau [12.7%] for three days. Start at cold crash temperatures and let free rise in fermentation chamber
  • Bottle at three volumes.

Brewday & Fermentation notes

Pre-boil gravity: 1.035
Post-boil gravity: 1.045
Post-boil volume: 2.9 gallons
Efficiency: 70.8%

Still having issues locking down my boil off percentage. Efficiency was a little lower than I hoped for but still an improvement over the long stretch of 60-something percent efficiency.

Pitched yeast late night on 7/20/13, raised temperature roughly 22 hours into fermentation to 89F.

7/30/13: FG 1.008. Added 0.33 oz Rakau to dry hop.

8/3/13: Racked one gallon for aging, bottled 1.3 gallons at 3.0 volumes of carbonation.

3 comments:

  1. What yeast did you use for this? I'd like to recreate a 5 gallon batch for a try if I can find similar hops.

    Thanks.

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  2. The Rakau hops are a major part of the flavor profile of this beer. You could make a similar beer with other hops but there's not a great substitute for Rakau's contribution to this beer. I think Rakau should show up in the NZ hop harvest this spring. The yeast is 3711 according to one of the former Funkwerks brewers.

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