Russian River’s Blind Pig Inaugural Ale – Cloned

Blind Pig was the first Double IPA I really really enjoyed when I started drinking craft beers… I dunno, 10 years ago?

As much as I love Pliny the Elder, Blind Pig holds a special place in my heart because it was so much more drinkable (at least to me) than other commercially available IPAs. I never cared for Lagunitas’ IPA too much. I can barely remember other the other ones I tried at that time.

Anyways, a while back I came across this article from Craft Beer and Brewing. It’s behind a pay wall, but well worth the subscription fee if you’re into this hobby. Always lots of good reads and recipes. Plus I love the magazine. You’ll notice I’ve made substitutions to my recipe from the one in the link provided due to what was available from my LHBS. If you don’t have access to the article, I’ve copy / pasted some info from the post, retyped the recipe, and made notes of my own. Also note, my values aren’t rounded since I scaled up to 6.5 gallons from the 5 gallon recipe that I followed.

Vinnie Cilruzo – Russian River’s Finest
Photo Credit: Craftbeerandbrewing.com – From the article linked above.

I’ve got no brew day pictures for this batch, but every step of the way, this beer has tasted like a winner.

Big Disclaimer: I didn’t get my hands on any of the cans that Russian River release of their inaugural ale a few months ago, so we will be comparing it to the more easily obtainable bottles of regular old Blind Pig. I don’t know the real differences between the inaugural ale vs the widely available Blind Pig. But, we work with what we’ve got.

BasicsBlind Pig Inaugural Ale
Batch Size (fermentor):6.5 gallons
Boil Length:90 minutes
Mash Temp:156FSingle Infusion
OG:1.067 (estimated)1.070 (actual)
FG:1.012 (estimated)1.013 (actual)
ABU:7.25% (estimated) 7.48% (actual)
IBU:80+207 calculated – See notes below
SRM:5.65
Fermentables
2-Row82.7%
Carapils (dextrin)7.5%
C20 (Real recipe calls for C15, I subbed in C20 since my LHBS didn’t have C15. Adjust for the color to try and match)4.2%
White Wheat5.7%
Total100%
Hops
Chinook (I subbed in CTZ, due to no Chinook available at time of purchase)3.25oz (130 IBUs)75 Min
Cascade1.80 oz (34 IBUs)45 Min
Centennial1.80 oz (37 IBUs)30 Min
Cascade2.6 oz (5 IBUs)Flameout/Whirlpool
Cascade2.6 ozDryhop Charge 1 – See schedule below
Centennial1.3 ozDryhop Charge 1 – See schedule below
Oak Chips.65 ozDryhop Charge 1 – See schedule below
Columbus1 ozDryhop Charge 2 – See schedule below
Centennial1 ozDryhop Charge 2 – See schedule below
Cascade2 ozDryhop Charge 2 – See schedule below
Total17 oz
Yeast1 tsp yeast nutrient
Any Chico Strain
I used US-05
2 packsPitch at 65F, Ferment at 68F until it hits intended FG. Give additional 2 days Diacetyl rest, then chill to 42F. Follow Dryhop schedule next.
Dry Hopping
Charge 142F after reaching FGAdd hops and oak chips for 3 days.
Charge 242F after 1st chargeAdd hops and monitor gravity daily to ensure you are at FG. Give time for hop creep to clear up. Can be a few days, can be up to two weeks. Package when it clears. See notes after recipe grid regarding the bittering hops and IBUs
WaterI completely lost the exact profile I used. But I know it was west coast style profile, with a high sulfate to chloride ratio. I’ll include my actual additions, but you should calculate your own profile.
Mash pH5.3
Gypsum13 grams
Calcium Chloride4 grams
Epsom Salt4 grams
Canning Salt.5 grams

From the recipe notes about the bittering hops: Credit to Craftbeerandbrewing.com and Vinnie Cilruzo because I’m copy/pasting the following text.

“There is a limit to how much alpha acid can be isomerized in beer and also to how much can be perceived. While the calculated IBUs for this recipe might be about 195, a spectrometer reading measured them closer to 80. (The yeast also take up a large portion of isomerized alpha acids, which is why the yeast from an IPA fermentation tastes so bitter.)”

Brew Day 2/20/21: Not much to say here. I was lazy and forgot to take pics. Good change of pace from the typical New England IPA. Looking forward to this beer!

Packaging 3/14/21:

Still no pictures… I was busy brewing my Barleywine and packaging a cider as well. But the flavor was incredible. Bright, piney, huge citrus flavors. Lots of hop matter in the sample, so some harsh aftertastes. But nothing I’m worried about. Aroma is similar to the flavors. You can smell it before it even hits the glass.

Tasting 13/18/20:

I’ve decided to do a few rounds of tasting before posting because this beer has changed a bit from packaging after it sit for a little while. All good things!

Holy citrus batman!

You can still smell this bad boy from a few feet away. It’s packed with citrus aroma and flavor. The oak is subtle but a delicious compliment. Never thought to have oak chips in an IPA. I am enjoying this and I know it’s going to get better in the coming weeks. Plan to do a side by side with a bottle of Blind Pig in a week or two.

Tasting 2 – 3/23/21:

It’s starting to clear up a bit. The in your face citrus has faded as the rest of the hop flavors have started to present them self more. A nice dry and bitter finish with pine and citrus and some fruit notes up front. This is an every day drinker for me. I LOVE getting back into west coast IPAs after spending so much time with my hazy boys.

This coming weekend I’ll be doing a side by side…likely blind (pig) of the two with my neighbor.

Side by Side 3/27/2021

Disclaimer again that I mentioned above… I don’t know the difference between the readily available Blind Pig that Russian River distributes in bottles, versus the release they did a while back of these cans seen here. With that said, we’re comparing regular Blind Pig bottles, and not the cans that Russian River released of the inaugural ale a few months ago.

I could tell which was which by the color even though my wife poured both for me. Here are the notes comparing the two. Real Blind pig is the lighter golden, mine is the darker one.

Real Blind PigBlind Pig Clone
AromaAroma
FruityCitrus
BrightWoody
Not as aromatic is real blind pig
TastingTasting
CleanSuper bitter (not in a bad way)
FruityLoads of pine
ResinLoads of resin
Balanced bitternessWood and earth
Tastes like a 1995 IPA

Conclusion Between the Two

All in all, this was very fun. I’d love a chance to be able to do an exact clone, but I had to make those substitutions as mentioned earlier. Maybe the 3.25 oz of CTZ instead of chinook was the main deciding flavor factor? I’ll guess my color difference is due to me using a tad too much of C20 (when the recipe called for C15), even though I matched the SRM. I probably have a little oxidation in mine as well which may have darkened it slightly.

Also, the Oak Chips. If I had to guess, the real blind pig isn’t using oak chips anymore. They are very pronounced and pair perfectly with the classic hops that were used.

We all know what it’s like drinking west coast IPAs. They destroy your pallet. Drinking my version first completely changes the flavor of the sip you take of the real Blind Pig. So much so, that I even convince myself that I prefer mine while doing a side by side.

Truth is, both beers are fantastic. They just aren’t meant to be consumed together.

I can’t tell if my pallet has changed over the years, or if Blind Pig has changed – I remember drinking it way back when and it resembled mine a lot more. These days it’s much cleaner and smooth. Less harsh bitterness.

That said, I’ll always order a Blind Pig at the bar if it’s on tap (and if we’re even going to a bar…c’mon covid lighten up already).

Anyways, thanks for reading – this one was kinda long.

Nick

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