Saturday, June 1, 2013

Clone Recipe for Heady Topper (Alchemist Brewery)

By Tim O'Leary / Ripton, Vermont

This is a clone recipe for an Imperial IPA called Heady Topper from the Alchemist Brewery in Waterbury, Vermont.

Before you begin, you MUST have or grow a yeast starter from an original can of Heady Topper. This yeast is so interesting and unique, there isn't a good alternative. See links below for more info on Conan Yeast. Click here for a blog on how to do just this.

Ingredients for a 5.25 gallon batch:

  • 11 lbs. 8 oz. - Maris Otter malted barley
  • 12 oz. - Caramalt malted barley
  • 12 oz. - Torrified Wheat
  • 8 oz. - Turbinado Sugar (Pure/Raw sugar)
  • 10 mL HopShot
  • 1.5 oz. - Apollo
  • 2 oz. - Cascade
  • 1.5 oz. - Centennial
  • 3.5 oz. - Columbus
  • 6 oz. - Simcoe

Here is my invoice for enough ingredients for two 5 gallon batches from May 2013 from

Warminster Floor Malted Maris Otter - 1 lb. crushed231.75
Simpsons CaraMalt - 1 lb. crushed21.99
Torrified Wheat - 1 lb. crushed21.75
Simcoe Hop Pellets 1 oz.122.25
Apollo Hop Pellets 1 oz.31.50
Columbus Hop Pellets 1 oz.71.75
Cascade Hop Pellets 1 oz.41.75
Centennial Hop Pellets 1 oz.32.25

With shipping included, each batch was $65.

That's a lot of hops for 10 gallons of brew!


Step One: The Mash

1. Measure out grains and sugar for one 5.25 gallon batch:

  • 11 lbs 8 oz Maris Otter
  • 12 oz Caramalt
  • 12 oz Torrified Wheat
  • 8 oz Turbinado Sugar 
  • (Turbinado sugar is sometimes called "pure" or "raw" sugar. Brand name: Sugar in the Raw)

2. Add the grains (not the sugar) to a mash tun. 
Measure the temperature of the grains and mashtun. 
Use  the "Mash Infusion Calculator" at BrewersFriend to calculate the amount and temperature of water to add to add to steep the grains at 150 degrees for 60 minutes.

When I brewed this the first time and used the Mash Infusion Calculator, I had 13 # of grain @ 66 degrees, so adding 4 gallons of water at 164 degrees created my 150 degree mash.

Grains after 60 minutes in the mash tun at 150 degrees.

3. After 60 minutes, drain grains, rinse with 170 degree water to get a total liquid volume of approximately 5.75-6 gallons. Add the Turbinado sugar and bring to a gently rolling boil.

Step Two: The 90 Minute Boil

Hop Schedule...

@ 90 mins:
10 mL HopShot
0.5 oz. Simcoe

@ 5 mins:
0.5 oz. Appollo
0.5 oz. Columbus
0.5 oz. Simcoe

@ 0 mins (end of boil):
1 oz. Columbus
1 oz. Simcoe

Cool wort to 170 degrees. Add the following hops to steep for 30 mins:
0.5 oz. Appollo
1 oz. Cascade
0.5 oz. Centennial
1 oz. Columbus
1 oz. Simcoe

After a 30 minute steep at 170 degrees, cool wort to 68 degrees. Try to have your yeast about the same temperature.

I boil 6 gallons of wort in two pots as it's on an electric range. I, then, have two cooling coils to bring the wort temperature down to pitch the yeast.

After two weeks, add the following hops to steep for 8 days (dry hop):
0.5 oz. Appollo
1 oz. Cascade
1 oz. Centennial
1 oz. Columbus
2 oz. Simcoe

Step Three: The Yeast Pitch

Here are approximately 1 trillion yeast cells: 250 billion in each of the smaller two containers, enough for 5 gallons of this Heady Topper clone brew.
The yeast strain is really important to capture right from a REAL Heady Topper can. It will take close to two weeks to grow the dregs of one can into enough yeast for a 5.25 gallon batch of your clone. Please see another blog post of mine, which is dedicated to this very topic.

1. Pour approximately 260 billion yeast cells into a sanitized carboy. The target starting Specific Gravity is 1.073; MrMalty Yeast Calculator suggests 263 billion yeast cells.

2. Pour the 68 degree wort into the carboy. Adding the yeast first will allow the wort to churn the yeast and really aerate the yeast/wort very well.

After just ten minutes in the carboy, you can see the wort separating.

12 hours after pitching. About 1 inch of foam (also known as "krausen"). Airlock bubbling about once per second.

24 hours after pitching, the temperature in the fermenting tank had risen a full 10 degrees. I placed the carboy in an ice bath to cool back down to 68 degrees.

4. Place a towel around carboy or place it out of the light in a closet and let ferment for 14 days. The ambient temperature of where the carboy is should be as close to 68 degrees as possible.

5. On Day 14, drop the temperature if you can to 58 degrees. Depending on where you live, this might be able to happen in a basement during winter months. If not, proceed at or near 68 degrees. Add the Dry Hops as articulated above in the Hop Bill. These hops should sit in the beer for 8 days before siphoning and kegging/bottling.


  1. I think this beer is 50% technique, and 50% ingrediants, and I think all the recipes I've found have about 40% of the ingrediants and 40% of the technique down. Which makes for a damn find beer.
    How low did your beer ferment out to? Mine ended up at 1.020 which isn't where I wanted it to stop, but it wasn't to bad considering it was starting at 1.082.

    1. It's just been 6 days fermenting, so waiting a full two weeks and then I'll test it. I will update then. Thanks for the interest. It smells terrific. I can't wait.

  2. How did the brew turn out? Any pics you'd like to share? Thanks for the post.