I didn’t really set out to make a variation of Modern Times’ Fortunate Islands. I pegged it more as “being inspired.” But after thinking about it, I realized I was just making a clone with some tweaks. I mean, I started from the original recipe, so I was basically lying to myself. What’s wrong with that, though? Nothing!

For this Homebrew Review, I decided to put the My Hoppy American Wheat next to Fortunate Islands, Mano A Mano, stripped to the waist, skin on skin. Ferret the Beer vs. Modern Times. And I didn’t so bad in my (biased) opinion.

Here is The Mad Fermentationist recipe I (and Modern Times) started from:

Batch Size: 5.25 gal

Fermentables

  • 5.75 lbs. Wheat Malt 
(54.8%)
  • 4.00 lbs. American 2-row (38.1%)
  • 0.75 lbs. CaraVienna
(7.1%)

Hops


  • 5 ml – HopShot (Extract) @ 65 min.
  • 2.00 oz. Citra (Whole, 10.00% AA) @ 0 min.
  • 1.00 oz. Amarillo (Whole, 10.00% AA) @ 0 min.
  • 2.00 oz. Citra (Whole, 10.00% AA) @ Hop-Back
1.00 oz.
  • Amarillo (Whole, 10.00% AA) @ Hop-Back
  • 4.00 oz. Citra (Whole, 10.00% AA) @ Dry Hop
1.00 oz.
  • Amarillo (Whole, 10.00% AA) @ Dry Hop

Yeast

  • White Labs WLP001 California Ale

Anticipated OG: 1.048 
Anticipated SRM: 5.5
Anticipated IBU: 47.8

Here’s where I ended up:

Batch size = 5.25 gal

Fermentables

  • Wheat malt = 5lbs. 4 oz. (47.5%)
  • American 2-Row = 4 lbs. (36.2%)
  • Caravienne = 12 oz. (6.8%)
  • Acid malt = 8.8 oz. (5 %)
  • Rice hulls = 8 oz. (4.5%)

Hops

  • .5 oz. Amarillo (8.8% AA) @ 20 min (8.7 IBU’s)
  • .5 oz. Citra (12.5% AA) @ 15 min (10.2 IBU’s)
  • .5 oz. Amarill0 (8.8% AA) @ 10 min (5.2 IBU’s)
  • .5 oz. Citra (12.5% AA) @ 5 min (3.9 IBU’s)
  • Dry-hop 1 oz. whole leaf Cascade (≈7 days)

Yeast

  • WLP320 American Hefeweizen with 1800 ml starter

Anticipated OG: 1.046 
Anticipated SRM: 5.2
Anticipated IBU: 28

Here’s Modern Times’ recipe once they scaled up to industrial scale and then scaled back down for home brewers (which I found on Beer Smith after my brew day)

Batch = 5 gal

Fermentables

  • American 2-Row = 4 lbs (49.4%)
  • White wheat = 3 lbs. 10 oz. (44.8%)
  • Caravienne = 5 oz. (3.9%)
  • Acid Malt = 2.5 oz. (1.9%)

Hops

  • .17 oz. Hop Extract @ 60 min (30 IBU’s)
  • .65 oz. Citra (12 % AA) @ Whirlpool
  • .32 oz. Amarillo (8.5% AA) @ Whirlpool

Yeast

  • Not listed. I would guess they went with California Ale or something similar.

Anticipated OG: 1.046 
Anticipated SRM: 3.9 Anticipated IBU: 44.6

Appearance: Similar hue of rich gold but mine is a notch lighter. Neither are clear but my beer is straight up hazy. The head on Fortunate Islands doesn’t linger as much. The head on my Wheat is fluffy and mousse-like.  Ferret wins this round.

Aroma: Both beers used the same family of hops though in different amounts and on a different schedule. They have similar notes of grapefruit, tropical fruit, citrus (I get orange/lemon peel), Maybe some passion fruit. Fortunate Islands is “juicier”, stronger and more prominent. Mine was dry-hopped to a lesser degree. I register some cracker-y notes – leaning towards water crackers or unsalted Saltines. FI takes this category. As stated on the can, they “dry hop the bejesus of it.” I did not. So, they should win, I would think.

Mouthfeel: Fortunate Islands is slippier, a little flatter, but there is a small bit of wheat-based crispness. My Hoppy American Wheat is definitely sharper with its carbonic bite and acidity, bordering on tartness. I’m going to say mine is better but I’ll need to tone it down in any future iterations.

Flavor: Similar hop flavor characteristics but Fortunate Islands is more bitter (probably from the use of hop extracts) while Ferret has more hop flavor (I did all hop bursting). Here the Hoppy American Wheat is a bit juicier, brighter, more lively with the tartness from above. The malt character in FI is toastier while mine is paler, breadier, cracker-ish. Ferret finishes slightly drier and more citric. FI wins. I prefer their malt character over mine. Maybe it’s the smaller amount of Acid malt.

Overall: I think there’s things to like about both. In an ideal world, I would be able to blend the two.

Fortunate Islands remains one of my favorite go-to’s and my Hoppy American Wheat recipe will live on (with a few more tweaks). Thanks to Modern Times and The Mad Fermentationist for their transparency. I wish more breweries would do this kind of thing.

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