There are going to be several IPA posts in the coming months as I try to dial in an IPA recipe that uses Chinook hops. I’ll be trying out a few different grain additions in these beers and keeping the hops a little simple. The hop additions for these beers will not be what people typically think of right now as an American IPA which rely heavily on the Simcoe family of hops, at least in my opinion. This will be a return to the IPAs of my “youth” that utilized a lot of Centennial, columbus, chinook, and cascade hops.
This is the first of 4 (or so) IPAs that I will make this summer that focus on those flavors. This is a Columbus (bittering), chinook and cascade (late addition) IPA with a slightly varied grain bill to incorporate a small amount of wheat, rye, and victory malt. This should give the beer some body and off set some serious bitterness this beer might have.
Batch # 2014.13
5 Gallon Batch
Brew date: June 15th, 2014
Keg date: , 2014
ABV: 5.25% (estimated)
85% Pale Malt
10% Victory (Biscuit) malt
Mash at 152 F, sparge at 165 F…collected about 9 gallons, pH stabilizer added to the mash. Vorlauf both the sparge and the mash, at least a gallon each.
Gypsum added to the boil
Whirlfloc tablet added at 10 minutes
Chilled by immersion chiller for 40 minutes
1 ounce of Columbus 60 minutes
2 ounces Chinook 10 minutes
2 ounces Cascade 10 minutes
2 ounces Chinook whirlpool
2 ounces of Cascade whirlpool
This beer was a slight underpitch (I have to stop doing that)…I just ran out of time to do a starter and since I am planning on making this exact beer again but lessen the victory malt by about half, I decided it didn’t matter much. I am still “controlling” fermentation temperatures by putting frozen water bottles into a cooler filled with was that my fermenter sits in. This is far from ideal honestly but it keeps the beer about 10 degrees colder than room temperature…so fermentation was in the mid 60s the entire time. Fermentation took off after two days and krausen fell about a week later. After two weeks in the cooler, the beer was removed and left at room temperature. Beer was kegged after two more weeks, yeast was saved for future batches.
I injured my back during a kitchen renovation recently, so I haven’t been lifting things…that includes this pot full of wort. I decided for the first time to drain the pot from the port on the side. I have a hop screen for the port but did not use it…this worked quite well and in subsequent batches I have used the side port with the hop screen intact. This beer was brewed with filtered municipal water. I will post a water report on here once I stop being so lazy and find one.
Every once in a while you make a beer that misses the mark. This is one of those times for me. There were a few odd procedural things about this beer but the most aggravating part is that I took a sample two weeks before kegging and it tasted good. Now this is an English-style IPA, pretty malt forward with some hop bitterness. Pretty bummed out by this…but I will write an objective review of it. There is a lot I can learn from this beer.
Beer is dark amber, almost brown and mostly clear, with a decent white head of small bubbles, some lacing, retention falls back to a single finger of bubbles that stays the duration of the beer.
I did not dry hop this beer because after I tasted the thief sample a few days before kegging, it tasted horrid. All malt, like a brown ale someone forgot to add hops to. I figured it was a waste and as a result this beer has a lack luster aroma. It is mostly malt coming through and very little hops at all. It is mildly bitter and sweet in the nose. Doesn’t smell bad, just not like an IPA.
Beer is medium in body and chewy on the palate. There is a decent amount of bitterness on the backend and it finishes not too dry. There is a large amount of malt coming through in the palate though and that is the opposite of what I look for in an IPA. Again, this beer overall has a more of a British ale feel to it (not that there’s anything wrong about British ales, just not what I was shooting for). Not my cup of tea.
Overall, knowing what I was shooting for and where I landed I give this beer 1 star out of 5. If someone handed me this beer and said, “Try this”…I might give it 3. I’m pretty disappointed with myself and I’m looking forward to redoing this beer soon to do it better.
Possible improvements (for future batches):
Fire, and lots of it? This was a pretty big disappointment start to finish for me but let’s take apart what could have gone wrong. First, there is too much biscuit (victory) malt in this beer. I’m cutting it in half (at least!) IF I make this beer again. Second, the underpitch…this slowed down the fermentation so the yeast was strained…this will not happen again (AND IT SHOULDN’T HAPPEN EVER!). Third, I need to shield these IPAs from light…maybe I should ferment in a plastic bucket instead of a glass carboy…and shield them from O2….maybe I should purge the head space and not take samples. Fourth, these hops (although stored in a freezer) were older than they should have been / could have been. I am going to remake this one but I might ditch WLP001 as a yeast for now. Time to move back to a nice, gentler, easier to handle saison yeast.
I broke some of the “rules” for IPAs with this one and paid the price.
But onward and upwards, to quote Mitch Steele (the God of the American IPA), his five tips for a good IPA are:
- Keep the crystal malts to a minimum (5% or less). Use Munich malt or some other lightly-roasted malt if you want more color.
- British pale ale malt (Golden Promise or Maris Otter) is excellent for using in all versions of IPA.
- Don’t forget about older “classic” hop varieties. Everyone wants to use Amarillo, Mosaic and Citra right now, and understandably so. These are exciting new varieties that provide unique flavors, but some of the best IPAs I’ve had recently were dry-hopped with Cascade or Sterling.
- Similarly, don’t be afraid to use hops that aren’t considered “IPA hops.” There are some great, highly aromatic hops available from Germany and England, for example, that add wonderful nuances to an IPA.
- Brew your beer to be reasonably dry. This means using lower mash temperatures (148-152°F) to make highly fermentable wort. This is especially important in double IPAs because higher alcohol adds a perception of body and sweetness to a beer, and you don’t need to add to that by having a lot of unfermentable dextrins. Drier beers allow the hops to shine.
Can’t get too frustrated..just have to move on. I pour about 1 beer a year down the drain, this likely isn’t it but I doubt I’ll keep it around too long. Need to tap some Galaxy Saisons to cheer myself up.
There is a lot of beer coming up. Once my kitchen is put back together I have two fun experiments coming up. The first is a kvass made from homemade loaves of bread made with flour from spent grain. The second experiment is a side-by-side fermentation of a bunch of Brettanomyces species. I know these panels have been done before but I obtained a bunch of different species from a friend (the mad fermentationist) and am excited to try these out…plus it adds to my growing organism catalog. I recently picked up a 50 pound sack of Marris Otter grain, so I can finally make my first high gravity beer a Russian Imperial stout. I am remaking this beer (currently in the fermenter) with a slightly different grain bill and I have a few Galaxy saisons with interesting grist bills coming out too. More saisons as well, I have two more experimental hop saisons this year still…and then that experiment will be done (unless I order a few more experimental hops).
“Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson