American Red Ale (IPA) – Recipe and Review

American Red AleAmerican Red Ale, Red IPA, Hoppy Amber Ale, taxonomy aside, I think it’s a great style of beer, especially as a fall seasonal.

As the days get shorter and the leaves turn to hues of red and orange, it seemed befitting to create a hoppy beer that has a nice toasty malt flavor and a little more heft than I typically like in my hoppy beers.This sounds infinitely more appealing than the overly spiced pumpkin beers that tend to corrupt the season. It is also a great opportunity to clean out the freezer of last season’s hop crop in anticipation of the upcoming harvest. This is truly a harvest beer as it pertains to the ingredients found in typical beer. Huh, maybe Harvest IPA is the right classification.

Mind you, this should absolutely not be a sweet beer. Nor should it have too many deep caramel flavors that are better suited in beers where hops are not playing the leading role. This recipe focuses on the toasty and biscuity flavors imbued by melanoidin rich malt rather than leaning heavily on crystallized caramel malts. The beer finishes very dry, giving the beer a high level of drinkability as well as the requisite ability to warm you from the inside out (a key requirement for the fall season).

American Red Ale Recipe

Size: 3.5 gal
Efficiency: 67%
Attenuation: 81.3%

Original Gravity: 1.060
Terminal Gravity: 1.011
Color: 14.26 SRM
Alcohol: 6.3% ABV
Bitterness: 78 IBUs (does not account for whirlpool addition hop isomerization)

Malt Bill:
8 lbs (88.3%) Briess 2-Row Brewers Malt
0.5 lb (5.5%) Briess Victory Malt
0.5 (5.5%) Weyermann Carared
1 oz. (0.7%) Briess Midnight Wheat

Mash Profile:
149°F – 60m
170°F – 5m

Water Treatment:
Extremely Soft NYC Water
4g Gypsum (to mash)
2g Calcium Chloride (to mash)

Kettle Additions:
0.5ea Whirlfloc Tablets (Irish moss) – 15m
0.5tsp Wyeast Nutrient – 10m

Kettle Hopping:
16g Warrior (15.4% AA) – 60m
1 oz. Mosaic (12.3% AA) – 15m

Whirlpool Hopping:
1 oz. Mosaic (12.3% AA) – 15m
1 oz. Citra (13.7% AA) – 15m

Wyeast 1056 American Ale

Dry Hopping:
1 oz. Galaxy (16.1% AA) – 2 Days
2 oz. Mosaic (12.3% AA) – 2 Days

Tasting Notes:

Judged as 2015 BJCP Category 21B Specialty IPA – Red IPA

Aroma (10/12):
Medium to high tropical fruitiness—overripe mango, pineapple, Juicy Fruit gum. There is a very low caramel malt nose, much less than the color would indicate. Underneath the hops, there is perhaps a touch of lightly toasted bread. The hop combination is primarily fruity / tropical with just a hint of pine resin. Very clean fermentation. No alcohol.

Appearance (1/3):
Medium brown with a reddish tint, though I’d really like the color to pop with a more saturated red tone. The beer is hazy, but not milky. The beer has a great tightly bubbled tan head that persists until the pint is finished.

Flavor (15/20):
There is quite a bit of nice malty character on the palate that is slightly sweet with some nice toasty / biscuity flavors and just a touch of toffee. Somehow, given the high level of attenuation, there remains just a touch of sweetness. The beer has a very firm bitterness that is tempered by this slight amount of residual sweetness.

Mouthfeel (4/5):
Medium body and medium-high carbonation with a fair amount of creaminess / softness on the palate. I am becoming more and more of a believer in the ability of hop compounds to produce a certain lusciousness in mouthfeel for a beer. The bitterness is just a bit astringent / biting.

Overall Impression (8/10):
I had a great time finishing this keg of beer. When super fresh, the beer hits you in the face with awesome bright hop aromatics. Over the period of about a month, the beer dropped bright, much of the punchy hops settled down, and the beer became more of a showcase in balance and malt. It aged quite gracefully; not becoming less of a beer, just a different style of beer. I actually preferred the beer most after about a month of cold storage.

Excellent (38/50)

Bioreactor Culture A – Gen 2

Bioreactor A2

Bioreactor A2 – Sour red with a subtle toasty background.

The somewhat laborious process of maintaining mixed cultures via what I’ve called, for lack of a better name, my Bioreactor Project is beginning to bear fruit (or in this case, sour beer). The recipe and review below represents the second generation fermentation of mixed culture “A”  grown up from the following beers:

  • Cantillon Gueuze
  • Tilquin Gueuze
  • Russian River Beatification
  • Crooked Stave Surette
  • Jolly Pumpkin La Roja

I’ve managed to consistently maintain the bioreactor on a 4-month refresh cycle. The results so far have been positive, although I’ve noticed that the fermentations have rather sluggish starts, which is a bit concerning. If I were to implement this program on a commercial level, I would decrease the refresh cycle to something more reasonable, perhaps refreshing every couple months. Unfortunately, the practicality for doing this at a homebrew level is somewhat limited (at least for myself).

For this iteration of the recipe, I wanted to see how the souring culture might synergize (or clash) with a slightly toasty malt background. Vienna malt plays a prominent role in the beer bringing a subtle toasty note to what should be a fairly funky sour beer.

Size: 1.25 gal
Efficiency: 66%
Attenuation: 85%

Original Gravity: 1.054
Terminal Gravity: 1.014
Color: 11.13 SRM
Alcohol: 5.25% ABV
Bitterness: 0 IBU
Terminal pH: 2.60

Malt Bill:
2.75 lb (91.7%) Weyermann Vienna Malt
0.25 lb (8.3%) Weyermann Carared

Mash Profile:
160°F – 60m

Water Treatment:
Extremely Soft NYC Water
Added to mash: 2g Calcium Chloride

0.25 oz Aged Cascade Hops (0.0% AA) – 90m

Kettle Additions:
0.25 ea Whirlfloc Tablets (Irish moss) – added during boil, boiled 15m
0.25 tsp Wyeast Nutrient – added during boil, boiled 10m

Bio Reactor “Culture A” – racked from a 4-month old fermentation using the same culture

Tasting Notes:

Judged as a BJCP 28B Mixed Fermentation Sour Beer

Aroma (8/12):
Prominent pie cherry, fruity Brett aromatics on the nose with a punchy level of lactic sourness. There is a nice soft, bready malt nose featuring light toast along with some oxidized dark fruit (think prune). Some of the more funky Brett aromatics of wet hay and earth are subtle, offering background complexity. As the beer warms, the beer exudes a nutty, almost Amaretto-like aroma.

Appearance (0/3):
The beer strikes a deep copper tone with light chill haze. A vigorous pour offers up a very slight white foam that quickly dissipates. The beer is a bit under-carbonated, making head formation a difficult task. Also not helping matters is lactobacillus’ ability to degrade foam positive proteins.

Flavor (12/20):
The beer strikes a medium acidity, primarily lactic in nature although a touch of acetic acid is perceptible. The first sip reveals a prominent THP flavor that is reminiscent of Cheerios, which is actually quite pleasant when tasted in concert with the lightly toasty Vienna malt base. There is a low level of residual sweetness which helps take the edge off of some of the stronger acetic acid notes. Interestingly, when tasted at 4-months old, the beer had a fairly robust plastic-like phenol which seems to have been transformed at this point into other more positive flavors.

Mouthfeel (1/5):
The beer has a medium to medium-light body with a very low carbonation level. The beer is in desperate need of something to lift it off the palate; a task that the acidity only marginally accomplishes.

Overall Impression (6/10):
The beer falls a bit flat, but does offer up some interesting complexity, particularly in the commingling of some of the THP and toasty Vienna malt characters. The touch of oxidized malt flavor plays nicely with the Brett fruitiness—something that I think could become even more interesting if actual fruit (think tart pie cherries) were introduced into the mix.

Good (27/50)