Tropical Corn IPA – Recipe and Review

Tropical to the max, not so sexy in the glass.

Tropical to the max, not so sexy in the glass.

If you’ve followed the various IPA recipe posts on this site, you’ll know that my IPA preferences lean towards increasingly lower levels of malt while pushing hop flavor and aromatics towards absurdity. A big part of this rational is that I honestly believe IPA is at its best when it becomes a pure expression of hops. “Balance”, an often proselytized descriptor among beer geeks, is becoming increasingly meaningless to me, especially when applied to contemporary American IPAs. At the risk of sounding irreverent, finding “balance” in a beer, often defined as the counterbalance between competing forces (malt sweetness vs. hop bitterness vs. acidity, etc.) should not be sought in IPA. Instead, creating as light of a body as possible while providing enough sneaky alcohol to both extract the hop goodness and leave you feeling immersed in a hop halo is a priority. While hop choices and technique are fundamental (and often the focus of recipe creation), providing the right malt canvas for alcohol creation should be equally as important.

It is in the realm of creating minimally flavored alcoholic liquids that I think we can learn from our distant brewing cousins from the world of industrial lager. Frequently, corn or rice is used as a medium for creating highly fermentable worts with very little residual body or sweetness. Craft brewers often use refined dextrose in their beers. For this beer, I thought it would be fun to introduce both the refined product (dextrose) and its pre-gelatinized source material (flaked corn) into an IPA recipe and see if I could push further, the lean body I am looking for.

Tropical Corn IPA Recipe

Size: 3.25 gal
Efficiency: 77%
Attenuation: 82.7%

Original Gravity: 1.060
Terminal Gravity: 1.010
Color: 3.15 SRM
Alcohol: 6.56% ABV
Bitterness: 50.7 IBUs

Malt Bill:
5 lbs (70.8%) Weyermann Pilsner Malt
1.25 lbs (17.7%) Briess Flaked Corn
13 oz. (11.5%) Corn Sugar

Mash Profile:
149°F – 60m
170°F – 5m

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

15g Warrior (17.9% AA) – 90m

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

Whirlpool Hopping:
34g El Dorado (13.2% AA) – 20m
68g Galaxy (16.1% AA) – 20m

Wyeast 1056 American Ale

Dry Hopping:
34g Azacca (10.3% AA) – 2 Days
100g Galaxy (16.1% AA) – 2 Days

Tasting Notes:

Judged as 2015 BJCP Category 21A American IPA

Aroma (8/12):
Bright tangerine, ripe mango, honeydew melon, and pineapple leap from the glass accompanied by a touch of lemon, grapefruit pith, and light pine resin. Fruit salad in a glass. There is a very subtle, bready malt note hiding somewhere in the background. There is almost no malt at all—just a lot of punchy hops. As it warms, some ethanol heat is apparent.

Appearance (1/3):
Very hazy, bordering on murky. Big white head with awesome, super clingy white foam that persists.

Flavor (13/20):
Super juicy hop punch flavor. Lots of tropical aromatics—mango, melon, pineapple, and some grass. The beer has a firm hop bitterness that I find refreshing in comparison to many underbittered, nouveau IPAs. There is a pretty obvious alcoholic heat that is not pleasant. The beer is very dry, but there is some implied sweetness derived from the mind’s association between the fruity hop flavors and their real world counterparts. Malt really has no role in the flavor composition, except perhaps in lending just a deft touch of soft breadiness to the finish.

Mouthfeel (3/5):
Medium to medium-low body. Carbonation is slightly low. The body has a softness that I often associate with heavily hopped beers packed with hop oils.

Overall Impression (7/10):
This beer is an excellent showcase for newer tropical hop varieties. Time will tell whether these flavors stand on their own merits or if they’re simply novel. I think it’s the latter. The hops are allowed to shine in this almost austere beer; although, finding a way to temper the alcoholic heat is vital for this to really be a fantastic beer.

Very Good (32/50)

Sun Shower Saison Review

Sun Shower Saison

After much planning and some apprehension, The Pour Report homebrew wife finally brewed her very first beer this summer. While the brew day itself went quite well, the final product, christened Sun Shower Saison, wasn’t quite what I had hoped for. Conceived as a refreshing, low-alcohol “tart, crisp, and slightly fruity beer” for the dog days of summer, Sun Shower was able to live up to most of what I’ve just described. The most disappointing characteristic was the flavors contributed by the saison yeast, specifically the peppery spiciness. While I’ve always considered myself a fan of saisons, I’m finding that my palette interprets the peppery spiciness as more of a distraction than a complement to the beer. On the flip side, I have discovered that there is no such thing as “too tart” when it comes to my palette and I wish Sun Shower had a little more tartness to it. As a result, I find myself very much disliking this beer and already have plans to rebrew this recipe with a different yeast. Stay tuned to see how Version 2 turns out…

Tasting Notes:

Jessie’s Review:

Judged against my original intent to brew a “refreshing, low-alcohol tart, crisp, and slightly fruity beer”

Aroma (8/12):
Peppery with a hint of ham (reminiscent of the carved ham station at King’s Table Buffet). When fresh, the Galaxy hops bring a nice melon (mainly cantaloupe) flavor.

Appearance (2/3):
Yellow-to-gold range (if there are any designers reading this, think PMS 7405). Relatively clear, but with very poor head retention.

Flavor (10/20):
Peppery spiciness with melon and a touch of salt. A subtle hint of barnyard funk and tartness.

Mouthfeel (3/5):
Very light body with seltzer-like qualities. Could afford to be more carbonated.

Overall Impression (5/10):

If I had set out to brew non-alcoholic water, I’d be ecstatic! But as it stands, I’m satisfied that my first beer came out without any major flaws.

Good (28/50)


Nick’s Review:

Judged as 2015 BJCP Category 34C Experimental Beer

Beer Description: Ultra low alcohol (3.0%) saison. Minimal malt, light fruity hop character, soft lacto sourness. Dry, crisp, effervescent, quenching.

Aroma (7/12):

A whisper of sulfury egg hits the nose first, but blows off quickly and is followed by a fairly prominent Belgian yeast note featuring some light peppery phenol, a touch of clove, and a subdued generic fruitiness. There is a touch of yogurt-like lacto and some soft hop aromatics reminiscent of mango, citrus, and perhaps a touch of pineapple and honeydew melon. The nose is subtle, but nuanced.

Appearance (1/3):
Pale gold with a light haze. A low white head forms, but quickly dissipates under a crackle of soda pop like fizziness. No retention whatsoever.

Flavor (14/20):
There is a soft bready malt flavor that is quickly underscored by a fairly expressive peppery yeast character. The beer is somewhat tart, although much less so than I would have expected given the pH tested at 3.14 prior to pitching Saccharomyces. The beer is bone dry. The hop flavor is generally fruity and citrusy, which plays nice with the acidity in the beer. There is no hop bitterness. The beer gives an impression of mineral water with an almost seltzer-like finish.

Mouthfeel (2/5):
Extremely low-bodied with spritzy carbonation. There is a slightly astringent tannin present. The beer is very quenching, although perhaps a bit watery.

Overall Impression (7/10):
This is a nice refreshing beer. I think to be on target with the recipe’s design intent it needs a bit more tartness and residual body to make it more sessionable and expressive.

Very Good (31/50)