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
Original Gravity: 1.060
Terminal Gravity: 1.010
Color: 3.15 SRM
Alcohol: 6.56% ABV
Bitterness: 50.7 IBUs
149°F – 60m
170°F – 5m
15g Warrior (17.9% AA) – 90m
Wyeast 1056 American Ale
34g Azacca (10.3% AA) – 2 Days
100g Galaxy (16.1% AA) – 2 Days
Judged as 2015 BJCP Category 21A American IPA
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.
Very hazy, bordering on murky. Big white head with awesome, super clingy white foam that persists.
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.
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)