English IPA – Homebrew Recipe & Review

English IPA

English IPA – A Balancing Act of Traditional Hops and Toasted Malt Flavors

“Balance” is one of the most overused (and misunderstood) terms used to describe beer. It is a characteristic thrown around by brewers and beer geeks alike as a silver bullet for communicating a positive impression of a beer. It is often cited as the end game which all beers should strive to achieve.

Discussing balance is problematic as the concept is not often understood as a way to describe the interplay between a broad spectrum of flavor, aromatic, and mouthfeel sensations within a given beer. For many beer drinkers, implicit to the concept of balance is the thinking that for each polarizing character a beer may possess there must be a counteracting character of equal stature to achieve “balance”. This neutralizing character is almost always malt character and sweetness. Malt seems to be the agent of neutralization for hop bitterness, roasted bite, sharp acidity, alcoholic heat, overly dry attenuation…the list goes on and on.

I believe that this concept of balance is somewhat limiting. I prefer to use balance as a metric for describing where a beer lands on the continuum of various traits. Parity between divergent traits may mean a beer has equal balance, but a beer can be also be balanced towards any number of traits and still be viewed as equally delicious. A beer can be malt-forward, hop-forward, barrel-forward, acidity-forward, or described in any number of other ways. This allows us to look at the commercial spectrum of highly acidic sour beers, fruit bomb IPAs, and sugary sweet barrel-aged beers, and realize that equal balance is not always the most sought after type of balance in a beer.

That said, this recipe for an English IPA strikes a balance between malt and hops which makes it incredibly enjoyable and sessionable. I’m a huge fan of the floral, and slightly earthy, character a large does of East Kent Goldings gives this beer.

English IPA Recipe

Specifications:
Size: 3.25 gal
Efficiency: 72%
Attenuation: 75%

Original Gravity: 1.057
Terminal Gravity: 1.012
Color: 11.23 SRM
Alcohol: 5.9% ABV (calculated)
Bitterness: 23 IBU (does not account for significant whirlpool isomerization)

Malt Bill:
5 lbs. (69.0%) Crisp Maris Otter
0.75 lb. (10.3%) Weyermann Vienna Malt
6 oz. (5.2%) Thomas Fawcett Crystal Malt I
6 oz. (4.2%) Torrified Wheat
4 oz. (4.1%) Briess Midnight Wheat

Sugar Additions:
0.75 lb. (10.3%) Corn Sugar (Dextrose)

Mash Profile:
151°F – 60m

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

Hopping:
0.5 oz.Target (10% AA) – 60m
1.0 oz. East Kent Goldings (5.7% AA) – Whirlpool 15m
1.5 oz.Target (10% AA) – Whirlpool 15m
1.0 oz. Cascade (5.5% AA) – Whirlpool 15m

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

Yeast:
Wyeast 1968 London ESB Ale

Tasting Notes:

Judged as a BJCP 12C English IPA

Aroma (12/12):
The beer introduces itself with a very appealing soft, yet sophisticated malt nose featuring a gentle toastiness and very light touch of toffee sweetness. There are some very low fruity esters that are fairly subdued for a British style ale. A very pretty, medium hop aroma complements the malt with elements of marmalade jam paired with a floral, dried rose element. Very nice.

Appearance (3/3):
The beer pours a striking copper with crystal clarity. A tight, frothy head of tan foam caps the glass and persists through the end.

Flavor (18/20):
The malt flavor of this beer is really great. Moderate in intensity, the malt manages to be interesting but not overbearing. Like freshly baked bread, the beer is very inviting and barely wafts just a whisper of caramel sweetness. There is quite a lot of hop flavor showcasing floral elements with a touch of sweet orange flesh. The bitterness is firm, but smooth and does not linger. There is just a touch of mineral sharpness on the finish.

Mouthfeel (3/5):
Medium body with slightly prickly carbonation that is perhaps a touch high. Beer is very crisp and clean.

Overall Impression (9/10):
This is a fantastic beer that showcases the soft nuances of British malt and hops. I love the way that this beer manages to be simple yet sophisticated at the same time. In a world where we frequently chase maximum flavor intensity in beer, we’re reminded that simple beers that showcase quality ingredients and careful craft can be every bit as enjoyable as the most complicated craft-brewed concoctions.

Excellent (45/50)

Double Tap (Vermont Style) Recipe and Review

dipaLove them or hate them, “juicy”, hop-heavy double IPAs in the same vein as Heady Topper are here to stay. These massively hopped fruit bombs have a fanatical following, drawing hordes of thirsty drinkers to the remote wilds of Vermont, Massachusetts, and other New England locales.

Recently, some of the vocal hosts of The Brewing Network have had a good time poking fun at fans of these beers and claiming that they are simple cloudy, poorly made versions of what West Coast breweries have been making for years. The comments are typically made in jest, but they fail to recognize that there is a fair amount of intent involved in making these beers, in terms of ingredient selection and process. The biggest contributor of the haze in these beers is likely a specific yeast strain popularized by a brewery in Vermont and now used by a number of breweries producing these types of hoppy beers. This strain produces a very unique fruity ester that tends to harmonize with hop flavor and aromatics, making excellent hoppy beers. It is also quite dusty, leaving a fair amount of haze in suspension. The combination of this particular yeast strain with an obscene amount of late and dry hopping, flaked adjuncts, and an unwillingness to use heavy filtration, makes for a well-made, albeit very hazy beer.

Curious about this particular strain of yeast, I decided to take my Double Tap recipe, using Giga Yeast’s GY054 Vermont Ale strain and brew up a massive hoppy double IPA. I ended up using a heavy hand of Azacca hops, a strain that I’ve been enjoying quite a bit lately.

Double Tap – Vermont Style – Recipe

Specifications:
Size: 4.5 gal
Efficiency: 74%
Attenuation: 84.0%

Original Gravity: 1.084
Terminal Gravity: 1.013
Color: 6.12 SRM
Alcohol: 9.37% ABV
Bitterness: 72.4 IBUs

Malt Bill:
7lb (50.0%) Weyermann Pilsner Malt
4lb (328.6%) Briess 2-Row Brewers Malt
1lb (15.4%) Weyermann Munich Type I Malt
2lb (14.3%) Corn Sugar

Mash Profile:
148°F – 60m

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

Hopping:
0.5 oz Warrior® (16.0% AA) – 90 m
1 oz Citra™ (12.7% AA) – 10 m
1 oz Azacca (10.8% AA) – 10 m
3 oz Citra™ (12.7% AA) – Whirlpool 15m
1 oz Azacca (10.8% AA) – Whirlpool 15m
2 oz Mosaic (11.6% AA) – Whirlpool 15m
1.5 oz Citra™ (13.2% AA) – Hop Back
1.5 oz Azacca (11.3% AA) – Hop Back
2 oz Citra™ (12.7% AA) – Dry Hop 3 Days
2 oz Azacca (10.8% AA) – Dry Hop 3 Days
1 oz Mosaic (11.6% AA) – Dry Hop 3 Days

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

Yeast:
2L Starter on Stir Plate – Giga Yeast GY054 Vermont Ale

Tasting Notes:

Judged as 2015 BJCP Category 22A Double IPA

Aroma (10/12):
A massive, juicy hop aroma explodes from the glass with aromatics reminiscent of mango, pineapple, and other tropical fruit. The beer has an overripe character not unlike a tropical fruit punch. It is hard to get much aroma of anything beyond the in-your-face hop profile. As the beer warms, a touch of hot ethanol reminds you that this is a nearly 10% ABV beer.

Appearance (1/3):
The beer is a deep golden hue, but muddied by a tremendous amount of haze. The head is big and pillowy with large white bubbles that persists for days.

Flavor (12/20):
The beer’s flavor falls somewhere between hop tea and tropical punch. There is a fair bit of residual sweetness that is emphasized by the fruity hops and the fact that the beer is a bit under-bittered for the gravity it started at. The beer tastes well-attenuated and dry, but is lacking a sharp bitterness for balance. Although similar to the somewhat low-bittered Vermont style IPAs, it needs more sharpness to be in line with the BJCP style definition.

Mouthfeel (4/5):
The beer is extremely creamy, almost oily. I suspect that this yeast strain produces high levels of glycerol that, when combined with exorbitant hopping, gives the beer a very full mouthfeel. This is accentuated by the slightly low level of carbonation in the beer.

Overall Impression (5/10):
I absolutely love the aroma of this beer, although it falls a bit flat on the palate. I think this is mainly due to the fact that when you combine an under-bittered beer with a huge mouthfeel, you tend to limit the beer’s drinkability. In future batches I will definitely increase the bitterness in order to account for the beer’s substantial mouthfeel.

Very Good (32/50)

Circa ’96 Redux IPA – Homebrew Recipe & Review

ipaThe new proprietary hops currently being developed by the likes of HBC and others in the Yakima valley are wonderful, interesting varieties. Citra, Amarillo, Mosaic, Nelson, and Galaxy with their intense flavors of tropical fruits and citrus are both novel and delicious. They’re also, very much in demand by today’s craft brewers. Over the past couple of years I’ve been playing around with the idea of someday, in the not-too-distant future starting a craft brewery. With the competition  for these hops coming from established brewers with deep pockets, it can be be very difficult for a new brewery to establish contracts for these new varieties. With this reality in mind, it would be an interesting proposition to see if there is a combination of readily available hops (like those popular in 1996) coupled with contemporary techniques (dryness, massive whirlpool, massive dry hop) that can be utilized to create the bright juicy hop character seen in today’s most popular IPAs. This is my first attempt at a recipe that strives to do just that.

American IPA Recipe

Specifications:
Size: 3.25 gal
Efficiency: 62% (measured)
Attenuation: 83.3% (measured)

Original Gravity: 1.066
Terminal Gravity: 1.011 (measured)
Color: 10.78 SRM
Alcohol: 7.2% ABV (calculated)
Bitterness: 42.9 IBU (does not account for IBUs created by whirlpool hop addition)

Malt Bill:
7 lb (75.7%) Briess Pale Ale Malt
0.25 lb (2.7%) Briess Victory® Malt
1 lb (10.8%) Great Western White Wheat Malt
1 lb (10.8%) Corn Sugar – added to boil

Mash Profile:
149°F – 60m

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

Hopping:
0.5 oz Centennial (10.5% AA) – 60 m
1 oz Cascade (5.5% AA) – 10 m

1 oz Columbus (15.0% AA) – Whirlpool 25m
1 oz Chinook (13.0% AA) – Whirlpool 25m
2.5 oz Centennial (10.5% AA) – Whirlpool 25m

1 oz Centennial (10.5% AA) – Dry Hop 3 Days
1 oz Columbus (15.0% AA) – Dry Hop 3 Days

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

Yeast:
Safale US-05 – American Ale Yeast

Tasting Notes:

Judged as a BJCP 14B. American IPA

Aroma (5/12):
There is a substantial hop fruitiness that is almost lemony on the nose. The upfront fruitiness is supported by some pine and an earthy, almost musty hop character with spicy undertones. Some grassy dry hops notes are present. The malt is very neutral. In general the hop character on the nose is very muddled.

Appearance (3/3):
The beer is deep gold, almost copper, and surprisingly clear. This is astonishing considering that the beer is bottle conditioned and dry hopped. A nice tight white head persists.

Flavor (8/20):
The hops are upfront and dominated by a lemony citrus quality muddled by some resinous notes of pine and spice. The bitterness is quite sharp and coarse. The malt present is slightly toasty and dry. There is some boozy alcohol on the finish as well as a touch of honey-like oxidation.

Mouthfeel (3/5):
Medium-low bodied with a prickly effervescence. A bit over-carbonated. The hop bitterness borders on astringent.

Overall Impression (4/10):
This beer is a long way from being a great. In particular, I think the hops choices are somewhat poor, creating a muddled and at times conflicting hop character. In the next iteration, I plan to use fewer varieties that are more synergistic than the combination of citrus and pine that I employed in this recipe. The malt character is great — lean and dry — right where I like my IPAs to be. I made the mistake of bottle conditioning this beer which seems to have imparted some oxidization, making it tough to truly judge the merits of this recipe.

Good (23/50)

Single Tap IPA (4.0) Recipe and Review

Brewhouse pug Daisy striking a less-than-impressed pose.

Brewhouse pug Daisy striking a less-than-impressed pose.

Single Tap is my constantly evolving attempt to brew what I consider to be the perfect IPA . I’ve now brewed iterations of this beer on four different occasions. The recipes have constantly evolved, converging towards a unified goal – making an extreme IPA where the process and recipe are tuned to produce the brightest and most intense hop aromatics possible. I question whether any beer, commercial or made at home, can ever be hoppy enough to satiate the most extreme hop heads. This is my attempt.

Let’s talk strategy. The more times that I’ve brewed this, the more I’ve realized that it would be difficult if not impossible to over-attenuate a beer like this. The drier I’ve pushed this beer, the more easily I’ve been able to get the hop aromatics to jump to the foreground. This beer went from 1.072 to 1.012 — 83% apparent attenuation, and could easily be pushed a bit further. Copious additions of simple sugar and low mash temps are key, and produce none of the oft-cited negative flavors that many brewers attribute to brewing with sugar. The grain bill derives a touch of malt complexity through the use of lightly kilned base malts (Vienna) and a token addition of low lovibond crystal. The malt character should be in the background and provide a clean backdrop for the hops.

Hopping levels in this beer are a bit absurd and dramatically loaded to the back-end whirlpool. In selecting the hop varieties, I focused on tropical fruit-forward hops. I’m not a huge fan of the more resinous/dank IPAs out there (like Stone Ruination), so I avoided certain hops like Columbus, Simcoe, and Chinook which can be a bit abrasive. During the boil, there was a small addition at the beginning to help keep the kettle foam down and lay down a low base of bitterness. The amount of bitterness required to balance this beer is minimal due to the low residual sugar levels. The key is obtaining nearly all of the bitterness during the whirlpool rest, which has the added benefit of imbuing a high level of hop flavor and aroma to the beer. Once kegged, I treat the beer with a huge dry hop.  I tend to limit the contact-time with dry hops since I’ve found that only bad flavors (grassiness) are gained after day three. It is important at this stage to thoroughly flush the vessel you’re dry hopping in with CO2 as oxidation in hoppy beers can seriously impact the life of the beer.

Single Tap IPA 4.0 Recipe

Recipe Specs:
Size: 4.25 gal
Efficiency: 75%
Attenuation: 83%

Original Gravity: 1.072
Terminal Gravity: 1.012
Color: 8.16 SRM
Alcohol: 7.9% ABV
Bitterness: 32.6 IBUs (Doesn’t account for significant bitterness obtained during the whirlpool)
Mash Temp: 147 °F

Grain Bill:
4.25 lb (43.0%) Weyermann Bohemian Pilsner Malt
4 lb (40.5%) Briess 2-Row Brewers Malt
12 oz (7.6%) Weyermann Vienna Malt
8 oz (5.1%) Briess White Wheat Malt
6 oz (3.8%) Briess 2-Row Caramel Malt 40L

Hopping:
8 g Citra™ (13.7% AA) – added first wort
0.5 oz Mandarina Bavaria (7.2% AA) – 10 m
0.5 oz Centennial (10.5%) – 10 m

2 oz Citra™ (13.7% AA) – Whirlpool 25m
2 oz Mandarina Bavaria (7.2% AA) – Whirlpool 25m
1 oz Amarillo® (8.7% AA) – Whirlpool 25m
1 oz Centennial (10.5% AA) – Whirlpool 25m

3 oz Amarillo® HOPBACK (8.7% AA) – Hop Back

0.5 oz Centennial (10.5% AA) – Dry Hop 3 Days
1 oz Citra™ (13.7% AA) – Dry Hop 3 Days
1.5 oz Amarillo® (8.7% AA) – Dry Hop 3 Days
1 oz  Mandarina Bavaria (7.2% AA) – Dry Hop 3 Days

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

Yeast:
WYeast 1056 American Ale™ – Build appropriately sized starter
Pitch yeast once beer is at 62°F. Keep beer at 64°F during the start and peak of fermentation. Slowly raise to 70°F as signs of fermentation taper off.

Water Treatment:
Soft NYC municipal water with 6g Gypsum and 3g Calcium Chloride added to the mash.

Tasting Notes:

Judged as a BJCP Category 14B American IPA

Aroma (11/12):
This is quite possibly the hoppiest IPA I’ve ever stuck my nose into. The intensity of the hop aroma could very well have surpassed the limits set by the best commercial hoppy beers out there. Huge amounts of tangerine-like citrus, mango, and sweet orange jump from the glass. The hopping levels exceed the levels described in the BJCP guideline which currently doesn’t reflect the intense aromatics found in the best examples of contemporary IPAs. A low bready malt character is barely apparent behind all the hops.

Appearance (1/3):
The beers pours a light golden hue with a high level of murky hop haze. A fluffy white head forms and easily persists to the bottom of the glass. This is not a pretty beer… and I’m okay with that.

Flavor (17/20):
The hop bombardment carries through to the flavor, leaving only just a hint of any malt behind. The hop flavor fills your mouth with intense fruit flavors and a hint of pine resin. A touch of grassiness was apparent when the beer was initially kegged, but eventually dropped off as the beer aged out. A bit of warm alcohol is apparent and reminds me that this beer pushes the alcoholic boundaries for a standard IPA. The bitterness is medium high and lingers a touch in the finish, along with a huge amount of hop flavor. Very dry malt, with fruity hops giving a slight impression of sweetness.

Mouthfeel (5/5):
Somehow this beer manages to feel dry and round at the same time. My suspicion is that the hop oils contribute a beautiful silky mouthfeel.

Overall Impression (10/10):
This beer goes above and behind the levels of hops that the BJCP describes for American IPAs. That said, it truly reflects contemporary examples of the best IPAs currently produced in the commercial craft market. The beer is dangerously quaffable. A world-class hop delivery vehicle.

Excellent (44/50)