Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Brewday: Get It Right IPA

I have a confession to make. Two of my most favorite beer styles are IPAs and American Pale Ales, and I haven't ever made a good one. I don't know what it is, but I just never end up making one that I like. Perhaps I'm a bit hyper-critical of my efforts, or perhaps I was getting sub-par hops in Florida. Either way I've got a bit of a New Year's Resolution going... make a good IPA and an APA this year.

Here's the first try. I tend to follow Vinny of Russian River when it comes to IPA theory. Make it light, keep the caramel malts down under 5%, ferment it dry, let the hops speak. It is India Pale Ale, after all. I'm giving Wyeast's Northwest Ale strain a try too, it's the Hale's Ales house strain. I'm using Columbus for bittering because I've got a gallon bag of them from Fremont Brewing in the freezer. Centennials for flavor and aroma, and some Amarillo for aroma too. It will be dryhopped with Cascade and Amarillo, because I've got those in pellet form. Here the conical will shine, I think. Finally, taking a page from the Big Book of British Brewing I'm adding a pound of invert sugar. This should ferment out completely, adding alcohol without boosting body and residual sweetness.

Brewday went well enough, but disaster soon struck. The new conical has a long dial thermometer, which goes down from the lid into the beer. On pitching it said the beer was at 50 degrees, so I got the electric blanket going on full blast to pull it back up. The next day the beer was at 65 on the dial, when I touched the side and noticed that it was markedly warmer than the room. Some swearing commenced and I yanked the thermometer. Some testing with boiling and near freezing water showed that it was off by nearly 20 degrees, and that the beer had been heated to 84 degrees. $#%&*$#@$%^%$##!!!!!!! The cloud of profanity rose into the atmosphere, where it then came down like acid rain all over the city. So if your plants die or your clothes bleach, sorry. Anyhow, the beer was rocking by that point and there was no realistic way to cool it without crashing the yeast. So I had to relax, have a homebrew, and just let it go. We'll see if it's undrinkably full of weird horrible fusel alcohols and phenolics, or whether it survived relatively unscathed. A local brewery, which shall remain nameless to protect the innocent, recently had their glycol system go down and an IPA go that hot in one of their fermenters. They couldn't distribute it, for quality control reasons, but I got to try it at the brewery. It was fine. So there's hope. It calmed down to 67 within a couple days. Ugh.

Funny thing about progress: ever notice that when you introduce something new into an established system, something inevitably goes horribly, horribly wrong, causing you to doubt the usefulness of your supposed 'improvement'? The conical has some serious growing pains going on right now.

IPA version 1.0

6 gal., All Grain
OG: 1.065 / FG: 1.014ish
SRM: 7.5
IBU: 65
ABV: 6.5%
  • 11 lbs Pale Malt
  • 1 lb Munich
  • 4 oz Carapils
  • 4 oz Crystal 40
  • 1 oz Chocolate Malt
  • 1 lb Invert Sugar (add in the last few minutes of the boil)
Mash at 154, Mash out at 168. Water Mods: 2 gm Chalk, 4 gm Gypsum, 1 gm Epsom Salts, 1 gm Kosher Salt.

90 min boil:
  • 1.25 oz Columbus (aka Zeus, Tomahawk) leaf at 14.4% AA, First Wort Hop
  • Whirlfloc at 15 minutes left.
  • 1 oz Centennial, leaf, @ 9.5% AA @ 15 min
  • 1 oz Centennial @ 2 min
  • 1/2 oz Amarillo pellets at flameout
  • 1/2 oz Cascade pellets at flameout
  • 1/2 oz Amarillo pellets, dry hop 3 days
  • 1/2 oz Cascade pellets, dry hop 3 days
Yeast is Wyeast Northwest Ale, 1 L starter on the stir-plate. Ferment as I say, 68-70, not as I do, 80-66.

To Make Invert Sugar:

Known as Lyle's Golden Syrup in the UK, invert sugar is just normal table sugar that's been boiled in the presence of an acid. This breaks the sucrose down into glucose and fructose, and sets it as a syrup. Yeast have an easier time eating the simpler sugars, so it ferments out almost completely. This boosts the alcohol, without upping the residual sweetness, resulting in a dryer, lighter tasting beer and upping the yeast's possible attenuation level. And it's easy and cheap to make.
  • 1 lb white sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 t Cream of Tartar (tartaric acid. You could also use lemon juice, lactic or phosphoric acid, etc.)
Bring to a boil on the stove for at least 5 minutes or so. The longer you cook it the more it will caramelize. If you want funky, complex caramel flavors cook it somewhere between light amber and black. If you just want it to ferment, without adding color or much flavor, just boil a few minutes until it's clear or light yellow. It'll keep in a jar for months, or you can add it to the last few minutes of the boil, or into the fermenter as high krausen starts to ebb.


will said...

Between this and your Jasmine IPA their must be something going on. I'll sure you will break the cure with a good batch. Good luck for this to happen sooner rather than later!

Russell Hews Everett said...

Yeah, I've got three IPAs going right now. I know the Jasmine, despite being cursed, will probably be good. The other two, well, here's to hoping.

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