21. IPA


(American IPA, 14B)  BeerSmith Recipe File


When a senior person in your academic department asks if you can brew a beer for the annual holiday party, you say “YES”!  So here we have Earth and Planetary Sciences IPA, or EPS IPA.  I’m brewing this with a fellow brewer from the department, Jason Pappas (he’s also our Engineer!).  He brought along some more “industrial” equipment than I’m used to, since we’re brewing a 10 gallon batch of this stuff:  a large kettle with fittings, a counterflow chiller and an oxygen tank/wand.  We also ordered some fresh 2013 harvest hops.  My goal:  to wow The Stig.  I’ve grown weary of mediocre reviews, and I’ve declared Hop Warfare on The Stig’s pallet.  Calypso, Mosaic, Simcoe, Citra, Centential, Cascade and Chinook will be my weapons.  My tactics:  first wort hopping, tons of late aroma additions and dry hopping, WLP090, and a malt bill that is a canvas for hops.  I’m also building a water profile from scratch with DI water, using Palmer’s water book as a guide.  A link to my water chemistry maths here (links to all my water chem maths are also in each BeerSmith recipe file).

You’ll notice the IBUs are 10 over the top end of the recommended range in The Guidelines.  From experience, I’ve noticed that when you dry hop like crazy, the perceived bitterness is way less than the IBU number suggests, and while this was supposed to be a crowd pleaser, I do want some bitterness there.  I once brewed an imperial IPA (pre-blog) that calculated out to somewhere around 200 IBUs, but I dry hopped it back to the future and even non-ipa lovers enjoyed the beer.  I’m confident this beer won’t taste 80 IBUs bitter, but it must be consumed very fresh for that to be the case.


Recipe (10 gallons)

22 lbs. US Pale Malt 2-row
1 lb. Munich Malt
0.7 lb. Acidulated Malt

Mash @ 148 for 75 min (single infusion, 1.35 qt/lb.), sparge with 7.37 gal
Boil for 60 minutes

1 oz Calypso First Wort Hop
1 oz Centennial @ 24 minutes
1 oz each Chinook & Simcoe @ 15 minutes
1 oz each Simcoe, Citra, Mosaic, Centennial & Calypso @ flameout, steep 10 min
Dry Hop 1 (5 days):  0.5 oz each Cascade, Simcoe & Centennial (per keg)
Dry Hop 2 (5 days):  1 oz each Mosiac, Calypso & Citra (per keg)

WLP090 San Diego Super, 2 vials, 3000mL starter
OG:  1.065
FG:  1.011
ABV:  7.1%
IBU:  80
SRM:  6.1


Brew Day

First wort hopping
First wort hopping

Opening the fresh bags of 2013 hops was an almost religious experience.  The brewhouse smelled absolutely fantastic, and we nailed our mash-in temps and pH no problem.  A problem did eventually present itself, as I forgot to factor in wort lost to hops (especially since some of our hops are whole leaf), and we lost about a gallon and a half of wort.  Rookie mistake on my part.  Also, we used a counterflow chiller, and made quite a mess doing it.  Jason didn’t have the requisite pump, so we used gravity and the cooling/transfer didn’t go as quickly as I would have liked, but I don’t think it should be too much of a problem.  We split the wort between two 5 gallon fermentors, one went in the fermentation fridge, and the other went in my “cold closet” with the lambic.  The closet has been around 64-66°, so I wrapped that fermentor in wet paper towels with a wick that went into a bowl of water to help keep the beer cool enough.  To account for the inevitable differences in fermentation, we will blend each batch 50/50 when we transfer to the kegs.

Note:  not having return hose proved to be huge pain.
Not having return hose proved to be huge pain in the butt



Considering that this batch is for a holiday party and we promised 10 gallons of beer, I elected to brew a mini-batch (scaled down using BeerSmith’s tools) 3 days later, which I then added to the already fermenting batches.  That mini-batch was brewed for a 2.5 gallon final volume, accounting for hop loss.  I actually ended up with a bit more than that (I over compensated), about 3 gallons of OG 1.042 wort.  Since I didn’t want to fill the fermentors too full, I retained approximately 1-1.5 gallons and pitched some of the fermenting wort from the closet batch into the leftover wort in a 3 gallon glass fermentor and stuck that in the closet too.  Man… this got more complicated that it needed to be.  Sheesh.

After primary was complete (OG 1.011) I racked the two 5 gallon batches to the kegs, adding half of each fermentor to each keg to blend away any differences.  I then added the first dry hop addition, and stored the kegs in the room temp (~65°) closet.  After five days, I removed the first addition and added the second one.  I want to note that I purged the keg with CO2 after each time I opened it to change/remove dry hops.



After 10 glorious days of dry hopping, I removed the hops and cold crashed the kegs overnight.  In the morning, I fined each keg with gelatin and carbonated to 2.5 volumes.  Four days later, Jason and I bottled one of the kegs, and added our labels (1).

Rutgers:  please don't sue me.  Thanks.
Rutgers: please don’t sue me. Thanks.

The bottles will be raffled off at the holiday party and we will serve everyone from the keg.  The extra keg of approximately 1.5 gallons was of course, retained for our personal happiness.


My Take


Yep, this beer is awesome.  We served it at a EPS Holiday party, and it was a huge hit.  Our chair, a huge IPA nut said it was the best IPA he’s ever had.  Non-IPA drinkers commented on how much they enjoyed this beer.  The 5 gallon keg kicked in about 2 hours.  Jason and I have now solidified our brewer credentials to the department for sure.


The Stig

And now it’s time to turn the beer over to our Team Tasting Imbiber.  Some say He was genetically engineered from several top-secret hop varietals, and that His underpants are an aroma addition in most award winning IPAs.  All we know is, He’s called The Stig!

Aroma: Peach, orange marmalade, with a slight hint of resinous pine on
the nose. However, there is a whiff of butyric acid here, as well. It
is faint but certainly detectable.

Appearance: Off-white head with moderately sticky lacing and head
retention. Clear, amber/gold, 9.5 degrees SRM.

Flavor: Tropical hop character upfront with mango, pineapple, and some
citrus flavors, along with a mild, honeyed, whole wheat bread-like
malt presence. Mid and back palate are overtly grassy, tannic, and
astringent. Perhaps dry-hopped for too long.

Mouthfeel: Mildly carbonated with a medium body. Astringency muddles
what would be a creamy texture. Drying, harshly bitter finish with a
bit of alcohol warmth.

Overall: Aroma and flavor hopping yielded a robust, approachable hop
character, but the finish is too vegetal and astringent. Butyric acid
could be a consequence of flawed wort production or spoiled grain.



So, it would appear that I have failed in my goal to “wow” The Stig.  I am disappointed, as I thought this was the best IPAs I have ever brewed.  The  butyric acid is from left field: it can come from poorly produced malt extract, which we didn’t use.  Also, lots of resources blame it on “flawed wort production”, but I have yet to find a source that mentions what that actually means.  Oxford Companion to Beer places the blame firmly on a particular strain of spore-forming bacteria, so perhaps we had some sort of minor infection?  Usually, people are pretty sensitive to butyric acid since it is so offensive (baby-puke), but I definitely didn’t get that when I tasted it.  And not one person who was served this beer noted it either.  Perhaps our beer was served consumed so fresh, the aroma was masked by the intense hop aromatics.  A month later, when The Stig tasted the beer, perhaps enough hop character had fallen out enough to reveal the off-aroma.

The “too vegetal/astringent” comment is easier fixed: Mitch Steele mentions in his IPA book that some research indicates tannin and vegetal extraction can occur in as little as 3 days of dry-hopping.  Since I dry hopped so much by weight and for five days each time, this is probably the cause.  I’m not as hurt by this comment, because I think MOST commercial IPAs are dry hopped longer than 3 days at a time, and this vegetal flavor is in many of these beers.  I will, however, incorporate the three-day rule into future dry hopping.  I’m confident that the tannic/astringent flavors are also from the dry hop, as we monitored mash and sparge pH and neither was even close to 6.0.

So, overall a beer that was thoroughly enjoyed by those who drank it… except The Stig.  Talk about a tough customer.


(1)  Jason designed this label using this site with help from their own graphic design people.
Books I referenced for this recipe:
Zainasheff & Palmer. Brewing Classic Styles. 2007.
Palmer & Kaminski. Water: A Comprehensive Guide for Brewers. 2013.
Oliver, Garrett (editor). The Oxford Companion to Beer.  2012.
2008 BJCP Guidelines.

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