Brewing Day – Armistice Day DIPA
So, back to that IPA thing. If you recall my post from last Fall (13 Beers – One Recipe), you’ll remember my disdain for IPAs. So bitter, so lingering, so everywhere. You’ll also recall that I made a concerted effort to find meaning. We’ll, find it I did. Some say I manned up and some say it’s about time. I say I’ve allowed my palate to mature.
When we left off we were in the process of building a recipe. We gave brew master Murray our criteria…
- Target ABV – 7%
- A little darker, medium bodied, good mouth feel… something to warm the winter nights
- Decent head retention
- Moderate bitterness that finishes, does not linger
- Citrusy/fruity aroma and flavor
And he spun his magic.
On a frosty Sunday morning in early January we assembled in Murray’s “brew house.” His set up is a bit more sophisticated than your typical homebrewer. Sitting on a raised tile floor (with drainage) are shiny stainless kettles for the hot liquor, mash, and boil, heated by natural gas burners. Just off the brewing stage is a temperature-controlled freezer unit that houses the fermenter. This 15 gallon set up is ideal for four of us to come away with a nice stash of beer.
With an eye on an SRM color in the 10 – 12 range and a medium body, our grain bill was anchored by Maris Otter 2 row pale malt and Vienna malt. Wheat malt was included to provide head retention. 3 lbs of Crystal malt provided a bit of sweetness and 1.5 lbs of Carapils was added for mouth feel.
We chose to grind our own grains, with a little automation…
Adding the grains to the mash tun was done through a coil of copper tube that had been uniformly pierced to allow mash and sparge water to help hydrate and evenly distribute the grains in the kettle.
Now we mash… 90 minutes long. It was at this point (8:30 on a Sunday morning) that we cracked our first beer: a Breakfast Stout to celebrate the occasion. Before you judge us, know that we took it slow. No one wanted to risk the success of our IPA. John, our mechanical hands-on guy, kept a watchful eye on the mash to ensure the grains remained separated. Any clumping during this process could lead to weak wort. Picture a large “dough ball” of grains and water trying to penetrate to the center of it to extract the sugars… not gonna happen. With his stout close at hand, John’s efforts ensured that that our grains would dance freely for 90 minutes.
As we approached the end of the mash, John drew off some of the wort to see if any grain particles had made their way through the false bottom in the mash tun, drawing off wort and returning it to the kettle until satisfied that the liquid transferred to the boil kettle would be as free from spent grains as possible, a process known as Vorlauf.
At this point the copper coil was re-inserted into the mash tun, the mash tun was plumbed to the boil kettle and we began transferring the wort. The copper coil allowed for sparge water to be added to the mash tun in a manner that ensured that we optimized the “rinsing” of the grains in the transfer process.
It’s now 10:15 AM and we’re on to our second beer of the day… another beautiful stout, brewed in this same system.
Murray recommended a 90-minute boil, with the first 30 minutes completed with no hop additions. The rationale for these first 30 hop-free minutes was to drive off as much of the sulfur compounds and off-flavor elements as possible before beginning the hop additions… and there were plenty of hops to be added:
2 oz Cascade, 1 oz Centennial, 1 oz Willamette, @ 60 min
2 oz Willamette, 2 oz Amarillo @ 30 min
1 oz Mandarina Bavaria @ 15 min
2 oz Citra, 2 oz Amarillo @ 5 min
1 oz Willamette @ 5 min
2 oz Citra, 2 oz Amarillo, 2 oz Centennial @ 0 min
(Note: A 90-minute boil vs 60-minute boil was used to provide ample time to drive off the sulfur compounds and any other off flavor contributors. The hop additions were started at 60 minutes rather than 90 minutes due to the rate at which alpha acids from the hops are created. The conversion falls off very rapidly after 60 minutes so there is little value in adding them prior to that.)
With this hop bill and the timing of hop additions, the bulk of the hop bitterness will come from the Cascade, Centennial and Willamette, given their early addition. Adding the Amarillo 30 minutes in gives it another punch. The Mandarina has a relatively high alpha acid level but, given the late addition, will add more flavor and aroma than bitterness. We closed out with a variety of fruity, citrusy hops to add some flavor and aroma. The three additions at the 0-minute mark will add very little bitterness.
As the boil was completing, we connected the boil kettle to the fermenter via a pump and a wort chiller which would allow the wort to be chilled from its boiling temperature to 70 degrees Fahrenheit as it entered the fermenter.
With the wort now settled into its new home, the yeast was added to the fermenter. We chose an American Ale yeast (Wyeast 1056) for its clean finish and balance characteristics. The only thing left at this point was to connect the thermostat and the blow off tube to ensure we controlled the temperature for fermentation and to allow the CO2 to escape from the fermenter…
And now we wait…
Two weeks later we were at the brewery, sampling and bottling our uncarbonated brew. But first, there’s the matter of carbonation. Murray chose a yeast addition as part of the bottle conditioning process. He chose a bottling yeast from Lallemand given its neutral characteristics. To give the yeast some energy in the bottle, dry malt extract was simmered in water for 30 minutes on the stove top. The yeast along with the malt extract were then added to the beer in the bottling vessel.
Our bottling line was pretty efficient. A bottle washing station…
A fill station, using a bottle fill stick…
And a capping station…
We yielded approximately 13 gallons, most of which was bottled in 12 and 22 oz. bottles. Jamie, experienced with many of his own homebrew projects, brought along a 3-gallon soda keg for his share. We sent him away with a 12 oz. bottle so he could compare the bottle conditioned product with the force carbonated, kegged product.
Now we play the waiting game, yet again. I was tempted to open a bottle after one week of conditioning, but elected to hold out until day 14. The results… coming in at 7.9% ABV, a damn nice Double IPA that exhibited many of the characteristics we were after.
Two lessons learned in this project: 1) try, try again. I was not a fan of IPA’s a year ago. Through experimentation and a desire to learn, I’ve come to enjoy them as much as any other style, and 2) experiencing food and drink with friends is an awesome way to go. Pick something you love and give it a try!
In the words of Brew Master Murray… until next time,