Sunday, 20 June 2010

IPA's and why i love them.

India Pale Ale is my all time favourite beer style. Below i am going to try and explain some of the reasons for this. I promise to limit myself to three reasons as i know if given the chance i would be typing for days on this one!

Reason 1
IPA's fire my imagination and inspire my beer making.I recently i watched a TV show on the Titanic as she is now. Within the same week i had found and tried Whiteshield IPA.
Both ideas came together in my head and emerged in my imagination as an IPA to be drank on the promenade deck of the Titanic while taking the evening air.
With a Beer and Stout inventory running to 20,000 bottles at departure i think i can be forgiven for hoping there's room for my beer on-board?
I had some extra time before my next offshore trip so decided to squeeze in one more brew. In this case i brewed towards an American West Coast IPA style with hopefully a slight restraint on the customary exuberance of this offshoot of the style.

White Star IPA(6.5 gallon batch)
5.00 kg Pale Malt
2.00 kg Munich Malt
2.00 kg Wheat Malt,
0.15 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt - 40L
30.00 gm Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) (Mash 60.0 min)
1.00 oz Chinook (90 min)
3.50 oz Bobek (90 minFWH)
1.80 oz Styrian Goldings (90 minFWH)
1.00 oz amarillo(90 min FWH)
1.00 oz simco(90 min FWH)
1.00 oz Chinook (15 min)
0.45 kg Honey last 10 minutes of boil
1.00 oz Amarillo Gold(3 min)
1.00 oz Simcoe(3 min)
2.00 oz Amarillo Gold(1 min)
2.00 oz Simcoe (1 min)
2.00 oz Amarillo Gold(Flame out)
1.50 oz Chinook (Flame out)
2.00 oz Simcoe (Flame out)
1.00 oz Williamette [5.50 %] (Flame out)
0.95 oz Orange Peel, Bitter (Boil 5.0 min)
2.00 items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 15.0 min)
3.1 oz Whisky barrel Oak Chips ( 5 days)
1.5oz simco dry hop (5 days)
1.5 oz amarillo dry hop (5 days)
US-05 and Whiteshield Yeasts
ABV 6.2%
IBU 105

You may look at the hop bill and wonder where the 'restraint' part of the recipe is. It is mostly(i hope) in the smoothness imparted from the FWH(First Wort Hops)and in addition the large amount of closed lid gentle boil aroma hops. Only time will tell.

2012 is the 100th Anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. This is of course not a date to celebrate. On the other hand, I will raise my glass to the fascination and inspiration that the Titanic awoke within me. Firsly as a small boy reading about her and now as a man brewing beer.

Reason 2
Its not boring and bland.At the weekend my family and i attended a BBQ at a friends house. I suggested that my contribuiton be 40 bottles of one of my beers instead of the usual burgers and stuff. The suggestion was jumped on so we arrived with a relatively light IPA named Mid-Atlantic IPA. The IPA went down very well and the final bottles were being worked over as myself and family left in a taxi.

A thought exercise to back up Reason 2.
Imagine that you attend a party with a slab of SOL/Stella/Carling/Budweiser/Coors lager or similar. You drop off the slab in the beer area and go with partner to mingle.

How many times during that party will people single you out to ask about the lager you brought?
How many times will you apologise to your wife for speaking about the beer(after people ask) even though you have promised not to while getting ready for the party.

How many people will ask what Lager is?

The last one amazed me. People don't know what IPA is. There have been many books written about the rise and demise of IPA and i'm sure you'll agree that there's no need to badly plagiarise these works here!
If you would like to learn more about the style and the times it was developed in you could do a lot worse than to pick up a copy of CAMRA Homebrew Classics IPA. The benefit i receive from giving this book a plug is the happy knowledge that with this action i may turn somebody onto a new beer style and that's all the reason i need! Unless you click on the Amazon link below and buy the book of course. :) This book continues to be my IPA bible and a great source of ireas. My current copy is looking rather dog eared!

India Pale Ale: Homebrew Class (Homebrew classics)

Damn the Expense Mid Atlantic IPA(12.5 gallon batch)
5.80 kg Pale Malt
2.50 kg Wheat Malt
2.00 kg Munich Malt
0.55 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt - 40L
4.50 oz Northdown (90 min)
1.00 oz Goldings, East Kent (12 min)
0.50 oz Goldings, East Kent (10 min)
1.00 oz Goldings, East Kent (5 min)
1.00 oz Cascade (1 min)
1.00 oz Goldings, East Kent (1 min)
0.80 oz Bramling Cross (1 min)
1.00 oz Amarillo Gold (Flame out)
1.00 oz Simcoe [13.00 %] (Flame out)
2.00 items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 15.0 min)
30.00 gm Gypsum
US-05 Yeast 24Grms
ABV 4.4% 55IBU's

Reason 3
The depth breadth that can be brewed within the style.India Pale Ale is a style of beer i fell in love with many years ago without realising it. At the time It was just another pint that i'd try now and then when i was out and about in the 80's drinking bottled Beck's etc. I'd think 'WOW, nice pint' and then back onto the Beck's. Fast Forward to the 90's and early Noughties and one of the few IPA's that could be found on Draught in Scotland was Deuchars. Luckily for me Deuchars take the time to craft a fine balanced Lowish ABV(for an IPA) decently Hopped pint of IPA so my love for the style was rekindled. Fast forward another couple of years and i find am deeply entrenched in British Micro Brewed beers with a big smile on my face!

I had not started brewing at this point but the IPA products of the UK microbrewery machine caught my attention(again). I then started brewing my own IPA's and quickly realised that in comparison even the best intentioned commercial IPA is hamstrung by the dreaded 'price per pint' limit. I am a fan of 50IBU IPA's all the way up to theoretical 200IBU IPA's and beyond. Sadly due to the 'price per pint' limitation 50IBU's and lower are the plane of just about all the UK IPA's. The brave few IPA's that go above 50IBU are mostly from the other side of the pond.

There we have it people, without going off all evangelical about it the third reason(to my mind) is the best. The sheer depth and breadth of a 'proper' IPA cannot be beat. As i don't have any 'price per pint' limits i can brew totally for end product and consumer(me and my mates) impact. This opens up all the recipes that are out there from IPA's heyday when the brewers would go truly over the top in ABV and hops. Also within my grasp are the IPA recipes from the brewers across the pond. In my case i draw inspiration from these recipes and go my own way knowing i can always fall back on the happy thought that No matter how extreme my IPA recipes seems today(compared to commercial) there's a guy from 200 year ago who would tell me i'm not trying hard enough!

I'll leave you with my current personal favourite. This was an 8.5 gallon batch which placed nicely in my IPA range with an ABV of 5.8% and an IBU of 75. In the spirit of adventure which i think is inherent in any IPA i have deliberately not given any details on my brewing process for these IPA's. I hope you'll take this as its meant and use the recipes as inspiration for your own creations!

Vulcan long Mash IPA
4.60 kg Pale Malt
1.00 kg Munich Malt
1.00 kg Vienna Malt
0.70 kg Wheat Malt,
0.60 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt - 40L
0.20 kg Wheat, Torrified
0.15 kg Chocolate Malt
2.50 oz First Gold (90 min)
1.00 oz First Gold(15 min)
1.00 oz Amarillo Gold(5 min)
1.00 oz Simcoe(5 min)
0.75 oz Amarillo Gold(4 min)
0.50 oz Amarillo Gold(3 min)
1.00 oz Simcoe(1 min)
1.25 oz Amarillo Gold(1 min)
2.50 items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 15.0 min)
25.00 gm Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate)
2 pkts US 05 yeast

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