Sunday, 6 May 2012

Brewing an American IPA : My NHC replacement beer

I consider myself very lucky, as a beer-lover, to have been able to visit San Diego for a beer trip last September. I'm also lucky to have been able to try, both on tap and bottled, the Alpine Beer Co. Duet, a fantastic American IPA. I was also lucky enough to have been given some brief notes on the recipe for this beer by the owner/brewmaster of Alpine, and made a homebrewed clone-attempt in early January. While almost impossible to compare it to the real Duet since I don't have access to it here in Canada, I still enjoyed the result enough to enter it into the ALES Open in Saskatchewan this month, which is the Canadian qualifier for the final round of the National Homebrewing Competition in June.

Ok, so I was lucky once more! The beer won a bronze medal in the IPA category (my Oktoberfest also won a gold in the European Amber Lager category), which means that it can now move on to the final round of the NHC. However, my "clone" has already been bottled for over 2 months, and its wonderful hop aroma and flavor is fading as we speak. I would never even hope to win a medal at the NHC, let alone in a category as competitive as IPA, but if you're going to enter, you might as well go for broke, right? While I would love to be able to brew the exact same recipe again, both Simcoe and Amarillo hops - which are used in equal amounts in this beer - are in very short supply right now. I may be able to find them through online ordering, but I don't have the time for them to be delivered to Canada, brew up a new batch, and have it finished in time to ship to the NHC. I'm down to 3 oz of Simcoe on hand, and I'm completely out of Amarillo.

So, I decided to brew a new American IPA recipe. You're actually allowed to do this... as long as it's a beer in the same category for what you've qualified for, you can change whatever you want, brew a whole new recipe, enter in a different subcategory, etc. I kept the grist close to the same as the Duet clone, except I split the base grains into both 2-row AND Maris Otter, and upped the Crystal and took out the Victory malt. I also added 5 g of gypsum to the mash to try to accentuate the hop bite a little.

I DID make some more noticeable changes in the hop schedule, however. I made a larger Magnum addition at the beginning of the boil to increase the IBUs for the beer, and instead of equal Simcoe/Amarillo throughout the boil, I went with equal Crystal/Centennial at 10 minutes and flameout (with a 10-minute whirlpool before chilling). Once fermentation is complete, I plan on splitting the batch in two, and dry-hopping one half with Simcoe/Citra, and the other half with Columbus/Nugget. I imagine I'll enter the Simcoe/Citra half, but I'll try to taste both and make my mind up then.

Mash temps, boil length, yeast, and fermentation temperatures are otherwise the same as for the Duet clone. I'm hoping for a good beer; while it may not come out as good as the Duet clone, I should still have lots of IPA on hand for the summer, medal or no medal!

Recipe targets: (5.5 gallons, 75% efficiency): OG 1.066, FG 1.012, IBU 54, SRM 8.4, ABV 7%

Grains & Other:
2.27 kg Canadian 2-row
2.27 kg Maris Otter
454 g Wheat malt
304 g Caramunich II (45 L)
150 g Crystal 30 L
114 g Acid malt
227 g table sugar

Magnum - 29 g (9% AA - adj. for age) @ 60 min
Magnum - 14 g (11.6% AA) @ 60 min
Centennial - 28 g (7% AA - adj. for age) @ 10 min
Crystal - 28 g (1.8% AA - adj. for age) @ 10 min
Centennial - 28 g @ 0 min, whirlpool for 10 min
Crystal - 28 g @ 0 min, whirlpool for 10 min
Citra/Simcoe - 42 g each dry-hop in 1/2 batch, for 7 days
Columbus/Nugget - 42 g each dry-hop in 1/2 batch, for 7 days

1/2 tsp yeast nutrient @ 15 min
1/2 tab Irish Moss @ 5 min

Yeast: US-05 Safale, rehydrated

Water: Fredericton city water, carbon-filtered; mash water treated with 5 g of Gypsum

- Brewed April 22, 2012 by myself. 60-minute mash with 14.5 L of strike water, mashed in at 150 F. Mashed out with 9.25 L of ~203 F water to 168 F. Sparged with ~3 gallons of 168 F water for final volume of 6.75 gallons in the kettle. 60-minute boil. Chilled to 65 F with immersion chiller. OG 1.061 (so, 1.065 after sugar addition in fermenter). Poured into Better Bottle. Pitched yeast at 65 F, aerated by shaking for several minutes before and after.

- 23/4/12 - In AM, airlock hardly bubbling at all, temp 64 F. Increased temperature in the room. By PM, bubbling almost every second, temp up to 66 F.

- 24/4/12 - In AM, bubbling more than every second, temp 68 F. When it started to slow a bit in the evening, added sugar (boiled in ~1 cup of water and then cooled).

- 25/4/12 - In AM, airlock blown off carboy, temp still 68 F. Activity gradually slowed again by evening.

- 6/5/12 - Gravity reading of 1.014. Racked beer into two 3-gallon carboys (about 10 L each) and dry-hopped as indicated in recipe. Left in room at room temperature.

- 15/5/12 - Bottled 2 days late, both halves with 59 g table sugar each, aiming for 2.5 vol CO2 for 2.5 gallons, max temp 68 F reached.

- 7/8/12 - NHC Final Round results... 

- 4/9/12 - Finally got around to posting the tasting notes. Both dry-hop versions are good IPAs, but they play second fiddle to the Duet clone.