I've never brewed an English IPA, but it's a beer style I've always wanted to tackle. I've had a few English IPAs over the years, but most of them were American versions (e.g. Brooklyn East India Pale Ale, Goose Island IPA); I've also had a couple of great ones from England (one standout to me is Thornbridge Jaipur IPA) and some homebrewed ones that were quite good. Like an American IPA, today's English IPAs exhibit a good amount of hop character and bitterness, but generally showcase more fruitiness due to the use of English yeast. Where they generally differ from American IPAs, however, is that their hop character and bitterness are less pronounced; the hops are definitely there, but there's more of a malt presence in the beer's qualities compared to the American take on the style.
Notice that I said "today's" English IPAs. Some people have put in a lot of research around English IPAs of the past (especially Ron Pattinson over at his blog, Shut Up About Barclay Perkins); it's definitely a fascinating topic when you start doing a bit of reading. Many of these beers were much hoppier and more bitter back in the day where shipping beer took a lot longer; Mitch Steele's book IPA: Brewing Techniques, Recipes and the Evolution of India Pale Ale has an extensive section on the history of this topic. And in the recipe section of that book, he includes several recipes for recreations of historic IPAs.
Like I said, I've been meaning to brew an English IPA for awhile, and I've also been interested in brewing another SMaSH (single malt and single hop) beer, too. One of the recipes in Steele's book - which, coincidentally, was provided by Ron Pattinson - that caught my eye was for Reid's 1839 IPA. Reid was a brewery based in London in the 19th century; they eventually merged with the Watney brewery in 1898. The recipe calls for 100% Maris Otter, a British pale malt known for giving lots of biscuity flavors in beer, more-so than your typical North American 2-row base malt. The recipe also involves several large additions of the Fuggle hop, an English aroma hop that exhibits grassy and floral aromas. Luckily, I had a very large amount of Fuggles on hand from last year's crop, so this seemed like a perfect English IPA to brew!
As I mentioned, the beer is 100% Maris Otter. Not uncommon for an English IPA, especially one from the 19th century. What DOES strike me a bit odd is the mash temp for this beer... 158 F! That's pretty high; I'm not sure that I've ever brewed a beer with such a high mash temp. Thinking about it, though, I can't say I'm TOO surprised; I assume this high mash temp is to leave behind some unfermentable sugars to give the beer a higher FG so that it doesn't come out too dry, and to provide a bit of character in a beer that doesn't have any specialty malts. I actually DID add some acid malt to the mash, but not to provide character. I recently began using the EZ Water Calculator, which is an excellent site that helps you estimate your mash pH based on the actual ingredients and amounts in your recipe. I added enough acid malt (about 4%) to bring my mash pH hopefully down to a better number, around 5.4.
|Lots of hops for an English IPA|
Still, I expect that this beer will have a very decent hop aroma and flavor... and a heck of a lot of bitterness. My calculated IBUs came to 93 when the hops were adjusted for age, but the recipe in Steele's book actually calls for about 120 IBUs. I could have upped my amounts to get to that target, but I figured 93 IBUs was enough... that's an IBU/OG ratio of 1.63, which is really high.
When discussing fermentation for this beer, the book's recipe calls for Wyeast 1028 London Ale or its White Lab equivalent (WLP013), or Danstar's Nottingham Dry Ale Yeast. I would have much preferred to use Wyeast's liquid yeast, here. I'm not being liquid yeast-snotty, but Nottingham is usually considered to give a fairly clean profile, compared to this description for Wyeast 1028: "A rich mineral profile that is bold and crisp with some fruitiness." But, living in Fredericton and wanting to brew on the fly, your options are severely limited... it would have taken a minimum of 3 weeks to get the 1028, so Nottingham it is. Luckily, a beer this well-hopped probably wouldn't allow a lot of yeast character to shine through, anyway. We'll see.
As for the water, the recipe didn't specify any targets to hit, or specific adjustments to make. On reflection, I should have tried to emulate the water profile of London, where the brewery was originally based, but I just ended up adding 8 grams of gypsum to the mash, to increase the calcium and sulfate numbers and hopefully provide a bit more hop bite to the beer.
Should be an interesting beer if it turns out; at the very least, a good way to showcase the Fuggle hop. I'll likely dry-hop directly in primary since it's a single addition, so hopefully I'll be drinking this beer
early in 2014.
Recipe targets: (5.5 gallons, 75% efficiency) OG 1.057, FG ~1.014, IBU ~93, SRM 5.1, ABV ~5.7%
Grains & Other:
4.86 kg (96%) Maris Otter
200 g (4%) Acid malt
Fuggles - 80 g (4.3% AA) @ 75 min
Fuggles - 80 g @ 30 min
Fuggles - 78 g @ 15 min
Fuggles - 35 g dry-hop for 5 days
Misc.: 1/2 tab Irish moss @ 5 min
Yeast: Danstar Nottingham, 1 package, rehydrated
Water: Fredericton city water, carbon-filtered; 8 grams gypsum in the mash
- Brewed on December 10th, 2013, by myself. 60-minute mash with 18.5 L of strike water, mashed in at target temp of 158 F. Mashed-out with 5.5 L of boiling water. Sparged with ~3.5 gallons of 168 F water for final volume of ~7 gallons.
- SG 1.045, just above target of 1.044. 75-minute boil. Final volume 5.5 gallons. Chilled down to 64 F, then poured/filtered (lots of hop sludge, of course) into Better Bottle. OG on target at 1.057. Aerated with 60 seconds of pure O2, pitched rehydrated yeast. Placed BB in laundry room, ambient temp about 66 F.
- 11/12/13 - Airlock bubbling almost every second in the morning, temp 66 F. In PM, same activity, temp up to 68 F.
- 12/12/13 - Temp 70 F, airlock slowing down a bit, bubbling every 2 seconds.
- 13/12/13 - Airlock activity already seems to have stopped, temp dropped down to 65 F. I have a hard time keeping the temp up this time of year in this area of the house; probably should have moved the fermentor to a warmer room when activity visibly slowed.
- 22/12/13 - Took gravity reading of 1.020... crap! I assume this is due to the yeast conking out a bit early due to temperature?
- 23/12/13 - Added dry hops directly into primary fermentor.
- 30/12/13 - Bottled with 76 g table sugar, aiming for 2 vol CO2 for 4.5 gallons, max temp of 70 F reached. Crossing my fingers and hoping for no gushers/bottle bombs.
- 20/1/14 - Tasting notes... not bad at all, despite the high FG, but the body is a bit too full, and the beer definitely would have benefited from being fermented with a more characterful yeast.