Thursday, 26 January 2017

Northeast Double IPA (with five hop varieties)

Because five hop varieties is better than four, right?!?

No, of course it isn't, and anyone who reads this blog even semi-regularly probably knows that I don't usually use more than 2-3 hop varieties in any beer, with a few exceptions (namely clone recipes that I put together, where I know that the beer in question contains more than a couple of different hops).

The day after brewing my Experimental Sour entry for the 4th Annual Big Spruce Home Brew Competition - a Gose dry-hopped with Chinook and grapefruit zest - I brewed my entry for the Imperial IPA category. I don't normally do back-to-back brew days, but in this case I didn't have a lot of choice. It's difficult brewing these styles of beers for competitions - you really have to time it well, so that your beer is definitely ready in time to have it entered, but also, you don't want it ready TOO early, when you're talking about a style that is better fresh.

I should say right off that if you're brewing a DIPA for a BJCP-certified competition, brewing it in the style of a Northeast version - pale-coloured, cloudy, low bitterness - probably isn't the best idea, if you're really trying to win. Why enter if you're not trying to really win? Great question, you've got me in a box here. In this case, I guess I just really wanted to brew what I like to drink; with several bottles going to the competition, that's a lot of beer leftover. And I'm just no longer a fan of sweet-tasting, Crystal-laden, extremely-bitter DIPAs. So, I thought I'd brew a beer that I knew I'd like (on paper, anyway), enter it, and see what the judges thought.

The grist you see below is basically an amalgamation of several hoppy recipes I've brewed and enjoyed: 2-row and Pilsner malt, with almost equal amounts of Flaked Oats, Carapils and Wheat malt, plus my usual ~2% of Acid malt for mash pH adjustment purposes. Mashed low at 149 F to keep the beer dry, it is, as you can see, purposefully devoid of any real Crystal malts, resulting in a calculated SRM of just 4.5. The BJCP lists the range for DIPA as 6-14, which is pretty wide. Whenever I pour a new-to-me DIPA and see it on the higher end of that range, I cringe, as I'm usually expecting a Crystal-y, low-hop aroma to follow (which isn't always the case, of course, but...). I also added a good portion of table sugar to help dry out the beer further, which I boiled in a bit of water, cooled, and added to the carboy when primary fermentation showed signs of slowing.

As I mentioned above, I don't normally use more than 2-3 hop varieties in a beer, but I had come up with a combination that I was looking to try. I've been enjoying Chinook lately (which I used in the mentioned Gose and a 100%-Chinook Session IPA), and have always been a fan of Columbus (CTZ), so I decided to throw an ounce of each in at 10 minutes. At flameout, more Chinook for a hop steep, along with one of my favourites, Galaxy. After that steep, and when my immersion chiller began its job, I added two other favourites, Nelson Sauvin and Simcoe. I knew from my own experience and many commercial beers that these hops work together well, so I finally went with a single, fairly-large dry-hop addition of the big three, Galaxy, Nelson and Simcoe. With a small Polaris addition at the beginning of the boil, the total calculated IBUs comes in around 65, at the low end of the BJCP range of 60-120.

It probably comes as no surprise that I fermented this beer with London Ale III, which seems to be the go-to yeast now for many northeast hoppy style beers; I'm no exception, as I think it's a great strain for hoppy beers. Once again, I knew that the resulting cloudiness could easily be a negative factor for the judges, if they were judging strictly by-the-book. However, I also know that a lot of BJCP judges probably enjoy a DIPA that is cloudy and pale... and I've never had any problems with a beer coming out cloudy with LAIII - it's pretty much a guarantee when I ferment with it. Throw in an addition of Flaked Oats, and it's probably going to be even cloudier.

This one was brewed in mid-October, the day after the Gose, and kegged on November 8th (Election Day). I definitely didn't have to leave it this long before kegging, but I was doing my best to time its readiness for the competition. I was, from the start, quite happy with how it turned out - yes, it was cloudy, and yes, the bitterness wasn't extreme, but the beer had a very nice (to me) blend of tropical fruit and pine. Creamy, smooth mouthfeel, slightly warming from the alcohol, but still goes down easy. Was it the best DIPA I've ever brewed? No, but it was far from the worst, too.

Like my Gose, however, this beer did not place in the competition. While it received better scores than the Gose did, the judges commented that the beer's colour was too light, and that it wasn't bitter enough. And they're exactly right, by BJCP standards. So I definitely was not surprised by the results. Luckily, though, I really liked the beer! It hung around on tap for a couple of months before finally kicking just the other day.

So, for a DIPA that I brew for me, this was a good beer. I'd definitely brew another DIPA with the same grist, and maybe play around with the hops a little (of course), and likely dial it back to 3 varieties instead of 5. But if you've got these ones on hand and were looking for a new DIPA to brew, I think I can safely recommend this one.

Recipe Targets: (5.5 gallons, 75% efficiency) OG 1.074, FG ~1.014, IBU ~65, SRM 4.5, ABV ~8%

Grains & Sugars:
2.8 kg (42.9%) Canadian 2-row
1.8 g (27.6%) Bohemian Pilsner
500 g (7.7%) Flaked Oats
475 g (7.3%) Carapils
475 g (7.3%) Wheat malt
125 g (1.9%) Acid malt
+ 350 g (5.4%) Table sugar (added when fermentation slows)

Polaris - 7 g (17.7% AA) @ 60 min
Chinook - 28 g (13.7% AA) @ 10 min
CTZ - 28 g (10.9% AA) @ 10 min

Chinook & Galaxy - 42 g each @ 0 min (with a 20 min hop steep)

Nelson Sauvin & Simcoe - 28 g each when started chilling

Galaxy, Nelson Sauvin, Simcoe - 42 g each dry-hop for 5 days (in primary)

Yeast: Wyeast 1318 London Ale III

Water: Fredericton city water, carbon-filtered; 8 g Gypsum and 10 g calcium chloride added to mash

- Brewed on October 18th, 2016, by myself. 50-minute mash with 15 L of strike water; mash temp on target of 150 F. Mashed-out for 10 minutes with 8.25 L of boiling water to 168 F. Sparged with ~3.25 gallons of 168 F water for final volume of ~6.75 gallons.

- Pre-boil gravity at 1.055. 60-minute boil. Final volume ~5.5 gallons; OG 1.074 (taking future sugar additions into account). Chilled to 64 F, then poured into Better Bottle. Aerated with 90 seconds of pure O2, pitched yeast at 64 F.

- High activity in the airlock the next morning after pitching; unfortunately, it was quite warm outside during this period, and I didn't try to keep the temps down with water, ice, etc., so over the next couple of days the temperature climbed to 75 F - much higher than my usual fermentation. Luckily, it was pitched low and climbed only gradually.

- When fermentation began to show signs of slowing, the sugar was added in two halves (about 12-16 hours apart) after being boiled and cooled in water.

- 31/10/16 - FG 1.015. Dry-hopped in primary the next day.

- 8/11/16 - Kegged and force-carbed for 36 hours at 30 PSI.

Appearance: Pours with a light-golden colour in the body, medium-sized white head, sticky and holds on for awhile before fading. Very hazy.

Aroma: Nice blast of tropical fruit, pine, with some of that Nelson-specific white wine character coming through. No real malt character here, it's all hops, as wanted and expected.

Taste: Again, hops all the way, but I find the malt supports them enough so that it doesn't come across as astringent or overbearing. Lots of fruit, juicy. Medium bitterness in the finish, dry.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied, creamy; medium carbonation.

Overall: I really enjoyed this beer; I'm a big fan of the creamy body yet dry finish, and the hop combo works quite well.


  1. Sounds like you might have scored better if you had entered it as a 21B with the description of "Double-strength; NE IPA".

  2. Love the name of it as seen on your whiteboard.