In the past we've brewed hoppy beers with a number of strange characteristics (The Magic Carpet brewed entirely with Magic Hop Dust, and the Mad Hopper, a belgian IPA), but never before had we tried our hand at brewing a stand up American IPA. It's one of the most common (if not THE most common) styles of craft beer in America; everyone brews one—except for us. But now that's going to change. We're out to make the best damn IPA possible, no holds barred (and then probably turn it into a Belgian IPA, because obviously that's how we roll).
For help with this process, we enlisted some of the vets down at Bob's Homebrew shop. We wanted to consider hops we hadn't used much before, because Amarillo, Centennial, Saaz, and Styrian Goldings can only get you so far. Per their recommendation, we included Horizon, a stalwart dual-purpose hop known for clean bittering and an aroma that's terribly under-appreciated, and Citra, a new high alpha acid hop with pungent fruity flavors reminiscent of passionfruit. And, of course, we threw in Centennial to round it out.
So, without further ado, here's the recipe:
Batch Size: 2.5 gal
Boil Volume: 3.5 gal
Calculated OG: 1.071
Measured FG: 1.012
Estimated ABV: 7.7
Calculated IBUs (Tinseth): 51
Pitching Temperature: 72F
Yeast: Wyeast American Ale 1056
Fermentation vessel: Bucket
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The brewing went entirely to plan. We decided to try increasing mash efficiency by sparging the crystal in a second pot of water taken from the boil kettle at ~160 degrees Fahrenheit. The fermentation vessel used was one of our original buckets from Hampshire, and it had a couple of small nicks and scratches on the inside. Hopefully this did not impact sanitation.
Added the sugar on 8/14/11.
Dry hopped on 8/17/11 with 1oz of Citra, 1.5oz of Horizon, and 0.5oz of Centennial.
Bottled on 8/29/11 with dark green caps.
We expected this beer to be a bit more bitter, as we were shooting for 84 IBUs. What we've found is that our IBU calculator has a bug, and the IBUs in this beer were closer to 50. The next one should be a bit more bitter, with a calculated 150 IBUs.
On the other hand, the flavor of this beer is exquisite, especially when it was fresh. Lots of mango and pineapple aroma, with a bit of honey sweetness in the finish. In retrospect, I appreciate this beer more as an imperial pale ale, rather than an IPA. It has the strength of a double IPA, but is as near as approachable as a pale ale due to its lower bitterness.