Beer 20: Dry, Bitter Belgian IPA

The concept for this beer was a hybrid of my two favorite beers: IPA and Belgian Tripel. The recipe can from Gordon Strong’s new recipe book. This is a good beer, and it came at the perfect time, as I was craving an IPA and Belgian Tripel, all at the same time. However, the beer’s not exactly what I expected, especially looking at the recipe. Clearly this is due to method, which I’ll talk about. What I really wanted and expected was a nice, dry, Belgian Tripel with a huge hop aroma and flavor. What I got is basically a Belgian Strong Ale with some bitterness and lemony hop flavor. Definitely not bad, and very drinkable, as any Belgian should be.


Belgian Tripel IPA
8.5 lb. Pilsner malt (Belgian)
2.8 lb. Vienna malt
2 lb. Cane Sugar
2 oz. Denali hops (FW, 30 min.)
3 oz. Denali (FO, no chill)
3 oz. Denali DH (3 days)
WLP 545 Belgian Strong Ale Yeast
4/16: brewed, took about 2 hours, no chill
4/17: 1:00 pitched at 75F
4/23: hydrometer reading 1.010 (sample tasted very bitter)
4/24: 1.008 (tasted less bitter) noticed slight sulfur smell, decided to let clean up for a couple days
4/26: Dry hopped 3 oz Denali
4/30: bottled 30 22 oz. beers

Why is this so bitter? Probably because of the ‘no chill’ method. The combination of high-alpha hops added at the end of the boil (flame out) with the no chill method added more bitterness than I wanted. With no chill, you have to be careful with the flame out hops; they continue to extract bitterness as they sit. The bigger mystery is why this beer doesn’t have a hop aroma. With three ounces of Denali dry hops, there should be a better aroma. Or, perhaps Denali isn’t good for aroma? I’m not sure. In hindsight, I would probably go with Simcoe instead.


3 thoughts on “Beer 20: Dry, Bitter Belgian IPA

  1. Andrew Shaver says:

    Hey Matt, I remember seeing your blog a while back.
    Awesome to see your passion into home brewing!

    Great recipe idea. Belgian IPA’S are one of my favorite styles.

    Your hop aroma, or lack there of, do you know how old your hops were? That may be the culprit. Older hops lose their aroma potential, especially certain varieties. Not sure about denali, I’ve never used those.

    Also, I’ve been having trouble with my IPA’S lately, and their aroma qualities. I think I’ve narrowed it down to my water profile. I’ve been trying to learn more about the water element content, and am going to go get a print out from the city to see how far off certain ratios are.

    Food for thought!
    If you ever come back to menominee soon, let me know! Let’s grab a beer and chat about it!
    (Also, there is a brewery opening up in Menominee this summer and I get the opportunity to be the assistant brewer! Yay!)


    • That’s so funny, I just realized you are Andrew Shaver from Menominee! I’m pretty sure we played baseball together at some point, maybe track too. I’m Matt Smith, I was a year or two older than you. Will Palestine be open by June 18th? If so, I’ll be there for sure. My sister’s getting married that weekend.

      I assumed the hops were fresh but not sure. They are a new hop variety but that doesn’t mean they were fresh. I agree 100% about water profile, I think it makes a real difference, especially in IPAs. I do add gypsum, that’s all, and haven’t honestly noticed a difference – but I don’t filter my water. Ideally I would run it through a brita-like charcoal filter (which is what Bell’s does). As you can tell, I’m an extreme minimalist when it comes to brewing and adding new equipment or processes. I’m mostly focused on making good beer fast and easy.

      Still, in the past, I’ve gotten pretty awesome hop aroma. I’ve wondered if my fermenter geometry – very short and fat – has anything to do with it, or the fact that it’s not air tight.

      When it comes to a great IPA, I always go back to Centenial and/or Cascade in high doses (first wort and dry hop) – those tend to be my best IPAs.

      Cheers Andrew


  2. Andrew says:

    I know who you are! Ya silly goose!
    And I should be around that weekend.
    That Palestine brewing company is the place where I “home brew ” in my friends garage. My friend Kris is opening up a brewery “Three Bridge Brewing” in menominee this summer. We don’t have any beers ready yet. But you should come check it out! If you had an extra day free we could go up and brew!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s