Beer 31: Buttery, Shitty, Black IPA

I was in the Taco Bell drive-thru with my brewing buddy Rob, after drinking some of his tasty East Coast style IPA. I was so full. For the first time in my adult life, I didn’t order anything from Taco Bell. Not a crunch wrap, not a Nachos Bel Grande, not even a Chipotle Griller for God’s sake. My belly was just too full, unusually so. I should have known something was up.

This beer suffers from diacetyl, a buttered popcorn aroma and flavor. The first day it was pretty good actually, but a day or two later: totally shit. With a little research, I found that diacetyl not only tastes like popcorn, it actually makes you full, which explains the first 3 days of drinking it and the Taco Bell nightmare. For commercial brewers, it’s not profitable to have diacetyl in the beer for this very reason – people won’t drink enough of your shitty beer.

Black IPAs fall into three camps. First, IPAs that happen to be black in color. Not my cup of tea. What’s the point? – it sets an expectation and then fails. Second, Stouts that are bitter but have no aroma. These are not bad, but not really IPAs. Third, a good Black IPA needs to be roasty and hoppy at the same time, malty and dark with a bright citrus or tropical aroma. I love Stouts. I love IPAs. It’s a good match.

I’ve made about 3 Black IPAs over the years, one of which I remember being quite good. It was roasty and hoppy. This beer, on paper, looking at the hops, would be a kick ass black session IPA. I was excited. Until I tasted the butter.


What Caused the Butter?
After my last butter lager, you think I would have learned my lesson. All beers create diacetyl during fermentation – it happens every time, no matter what. However, after fermentation, if you let the yeast “clean up” the diacetyl, by resting the beer at 72F or 75F for a few days, then you control it. This is called a “diacetyl rest.” I didn’t do it for my buttery lager, and I didn’t do it for this Black IPA. What the fuck am I doing? With brewdays under 2 hours, you would think I had the patience to let the beer sit. I’ll be more careful in the future to make sure (a) fermentation is complete and (b) the beer rests at 75 for a couple days.

The good news is that the One Pot Method probably isn’t the cause, at least I don’t think so. 30 minute boils don’t cause diacetyl, from what I understand (they cause DMS).

For what’s it’s worth, the recipe:

Black IPA
5 lb 2-row
3.3 lb Munich
.8 lb Roasted Barley
.6 lb. Carm/Crystal 80
1 oz Magnum (FW, 30 minute boil)
2 oz Glacier (FO)
Equinox DH 3 days
Centenial DH
Citra DH
Simcoe DH
Mosaic DH
US-05 yeast

started with 9 gallons water. added 2 tsp Gypsum / 1 tsp Calcium Cloride
mash 30 minutes, boil 30 minutes
chilled with wort chiller for 5 minutes, finished in ferm chamber

Beer 12: unique Black IPA

Most black IPAs are nothing more than IPAs with black color. For example, add some dehusked Carafa II. I didn’t want that. I also didn’t want a super tropical, citrus IPA, because I think the dark color doesn’t match the flavor. So I added a pound of Roasted Barley and picked hops with more depth, like Summit: spice, earthy, onion, garlic and citrus. And Glacier, described as ‘herbal’ and ‘woody’. I wanted a malty, complex, yet hoppy IPA for the winter. This did not disappoint.


It’s brown in color, and tastes sorta like a hoppy Brown (or is the color telling me that?), but I get a clear roast character (Brown’s don’t have Roasted Barley, as far as I remember). Anyway, it has a big pleasant hop aroma, from the Centential and Simcoe I’m guessing, and the complex hop flavors blend nicely with the three malts. It’s good. This is still very young, I think it will peak in a week or so.

Black IPA
Nov. 20
(30 minute mash)
10 lb 2 Row
3.5 lb Munich
1 lb Roasted Barley
1 oz Warrior FW (30 minute boil)
3 oz Summit DH 2 days
2 oz Glacier DH 2 days
2 oz Centenial DH 2 days
1 oz Simcoe DH 2 days
Safale 05

let sit outside for 20 minutes in cold weather, got down to 175F
Put in cold fridge, next day at 2:00 it was down to 95F
Nov 22: forgot to pitch last night, so pitched in the morning @65F
11/23: noticed krusen foaming
11/27: gravity is 1010, raised temp from 65 to 70
11/28: cold crashed and dry hopped
11/29: down to 48F
12/1: bottled 64 beers

Super Fast Carbonation…I’m confused now
This beer magically carbonated in 4-5 days. That was after cold crashing and using gelatin. If you recall, many of my other beers have taken 2 weeks, 3 weeks, even 4 weeks, which has been a real pain. For example I’ve been waiting on a Belgian Dubbel for over 3 weeks now…still flat).  I think length of cold crashing has something to do with it. The longer you cold crash, the longer to carbonate. The Belgian beer was cold crashing for over a week; the black IPA, only a few days. OR the black IPA didn’t ferment completely, in which case it will be over-carbonated in a week – hope not. I’m actually considering going back to the old days of not cold crashing or using gelatin.