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.

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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

notes
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.

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Bottling Nightmare, Oxidized Beer: Cardboard Double IPA?

So the maiden voyage with my upgraded system went smoothly, very smoothly. This was an all gain, BIAB, no sparge, 5 gallon beer. Smooth. Until bottling day. After dry hopping with over a pound of hops, some whole cones that picked myself, some from a friend, I proceeded to cold crash for a day, then added gelatin. Then, not being excited by the hop character, I added 6 more ounces of hop pellets (I think the harvested hops weren’t dryed correctly). I waited another day and said fuck it: I’m bottling this bitch.

You know where this is going. With all the shit floating everywhere, the bottling spigot got clogged. I couldn’t unclog it. So I frantically got out out my stupid ass “auto-siphon” and cleaned the stupid ass plastic tubes (which were nasty because they are impossible to dry). I tried siphoning to another vessel. After blowing a shit load of oxygen into the beer, the siphon got clogged too, reminding me how much of a piece of shit these things are. I said fuck it. I’m going to just pour the beer into another vessel. So I did (a 7.5 gallon aluminum pot that also has a spigot for bottling..the one I previously used before upgrading).

Splish, splash, splash! Wee!

Then, cold crashed for a few days, making sure all the gunk got below the spigot line. Finally, bottled, for the second time.  At this point, with all the oxygen, I had pretty much given up on this Harvest Double IPA, so my bottling technique was sloppy to say the least. More oxygen. I ended up with 37 beers instead of 50. I thought: hey, at least this will be a good experiment. Will all this oxygen ruin the taste of a DIPA?

To my surprise, no.

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My wife tried the first bottle. She said it was really good. I agreed. I tried a few more. Citrus, topical, hoppy, light, crisp, not too bitter, not too velvety on the tongue, can’t taste the alcohol. I taste a lot of Centenial and Cascade. I’m not going to include the recipe because I don’t know what hops I used or how much (my friend, who gave me the hops, didn’t know what kind….I’m guessing Cascade from the taste).

Oxygen and Bottling
I’m convinced that, if you drink your beer fresh, oxygen is not that big of a deal. Otherwise this would taste bad. In the spirit of science, I would love to keep a few bottles, and see how they taste after a month, or two, or three.

But why the fuck would I do that?

One Pot Brewing, Experiment Five: Red IPA and Dry Hop Aroma

With four ounces of dry hops, I thought the aroma would be a punch in the face. Not so. It’s there, but not strong. More on that later. But, to sum up, another victory for One Pot Brewing. The taste is great. The hop character is deep and dominant, the Simcoe shines through as orange and bright. The Caramel 20 makes it juicy, which I recommend. A previous version of this recipe, with only 2 Row and Roasted Barley, came out too dry. I would like it to be more red but, so far, this is as red as I can get a beer. A touch more Roasted Barley perhaps? Red Kool-Aid? Deer blood?

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Red IPA  7.3%
11 lb. 2 Row
.5 lb. Car/Crys 20
4 oz. Roasted Barley
——————
1 oz Simcoe FWH
1oz Centential 20m
2 oz Simcoe DH 5 days
2 oz Centenial DH 5 days
——————-
Safale 05

Dry Hop Aroma
Back to aroma. Based on this beer, I am left with two questions: (1) does head space in a fermenter affect hop aroma? In other words, picture dry hopping the same beer in a 5, 7, and 10 gallon vessel respectively. Would the 5 gallon vessel produce a better aroma? Does the hop aroma get eaten up by the head space? And (2) does the type of seal affect hop aroma? Some people use plastic buckets with a super tight seal (hurts your fingers to take it off!). Others use carboys with a plug. As for me, because I don’t have an air tight top for my 7.5 gallon aluminum stock pot, I simply cover it with aluminum foil, which seems air tight. However, for this beer I got lazy. I accidentally poked a hole and, lazily, rather than replacing the entire sheet of foil, patched it up with another piece of foil. It probably wasn’t air tight. I’m guessing that might be the cause, but I’m looking forward to brewing more dry hopped IPAs to see how they turn out. If this becomes an issue, I would have to transfer my big IPAs into secondary vessels…never!!!!

Third Time Using One Pot Brewing: Killer Double IPA

As I’m still waiting for my Belgian Tripel to fully carbonate, I dub this beautiful beer my third experiment in One Pot Brewing. Let’s cut to the chase: this is one of the tastiest beers I’ve ever made. I would choose it over most commercial examples, including Bell’s Hopslam (but probably not the best of all: New Belgian’s Rampant.)

Double IPA   8.4%   $34
11 lb. 2-row
1 lb. Munich
1 lb. Corn Sugar
—–
1 oz. Centenial FWH
2 oz. Centenial FO
2 oz Centential DH 5 days
1 oz whole cone Centential DH 5 days
1 oz Cascade DH 5 days
1 oz whole cone Cascade 5 days
——-
San Diego Super Yeast

For this beer, I was looking for an amped up Two Hearted Ale with a touch of Cascade. A distinct crispness, which might come from the whole cone hops, or the Cascade hops, which complements the carbonic bite and makes it refreshing and drinkable. It’s dryer than a lot of commercial DIPAs and oddly drinks like an IPA, with touch of sweetness makes you thirstier. The hops smell a little sweet and pack a big solitary flavor. After making several Centenial-only IPAs, I love the combination of Centenial and Cascade. Cascade seems to lighten it up, make it more crisp and piney, for lack of better terms. As for barley, normally I do straight up 2-row for DIPAs, but the 1 lb. Munich malt addition really adds a malty backbone and give it a little color and body, which I enjoy. It’s not watery. Okay, I’m done: I feel like a fucking idiot writing all that nonsense. I still think words like “piney” and “dank” are very odd and, after drinking a ton of IPAs, I still don’t really understand them to be honest. It’s a good IPA, okay? Trust me.

The clarity is good, but I did notice the bottom of the bottle had a little junk in the trunk (nothing compared to what it used to be like). Probably due to dry hopping with whole cone hops, something I wanted to try – but man it’s a pain in the ass. They float on top of the fermenter, get in the way of the gelatin; but man they taste good.

Carbonation…Wait…Times
Before using gelatin to clear my beer, most of my beers would carbonate in 5 days or so. Gelatin works well to clarify beer, but bottle carbonation is taking much longer than before. Makes sense: there is simply less yeast in the bottle for the sugar to work on. Cold crashing is another factor. I’m bottling cold beer, which takes extra time to warm up. This DIPA, for example, took about 2 weeks to carb, while my Belgian Tripel is taking at least a month. Temperature fluctuations also might be a factor. If I had a temperature controlled chamber, I wonder if carbing would take less time? hmmm…we shall see.

Second time using One Pot Brewing: English IPA is not bad

For my second experiment in One Pot Brewing, I made an English IPA. It’s not bad. Drinkable, Maris Otter malty, crisp, hops are very subtle and one-dimensional, a tad sweeter than I normal like in beers (due to the yeast I’m guessing). But then again, I don’t really like English IPAs all that much. I like American IPAs. My wife made me do it. One time, we had a really good English IPA from Tapestry I believe, can’t remember the name – needless to say, this one doesn’t taste like that one. Don’t get me wrong: I will gladly drink it. I like the taste of Maris Otter, and the Biscuit malt seems to add a nice complexity (recipe below). The hop presence is very subtle and uninspiring. However, considering all the short cuts I took, I consider this beer a partial success.

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To review, there are several experiments, issues, short cuts, and variables going on here:

30 minute mash
Could have affected efficiency, I don’t know (I don’t measure), tastes right considering the yeast. Certainly isn’t too sweet for the style.

30 minute boil
Could have caused a slight butterscotch flavor, although I cannot taste it anymore, now that it’s fully carbed.

One Pot Brewing (using the same vessel for mash, boil, ferment, and bottle)
I see no problems here; certainly this beer is not infected in any way.

Fermenting in aluminum
After my first batch, I did worry about this a little. I thought I might possibly be tasting something metallic, but then I thought I might be tricking myself (my wife, for example, didn’t taste it); anyway, I know there is no metallic flavor in this beer. But this is something I will be tracking. Update: just cracked open a Belgian Tripel last night, which had zero metalic flavor as well.

Fermenting with a lot of head space
I put 5 gallons of unfermented beer in a 7.5 gallon vessel. So, at least 6 inches of head space I would say. Does this cause oxidation? I haven’t noticed any oxidized (=cardboard) flavors. I’m pretty confident that this is not an issue, from what I have heard from people who know a lot more than me (thanks Micha).

Bottling directly from a spigot
Again, I haven’t noticed problems. I do not use a bottling wand, I just carefully open the spigot and let the beer flow directly into the bottle, and then cap – of course I don’t splash or anything. I generally drink my beers within a month of two, so ageing is not something I’m interested in (unless I make a barely wine).

Using a really old yeast
The internet is always warning you not to use yeast that is over 1 or 2 months “old”. Well, I used a really old (about 6 months) Scotch Ale yeast slurry for this beer, collected and used in my usual way, which seemed appropriate for this beer. It fermented just fine. The beer is not too sweet. I’m guessing that the way in which I harvest yeast has something to do with it’s longevity – namely, that I allow a small amount of beer to rest on top of it; perhaps this allows it to feed and wake up after I bring it to room temperature (I’m speculating here).

Final Thoughts
After having a few last night, I don’t taste any noticeable off-flavors whatsoever, nor does my wife; nor does my friend, who is a brewer. If I brewed this again, I would somehow increase the hop character, maybe dry hop. Any suggestions?

English IPA  6.3%, 5 gal/44 beers, $24
10 lb Maris Otter
.7 lb White Wheat malt
.5 lb Carm. Crys 40L
.5 lb Biscuit malt
—————–
1 oz Challenger FW (30 m)
1 oz Kent Goldings (10)
1 oz Kent Goldings (FO)
1 oz Fuggles (FO)
——————
Scotch Ale Yeast