Feb 22, 2012

Brewing an IPA

So, at a homebrew meeting a few months back, someone brought in a Citra IPA (citra being the hops he used).  The beer was fantastic.  I'm not a beer judge, so I don't have all the fancy language to describe its flavor, but, just trust me, it was good.  At that moment, Eric and I decided we would try to brew a Citra IPA.

We worked out a recipe based off of our previous IPA batches, switched up the hops to include 80% citra, and went at it.  Round 1 went pretty well.  But we didn't nail it.  Our IPA was good, don't get me wrong, but it was too bitter.  The 20% "other" we used brought that bitterness to the party.  We decided to go for Round 2 and use 100% citra hops.  We reworked the recipe and took the list to the store.  Well, at Weak Knee Homebrew, they didn't have enough citra hops for what we wanted to do.  I had to make a judgement call on the fly and decided to pick up a couple of ounces of chinook hops.  Was that ever the right decision.

Round 2 was a great IPA.  It was hoppy, but not bitter; malty, but not sweet.  It was balanced and flavorful.  It was something that I would pay money to buy at a bar.  Which was something I hadn't said about any of my beers.  Well, maybe I did for the first batch, but that was novelty.  I've had a few brews under my belt since then and this beer was good.

All of this is a prologue to the fact that I brewed Round 3 yesterday, trying to emulate Round 2 as closely as possible.  What is the point of making a great beer if you can't reproduce it?  Also, it would be my first batch with the pump.  I wanted to use it for an extract batch before we went whole-hog with all-grain.

Our malt base is a combination of steeping grains (1 lb of Crystal 60 and .5 lbs of Cara-pils), dry malt extract (light color), and liquid wheat malt extract.  It isn't anything profound or new or exciting.  It is just a nice malt profile.  The wheat gives the finished beer some nice head retention.

For the hops, we use chinook and citra hops (2 ounces of each) in the boil.  The additions are spaced out every 10 minutes: 60, 50, 40, 30, 20, 10, and at flame out.  That gives 7 hop additions.  Take that Miller Lite and your "triple hopped" B.S.  Along with the additons in the boil, we dry hop with 2 ounces of citra hops in the secondary.  

The yeast is just Wyeast 1056, American Ale.  I usually make a starter, but yesterday was a little bit of a spur of the moment type of thing, so I didn't get a chance.  1056 is a good go-to yeast for a typical ale.

Fermentation is happening in my basement where it is hovering around 63 degrees F.  I added a heat wrap with a temperature controller to get up to 67 degrees F.  This will be my first time using a temperature controller to ferment.  Hope I picked a good target temperature!

So, not a super exciting blog post, but it's something for you to read.  I didn't give you the whole recipe, but you can probably figure out most of it if you have brewed a few times.  If you do want the whole thing, I will send it your way, but part of the fun is figuring out your own recipes.  So, I encourage you to do that.  Use this as a jumping off point.

Further updates on the beer in future blog posts.

Until then,