Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Impudent Whelp 2: The Whelpening

After my first attempt at an IPA was extremely successful, I've focused my efforts on dialing in a recipe that will truly be a 'great' beer.  In addition, minor tweaks to the recipe will help me continue to learn the effects that various recipe changes have on the beer.  As you can see from the original post, my first attempt at the recipe consisted of primarily Pilsner malt,a pound of Caramel 60, and a mixture of CTZ, Cascade, and Centennial hops.

While I LOVED that beer, I wanted to make a few changes and see how things turned out.

First and foremost, I changed the pilsner malt to standard 2-row.  I did this because 2-row is cheaper, and because I was curious how much impact the base malt would have.  As it turns out, this was a minor, yet significant, change.  More on that later.

Next, I wanted to emphasize the citrus notes even more, so I swapped out the Centennial hops for an Amarillo variety.  Amarillo is known for its grapefruit notes, which I thought would pair very will with the Cascade.

I settled on this recipe:
12lb 2-row
.5lb Caramel 60
.5lb Carapils - I swapped out half a pound of the caramel 60 for this so that I could still get the body and residual sweetness, but without the darkened color.

1oz CTZ (60 min)
1oz CTZ (15 min)
1oz Amarillo (15 min)
1oz Cascade (15 min)
1oz CTZ (5 min)
1oz Amarillo (5 min)
1oz Cascade (5 min)
1oz Amarillo (dry hop)
1oz Cascade (dry hop)

I mashed at 151 degrees, as I wanted it to be somewhat dry, but with a hint of residual sweetness to balance out the bitterness of 113 IBUs worth of hops.

Brew day was a success - I brewed this on 1/22/12 - and only had one minor hiccup. I boiled down a bit too far and wound up with an OG of 1.064 when I was shooting for 1.059 or less.  As you can see from this picture, I collected just under 5 gallons of wort and trub.  
That's not a yeast cake at the bottom, that's purely hops that carried over from the kettle.  I'm thinking I need a better filtration system :)

After 2 weeks of fermentation using Wyeast 1056 (same yeast as last time) I wound up with a pretty - if cloudy - IPA:

Having recently put this beer on draft, I can say that there are few pleasures in the world quite like a fresh IPA on draft.  I love this beer.  It's extremely close to my first pass at it, but I've learned a few more things.

1. If I'm going to use Wyeast 1056, I need to mash warmer.  This fermented all the way down to a FG of 1.008, giving me a 7.6% beer.  Normally I don't mind that, but I was specifically trying to make it weaker than my first attempt, and I actually wound up with a beer that was stronger.  Oops.

2. 2-row just doesn't have the same complexity as pilsner malt.  The balance is off on this beer, and the hops are largely the same.  It's not something that's easily noticed unless you try the beers side by side, but this attempt at it is just a shade too bitter and is missing that complementary sweetness on the finish.

3. Amarillo and Cascade is an excellent mix.  The citrusy and grapefruit aroma is amazing, and there's just a hint of 'dank' hop aroma from the CTZ hops.

So, I think I'm close to happy with my hop bill, but the malt bill needs work.  I'm thinking about 10 pounds of pilsner malt, along with .5lb each of Caramel 60 and Carapils is where I want to go, and maybe scale back the 15 minute addition of the hops to compensate for the 2 pounds of grain I'm removing.

Either way, I'm happy with this beer.  I served it recently at a friend's baby shower, and I think it convinced one person to take up homebrewing.  That's a pretty good feeling, to know that I was able to share my passion with someone else and have it make an impact on them.  I'm going to be very happy to have this on draft for the next month or two.

I just can't resist the temptation that I know, deep down, I can make it even better!

Aroma: Grapefruit, citrus, hops and more hops.  Over the top hops.  No malt smell at all while it's this young.  But, my first attempt at this IPA has developed a very malty nose as it aged past 3 months.

Appearance: Golden, not as hazy as it appears in the picture above.  A pretty beer, with good head retention.

Taste: Smacks you in the mouth with bitterness, but quickly fades into a bouquet of hops.  Very hoppy, very IPA-ish.  Out of balance, as referenced above.  It's tough to pick out individual flavors, as it's just so... much.  I like that in an IPA, personally, but it's not for everyone.

Body: Dry, which is appropriate for an IPA.  You want to be thirsty almost immediately after you finish drinking it, which this does perfectly.  Still, it needs just a BIT more malt backbone.

Final stats:
Brewed: 1/22/12
Kegged: 2/7/12
Tasting: 3/1/12
ABV: 7.5% (1.064 / 1.008)
IBU: 113.3
Overall impressions:  Solid beer, slightly out of balance on the hoppy side, needs to be a bit weaker ABV-wise and have a bit stronger malt presence.  With that said - extremely drinkable, and won't last long on draft.  I just have to be careful drinking more than one of these on a work night.

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