Monday, April 8, 2013

American IPA Tasting

I brewed this beer back in early February, using up what was left of my old stock of Amarillo and Simcoe hops. While I had planned to dry hop the beer in the secondary with the same hops, at the last minute I decided to forgo the Amarillo/Simcoe additions and instead dry hop the beer with two ounces each of Galaxy and Nelson Sauvin. And then again in the keg for a short time, for good measure. The resulting beer is as hoppy as I expected and tastes quite nice, although I got better efficiency than I had planned and the yeast attenuated farther than I would have liked, resulting in an 8% IIPA of a beer. After knocking back a few pints of the stuff, its time for a nap. Lastly, if you brew a lot of IPA's and have not tried a water profile that uses a high amount of sulfate, do so. It has really made a world of difference with my hoppy beers.

None the Wiser : American IPA

Appearance - Pours a somewhat hazy, orange and amber color with a sturdy, white head that leaves nice lacing. Some bits of dry hop material settle to the bottom of the glass.

Aroma - Overripe tropical fruit and pine. Mango, passionfruit, orange, and some slightly musky grape. The aroma is quite potent and this is the first time I've got any discernible 'gooseberry' character from the Nelson hops. The malt and yeast are well hidden.

Taste - First impression is of strong, tropical fruit and piney hops followed by a sticky, resinous bitterness that coats the mouth with lasting hop flavor. The bitterness is firm but not overbearing. While the hops are definitely in the forefront, the beer does have some sweet malt character to help balance the bitterness. The high sulfate gives the beer a level of 'crispness' that really makes the flavors pop. 

Mouthfeel - Carbonation is medium-low and the beer has a surprising amount of mouthfeel, considering the low final gravity. The beer goes down way too easy for 8%.
Drinkability & Notes - It is safe to say that the Galaxy/Nelson combo is my new favorite for hoppy American styles. There is something about the intensely tropical, piney, fruity, and light-dank character of these hops that seems to combine the best attributes of the popular American varieties. Also, the high amount of sulfate (350ppm) really makes the hop aroma/flavor stand out, all while adding a certain level of 'clarity' to the flavor of the beer. While I am very happy how this beer turned out, next time I'd like to drop the crystal malt altogether (just use pale and maybe 2-3% honey malt) and ferment it with a more malt neutral yeast (wy1056)... or the infamous "Conan" of Heady Topper fame. 

8.0% ABV, 78 IBU, Wyeast 1332 Northwest Ale. Recipe Here


  1. I looked back at your original post and you said "sulfate levels around 350ppm and keeping everything else quite low." Do you mind sharing those other numbers?

    1. Sure, that would probably be helpful. For this beer, my water was right around: Ca-120ppm, Mg-13ppm, Na-20ppm, SO4-350ppm, Cl-50ppm.

      There are a number of popular water profiles for APA/IPA's online that are nearly the same as this one. Terry Foster's "pale ale" profile is almost identical and if you have ever listened to the Brewing Network, "Tasty's" profile is basically the same.

      The key seems to be the high sulfate and relatively lower amounts of mg, na, and cl. Hitting these type of numbers might be difficult if you're using tap water though.

    2. Thanks, Will.

      My water has very low mineral content naturally, so I can usually build up. Just plugged the numbers into BeerSmith and I can get a good fit on this one.

      I'll try this on my next IPA.


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