Monday, July 29, 2013

Back at It... English IPA

It has been nearly a month since I've posted anything and while I'd like to say the reason for the lapse has something to do with too much work and a lack of brewing/drinking, that isn't the case at all. I've actually been brewing more than I have in a long time and work has finally slowed to the point that my weekends have become somewhat enjoyable again. Rather, the real reason for not posting has more to do with needing a break from blogging and the growing sense that my home brewing was becoming more about making 'interesting stuff' and experimenting with new ingredients, than just brewing the beers that I like to drink. Also, you can blame my friend Matt, who graciously gave me all 20 seasons of Time Team on DVD. Thanks Matt!

Regardless, back in early June I picked up a vial of WLP022 Essex Ale yeast on a whim and after some back and forth on what to brew, decided on a hoppy English IPA. I actually wanted to use the yeast to make a Crouch Vale's Brewers Gold clone - as this is supposedly the same yeast they use in that beer - but alas, I didn't have the ingredients on hand (again!). For this beer, I used a base of Golden Promise malt, with an almost inconsequential amount of torrified wheat and amber malt, and then loaded the boil with Challenger and First Gold hops. I figured the spiciness of the Challenger hops would pair nicely with the floral, marmalade-orange tasting First Gold. It turned out to be a nice pairing after all.

Golden IPA : English IPA

Recipe Specifics: 
Batch Size (Gal): 4.5
Total Grain (Lbs): 10.00
Anticipated OG: 1.058 
Anticipated FG: 1.012
Anticipated SRM: 5
Anticipated IBU: 48
Efficiency: 70%
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

92.5% - 10.00 lbs. Golden Promise
5.0%   - 0.50 lbs. Torrified Wheat
2.5%   - 0.25 lbs. Amber Malt

0.50 oz. First Gold @ 60 min for 18 IBU
0.50 oz. Challenger @ 15 min for 16 IBU
0.50 oz. First Gold @ 15 min for 21 IBU
0.50 oz. Challenger @ 10 min for 13 IBU
0.50 oz. First Gold @ 10 min for 10 IBU
1.50 oz. Challenger @ flameout
1.50 oz. First Gold @ flameout 
0.50 oz. Challenger @ dry-hop 
0.50 oz. First Gold @ dry-hop

Mash 150F for 75 min
Brewed on 18 June/Kegged 6 July
Tasting Notes:

Less carbonated
Golden IPA : English IPA

Appearance - Pours a very clear, golden-yellow color with a thin white head that leaves some lacing.

Aroma - Floral and earthy English hops dominate; orange rind, sweet herbs, lemon, and spice. Some toasty malt character and the yeast is mostly neutral. Few esters, although some mineral character becomes evident as the beer warms.

Taste - First impression is of spicy and citrus-lite English hops with the Challenger hop contribution particularly standing out. Hop character is strong, but not nearly to that of West-Coast IPA standards. The malt character is clean and lightly biscuity and does a good job of keeping the focus on the hops while providing some maltiness in support. Bitterness is high and the beer finishes dry, clean and crisp, with a firm mineral character.

Mouthfeel - Carbonation is medium-low and the beer has a pleasant mouthfeel.
Drinkability & Notes - Certainly among my best attempts at a UK style Golden Ale/IPA. The beer has good hop aroma/flavor, enough malt and yeast character to keep things interesting, and the beer finishes clean and crisp tasting. Three or four gulps and another pint is emptied...what more can you ask for in a beer? In all seriousness, this beer turned out much better than I expected and I think much of that has to do with the WLP022 yeast. I vastly underestimated it based on my previous experiences and it performed above and beyond my expectations. A definite re-brew of sorts is in the works... although maybe with German/Czech hops for a change of pace (???).

Additional Thoughts:

I've had mixed results with the WLP022 Essex Ale yeast in the past. My impression of it then was that it mostly imparted a bready-tart-mineral flavor to the beer, of which was a tad too much for my liking. However, in this instance, the yeast produced a smashing beer. I kept the fermentation temp low - used the same pitch and oxygenation rate as I normally do - and the resulting beer has a clarity and cleanliness of flavors that very well suits this type of pale, hop-forward beer. There is a noticeable mineral character in the finish, although blends with the hop flavors quite well. 

6.0% ABV, 48 IBU, WhiteLabs 022 Essex Ale.


  1. Looks like a fine brew! I see from your yeast comparison (chart), you gave WLP022 low marks for top cropping. Did you have similar results this time around? That beer looks mighty clear, what clarity fining are you using? How are you dry hopping exactly?

    1. Glad to say that this time around it produced a big, fluffy krausen with plenty of harvestable yeast. Makes me wonder what was going on with my previous attempts. Although the flavor is pretty similar to before, but much cleaner overall. And no tartness. If I can't find another vial, I'll try and harvest some yeast from the bottom of the keg and give this yeast another go.

      For dry hopping, I racked the beer into a c02 purged secondary and added pellet hops. After a week, I racked to a keg, crash cooled to 34F and added a 1/2 teaspoon of gelatin (in solution). The beer was very clear after the crash cool and the gelatin was mostly to get the hop floaties out of suspension.


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