DISSECT My Brew #1 - Black IPA


This is the first BLOG in a series where you the home brewer or beer lover, get to pick my brain about beer recipes or beer styles that you love and want to better understand. Knowing how the ingredients in your beer and how the process used to brew it affects the final product is critical to being able to design your own beer recipes, which for brewers and anyone with even a tinge of creative desire knows, leaves you feeling like you have a super power!!

The idea for this BLOG came to life when an enthusiastic beer lover out of the Vancouver, BC area purchased one of our 1-gallon beer recipes to brew in her home and reached out with questions. She wanted to know as many details as we could provide about the recipe so she could fully understand what she was brewing…as you can imagine, I was intrigued and wanted to know more about her too!

"PinkPints" is her Instagram handle and she has been working in the brewing industry for 10 years, mainly in an administrative capacity, but has enjoyed working in a packaging role with her brewery cleaning kegs, bottling and labeling and has even enjoyed helping out with some social media...of which she is really good at...we follow her :)

Her involvement in breweries helped spawn a 20 year interest in brewing, and although our PinkPints friend is not a commercial brewer, she is now, later in life, diving in deep to learning all she can about home brewing...very cool!

So when we were asked to divulge our recipe ingredients I offered to go one further and dissect the four main ingredients (and more if wanted) in it for her and anyone else with this passion for learning and here we are today...our first DISSECTION kicked off with a bang as we dissect THREE Black IPA recipes to relate and show differences in each.

BLACK IPA Recipe #1:

MALTS

- Maris Otter - Base Malt that will make up 70-100% of the total grain bill. This malt produces a slightly GOLDEN-ORANGE colour in beer and adds a unique deep MALTINESS and even NUTTY flavour in the beer.

- Caramel 40 - This adjunct Malt cannot be easily fermented which means that its CARAMEL-SWEETNESS will remain in the finished beer, along with slight RED hues. This malt also contributes to HEAD RETENTION on the beer.

- Victory Malt - This malt is added to add complexity or a "layer" to the beer, imparting a BISCUITY-BREADY flavour and a touch of russet BROWN colour.

- Carafa Special 111 - This malt is meant to impart a rich DARK colour, body, ROASTY FLAVOUR AND AROMA with NO HARSH/ASTRINGENT FLAVOURS, known for with many darker-grains.

- Chocolate Wheat - This malt is steeped and roasted to create an intended VERY DARK color and a ROASTED quality to the beer.

HOPS

- Warrior - PINEY/HERBAL bittering hop giving the beer that well known IPA "bite"

- Simcoe - A dual purpose hop and used here as an aroma hop, this PINEY/HERBAL variety will be obvious on the nose.

YEAST

- American - This yeast is can contribute some low FRUITINESS and esters (fruity flavor produced during fermentation that can vary in taste and aroma between PEARS, ROSES, BANANAS or other light fruits) to the beer. This yeast is a somewhat lower flocculator so it would not be surprising to see some yeast suspended in the beer, reducing clarity.

SUMMARY: Malty, nutty, biscuity, dark, caramelly-sweet, roasty, smooth (no astringency), slightly opaque with piney/herbal bitterness and the potential for some slight fruity Pear/rose/banana.

BLACK IPA Recipe #2:

MALTS

- Maris Otter - Base Malt that will make up 70-100% of the total grain bill. This malt produces a slightly GOLDEN-ORANGE colour in beer and adds a unique deep MALTINESS and even NUTTY flavour in the beer.

- Carahell Malt - This malt contributes to HEAD RETENTION and just a touch of colour while rounding out the MALT flavour.

- Carafa Special 111 - This malt is meant to impart a rich DARK colour, body, ROASTY FLAVOUR AND AROMA with NO HARSH/ASTRINGENT FLAVOURS, known for with many darker-grains.

HOPS

- Chinook - This dual purpose hop imparts BITTERNESS and a GRAPEFRUITY, PINEY and even SPICY aroma

YEAST

- American - This yeast is can contribute some low FRUITINESS and esters (fruity flavor produced during fermentation that can vary in taste and aroma between PEARS, ROSES, BANANAS or other light fruits) to the beer. This yeast is a somewhat lower flocculator so it would not be surprising to see some yeast suspended in the beer, reducing clarity and leaving a slight HAZE.

SUMMARY: Dark, slightly opaque, roasty, nutty, smooth with grapefruity/piney bitterness and aroma and a potential for very slight pear, rose or banana fruitiness.

BLACK IPA Recipe #3:

MALTS

- Amber (Light Malt Extract) - this malt extract is comprised of Pale base malt providing a LIGHT, CLEAN, SMOOTH taste , Caramel 80 which provides a CARAMELLY, BURNT SUGAR, and even RAISIN flavour to the beer and sometimes Munich Malt, with a clean and MALTY flavour contribution.

- Victory Malt - This malt adds complexity or a "layer" to the beer, imparting a BISCUITY-BREADY flavour and a touch of russet BROWN colour.

- Special Dark (light malt extract) - this malt is a collection of malts that assists in DARKENING the beer while adding SWEETNESS and intense MALTINESS.

HOPS

- Simcoe - A dual purpose hop used here as a bittering hop, with its PINEY/HERBAL characteristics.

- Cascade - This aroma hop is used to impart FLORAL, CITRUS, SPICY and GRAPEFRUIT on the nose and is the most popular aroma hop used in brewing.

YEAST

- English Ale Yeast - This clean, crisp and primarily neutral strain has good flocculating properties helping to leave beer nice and clear.

SUMMARY: Light, clean, smooth, carmelly, burnt-sugar/raisin, malty, biscuity/bready, dark with piney/herbal bitterness and floral/citrusy, spicy/grapefruity aroma.

Now...a review of the BJCP (Beer Judge Certification Program) Guidelines for the Black IPA shows that this style should present as "dry, hop forward balanced with characteristics of an American IPA only dark in colour but without strongly roasted or burnt flavours. The dark flavour should only be a supporting flavour vs a dominating one.

The beer should have a clean base malt flavour and can have moderate to high fruity, citrusy, piney, resinousy hop aroma and is able to include optionally low chocolate, coffee or toast notes (although should not be intense) and a very low to imperceptible astringency from the dark malts. The hop flavour and bitterness should be front and center over the darker malts.

This beer should be dark brown to black, clear to slightly opaque (but not murky) and should have a good head stand. A Black IPA should also have a medium to medium light bodied mouthfeel.

Take a look at the three recipes again...which do you think BEST represents the style?


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