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General Category => General Homebrew Discussion => Topic started by: kaitiura on June 27, 2010, 02:04:59 AM

Title: Is a good, low ABV IPA possible?
Post by: kaitiura on June 27, 2010, 02:04:59 AM
I've been asked by a friend who wants to open an establishment that would offer good, low ABV IPAs for those who don't want or can't handle the big percentages most IPAs and Double IPAs have.

We live in Santa Rosa, CA, and have been regulars at Vinnie Cilurzo's Russian River Brewing Company since it opened, drinking more Pliny than should be allowed by law, which is kinda where this idea comes from; no one wants to try to compete with Vinnie, but a place with lower alcohol-content beers has a draw for many reasons.

But in reading up on low ABV IPA attempts, it seems a standard concern that anything below 5% won't want to stand up to big hopping. Does anyone have experience in making a true IPA (or close) or (why not wish for the stars?) Double IPA with a 4.5%-5% ABV? ???
Title: Re: Is a good, low ABV IPA possible?
Post by: dmtaylor on June 27, 2010, 02:14:11 AM
Yeah -- it's called American pale ale.   ;D  You can pretty much put as much hops as you want into a plain ole pale ale these days, make it just like an IPA with tons of hop flavor and IBUs, and just keep the gravity low.  It's all good.  People will drink it -- maybe even love it.  Go for it.
Title: Re: Is a good, low ABV IPA possible?
Post by: kaitiura on June 27, 2010, 02:35:09 AM
Thanks for the quick response, Dave! I've drunk many American Pale Ales but a true IPA or Double IPA is a different monster, yeah? Jason's looking, I think, to show some moxy against "the world's greatest beer", Pliny (according to Zymurgy this month...) which is about my favorite and which will require hops aplenty. Our dilemma is that we are in such close proximity to RRBC and Pliny, plus we've 'grown up' on Pliny as have all our friends... he'll need to supply something that will, at the very least, suffice in place of all the great beers nearby. So we're talking a true IPA/Double IPA if that's possible.

I'm very limited as a brewer, so I'll take any enlightenment you can offer. If you're sure the American Pale Ale could be tweaked, I'll gladly give it a shot, but I've read many posts where people doubt a ABV lower than 5% could really stand up to big hopping. You say it can? How would you go about it, if you don't mind sharing? Thanks! ::)
Title: Re: Is a good, low ABV IPA possible?
Post by: hopfenundmalz on June 27, 2010, 02:43:30 AM
The low ABV IPA's that I can think of are the British ones like Fullers at 5%.
Lagunitas IPA is 5.7%, which is pretty low for an American IPA.
 
Title: Re: Is a good, low ABV IPA possible?
Post by: dbeechum on June 27, 2010, 02:52:05 AM
Another way to look at it is the concept of flavor presence. What do you want from the IPA? A certain hop / malt balance? Then it should be totally possible to hook shot it with an XPA. THink Pliny concept - very little to no crystal and a bunch of hops. You can easily pull that off.
Title: Re: Is a good, low ABV IPA possible?
Post by: bonjour on June 27, 2010, 03:05:54 AM
this recipe has been very well received and has (i think) the characteristics you are looking for

Measured Original Gravity: 1.041 SG
Measured Final Gravity: 1.012 SG
Actual Alcohol by Vol: 3.77 %
Bitterness: 82.3 IBU Calories: 181 cal/pint
Est Color: 9.0 SRM
 


BeerSmith Recipe Printout - http://www.beersmith.com
Recipe: BP Ale (98)
Brewer: Fred Bonjour
Asst Brewer:
Style: American IPA
TYPE: All Grain
Taste: (0.0)

Recipe Specifications
--------------------------
Batch Size: 5.25 gal     
Boil Size: 6.71 gal
Estimated OG: 1.048 SG
Estimated Color: 9.0 SRM
Estimated IBU: 82.3 IBU
Brewhouse Efficiency: 62.00 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Ingredients:
------------
Amount       Item                                      Type         % or IBU     
8 lbs        Pale Malt, Golden Promise (Simpsons) (1.9 Grain        72.73 %     
1 lbs        Munich I (Weyermann) (6.0 SRM)            Grain        9.09 %       
8.0 oz       Aromatic Malt (Dingemans) (19.0 SRM)      Grain        4.55 %       
8.0 oz       Barley, Flaked (Briess) (1.7 SRM)         Grain        4.55 %       
8.0 oz       Caramel Malt - 20L (Briess) (20.0 SRM)    Grain        4.55 %       
8.0 oz       Caramel Malt - 60L (Briess) (60.0 SRM)    Grain        4.55 %       
2.00 oz      Amarillo (leaf) [9.40 %]  (60 min)        Hops         72.2 IBU     
1.00 oz      Cascade [5.50 %]  (15 min)                Hops         6.3 IBU     
1.00 oz      Cascade [5.50 %]  (1 min)                 Hops         3.9 IBU     
1 Pkgs       SafAle US-05 154F mash (Fermentis #US-05) Yeast-Ale                 


Mash Schedule: Single Infusion 152
Total Grain Weight: 11.00 lb
----------------------------
Single Infusion 152
Step Time     Name               Description                         Step Temp     
60 min        Sacrification      Add 15.05 qt of water at 165.8 F    151.0 F       


Notes:
------



-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Title: Re: Is a good, low ABV IPA possible?
Post by: kaitiura on June 27, 2010, 04:39:25 AM
Fred;
Thanks so much for your input. I will pass this along to my friend and we'll give it a try. I (we) appreciate your help immensely! :)
Title: Re: Is a good, low ABV IPA possible?
Post by: bonjour on June 27, 2010, 01:22:01 PM
There is nothing like a decent hop bomb at English session beer strength.

For the style police this is not to style, but if I had any left it should score very well as an American IPA, based on comments, low 40's
Title: Re: Is a good, low ABV IPA possible?
Post by: majorvices on June 27, 2010, 02:13:32 PM
All that said, Dave's point is still valid. You technically can't have a 1.041 IPA. An IPA should fall within the range of 1.056 – 1.075 according to the BJCP guidelines, and I would argue that to really be considered an (American) IPA in this day and age the gravity needs to be over 1.060. Otherwise, its a Pale Ale no matter what kind or how many hops you put in.
Title: Re: Is a good, low ABV IPA possible?
Post by: kaitiura on June 27, 2010, 02:58:18 PM
That's kinda where I was going. There are standards, but I've always looked at them as things to be considered when coming up with your own idea ;) But I have to bow to the knowledge and experience of far better brewers in things technical. I think the bottom line is that if a product comes to pass that will satisfy in place of our favorites, or those close, then we should accept it. My question comes from an open mind and, frankly, ignorance.

A hoppy beer is what I prefer :o and recipes can be tweaked, I just don't want to get nutty if there's something inherently wrong with our proposed direction. Thanks to the sage advice given so far, I assume the risk can be taken and the results addressed according to taste without fear of total disaster from the outset.

Great advice, and much appreciated! :) :) :)
Title: Re: Is a good, low ABV IPA possible?
Post by: hopfenundmalz on June 27, 2010, 03:22:06 PM
This is a little strong for what you were after, but was originaly called Pliny Light, now Tasty APA by Mike McDole.
From Fred's site.  You might spend some time looking around there.

http://beerdujour.com/Recipes/Tasty%20APA.html
Title: Re: Is a good, low ABV IPA possible?
Post by: The Professor on June 27, 2010, 03:29:08 PM
Since the BJCP is certainly not the last definitive authoritative word on "styles" (except maybe in amateur competition) I tend not to take any pronouncements on "style" very seriously, though it is interesting to hear different  takes on the subject. 

Anyway...coincidentally, and timed well with the appearance of this thread, Ron Pattinson's blog  ..which (along with Zythophile's blog)  has some of the best researched writing on historical beer styles around... talks a bit about IPA in today's installment. 
Everyone interested in brewing history should be reading these two blogs...to read Ron's latest writing on IPA go here:  http://barclayperkins.blogspot.com/

It should always be remembered that  the best example of any "style" is the one that pleases your own palate the most.  While there may be some expectations of what one will experience tasting a beer labeled as a certain specific type, historically it seems that there has always been a a fair amount of wiggle room and it has always been open to individual interpretation rather than a 'rulebook'.
 
Title: Re: Is a good, low ABV IPA possible?
Post by: bonjour on June 27, 2010, 03:34:05 PM
the recipe I posted is definitely out of style.  1.045 being the min OG for an APA and too hoppy for an APA.  By flavor profile it fits in American IPA.
The style guidelines are just that, guidelines.  

brew well
Title: Re: Is a good, low ABV IPA possible?
Post by: majorvices on June 27, 2010, 04:42:09 PM
My only point is that when I drink an IPA I expect there to be some alcohol in it. A low ABV IPA is a contradiction in terms AFAIC. If I went into a pub and ordered an IPA and was brought a 3 or 4% beer I would be dissatisfied. If I ordered a pale ale and it was over 50 BUs I would not be dissatisfied, though perhaps somewhat pleasantly surprised.
Title: Re: Is a good, low ABV IPA possible?
Post by: David Little on June 27, 2010, 04:47:09 PM
Of course, I'm wondering...why worry about finding a "low abv ipa" at all? Just make a good tasting beer and damn the stylistic parameters! Styles are great for competitions but good beer is all you need for a commercial success. Think about the whole new style of black IPA...had everyone stuck with established styles we would have these at all.   
Title: Re: Is a good, low ABV IPA possible?
Post by: richardt on June 27, 2010, 09:43:30 PM
I'm not getting in the debate of descriptive versus proscriptive when it comes to the BJCP style parameters.

If it is good beer, it is good beer.  Plain and simple.

But getting back to the original question:  is it possible to brew a good "session strength" IPA?

I believe it can be done.  Though I've not yet done it myself.

Look at the thread about award-winning milds for some tips:  essentially aromatic(or melanoidin) malt and toasted oats provide enough malt structure to balance the hop bitterness, flavor, and aroma.

I commend you for finding a session strength APA or IPA--we should have those, too!

DUI laws being what they are, over the limit is "over the limit".  I'd love to frequent my local brewpub more often, but transportation is an issue (can't walk home).  The big beers end up being consumed at home. 

ABV does not equal FLAVOR.  I hope you discover the secret recipe, and, like Vinnie C, you post the recipe for the rest of us!


Title: Re: Is a good, low ABV IPA possible?
Post by: majorvices on June 28, 2010, 01:22:23 AM
Quote
ABV does not equal FAVOR.  I hope you discover the secret recipe, and, like Vinnie C, you post the recipe for the rest of us!

I couldn't disagree more. If thats the case I guess there would be a good non-alcoholic beer out there (there's not). Alcohol is integral to the flavor of beer, as is the percentage of malt, which is directly related to the ABV of a beer. I agree with al the sentiments that you should be able to "find your own beer", and even call it what you want. But alcohol is imperative to an IPA. It may be a great beer. But a low ABV beer won't ever be an IPA.
Title: Re: Is a good, low ABV IPA possible?
Post by: Hokerer on June 28, 2010, 02:15:01 AM
Quote
ABV does not equal FAVOR.  I hope you discover the secret recipe, and, like Vinnie C, you post the recipe for the rest of us!

I couldn't disagree more. If thats the case I guess there would be a good non-alcoholic beer out there (there's not). Alcohol is integral to the flavor of beer, as is the percentage of malt, which is directly related to the ABV of a beer. I agree with al the sentiments that you should be able to "find your own beer", and even call it what you want. But alcohol is imperative to an IPA. It may be a great beer. But a low ABV beer won't ever be an IPA.

Hmmm, quite the leap of logic there.  Even if ABV does equal flavor, there's nothing that says more flavor is better.  There are plenty of session level beers out there with the perfect amount of flavor (I agree they're not IPAs but neither are they your "reducto ad absurdium" non-alcoholics either).
Title: Re: Is a good, low ABV IPA possible?
Post by: majorvices on June 28, 2010, 03:11:59 AM
Quote
ABV does not equal FAVOR.  I hope you discover the secret recipe, and, like Vinnie C, you post the recipe for the rest of us!

I couldn't disagree more. If thats the case I guess there would be a good non-alcoholic beer out there (there's not). Alcohol is integral to the flavor of beer, as is the percentage of malt, which is directly related to the ABV of a beer. I agree with al the sentiments that you should be able to "find your own beer", and even call it what you want. But alcohol is imperative to an IPA. It may be a great beer. But a low ABV beer won't ever be an IPA.

Hmmm, quite the leap of logic there.  Even if ABV does equal flavor, there's nothing that says more flavor is better.  There are plenty of session level beers out there with the perfect amount of flavor (I agree they're not IPAs but neither are they your "reducto ad absurdium" non-alcoholics either).

I don't see how it is a "leap of logic" at all. If anything the leap of logic is making the assumption that I am saying higher ABV is better. I certainly never said that.

I think this is just a big misunderstanding, either on my part or ya'lls. I'm not disagreeing that the idea for the beer in question is possible or not. I'm just agreeing with Dave's initial statement - technically it sounds like what the OP wants is a pale ale. IMO that would fit the bill.
Title: Re: Is a good, low ABV IPA possible?
Post by: denny on June 28, 2010, 03:42:51 PM
I firmly agree with Keith here, and it's a matter of using an accurate description to meet expectations.  If I ordered and IPA and got a 1.040ish beer, I'd feel that I had been deceived.  It's kinda like calling a pig a poodle...you can certainly do that, but you won't be getting your meaning across to other people.  As was said earlier, forget about descriptive terminology at all and just brew the beer you want to have.  But don't call a pig beer a poodle beer.
Title: Re: Is a good, low ABV IPA possible?
Post by: richardt on June 28, 2010, 04:10:44 PM
Good points by everyone.  My local brewpub will list the beer's style and the ABV.  The brewer does a great job of exploring styles and putting interesting twists on old favorites.  The descriptions are fair and honest, and we're told what the ABV is, so there's no deception of the public going on there.  Admittedly, a lot of the beers are higher ABV 5-6% and higher.  If I were to make a long evening of it, I'd like to have a flavorful "session strength" APA or IPA available.  Just call it that (and list the ABV).  It sounds better than "pigoodle," anyway.
 
I like Fred's recipe.  I just might brew that one soon.

Title: Re: Is a good, low ABV IPA possible?
Post by: bonjour on June 28, 2010, 04:53:07 PM
let me know how it works for you.

Fred
Title: Re: Is a good, low ABV IPA possible?
Post by: linenoiz on June 28, 2010, 07:02:37 PM
We have a local brewery around here by the name of Desert Edge. They make a beer that they call a Utah Pale Ale. Hopped up like an IPA, but low gravity to comply with Utah liquor laws (anything served in a keg can't be over 4.0% ABV). It's quite good, and stands up to the high hops very well.

High ABV is not a prerequisite for good beer. If it was, Utah wouldn't have any breweries.
Title: Re: Is a good, low ABV IPA possible?
Post by: bluesman on June 28, 2010, 07:39:18 PM
I think a hybrid APA is in order. An APA with more IBU's than style dictates. At the very least an APA with the highest level of hops that the style will support might also fit the bill. An APA has 30-45 IBU and an IPA has 40-70 IBU's by style. An APA with 45 IBU's and a healthy dose of flavor/aroma/dry hops would come close to an IPA hop profile as per the BJCP style guidelines.
Title: Re: Is a good, low ABV IPA possible?
Post by: bonjour on June 28, 2010, 08:00:43 PM
to document a new style/substyle we would need to establish that it exists and is being brewed by homebrewers.  Entering in CAT 23 in national contests is one way.  and we need some classic and available examples.

given that we would need to present a fully qualified style write-up (template is available on the BJCP website).
Title: Re: Is a good, low ABV IPA possible?
Post by: beer_crafter on June 28, 2010, 09:09:15 PM
The answer in my opinion is YES--- an "XPA" is essentially a low ABV beer with the character of an IPA.

I do not think an APA is what the original poster is looking for.  Most APAs are balanced, with caramel flavors, where the hops are prominent but not necesarily the sole focus of the beer.

If I were to attempt this, I would basically shoot for an OG:IBU ratio of 1:1.  I would skip the middle, flavor hops (because I feel that they will skew the IBU rating, perhaps unpredictably), use a lot of flameout hops, and a lot of dry hops. 

I would also use a decent amount of crystal malt, 8% or so. 

I would experiment with both American and British style yeasts.  I find that sometimes the esters in a London or British ale yeast will bring out more of the hop aroma in a beer. 
Title: Re: Is a good, low ABV IPA possible?
Post by: richt on June 29, 2010, 03:40:39 PM
I usually have a super hoppy APA on tap at my house.  One way I go about brewing it is using all Munich malt for a nice malty backbone that makes it seem bigger than the 1.040-1.050 beer but still finishes dry, then add around 20-30 IBUs of a clean bittering hop at 60 minutes, then pile on the hops at 10 and flameout, and more in the keg.  For a 10 gallon batch I use between 8-12 ounces of hops in the boil.  I've entered variations of this beer as an APA and both times it didn't score well, but next time I might enter as an IPA or Specialty, or I might just drink it myself.  A hophead's session beer!
Title: Re: Is a good, low ABV IPA possible?
Post by: dirk_mclargehuge on June 29, 2010, 04:33:37 PM
This is a little strong for what you were after, but was originaly called Pliny Light, now Tasty APA by Mike McDole.
From Fred's site.  You might spend some time looking around there.

http://beerdujour.com/Recipes/Tasty%20APA.html
I second this motion.  I've brewed this about 6 times and it reminds me a  lot of Pliny.  Unfortunately it only lasts a week!  :'(
Title: Re: Is a good, low ABV IPA possible?
Post by: richardt on June 29, 2010, 05:01:28 PM
Has anyone tried brewing a "pale" beer that is malty>bitter yet possesses significant hop flavor and aroma? 
I'm thinking American fruity/citrusy hops.
Title: Re: Is a good, low ABV IPA possible?
Post by: markaberrant on June 29, 2010, 07:52:14 PM
Just wanted to add that I have toyed with the idea for awhile of putting together a recipe for an american-style hoppy beer around 1.040.  I had always thought I would refer to it as an "American Bitter," or even an "IPA Light."  I still want it to be hop focussed, I don't want the heavier malt character of a mild or even pale ale.
Title: Re: Is a good, low ABV IPA possible?
Post by: bonjour on June 29, 2010, 08:01:58 PM
keep in mind that if your goal is to have the same mouth feel and balance as an IPA with a light (1.040-) beer you need to add some non-fermentables some way (higher mash temp) to achieve this. if you want bone dry beer (nothing wrong with that) then don't worry about it

Fred
Title: Re: Is a good, low ABV IPA possible?
Post by: bluesman on June 29, 2010, 08:22:50 PM
keep in mind that if your goal is to have the same mouth feel and balance as an IPA with a light (1.040-) beer you need to add some non-fermentables some way (higher mash temp) to achieve this. if you want bone dry beer (nothing wrong with that) then don't worry about it

Fred

Bone dry would accentuate the hops more, but I think a medium boby would allow for SOME supporting malt presence and give the beer a little more complexity. Maybe somewhere in between bone dry and medium would be best to allow those hops to shine.
Title: Re: Is a good, low ABV IPA possible?
Post by: majorvices on June 29, 2010, 08:25:00 PM
I say, screw it all and just pir a half glass of IPA instead of a full glass. :D
Title: Re: Is a good, low ABV IPA possible?
Post by: bluesman on June 29, 2010, 09:34:20 PM
I say, screw it all and just pir a half glass of IPA instead of a full glass. :D

Yes that would be a low IPA.  ;)
Title: Re: Is a good, low ABV IPA possible?
Post by: markaberrant on June 30, 2010, 04:18:41 AM
keep in mind that if your goal is to have the same mouth feel and balance as an IPA with a light (1.040-) beer you need to add some non-fermentables some way (higher mash temp) to achieve this. if you want bone dry beer (nothing wrong with that) then don't worry about it

Fred

I agree, you need to keep some body.  I'm tempted to use 100% 2-row and mash a little higher than normal. 

I just did a 100% 2-row ale.  Starting gravity came out a little higher than expected - 1.047 - with 25 IBUs and finished with 1oz of Crystal at 20 and another 1oz at flameout.  Used S-05 and it finished at 1.011.  I thought it was excellent, and it proved to be a very popular beer with friends and family.  So I figure why not try something similar with say Cascades or Amarillo?
Title: Re: Is a good, low ABV IPA possible?
Post by: majorvices on June 30, 2010, 12:34:56 PM
I say, screw it all and just pir a half glass of IPA instead of a full glass. :D

Yes that would be a low IPA.  ;)

Last night I drank 4 half pints of IPA instead of two pints. Not only did I drink 4 beers instead of two but think of all the calories I saved! :D
Title: Re: Is a good, low ABV IPA possible?
Post by: bonjour on June 30, 2010, 12:36:31 PM
well done!!!!


(I couldn't have done better myself)
Title: Re: Is a good, low ABV IPA possible?
Post by: markaberrant on June 30, 2010, 02:28:47 PM
What if you just keep drinking IPA until you throw up?  Wouldn't that be like drinking calorie-free IPA?