Author Topic: Ask the Experts: Mitch Steele on IPA  (Read 79606 times)

Offline mitchsteele

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Re: Ask the Experts: Mitch Steele on IPA
« Reply #60 on: November 14, 2012, 01:37:12 pm »
Some of the best IPA's I've had are not overly bitter (at least to my palette).  Conversely, some of the WORST ones I've had ARE overly bitter!  To me, the real genius of an IPA lies in linking up a substantial, complex (yet background) malt profile with a layered, pleasant, and aggressive hop profile.  Just an example, and I know it is marketed as an APA, but Dale's is a great example of this.  If googled, you can find dozens of amateur video reviews of this beer, relishing its 'hoppiness'.  While it is 'hoppy', I think the reason it sells so well, drinks so well, and INTRODUCES so many people to the category so well, is that its malt background balances out a great hop bouquet.   

Are there any key processes or malts that brewers (particularly on a homebrew scale) could/should play with to get these types of results?  Melanoidin?  Biscuit?  Base of Marris Otter?

Great job on the "Enjoy By" IPA btw!


I really think success in bitterness balance has more to do with hopping regime. The Burst hopping or hop bursting technique, which we use a modified version of in our Stone Enjoy By IPA, results in a very mellow bitterness. Just 50% of the bitterness in our beer comes from the early addition hops-the beer comes in at over 80 IBU’s, but the bitterness is very mellow and smooth. So try that technique.
As far as malts go, yes, adding malt complexity can help tame bitterness, but sometimes at the expense of hop flavor and aroma intensity, which is why I’d prefer not use specialty malts, except in small amounts. Brewing with Light Munich or Vienna malts can add malt complexity to IPA without adding raisiny flavors.
Obviously, brewers differ on their approach to using specialty malts in their IPA, and I’ve had plenty of great IPA that had substantial roasted or crystal malt character. And while those beers tasted great, from my experience they may not age as well. Lots of Double IPAs turn into Barley Wines as they age. That’s not desirable to me. I’d rather drink it fresh, with maximum hop flavor.

Offline mitchsteele

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Re: Ask the Experts: Mitch Steele on IPA
« Reply #61 on: November 14, 2012, 01:38:10 pm »
I just brewed a Black Double IPA using Carafa III at 5.4% of grist; a base of Maris Otter, some crystal and what-not, and what I deemed to be a ridiculous hop schedule (over half a pound spread out over 5 minute intervals for a 60-minute boil). It'll get 2 dry-hop charges over a 10-day period as well.

Thinking that this should first be a double IPA, then it should be black, I tried to keep the dark malt at a level where it would just make the beer dark, but not too "roasty" so as not to compete with the hops.

When I was done collecting the wort, it was quite dark and it smelled a bit more roasty than I thought it would, but not too roasty (not quite stout-like), in my opinion.

With enough hops and what I hope turns out to be a balanced malt background and considering the dark malt was only 5.4% of grist; will the slight roasty character I smell now mellow in the fermenter or otherwise fall to the background where it should be?

I agree with your approach! Formulate an IPA (or Double IPA) first, then add the dark malt. Carafa is a great malt to use in a dark IPA. The roastiness will drop out some and will be balanced out by your dry-hopping-so don’t worry too much about that roast flavor in your wort! 3-6% Carafa addition seems to work really well.

Offline mitchsteele

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Re: Ask the Experts: Mitch Steele on IPA
« Reply #62 on: November 14, 2012, 01:39:08 pm »

First off, thank you for a very fun and insightful read!  Love the book!  Second, thanks for making bad ass hoppy beers!  Can't wait until they hit the Nebraska market someday, but Iowa and Missouri will do for now ;D.

A couple of questions:

1.  Can you elaborate on the hop additions used in the recipe section of the book?  I know they are calculated by weight, so when you say for example in the Ruination recipe "62.5% Columbus at the start of the boil, then add 37.5% Centennial during the whirlpool,"  that should be 62.5% of the hop mass is Columbus at 90 minutes and then the remainder of the mass is centennial at flameout/WP.  Is this something where we just need to put it into our software of choice and fudge around with the numbers?  This doesn't seem to take into account changes is AA% on a yearly basis.  I understand the issues with utilization, you mention, based on equipment.  Is there a way you can take us back to middle school and do an example/demonstration of the hop calculations for a recipe based on the parameters in the book? :P

2.  Can you take us through the process of designing/building a malt/grist bill and hop selection and additions for your 2 new latest hoppy beer releases (or any beer for that matter): Ruination 10th Anniversary and "Enjoy By?"  How do these beers differ from the original Ruination or the regular IPA in Stone's portfolio?  Did you incorporate some of the info you learned while researching IPAs into these 2 newest releases?  What are you looking for in the finished product in beers like this?

Thanks again and cheers!
Brian Hoesing

Hi Brian:
1.   Yes, I know this a bit confusing.  Another way to look at it:
Target IBU: 105
   Columbus   62.5%

   Centennial   37.5%
This is based on alpha acids of 10% for the Centennial and 12.8% for the Columbus. I should have included those numbers in the recipe-my apologies!
As far as calculating this out, the BeerSmith and ProMash systems work well. There are also hop calculators on the web, such as the Rager formula. John Palmer’s book, How To Brew, also has an excellent hop calculation technique that accounts for boil time and gravity of the wort.
I opted not to try and put this information in the book because there are so many formulas out there, and your results will vary significantly depending on the parameters of your brewing system. It’s a bit of a crapshoot, honestly, and I hesitated to recommend one system over another.

2. What we did with the Stone Ruination Tenth Anniversary IPA was simply add more hops! We made it a higher alcohol beer (from 7.7% to 10.8%), by adding more pale malt-we kept the light crystal at the same weight, but increased the pale malt to reduce the total crystal % from 5.8% to about 4%, and then added more hops across the board. We used the same varieties as in regular Stone Ruination IPA, with the exception of the dry hop, where we added Citra to the Centennial, and the overall dry hop rate was doubled.  One of the most heavily hopped beers we have ever brewed.
With the Stone Enjoy By IPA, we took a different approach, using the hop bursting technique, sort of, and a recipe approach similar to what homebrewer Kelsey McNair used in the beer we brewed together-the Kelsey McNair/Ballast Point/Stone San Diego County Session Ale, where many hop varieties were added in the late stage additions. In the case of the Stone Enjoy By IPA, we used 11 different hop varieties, and all but one variety were used in late hop and/or dry-hop. I am liking this technique, a lot.

Offline mitchsteele

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Re: Ask the Experts: Mitch Steele on IPA
« Reply #63 on: November 14, 2012, 01:45:18 pm »
Hi Mitch -

Just wanted to get your take on whirlpool hopping. Do you have a preferred whirlpool schedule? Does it depend on what you are brewing? Is there a point where you might as well just make a late boil addition?Thanks in advance!

We whirlpool hop a LOT here at Stone Brewing Co. To be honest, I always late kettle hopped until I came here. Whirlpool hopping is a technique I've grown very fond of, but one has to be careful with whirlpool residence times being consistent. You get a surprising amount of bitterness from whirlpool hopping also-we're trying to quantify that now.
From a practical standpoint, whirlpool hopping is easier for us than late kettle hopping because, having a separate whirlpool, we can add the hops at anytime to the empty whirlpool, and then just wait for the wort transfer.
We approach whirlpool hopping like late kettle hopping-same types of quantities and varieties. We tend to go heavy here (1/2-1.5 pounds per barrel), which can disrupt our trub pile-which can be problematic!

Offline denny

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Re: Ask the Experts: Mitch Steele on IPA
« Reply #64 on: November 14, 2012, 03:25:02 pm »
Mitch, on behalf of all of us, I want to thank you for your generous donation of time and knowledge!  You'll help us all make better IPA!
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Offline blatz

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Re: Ask the Experts: Mitch Steele on IPA
« Reply #65 on: November 14, 2012, 03:27:06 pm »
Mitch, on behalf of all of us, I want to thank you for your generous donation of time and knowledge!  You'll help us all make better IPA!

+1 - awesome answers!  just wish I'd gotten my question up in time - guess I'll have to make  a trip out to stone sometime!
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Offline Frydaddy

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Re: Ask the Experts: Mitch Steele on IPA
« Reply #66 on: November 15, 2012, 06:08:43 am »
Great stuff. Thank-you Mitch for taking the time out of your busy schedule, I'm answer these questions.

"Give a man a beer, he'll waste an afternoon. But teach a man to brew, and he'll waste a lifetime!"

Offline mmitchem

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Re: Ask the Experts: Mitch Steele on IPA
« Reply #67 on: November 15, 2012, 12:02:12 pm »
Thanks so much Mitch. It is always a treat and a privilege to get practical, honest knowledge from a pro like yourself. Stay classy Mitch Steele!
Michael P Mitchem
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AHA Member since 2011