Author Topic: Screwed up my big black IPA  (Read 1285 times)

Offline jimpdx

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Screwed up my big black IPA
« on: May 05, 2015, 10:30:37 PM »
First post on AHA forum, nice to meet all of you. Have been homebrewing about 6 years and done around 50 batches. I decided to brew up 12 gallons of a CDA/Black IPA. One of my favorite breweries had posted this on their Facebook page when I inquired about one of my favorite dark hoppy beers of theirs:

Quote
Midnight wheat ,Carmel Munich , Munich ,soarchi ace , citra, cascades . $4# per bbl . FG 1.018 usually

I ended up with the following grain bill based on some research:

  • 72.7% Munich
  • 10.6% Caramunich
  • 10.6% Midnight Wheat
  • 6.1% Carafa Special II

Having recently learned that Vienna and Munich are only slightly more kilned than pale 2-row, I assumed it was a safe base malt that would contribute lots of body and malt sweetness to standup to the 85 IBU I had planned. I included two bitterless black malts since many CDA recipes feature Carafa II and I wanted more dark malt than just the midnight wheat.

After a healthy pitched starter of 1056 with pure O2 and nutrients in the boil, the ferment completely died at 1.030 (from OG 1.072). I know that 1056 can hit 75-78% attentuation so this puzzled me. Looking at my daily temps, the fermenter had reached 78 degrees which I do all the time with Belgian strains but I understand that upper 60s, lower 70s is better for this strain. I swirled the fermenter and added some yeast energizer but no joy.

The resulting samples from primary after 7-10 days are fairly acrid and bordering on the dreaded "ashtray" descriptor I have seen thrown around, and an extremely full body. I did more research on Munich as a base malt and although you get conflicting answers, many seem to say that it should not exceed 30%. While it may have not as much diastatic enzyme, I *did* hit my OG after all so I got good conversion. I kept the mash between 148 and 154 - both of which should provide enough fermentables to have a lower final gravity, or even a lower gravity after primary.

I don't really want to pour 12 gallons of this down the drain but not seeing many other options. I thought about diluting it with some distilled water, blending it with a lighter second batch or even throwing in Champagne yeast. However losing more sweetness will only further exaggerate the crazy high bitterness, which I don't believe will fade all that much over time.

Any suggestions, ideas, comments?
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Offline goschman

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Re: Screwed up my big black IPA
« Reply #1 on: May 05, 2015, 11:02:12 PM »
16.7% roasted malt seems like way too much to me.
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Offline jimpdx

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Re: Screwed up my big black IPA
« Reply #2 on: May 05, 2015, 11:14:01 PM »
16.7% roasted malt seems like way too much to me.

Normally I would agree but I thought that "bitterless" or dehusked malts would express themselves in a "softer" more mellow way. And maybe they will after secondary? I'm sipping another sample off primary now and it is not nearly as acrid as two days ago! Definitely a heavy roast element and still a med-full body. I was thinking of adding some vanilla beans in secondary and see where that takes it...
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Offline goschman

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Re: Screwed up my big black IPA
« Reply #3 on: May 05, 2015, 11:22:24 PM »
The only black IPA that I have made had 5% midnight wheat and I don't think I have ever brewed a dark beer with more than 10% roasted malt. Others that have more experience with dark beers may need to chime in here...
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Offline Wort-H.O.G.

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Re: Screwed up my big black IPA
« Reply #4 on: May 06, 2015, 12:25:54 AM »
What was water profile and PH?


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Offline jimpdx

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Re: Screwed up my big black IPA
« Reply #5 on: May 06, 2015, 03:09:06 AM »
What was water profile and PH?

Well unfortunately I was "between" pH Meters at the time. My last one broke before brewday and new one hadn't arrived yet. However I use Bru'N Water pretty extensively and went with the suggested additions to hit a 5.3 mash pH. For a 12 gallon batch I used:
  • 6 grams Baking Soda
  • 4 grams Gypsum
  • 0.7ml Lactic Acid (sparge only)

We have pretty soft, simple water in Portland (OR). Here is my latest report:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/ecc6e49k9b83n38/WardLab-Water1.pdf?dl=0
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Offline jimpdx

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Re: Screwed up my big black IPA
« Reply #6 on: May 06, 2015, 03:18:13 AM »
Any thoughts/comments on Munich as a base malt? Has anyone ever done this with 60-70% Munich?
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Offline tnb34

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Re: Screwed up my big black IPA
« Reply #7 on: May 06, 2015, 03:35:55 AM »
Any thoughts/comments on Munich as a base malt? Has anyone ever done this with 60-70% Munich?

I haven't used that much munich with a black IPA specifically, but I don't see why you wouldn't have been able to fully convert using all munich as your base.  How long did you hold your mash temp for?

That does seem like a lot of specialty roasty/dark malt.  Did you calculate out your predicted FG with software?  If so, what was the estimate?

I'm wondering if the 78 degrees was more of the issue since you used 1056.  I could see Belgians using this temp, but that's highish for american ale.  At what time in the ferment did it get to 78 degrees?

Offline markpotts

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Re: Screwed up my big black IPA
« Reply #8 on: May 06, 2015, 08:59:15 AM »
Any thoughts/comments on Munich as a base malt? Has anyone ever done this with 60-70% Munich?

I have just brewed an ale containing 70% munich malt (for a competition beer with the only guideline being the beer should be below 2.8% abv).
I didn't have any issues with conversion and I love the flavour profile the beer has. The other components were 25% maris otter and 5% caramalt.
The apparent attenuation (wyeast 1469) was 60.7% (OG 1031, FG 1012)......but I mashed at a very high temperature (159 in your money :) ) and only for 40 minutes to stop the beer drying out.

Quite a different scenario to yours jmpdx, but I hope you find my info useful. 
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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Screwed up my big black IPA
« Reply #9 on: May 06, 2015, 11:24:41 AM »
You can go 100% for Munich, Vienna, and Dark Munich.
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Offline jeffy

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Re: Screwed up my big black IPA
« Reply #10 on: May 06, 2015, 11:32:40 AM »
My latest Dunkel was 100% Wyerman Munich II.  I got the same efficiency as a usual batch.
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Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: Screwed up my big black IPA
« Reply #11 on: May 06, 2015, 12:05:10 PM »
I think:   1/  That is too much black malt for a black IPA. I use just enough Midnight Wheat to get the SRM in the black range and then add 2-3 oz of chocolate malt to get a slight roast character. Just me.    2/ The acrid character is definitely a low pH issue. Dark beers are exponentially better when mashed at 5.5-5.6 pH. This softens the acrid character into a pleasant, rich roastiness. I use RO water, Bru'nwater software, and enough baking soda to raise pH into the 5.5-5.6 range.    3/  A black IPA with a base of Munich and caramunich sounds heavy and sweet to me, especially for this style. Black IPA should be well attenuated and drinkable. My $0.02. 
« Last Edit: May 06, 2015, 12:45:37 PM by HoosierBrew »
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Offline MDixon

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Re: Screwed up my big black IPA
« Reply #12 on: May 06, 2015, 12:08:59 PM »
I believe you are thinking of Munich in terms of converting adjuncts and the fact it has low diastatic enzymes. It can convert itself, just not a wad of corn or rice or whatever.

I haven't done reference research on fermentabilty of crystal and roasted malts in a very long time, but IIRC crystal (caramunich) is at best 60% and roasted malts 25%. 27% of your recipe was comprised of specialty grains with fairly low fermentability. You got around 60%AA so I suspect you are done.

Your fermentation temp was far too high to have a nice smooth ale. Based on 78F I'd expect it to have fairly strong esters and perhaps be a bit fusel.

If you feel it is salvageable, you could brew a beer with nothing but base malt and bitter a bit less with the same hops and ferment cooler using the same yeast strain. They key would then be blending which is more of an art than a science. It sounds like you dislike the body, too full, dislike the bitterness, too high, and dislike the roast, too strong. I'd mash lower in the base beer for less body, say 145 or so and mash longer than normal. Lowering the bitterness in the base beer should help lower the bitterness in the final mix. The roast may be trickiest part. If you did a 12 gallon batch at the same OG with no roast and mixed the two the result would still be 8.5% roast for the entire mix.

Personally all that sounds like a pain and a crapshoot and the potential for 24 gallons of beer you may not love. If it were me I'd brew a nice APA or ESB and mix in the ashtray beer to taste in each glass. You can certainly try that out by buying some commercial beers and mixing to see what makes your beer what you want and then brew that beer.
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Offline reverseapachemaster

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Re: Screwed up my big black IPA
« Reply #13 on: May 06, 2015, 03:16:21 PM »
Even at a high mash ph I find carafa special still spits out that ashy flavor even if the acridness is gone. IMO that is the culprit of the flavor. If you are also getting acrid bitterness then that is a combination of mash ph and lots of roasted malt. Midnight wheat is fairly smooth and although 10% is probably too much in that beer it is probably not the cause of the acrid/ashtray with this beer. It might not be helping but it isn't the primary problem.

I suspect the brewery gave you the specialty malts and hops and assumed you knew to use pale malt as a base. The info they gave sounds very little like a black IPA and more like some kind of weird American dunkel fusion. Although with an FG at 1018, maybe not. Hard to say without having tried to beer you attempted to clone.

I don't think there is an easy solution for you. You can't dry out that much munich malt by adding a different kind of yeast. Brett will only do so much with munich but there is no way I would advise you to mix brett and anything with that ashtray off-flavor unless you consider beer that tastes like burnt rubber to be an improvement on your current situation.

I think your only two remedies here are either (1) wait and see how the beer develops or (2) blend. The acridness will smooth, partially, over time but the ashtray flavor won't really go away. I don't think waiting it out will develop anything you will be very excited to drink. Blending is a much better option. If you are going to blend you to reduce your existing batch to half or less than half of the total blend to get to something or recognizable as a black IPA. That means at best you end up with 24 (or more) gallons of this beer. At worst you brew more beer to blend and then find out the blend still sucks and now you're dumping twice as much beer.
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Offline jimpdx

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Re: Screwed up my big black IPA
« Reply #14 on: May 06, 2015, 05:56:33 PM »
Thanks everyone for your input! Multiple mistakes on this one for sure, and as always a great learning experience. I am going to transfer the 12 gallons to secondary with some vanilla beans and wait it out. I might even make a 10 gallon stovetop batch with LME (American Pale Ale) and blend it downstream. Clearly nowhere near a Black IPA but I might end up with an enjoyable dark ale of some sort. The combination of heavy roast, fully body, high IBU and low ABV is interesting.

I added enough Baking Soda to keep the mash pH within range, although I wish I had an accurate reading. Estimated mash pH is almost always different than reality, no matter how good your software or spreadsheet is.

Ill try to post updates on how the flavor evolves.
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