Author Topic: Is a good, low ABV IPA possible?  (Read 4610 times)

Offline kaitiura

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Is a good, low ABV IPA possible?
« on: June 26, 2010, 07:04:59 PM »
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? ???
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Offline dmtaylor

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Re: Is a good, low ABV IPA possible?
« Reply #1 on: June 26, 2010, 07:14:11 PM »
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.
Dave

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Offline kaitiura

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Re: Is a good, low ABV IPA possible?
« Reply #2 on: June 26, 2010, 07:35:09 PM »
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! ::)
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Online hopfenundmalz

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Re: Is a good, low ABV IPA possible?
« Reply #3 on: June 26, 2010, 07:43:30 PM »
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.
 
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Offline dbeechum

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Re: Is a good, low ABV IPA possible?
« Reply #4 on: June 26, 2010, 07:52:05 PM »
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.
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Offline bonjour

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Re: Is a good, low ABV IPA possible?
« Reply #5 on: June 26, 2010, 08:05:54 PM »
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:
------



-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Fred Bonjour
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AHA Governing Committee; AHA Conference, Club Support & Web Subcommittees



Everything under 1.100 is a 'session' beer ;)

Offline kaitiura

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Re: Is a good, low ABV IPA possible?
« Reply #6 on: June 26, 2010, 09:39:25 PM »
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! :)
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Offline bonjour

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Re: Is a good, low ABV IPA possible?
« Reply #7 on: June 27, 2010, 06:22:01 AM »
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
Fred Bonjour
Co-Chair Mashing in Michigan 2014 AHA Conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan
AHA Governing Committee; AHA Conference, Club Support & Web Subcommittees



Everything under 1.100 is a 'session' beer ;)

Offline majorvices

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Re: Is a good, low ABV IPA possible?
« Reply #8 on: June 27, 2010, 07:13:32 AM »
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.
Keith Y.
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Offline kaitiura

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Re: Is a good, low ABV IPA possible?
« Reply #9 on: June 27, 2010, 07:58:18 AM »
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! :) :) :)
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Online hopfenundmalz

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Re: Is a good, low ABV IPA possible?
« Reply #10 on: June 27, 2010, 08:22:06 AM »
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
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Offline The Professor

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Re: Is a good, low ABV IPA possible?
« Reply #11 on: June 27, 2010, 08:29:08 AM »
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'.
 
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Offline bonjour

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Re: Is a good, low ABV IPA possible?
« Reply #12 on: June 27, 2010, 08:34:05 AM »
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
Fred Bonjour
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AHA Governing Committee; AHA Conference, Club Support & Web Subcommittees



Everything under 1.100 is a 'session' beer ;)

Offline majorvices

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Re: Is a good, low ABV IPA possible?
« Reply #13 on: June 27, 2010, 09:42:09 AM »
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.
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Offline David Little

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Re: Is a good, low ABV IPA possible?
« Reply #14 on: June 27, 2010, 09:47:09 AM »
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.