5 Tips on Brewing IPAs from Mitch Steele

This post was originally published in 2013 for #IPAday

Judging by the trends the American Homebrewers Association has seen thus far in 2013, the India pale ale still reigns supreme as a favorite style of both homebrewers and craft beer enthusiasts.

IPAs occupied the top five places in Zymurgy‘s Best Beers in America survey, with Russian River’s Pliny the Elder claiming the number one spot for the fifth consecutive year, and half of the top fifty were some form of the style.

In the 2013 National Homebrew Competition the India pale ale category boasted a hefty 584 entries—second only to American ales with 598 entries.

If this isn’t testament enough to the allure and continued popularity of IPAs, maybe the fact that it has its own holiday will do the trick!

Mitch’s Tips for a Great IPA

In celebration of IPA Day (#IPAday) we asked Stone Brewing Co. Brewmaster Mitch Steele to offer some tips on homebrewing great India pale ales. Four of Stone’s hoppy offerings, three being IPAs, placed in the 2013 Best Beers in America survey.

Steele has been brewing at commercial facilities, large and small, for the last 25 years, and he has always had an obsession with hoppy IPAs (visit his blog, The Hop Tripper). This obsession culminated in Steele’s recent book IPA: Brewing Techniques, Recipes and the Evaluation of India Pale Ale.

In addition to forty-eight IPA recipes ranging from historical beers to popular commercial clones, Steele’s book covers everything you need to understand the celebrated style inside and out.

Here are five tips from Mitch Steele, which might help your IPA competition entries rise to the top…or at the very least you’ll end up with tasty IPA to share!

  1. Keep the crystal malts to a minimum (5% or less). Use Munich malt or some other lightly-roasted malt if you want more color.
  2. British pale ale malt (Golden Promise or Maris Otter) is excellent for using in all versions of IPA.
  3. Don’t forget about older “classic” hop varieties. Everyone wants to use Amarillo, Mosaic and Citra right now, and understandably so. These are exciting new varieties that provide unique flavors, but some of the best IPAs I’ve had recently were dry-hopped with Cascade or Sterling.
  4. Similarly, don’t be afraid to use hops that aren’t considered “IPA hops.” There are some great, highly aromatic hops available from Germany and England, for example, that add wonderful nuances to an IPA.
  5. Brew your beer to be reasonably dry. This means using lower mash temperatures (148-152°F) to make highly fermentable wort. This is especially important in double IPAs because higher alcohol adds a perception of body and sweetness to a beer, and you don’t need to add to that by having a lot of unfermentable dextrins. Drier beers allow the hops to shine.

Bombay Bomber IPA

The following is a recipe from IPA: Brewing Techniques, Recipes and the Evolution of IPA. This recipe is formatted so it can be used for a batch of any size. Grain percentages, original gravity and hop additions along with target IBUs should be enough information for homebrewers to deduce a recipe fit for their target batch volume and system.

When Steelhead Brewing Company opened on January 22, 1991, Bombay Bomber IPA was on draft as the seasonal offering. The IPA was such a hit that Steelhead never took it off tap, making Bombay Bomber one of the first IPAs to be continually served as a flagship offering at a U.S. brewpub.

Teri Fahrendorf, former Steelhead brewer, developed Bombay Bomber and describes it as a “party in your mouth.” More specifically, the brewpub menu stated: “Deep gold. Citrus-floral hop aroma with lots of malt flavors, leading to an intense hop finish.”

Ingredients

  • Western (American) two-row malt (71%)
  • American Munich malt 10°L (22%)
  • American Vienna malt 4°L (7%)
  • Chinook hops (90 minutes)
  • Crystal hops (20 minutes)
  • Chinook hops (0 minutes)
  • Crystal hops (0 minutes)
  • Chinook (dry)

Specifications

  • Original Gravity: 14.2 °P (1.057 SG)
  • Final Gravity: 3.2 °P (1.013 SG)
  • ADF: 77.5%
  • IBU: 57
  • ABV: 6%

Directions

The recipe traditionally uses Eugene, Oregon mountain run off (soft) water with added gypsum.

Employ a single-step conversion mash at 153°F (67°C) for 1 hour.

Follow the 90 minute boil schedule as noted in the ingredients. Fast chill and transfer to a fermenter in 10 minutes (this is what saves the aroma!).

Ferment at 67°F (19°C) for 18 days with the yeast of your choosing. On the third day, dry hop with Chinook at bunging. Beginning on day four, make sure to keep top pressure on the beer to naturally carbonate. Pull the yeast on day 10. Chill to 32°F (0°C) for the final three days (days 19-21), and filter for a bright, crisp taste.

Homebrewers Association
Homebrewers Association