Friday, June 3, 2016

Brewing A Classic - Screwy's Old Vinyl IPA

The first records of an American IPA style beer being brewed in the United States date back to the 1930's. As a frame of reference, back then an average monthly rent was $22 and a gallon of regular gas cost just 8 cents. Soon after its introduction in Newark NJ, the Ballantine IPA became a huge hit with the American beer drinking public, it also went on to play a major role in the creation of the first American IPA style of beer. Since that time Ballantine's India Pale Ale has taken a place of honor among the legendary beer styles we enjoy today.

As the popularity of the American IPA continued to grow soon other breweries began to introduce their own IPA offerings. By that time though, Peter Ballantine & Sons had already been brewing their American Style IPA for over a generation. Today the American IPA style is one of the most sought after and well known styles of beer around. This truly American beer style is also recognized for its role in starting the fledgling craft beer industry in America.

The American IPA style is all about the hops. Hops, hops, more hops and preferably American and almost certainly floral and citrusy to a fault. Boasting a really huge hop flavor and a big unmistakable hop aroma, the American IPA to this day remains wildly popular with craft beer lovers. If you are interested in brewing an outstanding American IPA, you can easily do so by simply following a few basic rules. Big hop flavor and aroma are the dominant characteristics of an American IPA accompanied by subtle malt flavors in the background.        

Screwy's Old Vinyl IPA

The American IPA Style

The following overall impression of the style as copied from the 2015 BJCP Style Guidelines.

"A decidedly hoppy and bitter, moderately strong American pale ale, showcasing modern American or New World hop varieties. The balance is hop-forward, with a clean fermentation profile, dryish finish, and clean, supporting malt allowing a creative range of hop character to shine through."

The reason that the American IPA style has proven to be so popular has to do with the sheer number of different ways that it can be brewed. As long as the brewer starts out with a relatively low mash temperature, to produce a highly fermentable wort, and then uses a type of yeast with neutral fermentation characteristics, the rest of the IPA brewing process is easy to do. Where the brewer's creativity really comes into play is in choosing which types of hops to use in their version of an American IPA.

There are almost as many ways to add hop bitterness, flavor and aroma to an IPA as there are different hop varieties to choose from. Amarillo, Cascade, Chinook, Citra and Simcoe are among the most often used varieties and have been for quite some time. What has changed, and where there are seemingly endless possibilities for brewing a unique tasting beer, is the hop addition process used to add bitterness, flavor and aroma.

The push to drive as much hop flavor and aroma into an IPA as possible has led to the creation of some interesting process names. First wort hop, hop Randall, dry hop, wet hop, hop spider, whirlpool hop, knockout hop, late addition hop and hop bursting just to name some of the more popular terms used today. But in the end they all serve a similar purpose and that is to infuse as much hop goodness as possible into the finished beer. Each of the hop processes were developed as a way to enhance hop contributions in a way that was lacking in any of the other hop processes.  

Screwy's Old Vinyl IPA

 This American IPA style recipe is my interpretation of how a great tasting IPA can be brewed. The recipe is based in part on the beer style information published by the BJCP, their guidelines are available and free to download on BJCP website. The entire beer brewing process is part art and part science and ultimately the best way for a brewer to hone their brewing skills will be in brew room. Brew day is when everything comes together. That is where sanitization, yeast handling, yeast pitch rate and fermentation control combine with grain, hops and water to influence the taste of the finished beer.

Every single step in the overall brewing process has some affect on the quality of your finished beer. Documenting what went right, and possibly what went wrong, on each brew day will be help ensure that your future brew days will go more smoothly. Taking the time to write down brewing notes is especially important whenever a recipe or a new brewing process has been modified. This way any improvements that were made, can later be referred to when brewing future batches.

It is important when evaluating your beer for flavor, color, aroma and other characteristics of the style, that you also ask others for their opinion too. This way a comparison of their impressions of the beer are also compared against your own somewhat biased impressions. The honest feedback that you receive from beer drinkers, who are familiar with the style, will be helpful when evaluating your beer against authentic versions of the style.
Screwy's Old Vinyl IPA
The Water Profile

In order to brew the best tasting beer possible it is necessary to match your brewing water as closely as possible to the style of beer being brewed. For a hop-forward style like an IPA this is especially important due to the amount of hops that are used in the brewing process. One potential side effect from the liberal addition of hops is the introduction of soapy flavors, which are definitely not a welcome component in a great tasting beer. The addition of calcium sulfate (Gypsum) to the brewing water eliminates soapy flavors while increasing the clean sharp hop taste of the beer.

Another thing to consider when preparing brewing water for an IPA is the alkalinity of the source water. Higher levels of alkalinity in the brewing water will have a dulling affect on the flavor, color and taste of the finished beer. When using reverse osmosis, or distilled water as your source, high alkalinity levels are never a problem. When using either RO or distilled water the addition of brewing salts and minerals are necessary, in order to promote increased wort fermentability, ideal yeast fermentation characteristics and to promote higher attenuation rates and increased cell viability.

Preparing The Old Vinyl IPA Brewing Water

My Personal Suggestions

"Prepare your brewing water at least a day or two before you plan to brew with it. This will save you a lot of time and leave you with one less thing to be done on brew day."

Waiting for brewing water to stabilize, in between water adjustments and taking pH readings, can prolong a brew day by several hours. If possible, fill a container with RO water the day before and then slowly stir in the brewing salts and minerals needed to build the water profile. When adding in acid or base adjustments make them in small increments, then wait 20 minutes for the water to stabilize before taking a pH reading. Making smaller pH adjustments and then allowing sufficient time in between readings will reduce the chances of overshooting or undershooting your target pH value.
Calibrate Your pH Meter Often

"Buffers, moles, ions, cations, anions, acid, base, atomic weights, valence, electrons, Lewis structures, central atoms, bonding sites, mg/L as CaCO3, mg/L, ppm, milliliters, teaspoons. Really? Let me just arrange all that information in a way that's interesting and understandable by the majority of brewers" ~ Screwy Brewer

Routinely calibratng and maintaining your digital pH meter is the only reliable way to get consistently accurate pH readings. Doing so at least once a week, for less time than it takes to drink a beer, and you will keep your pH meter in perfect working condition.

  • Never let the probe dry out, always make sure that the pH bulb is always submerged in storage solution when not in use
  • Each week be sure to calibrate your pH meter using the recommended calibration solution for your meter
  • Always be sure to sample liquids at a temperature no warmer than of 80F, to greatly extend the life of the meter's pH bulb

Screwy's Old Vinyl IPA Water Profile (15.0 Gallons RO Water)

12.00 g - Gypsum (calcium sulfate)
12.00 g - Calcium Chloride
09.00 g - Epsom Salt (magnesium sulfate)
01.00 ml Lactic Acid

pH = 5.51 @ 74F (calculated)
Chloride/Sulfate ratio 0.57
Residual Alkalinity -105 

106 ppm - calcium
015 ppm - magnesium
000 ppm - sodium
102 ppm - chloride
180 ppm - sulfate

Nearly A Pound Of Late Addition Hops

Bittering Unit To Gravity Ratio

When attempting to determine the perceived bitterness level of a beer recipe it is important to take into consideration more than just the International Bittering Unit value. To get a complete picture of the hop bitterness to malt sweetness ratio, the calculated IBU value of a recipe should also be compared to the original gravity value of the recipe. This comparison will provide the ratio of hop bitterness to malt sweetness, or the recipe's BU:GU ratio. The math used to determine the ratio is simple because it only requires calculations using the IBU and OG values of the recipe. The Screwy's Old Vinyl IPA recipe has a BU:GU ratio of 1.360 which is very close to the upper end of the BU:GU scale. For the purpose of doing a comparison, a Wheat beer with a BU:GU ratio of .500 is right in the middle of the scale and a Standard American Lager with a value of .250 is very close to the lower end of the scale.

The math involved in calculating the BU:GU ratio for any recipe is not difficult at all to do. For example, the bitterness value of the Screwy's Old Vinyl IPA recipe is 82 IBUs and is entered directly into the calculation as BU. The OG value of the recipe is 1.060 and after dropping the 1. and multiplying the .060 remainder by 1000, the resulting number is 60, which is used in the calculation as GU.

Estimated Recipe Properties

    IBU  = 82
    OG   = 1.060
    SRM = 6
    FG    = 1.010
    ABV = 6.7%
    BU:GU = 1.360

Nice Clear Original Gravity Sample At 1.060

To calculate the BU:GU ratio for the Old Vinyl IPA recipe divide 82 by 60 and the answer you get is 1.360. Keep in mind that the higher the BU:GU number the more perceived bitterness the finished beer will have. The bitterness ratio, of the Old Vinyl IPA recipe, is not quite that of an Imperial IPA style but it is higher than an American IPA style. By increasing or decreasing the amount of hops used, the malt and bitterness balance of the recipe can easily be adjusted to your preferences, without worry of dramatically changing the hop flavor and aroma of the beer.

BU:GU Ratio : 82 / 60 = 1.360 (BU:GU Ratio Of Popular Beer Styles)

Flameout Hops Steeped In Kettle Before Chilling Wort

The Grain Bill (10 Gallon Batch)

There are two grains used in the recipe, US 2-Row malt and Crystal 60L malt. The addition of one pound of corn sugar helps to boost the ABV and also to add a little dryness to the beer.

23.00 pounds 2-Row (US) (94%)
00.50 pounds Crystal 60L  (2%)
01.00 pounds Corn Sugar   (4%)
24.50 pounds total grain bill

The Hop Bill

Bagging pellet hops before adding them to the kettle greatly reduces the amount of hop debris that would otherwise collect at the bottom of the kettle. Having too much hop debris at the kettle bottom increases the likelihood that some of the debris will be sucked up and then clog a counter-flow chiller. Clearing out a clogged chiller is not something you want to be doing while cooling down gallons of hot wort.

The hop schedule consists of late kettle additions that are added to the kettle at 20 and 10 minutes remaining to the boil. At flameout, after all of the initial hop additions have been removed from the kettle, the remaining hop addition is added to the kettle and allowed to steep in the wort for 30 minutes. At the end of the 30 minutes, with the hops still in the kettle, the wort is then run through a chiller and racked into the fermentors. 

20 minutes - 2.0 ounces Simcoe (pellet)
20 minutes - 2.0 ounces Citra (pellet)
15 minutes - 1.0 ounce Amarillo (pellet)
15 minutes - 1.0 ounce Cascade (pellet)
15 minutes - 1.0 ounce Chinook (pellet)
10 minutes - 2.0 ounces Amarillo (pellet)
10 minutes - 2.0 ounces Cascade (pellet)
10 minutes - 1.0 ounce Chinook (pellet)
00 minutes - 1.0 ounces Amarillo (pellet)
00 minutes - 1.0 ounces Cascade (pellet)
00 minutes - 1.0 ounce Chinook (pellet)
15.00 ounces Total Hop bill

The Yeast

The best way to ferment an Old Vinyl IPA is with a clean fermentation, one that does not encourage the production of esters but instead allows the subtle malt and bold hop flavors to really stand out. Diminishing the accumulation of esters and other flavor precursors can be accomplished by pitching 2 packets of Safale S-05 Dry Ale Yeast™, per 5 gallons of beer and by fermenting the beer at 65F. Oxygenating the wort, using pure oxygen, and re-hydrating the S-05 dry yeast before pitching it will produce the best results.

Starting on the fourth day of fermentation raise the temperature of the fermenting beer by 0.5F a day for next four days. This will help the yeast clean up any flavor precursors that could lead to off flavors. Once the beer has finished fermenting and the final gravity has been reached the beer can be cold crashed by dropping the temperature down to near freezing. The cold temperature will help any trub and hop debris to settle out of suspension quickly, resulting in a beer that is clear when poured in your glass.

Transfer The Cooled Wort To The Fermentor Then Oxygenate

Putting It All Together

The first time mashing with an electric brew in a bag system you will have to figure out how much grain and brewing water will fit inside the kettle without causing it to overflow. With eBIAB systems heating the strike water, mashing the grains, sparging and boiling the wort are all done in a single vessel. Before being able to successfully brew using an eBIAB brewing system, after having brewed on a traditional three tier brewing system, you will need to learn a new set of calculations. Having a separate hot liquor tank, mash tun and brew kettle made calculating mash thickness and preboil volumes pretty straightforward, because the three vessels used provide much more volume to work with. The volume calculations when using only a single vessel system will take little more thought, since all three brewing processes have to share the same kettle.

With eBIAB brewing the strike water and grain used in the mash are added to the kettle at the beginning of the mash. The grain is placed inside of a fine mesh bag so that the sugars can be extracted into the wort while preventing any grain from getting into the kettle. At the end of the mash the mesh bag and grain are raised above the wort, rinsed with sparge water and then discarded. Once the wort is heated to a boil the rest of the eBIAB brewing process is exactly the same as any other type of brewing process.

Beautiful Color And Loaded With Hop Flavor And Aroma

Summing It All UP

Near the end of the boil the wort in the kettle was pumped through a counter flow chiller to sanitize it before being returned to the kettle and to create a whirl pool. The hops used during the boil for flavor and aroma were removed from the kettle before adding the final knock out hop additions. Once the pump was turned off, it took about 30 minutes for the wort to settle down inside the kettle, allowing the cold break to fall to the kettle bottom below the valve opening. After the wort in the kettle had cleared it was run through the counter-flow chiller to cool it as the wort was collected in the fermentors.

The preferred serving temperature for Screwy's Old Vinyl IPA beer really depends on your own personal preference and it can vary from one beer drinker to another. For a crisper pour serve your beer at 36F and then finish the glass before the beer reaches 45F. As the beer warms above 45F the crispness will begin to fade allowing more of the malt flavor and aroma to become noticeable. Pour yourself a tall glass and then savor every sip as you enjoy the full range of crispness, flavor and aroma this beer has to offer. You will be glad you did!

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