Thursday, May 22, 2014

House IPA

It's been a while since I brewed my house IPA recipe, so I'm giving it a go today. Since this blog is called "The Hop Whisperer", it's about time I posted an IPA recipe.

Before I get to the recipe, let me delve a bit into the philosophy behind it. In the end, I'm really more about ideas than specifics when it comes to recipes. Set your goals first, then you can hash out the specifics on how to get there.

I've been pushing the limits with my IPA's since I started homebrewing. I've constantly been looking to max out the hop flavor and aroma. I think I finally hit it. The end result is more like drinking hop juice than a typical IPA. It is pretty much the definition of a fruit bomb IPA, yet it isn't enamel-strippingly bitter (despite the 98 IBUs that this was lab-measured to be).

My grain bill philosophy is simple: don't leave behind any sweetness, but leave a little malt richness to balance the hops. I avoid Crystal malt altogether. I'm not saying that you can't brew a good IPA using judicious amounts of Crystal malt, but that's not my approach. I stick to base malt paired with specialty grains like Munich, Victory, Aromatic, etc.

So, now for the hops. My big secret is simply to add all my boil hops at flameout and do a long hop stand. I also use a very large amount of hops - about 3 oz/gallon in the boil and about 1.5 oz/gal in dry hops. The hop stand addition in particular is where the massive hop flavor comes from. I've tried a lot of other hopping schedules, but it's the hop stand (which approximates a pro brewer's whirlpool) that really pushes the flavor envelope.

As far as hop selection, I'm really shooting for a fruit-bomb in this beer. While there are certainly some hop varieties that would work well as single hops in this type of IPA, I find that to be a bit monotone for my tastes. I'm looking for something like sangria, rather than a mango smoothie (I'm looking at you, Citra). In choosing hops, I want each one to bring something specific and different, but they all need to fit the whole picture. Here's a peek inside my thought process for each hop in the blend:

Nelson Sauvin: White grapefruit citrus in the C-hop ballpark, but also has a white wine character that really goes nicely with the sangria theme. Can overpower other hops, so I'm using a bit less in the dry hops
Motueka: Lime zest and lemongrass. Motueka gets overpowered by oilier hops, so this is really just an accent note despite being used in relatively large amounts.
Apollo: Navel oranges. Apollo also brings some Columbus-like dankness, so I'm just using it in the boil. 
Citra: Mango, mango, mango. So monotonous on its own, but so awesome when paired with citrusy hops. Super potent in the dry hops, so I use a bit less.
Meridian: This is my ace. Meridian has a fantastic sweet stonefruit (apricot/pluot/nectarine) flavor and aroma. It really shines here when paired with citrus hops and the mango from Citra.

Here are links to the posts containing the recipes:

All grain (3-gallon BIAB)
Partial Mash


  1. Thank you for the lab IBU analysis on your hop-stand IPA. If I'm shooting for something with lower IBUs, I should consider a more traditional bittering charge in the boil correct? Are you throwing everything into the fermenter (3.5 gallons post-boil) and taking your expected half-gallon loss after fermentation that also includes the yeast cake? You also dry-hopping in the primary? To lose that little with a pound of hops is surprising!

  2. When I'm brewing something where I want a specific amount of IBU's (as opposed to an IPA where I don't really concern myself with an upper limit), then I will target my specific IBU's with a bittering charge. I will then chill to the 170-180F range before starting my hop stand. This way you get the benefits of a hop stand without any significant increase in IBU's, as AA isomerization is minimal at that temperature range.

    I net just under a case of bottles with this. I generally pour my wort through a strainer that I have inside of a sanitized paint strainer bag. That catches a lot of the hop trub, Other times I have racked it to the primary using an autosiphon that I've zip-tied a nylon stocking over. Sometimes I'll even zip-tie a nylon over the output side that I stuff with an ounce or so of whole hops. Sort of like a juryrigged hopback.

    I probably lose a little over a gallon between boil hops, dry hops, and hop trub.