Doctor Duvel

I'm like a sommelier, but for beer.

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Location: Upstate New York, United States

Favorite Beers: Orval, Samuel Smith, Duvel, Hennepin, Oude Gueze, Chimay, Dogfish Head, Anchor Steam, and anything made by Trappist monks.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Theories of IPA

I'm thinking about IPA. Brewing needs to be resumed. I have three yeast cakes available: California Lager; 3787; and Weihenstephan. I'm going to let the first and third go, somewhat regretfully. I think one keg of wheat beer will do me. I'm intrigued by German wheat beers but I don't love them the way I do other things. As for the steam beer, it's my first and I don't feel I have a logical basis for doing another one as such; it's also getting too warm for that. Plus, these have been sitting a while and I'm gun-shy given a recent infection or two. Hopefully they're O.K. Anyway, those are getting kegged tomorrow. The 3787 beer will be bottled and a Westvleteren-esque beer will hit the yeast cake; that'll all happen Sunday or Tuesday probably. Unless I decide to just buy a new pack of 3787, which had occurred to me...

The first beer I should make is a Wit--but I didn't make a starter and it's an old vial of White Labs, so I'll let that wait till next week. So, by default, I'm making an IPA with US-56 as I need no starter and I have tons of neat hops. For that matter, everone is always drinking my goddamn IPA's; I can't keep them on draft, or in bottles. The next step in the Varietal Hop Project is an Amarillo IPA. With this in mind, here's my thoughts regarding tomorrow's plan, based on drinking two IPA's.

Sub-Committee IPA was my first big break-through in IPA. It's gorgeous and I based two subsequent IPA's on it. It used a melange of hops and was quite pale. It's almost pilsner colored. "R.I.P. First Hydrometer" IPA is an all-Columbus affair. For my Columbus and Chinook IPA's I diverged from the Sub-Committee model, bumping up gravities slightly and incorporating a touch more crystal and/or Munich. Sub-Committee was 1062, finishing at 1013 with 66 IBU; specialty malts included wheat, Carapils, 6 oz of Carastan, and 1.25 lbs of Munich. R.I.P. was 1065, finishing at 1011, adding 1 oz more Carastan and another 1/2 lb of Munich. IBU=74. R.I.P. is a noticeably deeper gold.

Now, you could do a lot worse than R.I.P. The head retention is great. The color is nice. The Columbus pungency in the nose is pretty arresting. It has a deep, full palate that belies the rather high attenuation. There's just one problem...

Sub-Committee dances. The hop nose is bewitchingly complex (finished with Cascade, Mt. Hood, and Chinook). The palate is the thing though; it's tremendously lively with a sort of brisk vibrancy to it.

So the moral of the story is as follows. Bigger, thicker IPA's are great. And nobody loves DIPA's more than me. BUT, my preferred house-style IPA is in the lower 1060's and keeps the specialty malts to a minimum. This is, as a side note, probably in keeping with my commercial preference for Smuttynose's IPA over, say, Dogfish Head. It's also why I liked my Centennial and Cascade IPA's more than the ones with Chinook or Columbus, where I got cute and thought the heavier hops mandated a slightly different treatment.

As a result, tomorrow I will use the exact grain bill, statistics, and water treatment for Sub-Committee. The only change will be the use of 100% Amarillo hops. Here's hoping it comes out comparably lovely. In the meantime, Sub-Committee will continue as my session-IPA nirvana.


Blogger Psycho Dude aka "Bad Ben" said...

I'll have another IPA coming out of final conditioning by next weekend. It's not too big, with a SG of 1.068. I agree with your thoughts about having a lower-gravity "session" IPA on hand. I had one on tap for all of April, and it was popular with my friends (and me).
That being said, I'm going to brew a DIPA on Memorial Day, (for those occasional Summer sippings).

1:57 PM  
Blogger Ben, aka BadBen said...

Sorry, Jason. I meant for that last post to go out as me, instead of my alter-ego "PsychoDude."

2:01 PM  
Blogger Jason said...

No problem... I'm planning a DIPA too, loosely based on Pliny the Elder. Yum.

12:29 PM  

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