Brewday: Imperial IPA

January 22, 2012

We’re most of the way through January 2012 and, as of yesterday, I hadn’t brewed any beers at home yet. With the grains, hops, and yeast I had on hand, I decided I’d step my American yeast up a couple times in some starters to build the cell count and brew an Imperial IPA.

I like to keep my IPA and Imperial IPA grain bills simple to let the hops do most of the work. For an Imperial IPA, I’ll also add sugar to bump up the alcohol a bit without increasing the body. The malt bill I used for this one was:

  • 15.00 lb Pale malt
  • 2.50 lb Munich malt
  • 1.00 lb Turbinado sugar

There were a lot of options for hops, given how full my freezer is. For a strongly bitter beer, I like using a clean bittering hop and chose Nugget (13% Alpha Acid content) for this one. I wanted an assertive citrus flavor that wasn’t overly grapefruit-like, so I used some of my Amarillo for 15 minutes in the boil. The flavor addition wasn’t at 20-30 minutes because my boils are really strong on this stove, so that would just make the beer even more bitter without adding that much flavor.

While I was choosing and measuring out my hops, I had one small issue. I was going to use Columbus and Cascade as the combination for aroma hops to give the beer a classic American grapefruit and citrus aroma. When I pulled out the Columbus hops, they were looking kinda brown and weren’t very aromatic. These were the remnants of my hop orders from this time last year, so it’s about time that the final few ounces finally went stale. I tossed out those Columbus hops and opened up my brand new bag of Centennial in its place.

So, the final decision on hop schedule was:

  • 2.00 oz Nugget (60 minutes, 13% Alpha Acid content)
  • 2.00 oz Amarillo (15 minutes, 10.1% Alpha Acid content)
  • 2.00 oz Cascade (5 minutes, 5.5% Alpha Acid content)
  • 2.00 oz Centennial (5 minutes, 10.9% Alpha Acid content)
  • 2.00 oz Cascade (End of boil)
  • 2.00 oz Centennial (End of boil)
  • 2.00 oz Cascade (Dry hops)
  • 2.00 oz Centennial (Dry hops)

The mash was pretty typical, 1.25 quarts per pound. I heated 5.25 gallons to 165F and mashed in, having the temperature equalize at 149F. The low temp was to try and maximize my attenuation so the beer isn’t too sweet at the end.

During the mash I got to try out a new toy. My dad got me a pH meter for Christmas cause I had been talking about wanting to start tracking that piece of info. So I grabbed a sample after mashing in, cooled it to room temp, and took a reading. The pH was 5.47, which is comfortably in the optimal range (though that range varies depending on who you ask). What I really can’t wait for is taking a pH reading on my darker beers, cause the dark malts really drop that pH down quite a bit. I skipped my usual addition of chalk to the water to try and avoid keeping the pH too high, and it looks like it worked.

After finishing the mash, I sparged with 5.75 gallons of water at 180F. The sparge went pretty quick, but I wound up oversparging by about 0.4 gallons. I decided not to extend the boil, so I wound up with 6.78 gallons in the end, which turned out to be perfect. After transferring 5 gallons to the fermenter, the remaining wort, trub, and hops began clogging up the drain on the kettle, so it worked out great. 5 gallons in the fermenter and 1.78 gallons of trub in the kettle. The gravity came in at 1.080, which is what I wanted to make sure to hit, so it should easily break 8% ABV.

I’m looking forward to trying this, but now it’s time to start planning the next four beers to replace the four kegs I’m drinking from right now.

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One Response to “Brewday: Imperial IPA”

  1. beercommdood Says:

    That’s one hell of a hops payload…


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