West Coast New England IPA

When the sun hits your beer just right....

When the sun hits your beer just right....

Living in San Diego for 7 years I learned one thing and only one thing: IPAs are bitter, crisp, dank, and clear. Living in New England for just over 1 year I've learned one thing and only one thing: IPAs are juicy, creamy, tropical, and hazy. So what does a boy who learned the ways of IPA through the mind of a West Coaster do when he finds himself living in the land of haze? Why brew an IPA that's bitter, creamy, dank, juicy, tropical, and hazy...that's what!

I'm about to say something controversial: Tree House beers aren't quaffable and that really ruins their appeal to me. It's honestly hard for me to drink a full pint of most of their beers, splitting and sharing is the way to go (point of clarification: the few ounces of their hoppy beers that I drink from time to time are outstanding). Why is this? There's no bitter backbone that helps to dry out and recharge your palate for that next sip! Places like Trillium and Bissell Brothers have that bitter base that helps make their beers truly magical. I just want to emphasize this once again that Tree House makes tasty beers, but if I see those three breweries on tap at a bar, I'm choosing Trillium or Bissell Brothers 10 times out of 10.

Oh hops, how I love you.

Oh hops, how I love you.

West Coast New England IPA, batch size 12 gallons:

Grains

  • 10.5 lbs German Pale Malt
  • 10.5 lbs American 2-row
  • 4 lbs Flaked Oats

Mash at 149 for 60 minutes, I know this seems low, but with the oats and the added chloride, you'll still get plenty of body but will be left with a cleaner, drier finish. Bring temp up to 170F by adding boiling water and let rest for 15 minute before draining and batch sparging.

Boil additions (60 minute boil):

  • 1.4 oz Warrior @ First Wort Hopping (total of 40 IBUs)
  • 4 oz Idaho 7, 2 oz El Dorado, 2 oz Galaxy @ flamout, cool to 175F
  • 4 oz Idaho 7, 4 oz El Dorado, 4 oz Galaxy @ whirlpool for 30 minutes at 175F

Fermentation Plan:

I used Vermont Ale Yeast from Yeast Bay that I got from a friend while living in San Diego. I built up a starter just over 2L, harvested some for storage, and then cold crashed the rest, decanted, and added 500ml of 1.040 wort for 4 hours with stirring before adding evenly to my carboys.

Fermented at 65F for 3 days, adding 3 oz Idaho 7, 3 oz El Dorado, and 2 oz Galaxy (split evenly between two carboys) on Day 3. Raised temp to 70F for 3 days, adding 4 oz Idaho 7 and 4 oz El Dorado on Day 6. Dropped temp to 65F and let sit for 7 more days before cold crashing on Day 13. Cold crashed 72 hours before kegging and burst carbing on Day 16.

It rises.

It rises.

With a recipe and fermentation plan of action in place, I needed to work on water chemistry. I have pretty neutral well water, with no adjustments it makes great pilsners, saisons, and dark beers. But for this guy, I knew I'd have to play around a bit. My goal was to get my chloride quite a bit higher, all the way up to 150 ppm while pushing sulfate to 100 ppm. The chloride will give the beer a creamier/fuller mouth feel and (according to legend) keep the beer hella hazy, while the sulfate will make sure the hops pack a punch and sing their beautiful song. To do this with my water, I had to add a total of 6.3 g gypsum, 6.3 g of epsom salt, 18 g of CaCl2 to my water, which was just over 18 gallons.

That burner stand cost a few dollars and is very aesthetically pleasing. 

That burner stand cost a few dollars and is very aesthetically pleasing. 

Brew day went off without a hitch, which is great. Mashed in as always, ran my runnings only until they were clear of husks because this wasn't ever going to get clearer going into the kettle, and tossed in hops when I needed to. I use muslin bags to prevent all hop matter from going into the kettle (a bunch still makes it through though), usually I dangle them into the kettle from a high tech wooden dowel, but today I just tied off the bags and tossed them in, keeping about 4 ounces of hops max in each bag due to expansion and wanting to make sure I extracted that most flavor out of them.

After the boil was done, I tossed the flame out charge of hops into the kettle, killed the flame, and turned on my wort chiller to cool down to 175 while stirring. Once I reached temp, I tossed in the whirlpool hops and let steep for 30 minutes, stirring every 5. After 30 minutes was up, I finished cooling and brought the carboys down to my basement to finish cooling to 65F in my fermentation fridge. At this point is when I decanted my starter and got it into vitality mode by adding 500ml of wort and spinning on a stir plate for 4 hours. This gets the yeast primed and ready to divide. It'll fully oxygenate the cells, getting them building up materials for cell division, and make sure they're not too shocked when going into the super hoppy home I created for them. Fermentation kicked off like a bandit, before going to bed I could already see activity, and by the next morning the krausen was looking great.

Right before adding the primary fermentation hops, the krausen had already fallend quite a bit by day 3.

Right before adding the primary fermentation hops, the krausen had already fallend quite a bit by day 3.

After adding the dry hops and cold crashing, the moment of truth came when I opened up my fermenter and saw the carboys were as hazy as a San Francisco morning. Success! But what about the flavor? That part will come later...just hold on. I kegged the beers into CO2 purged kegs, then filled and purged the head space of the kegs 10x at 35 PSI which should all but have eliminated any O2 left. After I was done, my basement smelled of dank fruity tropical hops and I was pleased.

After burst carbing at 35PSI for 24 hours, I dropped the PSI down to 13, pulled a little pour and smiled a big hoppy smile. Stone fruit, tropical fruit, a bit of danky pine, and citrus tickled my nostrils and then I sipped. The initial rush of grapefruit bitterness fell away to a melange of juicy fruity hops that lingered until the back end dryness allowed them to fade, leaving your taste buds begging for another sip. So I obliged.

Did I hit what I was shooting for? I'd say so. It's a bit more aggressively hopped than my favorite Trillium beers, but doesn't quite have the same super juicy punch as their beers, which I'm OK with. Overall it's a great beer and my favorite IPA I've brewed to date. What would I change? I'm not sure. I really like what the El Dorado and Galaxy brought to the table and the resin/pine added from the Idaho 7 gave it that West Coast punch I was looking for. I'd almost like this more as a slightly smaller beer (4.5-5%) with 20% oats in the grist using all German Pale Malt while turning down that hops just slightly (initial IBUs to 25, 75% less hops at each step). But while this is on tap, I'm not going to complain one bit.

The beer smelled so good it got Spock up from a nap.

The beer smelled so good it got Spock up from a nap.

Final numbers for my West Coast New England IPA:

  • Batch Size: 12 gallons
  • Original Gravity: 1.057
  • Final Gravity: 1.009
  • ABV: 6.3%
  • IBU: 76 (according to BeerSmith, hard to say exactly what the flameout and whirlpool hops contribute beyond the initial 40IBU charge)
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