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Monday, 8 March 2010

New Home Brew - Low ABV, Single Variety, US Style IPA

For a long while I've been planning my next homebrew recipe. When I wrote about Brewdog Nanny State, I talked about how interested I am in the concept of a low ABV beer with plenty of balanced hop flavour. Brewdog 5am Saint goes some way to achieving this. The ABV is low (compared to an IPA), but the beer still manages a big hop flavour and aroma, whilst remaining refreshing and thirst quenching.

The other beer style that interests me a lot at the moment is single hop variety beer. When you know that a beer only contains a single type of hop, you can really get to know what that hop brings to the table. You can educate your palate with the flavour and bitterness profile that the hop provides, and you can then search for and define those flavours in subsequent beers that you drink.

With that in mind, I want to make a single variety, low ABV, American style IPA. A beer that I can keep in the fridge and crack open when I get home from work after a long, hot, sweaty, summer-month tube ride across London.

I want to let the hops shine through as much as possible, but with a low ABV it'll be difficult to balance that hoppyness against any sweetness or mouth feel. For that reason, I plan on using a high percentage of specialty malt in the grist. 10 per cent crystal should add sweetness, colour and some fullness to the mouth feel. To complement this, I'll add Carafa III for colour and flaked barley to aid head formation and retention.

The hop will either be Centennial or Amarillo. It'll be added at 60, 15, 5 and 0 minutes. I want the beer to be around 25 EBC's (a lovely warming flame colour), 25 IBU's and 2.5 per cent alcohol. Once fermented out, I'll move to a conditioning vessel and leave for two weeks before bottling. In this conditioning vessel, I'll also dry hop the beer with more of the same hop.

I realise that a beer like this is incredibly difficult to make well. For that reason, I'm sure it will take a couple of iterations to get right. I really do think it's worthwhile though, I can see myself drinking a lot of a beer like this.

This beer should be in the fermenter now! I'd planned a brewday and set the time aside, only to go and badly cut my thumb on a piece of glass. The dressing and sterile strips holding the cut together have to be kept dry, so I decided against an eight hour brewday involving copious amounts of liquid and too many opportunities to make a mistake. As soon as humanly possible, this beer will be made!


Geoff said...

Good luck, it's nigh on impossible to make a good 2.5% alcohol beer, let alone a hoppy one.

Funny you say 5% is a low ABV beer. To your typical British beer consumer, 5% would be classed as a strong beer. But in an American beer bar that would probably be the lower bound (or you might not even find anything that low).

Mark said...

I like a challenge! :P

Like I say, I don't think it will be easy, but I think it's possible. My inspiration is partly in the "Small beers" of yester-year.

I said 5% is a low ABV for a US style IPA. I know 5am Saint is an amber ale, but hopefully you see what I'm getting at. You are right though, there's a big gap between US and UK thinking regarding ABV.

Sean Ayling said...

Really interested to see how this turns out, Chunk. Obviously this is much easier to achieve with kit brewing, just add too much water like I did, once by mistake (Muntons Imperial Stout 3.53%) and once on purpose (Muntons Smugglers Gold 3.66%).

The Smugglers turned out very nice indeed but I'll brew the Stout short next time, it really needs to be 5 or 6% at least.

I do have a few stashed away for you if we ever get to met up.

Mark said...

Thanks for reading. I think you're right. To get the low ABV is easy. To get a low ABV with enough body to pull off the hoppyness ... that's another story. :P

Would be happy to do a homebrew swap by post, if you rather do something now than wait until our paths cross. There are some postal services which are pretty cheap. I don't have a load of stuff conditioned and ready to go right now though. Some, but not loads.