American IPA + results from IPA Day homebrew competition

Let’t go back in time. Specifically, until August this year. As we told you about in our entry on our first NEIPA, the first week of August a homebrew competition was held for all the homebrewers from the Iberian Peninsula celebrating the IPA Day. Then we told you that, apart from the NEIPA, we also had brewed an American IPA for the competition. Well, in this post we are going to tell you about the recipe and process for that American IPA and then we will take a look at the results for the Iberian Cup competition.

Citra pellets, 2016 harvest

Let’s start with the recipe. This American IPA was based in another one we had previously brewed and enjoyed. The ingredients and process are described below.


2.50 Kg (4.41 lbs) (82.1%) Maris Otter (Crisp) (5.0 EBC)
0.36 Kg (0.79 lbs) (12.0%) Munich I malt (Weyermann) (15 EBC)
0.18 Kg (0.40 lbs) (5.9%) table sugar or sucrose (2.0 EBC) (added as a syrup with 300 mL of boiled water 4 days after pitching yeast)
18.00 g (0.63 oz) Chinook (13.00% AA) leaf (first wort hopping 90 minutes, 61.8 IBUs)
80.00 g (2.82 oz) Citra (14.20% AA) pellets (whirpool 5 minutes, 28.1 IBUs)
80.00 g (2.82 oz) Cascade (6.20% AA) pellets (dry hop, 7 days after pitching yeast, for 3 days)
20.00 g (0.71 oz) Citra (14.20% AA) pellets (dry hop, 7 days after pitching yeast, for 3 days)
Safale US-05 (1 sachet, previously rehydrated)
Volume: 11.0 L (2.9 gallons)     OG: 1.060     FG: 1.009     ABV: 6.6%     IBUs: 60.7     Color: 10.7 EBC     BU/GU: 1.031     Efficiency: 65.00%
Ca: 82 ppm; Mg: 3 ppm; Na: 7 ppm; SO4: 169 ppm; Cl: 89 ppm
66ºC (150.8ºF) for 60 minutes, mash out 75ºC (167ºF) 5 minutes
75 minutes

We obtained the water profile for this recipe starting with our tap water and adding 7.2 mL of 33% CaCl2 to increase calcium and 66 mL of sulfuric acid 1 N to achieve a mash pH of 5.28 according to Bru’n Water. This way, the ratio chloride/sulfate was 0.53, which theoretically should enhance bitterness.

Mash pH

Having into account what we had planned, everything went more or less as expected. As you can see in above picture, mash pH was 5.32, not far from what Bru’n Water had predicted (5.28). After mashing, we added hops for first wort hopping as we heated wort to boil for 75 minutes. When the boil was finished, we added Citra hops and soon we started to cool the wort. When the wort reached 20ºC (68ºF), Safale US-05 yeast was pitched. Original gravity was 1.052, close to the theoretical value of 1.054, due to the fact that we ended with a little more volume than expected. You would have noticed that this original gravity value is not the one that appears with the recipe. This is because that value counts the table sugar, that we added four days after pitching yeast with water as a syrup, with 300 mL of previously boiled and chilled water. This way, we gave the yeast some “dessert” after metabolizing all the sugars from the malt.

After three “extra” days of fermentation due to the table sugar added, we added hops for dry hopping, keeping them in the beer for 3 days. We added hop pellets for dry hopping into a clean and sanitized demijohn, purged it with CO2 and then we transferred the beer with an autosiphon over the hops trying to avoid oxygen as much as we could. From the beginning of fermentation until three days after adding the hops for dry hopping the beer the temperature was about 19ºC (66.2ºF) all the time, keeping the demijohns inside a fermentation chamber.

Dry hopping the American IPA, with our Norwegian farmhouse ale as a witness

Once we finished dry hopping, and looking for the material from hop pellets to precipitate, we set the temperature of the fermentation chamber at 5ºC (41ºF), keeping it that way for 24 hours. Once the hop pellets settled on the bottom of the demijohn, we kegged approximately 6 liters (1.59 gallons) of beer, and the rest was bottled with enough table sugar to get a carbonation level of 2.3 volumes of CO2. Final gravity was 1.012, with an ABV value of 6.0%.

Enough of the process. We will comment on the results of the homebrew competition and our own opinion about this American IPA and the NEIPA previously brewed, both entered into the competition. We will also share some changes to make in future elaborations of these styles. Let’s start with the American IPA, which was the one that was fresher at the time of the competition. The average score was 31.7 (34, 31 and 30 being the individual scores), which at first glance is not bad. Unlike other participants, the three scoresheets didn’t show great differences between them. None of the judges noted any remarkable defect in the beer and the main criticism was that both in aroma and flavor hops were very subtle. After tasting a couple of bottles we kept to drink the beer in the same conditions as the competition judges, I must say that I have to agree with them. I don’t know if the first time we brewed this recipe hops were fresher or the process was somehow different, but both flavor and aroma were brighter that time, and I would also say that bitterness was more pronounced. For future batches, I would add more hops in the boil and also would make some little changes in the hop whirlpool addition, since I think that for this beer we should have kept the hops with the wort warm a little bit longer before cooling. Anyway, we’re satisfied with the score this beer got.

NEIPA, 3 months after brewday

As for the NEIPA, this beer was brewed in the end of May, beginnings of June this year. Freshly brewed, we took a 9.45 liters (2.5 gallons) keg for a weekend with some friends… and it lasted a couple of hours, it was delicious. Hop aroma was awesome, smooth mouthfeel, golden color, hazy and very tasty. When we send it to the competition it was three months since we had brewed it and, of course, it was smashed by the judges. Individual scores of 20, 15 and 20 in the three scoresheets. The bigger defects that judges noted were oxidation and color, too dark for the style, besides a weak or inexistent presence of hops in aroma and flavor. Once again, I have to agree with them. By the time the competition was held, the beer had darkened in a major way (in above picture you can see the amber color after 3 months, when it was light golden when brewed) and it really didn’t show any hop presence at all, with a quite disgusting flavor due to oxidation. All of this confirms a lot of the things people are talking about regarding this beer style. These beers seems to be more or less stable for about 2-3 weeks and then they experiment a huge decline in their properties. If we add to this the fact that in a homebrew level our chances to avoid oxidation are not the best, we have that a wonderful and tasty beer can turn into a bland or weak beer in very little time. For future NEIPAs, apart from playing with other combination of hops and/or yeasts, we’ll have to find a way to keep oxygen levels as low as possible. And when brewing a NEIPA, we won’t be brewing big batches, only enough volume to be freshly consumed. As always, we’ll keep you posted.

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1 Response to American IPA + results from IPA Day homebrew competition

  1. Pingback: Brewing our first NEIPA… + Iberian Cup on IPA day | LOS CHICOS

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