First try at brewing a milkshake IPA

From all the spectrum of new hazy IPAs that have colonized the market these last years, one of my favorite styles is milkshake IPA. I’ve enjoyed quite a few commercial examples of this style. Considering this, it was a matter of time to brew one on our own. As we always do when we are brewing a style for the first time, before planning recipe and process, I looked for information from different sources and then I tried to process it to see what we could apply.

With some articles with general information about the style and its characteristics, posts from forums and blogs around the internet showing recipes of the style, some tips from the pros and an interesting entry with information from the pioneers of the style (Omnipollo from Sweden and Tired Hands Brewing form USA), I was able to figure out how we should brew a milkshake IPA.

Grains for our first milkshake IPA

Broadly speaking, milkshake IPAs share a good number of attributes with NEIPAs and the rest of hazy IPAs. Two of these attributes are the presence of oat or wheat flakes (or their respective malted grains variants) and dry hopping while fermentation is still active to promote that mysterious, and nowadays quite unknown, interaction between hops and yeast called biotransformation. Adding most the hops in the hot side during whirlpool at flame out or pitching yeast strains able to produce esters that boost fruity aromas and flavors from hops are also common practice.

As (almost) particular characteristics of milkshake IPAs is, evidently, the use of lactose to give some residual sweetness and to contribute to body and mouthfeel, as well as the presence in the process of other ingredients that help to obtain a long-lasting haziness as pectin rich fruits, wheat flour or combination of both. These ingredients are usually added in the boil. The addition of fruits (whole or pureed) once primary fermentation is finished and before a second dry hop charge is used quite often too. Finally, and supporting that sweet touch of the style, it is not uncommon to see some examples with vanilla beans among their ingredients.

Apples, pectin rich fruit to provide haziness

Considering of information above, we decided to brew a recipe with Pilsen malt, wheat flakes and naked malted oats, as well as lactose that would be added during the boil. A puree from golden apples would also be added during the boil. Golden apples are rich in pectin, which should help with haze. For hops, we chose Citra, Vic Secret and Galaxy. The first two would be added both in the whirlpool and for dry hop. Galaxy would be only added for dry hop. One thing I must point out is that the Citra hops we were going to add were in Cryo Hops form, a kind of pellets with much less leaf or green material and approximately double of alfa acids and oils than normal hop pellets. We were going to give also a vanilla touch by steeping a couple of vanilla beans in a few milliliters of cheap vodka. The yeast chosen for this beer was Juice (Imperial Yeast #A38), since its description matched what we were looking for, a yeast that could produce some esters that boosted the aroma and flavor from hops. Finally, we were going to add some calcium chloride with a double purpose: lower the mash pH to about 5.5 and increase the chloride levels looking for a smoother mouthfeel.

In one final twist, from the 15 liters (3.96 gallons) we were going to brew, our idea was to separate 5 liters (1.32 gallons) and add some fruit (mango in this case) and keep the rest of the volume, 9 liters (2.38 gallons) without fruit. Therefore, excepting the addition of wheat flour and, at least in one part, the addition of fruit after primary fermentation, we were going to apply the rest of things we had learned.

Citra Cryo Hops

Below you can check the final recipe and details of the process.


3.23 Kg (7.12 lbs) (56.0%) Pilsen base malt (Grannaria) (5.0 EBC)
1.74 Kg (3.84 lbs) (30.1%) naked malted oats (3.0 EBC)
0.30 Kg (0.66 lbs) (5.2%) wheat flakes (4,0 EBC)
75.00 g (2.65 oz) Vic Secret (16.10% AA) pellets (whirlpool 30 minutes at 80ºC (176ºF), 32.1 IBUs)
50.00 g (1.76 oz) Citra (25.00% AA) cryo hops pellets (whirpool 30 minutes at 80ºC (176ºF), 33.2 IBUs)
75.00 g (2.65 oz) Vic Secret (16.10% AA) pellets (whirlpool 30 minutes at 80ºC (176ºF), 32.1 IBUs)
50.00 g (1.76 oz) Vic Secret (16.10% AA) pellets (dry hop, 5 days after pitching yeast, for 5 days)
50.00 g (1.76 oz) Citra (25.00% AA) en cryo hops pellets (dry hop, 5 days after pitching yeast, for 5 days)
*From here onwards, beer was divided in two fractions, one of 9 liters (2.38 gallons) and another one of 5 liters (1.32 gallons)
30.00 g (1.06 oz) Galaxy (15.60% AA) pellets (dry hop, 10 days after pithching yeast, for 6 days) in the fraction of 9 liters (2.38 gallons)
20.00 g (0.71 oz) Galaxy (15.60% AA) pellets (dry hop, 10 days after pithching yeast, for 6 days) in the fraction of 5 liters (1.32 gallons)
5 golden apples, pureed (boil 20 minutes)
0.50 Kg (1.10 lbs) (8.7%) lactose (boil 15 minutes)
0.50 Kg (1.10 lbs) mango, sliced and previously frozen (only in the 5 liters (1.32 gallons) fraction)
Juice (Imperial Yeast #A38)  (1 sachet, pitched directly without starter)
Volume: 15.50 L     OG: 1.072   FG: 1.024     ABV: 6.5%     IBUs: 65.3     Color: 9.9 EBC     BU/GU: 0.905     Efficiency: 65.00%
Ca: 219 ppm; Mg: 3 ppm; Na: 7 ppm; SO4: 12 ppm; Cl: 332 ppm; HCO3: 120 ppm
66.0ºC (150.8ºF) for 60 minutes, mash out 75ºC (167ºF) 5 minutes
60 minutes

For clarification purposes, as stated above, we were brewing 15.5 liters (3.96 gallons) that then were going to be divided in two fractions, one of 9 liters (2.38 gallons) and another one of 5 liters (1.32 gallons) that would be treated somewhat differently. This division was going to be made after the first dry hop charge with Citra Cryo Hops and Vic Secret pellets.

Juice from Imperial Yeast

In the morning of the brew day we boiled the water we were going to use in order to remove chlorine. Then we added 12.5 g (0.44 oz) of calcium chloride targeting a mash pH of about 5.5 and increasing chloride levels to get a softer mouthfeel. The mash, one hour at 66ºC (150.8ºF), went as planned. We stirred the mash a few times to mix well and favor the activity of the enzymes. Once the mash was finished, we mashed out before removing the bag with the grains and starting the boil. As you probably noticed in the recipe above, we added no hops during the boil. However, we added a puree form golden apples the last 20 minutes of the boil, as well as lactose for 15 minutes. When the boil was finished, we cooled the wort a little bit, until it reached 80ºC (176ºF). Just then it is when we added whirlpool hops (Citra cryo hops and Vic Secret pellets). We kept this whirlpool for 30 minutes, maintaining the temperature at 75ºC-80ºC (167ºF-176ºF). After this, we cooled the wort at a little more than 20ºC (68ºF) and transferred it to a brewbucket fermenter, splashing the wort to get some oxygen. While we cleaned everything, we set the fermentation chamber temperature at 8ºC (46ºF) to try to cool the wort temperature a little bit more before pitching yeast. Original gravity (1.064) was lower than the theoretical value because we got more volume than expected. We pitched yeast at about 20ºC, setting the fermentation chamber at 16.5ºC (61.7ºF), so we could have a fermentation temperature around 17ºC-19ºC (62.6ºF-66.2ºF).

Fermenting milkshake IPA

30 hours after pitching yeast, the first signs of fermentation started to show up. The intensity of these signs increased the next two days and after that they slowed down. During those first days beer had a temperature that moved between 18.5ºC (65.3ºF) and 20.5ºC (68.9ºF). We added the first dry hop charge at the fifth day (I know, we should have added it a couple of days before to follow the information we had got for the style). We put 50 g (1.76 oz) of Citra Cryo hops in one hop spider and 50 g (1.76 oz) of Vic Secret pellets in another hop spied and we placed both of them in the fermenter. When we opened it, the krausen was in its last stages. After five days at 18ºC-19ºC (64.4ºF-66.2ºF), we divide the beer in two fractions. The first one, 9 liters (2.38 gallons), was transferred to a PET demijohn, while the other one, of 5 liters (1.32 gallons), went into a PET bottle. We added a second dry hop charge in each one of them, in a mesh bag. 30 g of Galaxy pellets in the first one and 20 g of Galaxy pellets in the second one. The smaller one also received 500 g (1.10 lbs) of previously sliced and frozen mango (we had kept it in the freezer for a few weeks). Both of them were kept in the fermentation chamber set at 18.5ºC(65.3ºF) for a few days. We proceeded to bottle the bigger fraction five days later.

Trub in the bottom of the demijohn

First of all, we added part of the vodka in which we had kept two vanilla beans. As we didn’t have enough bottles for the full volume, we transferred half of it to a mini keg where we were going to force carbonate with CO2 after one night in the fridge. In the other half we added some sugar syrup, previously boiled, to get about 2.2 volumes of CO2 in the final beer. We got 9 33 cL (12 fl. oz) bottles apart from the mini keg. Final gravity was 1.022 (a high value because Saccharomyces yeasts can metabolize lactose), with an ABV of 5.6%.

I should tell you know how we follow the process with the smaller fraction, but as any homebrewer knows, things don’t always go as expected. In this occasion, while this part was there with the dry hop and the fruit, we weren’t able to get some time to bottle it. Days passed by and when we finally find some time to do it, a few weeks later, I took a sip and it was enough to discard it down the drain. Too astringent, even a little bit sour, no aroma,… not drinkable at all. We will have to wait to a future brew to try something similar. But well, one thing is for sure, we will tell you how the firs part of the beer turned out in a future post.

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