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Style of the Week: Imperial IPA!

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April 10, 2015 by fhsteinbart


Here we see the most ubiquitous version of the style in an appropriate glass to enjoy all that hop aroma!

Here we see the most ubiquitous version of the style in an appropriate glass to enjoy all that hop aroma!

Usually and customarily, when I go out for a beer with friends, I tend to drink the more balanced beers, like ESB, Porter, or Mild Ales.  However, I sometimes find myself reaching for a hoppier beer.  If an IPA doesn’t get me there than an Imperial IPA certainly will!  While there are a great many Imperial IPA’s out there, the very best in my opinion, are the ones that feature a balancing bitterness with exceptional hop character.  Pliny the Elder is an excellent example of the style, featuring a balancing bitterness with medium body and a long dry finish with truly exceptional hop character.  I brew a beer called Death by Hops, which uses up to 2 pounds of citrusy American hops which are only used in the last 15 minutes of the boil.  While the below recipe isn’t quite as Hoppy as Death by Hops, it features a firm bitterness with lots of hop character that will please even the most demanding of hop heads.  Everything about this style is extreme, extreme gravity, extreme bitterness, and extreme hop character.  So let’s get down to what it takes to get your lupulin love affair going.

Extract:

9 lbs. Extra-Light DME

½ lb. Caramel 40 malt

1 lb. Corn Sugar

2 oz. Simcoe Hops (bittering)

1 oz. Simcoe and Amarillo hops (flavor)

2 oz.  Citra hops (aroma)

2 oz. Bavarian Mandarina hops (dry hop)

Wyeast 1056, WLP001, or SafAle US-05

Procedure:

  • Heat ¾ gallons of water to 165°F.
  • Add steeping grains to kettle and steep for 30 minutes.
  • Remove grains, and rinse with 165°F water
  • Turn off heat and add malt extract, stirring until fully dissolved.
  • Return to Heat, bring to boil for 5 min. then add bittering hops.
  • At 20 minutes remaining, add the flavor hops.
  • At 15 minutes remaining, add the Whirlfloc tablet or Irish Moss.
  • At 7 minutes remaining, add the aroma hops.
  • At knockout, cool the mixture by placing kettle in an ice bath or use a wort chiller. Add the mixture to the fermenter, removing the hops, and bring total volume to 5 gallons using distilled, bottled, or filtered tap water.
  • Aerate unfermented wort (shaking works well).
  • Pitch yeast and ferment at 65°~68°F for 7 to 10 days.
  • Add the dry hops to the secondary, and allow to sit for 10~14 days
  • Allow to age an additional two to three weeks before packaging up as usual.

All Grain:

15 lbs. Pale Ale Malt

1 lb.  Corn Sugar

½ lb. Caramel 40 Malt

2 oz. Simcoe hops (bittering)

1 oz. Simcoe and Amarillo Hops (flavor)

2 oz.  Citra hops (aroma)

2 oz. Bavarian Mandarina hops (dry hop)

Wyeast 1056, WLP001, or SafAle US-05

¾ gm. Brewing (Burton) Salts per gallon (~3.75 gms. or 1 level tsp.) in the mash and in the boil.

Procedure:

Infusion mash at 148°F for 1 hour. Sparge to 6.5 gallons of wort. Bring to boil for 5 min. then add bittering hops (Simcoe). Continue boiling for 40 min. then add flavor hops.  At 45 min. then add Whirlfloc tablet or Irish moss.  At knockout add aroma hops. Turn off heat and cool mixture by placing kettle in an ice bath or using a wort chiller. Add mixture to fermenter, removing hops, and aerate unfermented wort (shaking works well). Pitch yeast and ferment at 65°F to 68°F. Gravity may vary depending on system efficiency, so adjust accordingly. Add the dry hops 10~14 days before packaging as usual.

Package up as usual; bottled versions should use 100 gms. corn sugar (approx. ¾ cup), or kegged to 15 psig, and allow two weeks to come into condition. Serve at 50°~55°F in a Pint glass, share, and enjoy! This beer will continue to evolve and change over the coming months, so make enough to last you through your next brew.

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