Brew day – Black IPA

A Black IPA (Cascadian Black, India Stout whatever else you want to call it) is hopped like an IPA but has dark malts within it to give it the black colour and slight roasty notes.  It’s a beer made for me as I love really hoppy beers and dark, rich stouts but not much in between!

I’ve had a few recently (Beavertown, Anspach & Hobday and Brew by No) and brewed one on a brew day with the London Beer Lab in Brixton so now I want to try one on my own.  Plus I’m quite frugal and try to use up ingredients I already have and spotted I had some Carafa special III kicking about.  This malt is often used to darken the beer without adding too much of the stouty flavor.

Carafa Special III
Carafa Special III

If you know how to brew beer skip this paragraph.  There are 6 stages to the brew day.  Cleaning, Mashing, Boiling, Sparging, cooling and fermenting. Cleaning is incredibly important.  Everything that is going anywhere near your beer has to be sanitised to avoid your beer getting infected. The mashing stage is where you steep your malt grains in water (in today’s case heated to 66 degrees) for an hour to release their sugars.  You then sparge them, this is just rinsing them with hot water to wash off the sugars.  The mixture collected is called wort.  You then boil your wort for an hour and add hops at different intervals depending on whether you want the bitterness (start of boil) or more of the aromas (towards the end of the boil) to come from the hops.  You will need to cool the wort before you add your yeast as the hot temperature would kill the yeast.  I usually cool to around 23 degrees.  You can cool using the heat exchange method whereby you run cold water from your tap through copper tubing which is placed in the wort.  The heat exchanges between the two and the now heated water in the tubing comes out the other end, preferably in your sink!.  When the wort is cooled you can add your yeast and your airlock and then wait for it to do it’s magic.

My malt bill is as follows (please note this is for a 10 litre batch)

Pale Malt 2kg
Wheat malt 900g
Carafa Special III 140g
Crystal 30g

As for the hops, most Black IPAs I’ve had have been American in style and mainly use Simcoe as it is a hop that can stand up to the richness of a dark malt.  I, however, do not have any Simcoe.  I have instead some T’N’T and some Enigma hop pellets laying around, I like experimenting so decided to plonk them in and see what happens.  That’s one of the advantages of doing small batches, it’s not too much of a disaster if it goes wrong.

T’N’T are a noble hop from Germany.  They give red berry and citrus in the boil and green fruits in a cold infusion.  They smell amazingly of passion fruit.  Enigma hops are from Australia and are said to provide redcurrant, raspberries, mango and tropical fruits.  I’ve decided to add the Enigma in 20g batches every 5 minutes  during the last 20 minutes to get the most aroma out of them.  I’m not sure yet which hop to use for dry hopping.

My equipment is pretty primitive.  I have no fancy stainless steel stuff here as I just don’t have the money or the space (as much as I would love a braumeister or a Grainfather, I like the learning curve that comes from using less technical equipment).  I use a digital plastic mashing bin.  I used to mash on a hob in a big pan but since moving I now have a very frustrating electric hob which periodically turns itself on and off and is a nightmare to control. The mashing bin is great as you can set the temperature and it will stay there.  You can also do your boil in it.  Only downside is that the element is bare so you need to brew in a bag to stop the grains burning onto the element.  I bulldog clip a net curtain to my mashing bin as a cheaper alternative to mashing bags.  I also use old tights as hop bags (all ladies reading this will know that tights have a life span of approximately 2 wears so it’s great to have another use for them!).

Hop bags
Hop bags
Running off the wort
Running off the wort

The only complicated part of my brew day is the cooling.  The other disadvantage to my current flat is that it is full of horrendous mixer taps which I am yet to find a connector for so I cool my brew using the ice bath method.  Basically sticking my bucket of wort in a bigger bucket that’s full of ice and water.  It can take longer than the copper cooling tube heat exchange method on hot days such as today but when you are doing smaller batches it’s not actually that much longer.

To ferment I am using Safale US-05 which is an American ale yeast, again as I had it laying around and don’t see why not.  I ferment in 5 litre demi-johns and I always put them in boxes as they are green and would allow light to get in.  This can cause a defect called lightstruck.  Lightstruck happens when light penetrates the green (or clear) demi-john or, indeed bottle (yes, this is why most beers come in brown bottles) and reacts with the hop acids creating a sulphur like skunk smell.  Do not want.

Fermentiation vessels
Fermentation vessels

The original gravity reading was 1.060 which should give me an ABV of around 6%.

I’m going to leave this to ferment for a few weeks then have a taste test and decide which hops to dry-hop with (dry-hopping is where you add hops in to the fermentation vessel, I usually only do it for the last 2 days of fermentation).


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