TMBR: Inevitable Conclusion Double IPA

Recipe and brew day notes and an animated nerdcore music video about pencil & paper roleplaying games here:

Real talk: double (Imperial, etc.) American IPA. As your author cops to in the above video, not his favorite. I can enjoy and appreciate a well-made one, but it just isn’t anywhere near the running for the list in that “only one kind of beer for the rest of your life” game.

A similarly aggressive and comparably alcoholic style is Imperial Stout, which actually is one of my longtime favorite types of beer – I am crazy about it, but I almost never need more than one glass of it, either. I think part of the difference is that D/IIPA is much more a victim of its own success, and therefore more prone to well-meaning but misguided love and a heavy hand. And I think another part of the difference is that, while Imperial stout is stylistically built (overbuilt?) to last, DIPAs are not – my own poor effort at 8 weeks is not the same beer it was at 3 or 4.

In defense of DIPA, though: I’ve heard it said (you probably have too) that it’s “easier” to brew an ultra-highly hopped, high-gravity beer – presumably based on the assumption that a big load of late and/or dry hops plus the large malt bill and abv% will all help mask any potential shortcomings of grist, mash, fermentation, or processes downstream. I don’t necessarily agree … if that were unilaterally true, it’d be much more common to stumble across a world-class, showstopping example of the style, and there wouldn’t be such a black market for the products of, or long-ass lines outside the doors of, certain breweries in, say, Santa Rosa or Waterbury.

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30 thoughts on “TMBR: Inevitable Conclusion Double IPA

  1. MD,

    I must say that I don’t think DIPA’s are the easier drink to brew, I think it may be the opposite. My idea behind that is the same reason why you mention we see people waiting in lines for some DIPAs (Though I’ll admit some of that is just wanting to sample something that is so renowned…) is that I feel it is pretty easy to make a bad DIPA that tastes totally forgettable at best, and nearly undrinkable at worst. While the grain bills are not often too complicated people seem to think that if we throw every kind of hops we have in the freezer at them, or try to crush everything with hop bitterness. (Wait, if 2oz of hops here tastes great, why not increase the grain bill by half and quadruple the hops!) To me at least the hops are indeed king, but you have to think very carefully about what flavors of hops will stand out more. Take our Cascade that is so beloved. Two ounces may be nice and bitter, and a nice bold citrus with perhaps some subtle flavors showing, throwing in 6 or 8 ounces will throw those subtle flavors way out of portion. (By way of example) With out having a carefully thought out or tested hop bill to match your malt bill you just have something that’s bitter and thick on the tongue. To me it’s the argument similar to a nice crisp clear lager, get just one thing slightly out of proportion and it shows with ease, where a Stout has a bit more flexibility due to the boldness of all the flavors in it.

  2. I’m about to try a Citra/Chinook 50/50 blend for this year’s DIPA, I’m curious to see how that grapefruit from Chinook pairs with Citra’s fruitiness. In the past I’ve had a lot of success with the “traditional” American DIPA blend of Columbus, Centennial and Simcoe. Almost hard to find a commercial example using that blend outside Santa Rosa, are these going to become heirloom hop varieties soon?

  3. I just did a double IPA that was nearly all Citra. I bittered with Warrior, to the 60 IBU range, then hit it with a lot of late addition Citra and a healthy dose of dry hops (also Citra). Mine turned out very cloudy/murky, as well… hence my question about finings that you’d addressed in an earlier post. Appearance aside, I’m very pleased with the end product. “Juicy” and very hoppy without being crushingly bitter.

    15lbs 2 row
    1lbs crystal 40
    0.5lbs carapils
    mash at 150 for 60 min with a 10 min mashout at 170.
    1oz Warrior 60min
    1.5oz Citra 15min
    2oz Citra 10min
    1lbs honey 10min
    2.5oz Citra 5min
    3oz Citra 0min w/ 20min hop stand

    ferment with Wyeast 1217 at 62 degrees

    5oz Citra dry

    OG 1.080
    FG 1.017

    dangerously drinkable

  4. Somewhere, perhaps it’s one of those online AHA supah-doopah homebrewer profiles(?), asks what’s your favorite gravity range to brew in. Not favorite style, but preferred OG. The idea of not being married to a particular style, especially one that’s so in vogue it borders on cliché, really resonates with me. My own algorithm for formulating recipes starts not so much with BJCP guidelines, but with “hey, I’ve got this 10-lb sack of grain, wouldn’t it be nice to make a 1.050ish beer that has a BU:GU ratio of (insert number) with it.” For me, certain styles are ‘one-and-dones’ because their boldness in either direction tramples drinkability. Even when executed properly (i.e. attention to all requisite details on both the hot and cold side of the brewery), some styles just aren’t built for more than one snifter per sitting. Just one dude’s opinion…

    • I think that one dude’s opinion is pretty sound, though – OG and BU:GU is a pretty holistic way to approach formulation. The older I get, the more I value balance in a beer (even a bombastic one), and styles should be signposts and guidelines rather than fixed rules.

  5. Pingback: Just Nice Be Out | 20acrecarcass

    • Besides Lovibond variances from maltster to maltster (this was Warminster, rated at 4-5 L), it might have to do with the gravity of the wort (this was upper 1.070s) … the same volume of 100% Maris Otter wort would be paler at SG 1.030 than at SG 1.060.

  6. Read your post about Polaris and EXP 5256 and bought some from those guys in Janesville – decided to make a DIPA. With the Polaris I had to put another stick of memory in my laptop for Beersmith to calculate the IBUs but the beer turned out great. More of a Left Coast grain bill with Polaris as the bitter and 5256 and Simcoe later. Debuted on 1/1/2014 to my friends who were over for the early football. Supplanted a Bloody Mary or whatever and then they moved on. Perfect use of the high ABV.

  7. Why do I watch a review like this at 9 am when at work? I can’t drink a beer now. Stupid, so stupid.
    You know, my recent IPA never got clear. I have never made a link between dry hopping and haze, but maybe there is something there? Or dry hopping at certain temperatures (i.e. cooler)? This was also the West Coast IPA yeast, and I have no other experience with that either.
    That is a tasty beer you’ve made. Thanks for sharing.

  8. As much as I love hops, I’ve moved away from the DIPA and am sitting solidly in the “overhopped IPA” zone. I’ve found that once the ABV starts to creep over 7% I’m not a huge fan of the interplay between the alcohol and the hops. I think that alcohol gives an impression of sweetness along with a mouthfeel component that gets me thinking of cough syrup, even though in reality the beer is pretty dry overall. My malt bill is generally 1.065ish using 2-row/Munich/Victory and no Crystal malt.

    My current IPA du Jour has a pretty basic (yet insane) hop schedule. For a 3 gallon batch it is 10 ounces at flameout with a 90-minute hop stand, 6 ounces for the dry hops, and that’s it. Nelson Sauvin and Apollo are the workhorse hops for me, and usually 2-3 other varieties to fill out the flavor/aroma profile. My favorite combo to date is Nelson/Apollo/Citra/Meridian/Motueka

    I sent a recent batch out for analysis and it taped out at 98 IBU’s. But, to my palate at least, it only tasted like 60-70 and wasn’t harsh or abrasive in the bittering. I think the flameout addition is a low more mellow in the bittering than a traditional 60-minute addition. The hop flavor was off the charts. It was like drinking grapefruit/pineapple juice, in the most phenomenal way possible.

    • So, knockout after boiling for 60 min, add 10 oz of hops, cover and let it rest for 90 min before chilling?

      Motueka is a great hop. I’ve used it with good results in combination with Pacific Jade and Citra.

      A pound of hops per 3 gallons is insane. How much beer do you end up with?

      • Yep. Technically, you don’t really even need a full 60-minute boil, Once your hot break clears up you could kill the heat at that point. I brew on a ceramic stovetop, so I kill the heat, move the pot off the burner and wait for all boiling activity to subside. Then I add my hops, stir until they’re all wetted, and slide the kettle back onto the still-warm burner to help hold the heat as much as possible. I come back and stir the heck out of it every 10 minutes or so since I don’t have a real whirlpool.

        I actually calculate my mash volumes as if I were brewing a 3.5-gallon batch, hoping to get about 3 in the fermenter. I usually net between 18 and 20 twelve-ounce bottles, but there always seems to be one or two hop varieties that I only have as whole-cones whenever I go to brew this. If I brewed this using only pellet hops I’m guessing I’d net a case.

        • Well, this is a very different take on the brewing process. Practical and neat. Seeing that I’m confined to my kitchen until the weather breaks, it looks like I’m going to have to take a crack at this technique, too. Thanks for sharing, dude!

  9. Something very similar to your double is my gold standard, but with a few twists. Half of the time I’ll go 100% Maris Otter. I’m in Vienna, Austria and my varieties of grains available rarely reach the US homeland and as a result, I’ll stick to simco or citra with only a dash of dank like columbus with a rather clean and cold fermentation with 1056. That will be my knock-out summer double.

    Otherwise I’ll go 95% Marris Otter with chocolate malt making a full 5% bringing a smoke essence without the “rauchen” smokiness and with a healthy dose of coloring along for the ride. This will get a more complete dank hop treatment, not blended but with a few varieties in the boil and only fruity along at flame out and dry hopped. It’s all fruity in the nose and it’s all winter dank on the palate. No keg for this, I will blickmann beer gun these into champagne bottles and sling them out as gifts to the naughty and nice. “just like columbus he get murderous on purpose.”

    • Oh sure. Domestic 2 row is always a cheaper option, but it’s fun to be extravagant once in a while, and the total additional cost to the ingredient bill is probably still less than a sixer of Sculpin or Hopslam …

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