Gluten-Free Palate Blaster West-Coast IPA December 08 2020, 2 Comments

I've been craving a West-Coast style IPA for a real long time. I wanted to wait until I could cold crash the hops out in my chest freezer to brew one, because I've had issues getting the dry hops to settle out. And I plan to dry hop the heck out of this beer.

I'm looking for a pretty standard West-Coast IPA profile. Dry, some fruit, some floral, lots of dank, lots of pine, eminently drinkable.

The new thing I'm trying out with this beer is a nifty (hopefully) airlock system for when I cold-crash the beer. I would really like to avoid sucking air (and whatever is in the airlock) back into the fermenter as everything cools down and contracts in the fermenter. 

To accomplish this, I built this contraption. And yes, for you naughty people out there (unless you live in Washington, Illinois, Oregon or any of the other lucky states), it does look quite like a bong.


The idea behind it is that it collects CO2 during fermentation, and then when everything goes into the chest freezer, the fermenter will suck CO2 back in instead of air and any liquid. Fingers crossed :)

My brew day ended up being pretty chilly and windy, which added a few challenges, but nothing that couldn't be overcome. Here's how it went down.

The Recipe

  • 11lb White Pale Millet Malt from Colorado Malting Co
  • 1lb Light Munich Millet Malt from Colorado Malting Co
  • 1lb Rice Malt from Grouse Malting Co
  • 2.5lb Rice Hulls
  • 8oz Maltodextrin (10 min)
  • Amarillo Pellet Hops (.25oz 30, .25oz 15, .25oz 5, .25 Whirlpool)
  • Amarillo Cryo-Pellet Hops (1oz Dry Hop)
  • Tenacious Badger Chinook Pellet Hops (.25oz 30, 1.75oz Whirlpool, 2oz Dry Hop)
  • Columbus Pellet Hops (.25oz FWH, .25oz 60, .25oz 50, .25oz Whirlpool, 1oz Dry Hop)
  • Simcoe Pellet Hops (.25oz 30, .75 Whirlpool)
  • Simcoe Cryo-Pellet Hops (1oz Dry Hop)
  • US-05 American Ale dry yeast
  • 1 tsp Gypsum (60 min)
  • 1 tsp Wyeast Beer Nutrient (10 min)
  • 1 tsp Irish Moss (10 min)
  • 2 Gallons Reverse Osmosis Water
  • 1/2 Campden Tablet (pre-mash)
  • 30g Ondea Pro brewing enzymes (mash)
  • 20g Ceremix Flex brewing enzymes (mash)

The Mash

I was shooting for a mash temperature of 164F, with the intention of if I was going to miss, miss high, because it was only 25F at the start of brew day. My mash was 167F once everything was stirred in, so I counted that good enough.

I was surprised that after a 90 minute mash, the temperature had only dropped 4 degrees. Here's to insulation!

At the end of the mash, the wort didn't look as clear as it normally does, so I did a starch test to make sure everything was converted. It was negative, so I went ahead and batch sparged.

I drained the mash tun into an intermediary container before moving the wort over to the boil kettle again, which worked like a charm.

I hit the volume of liquid dead on and my measured efficiency was super high again, so I ended up not adding a pound of rice syrup solids I was planning on adding.

The Boil

This was a fun boil, since I had a lot of hop additions to make. I added some First Wort Hops, then hop at 60 minutes, 30 minutes, 15 minutes, 5 minutes, and as I turned off the heat. And boy did it make the wort smell and taste great!

It was quite windy, so I had a little difficulty keeping a consistent boil, so the boil was a little more vigorous at times than I would have liked, which means I ended up boiling off about a 1/2 gallon more than I was hoping for. I did end up topping up with de-chlorinated tap water to hit my volume.

Once I topped off with the water, my gravity was at 1.062, which is a perfect number for an IPA. Can't wait! 

Post Boil

I added two packs of US-05 dry yeast to see if I can get fermentation to complete within a week or so. Also, it's a little cool where I'm fermenting, around 64F. I would like fermentation to be basically done when I transfer this IPA to a secondary to dry hop. There was a tiny action in the airlock contraption the first night, and it started rolling pretty good by the 24 hour mark.

By day 9, my gravity was down to 1.012, so I decided to move to the secondary and add the dry hops. All 5 ounces of them. I didn't take a gravity reading because I was still seeing action in the airlock.

By day 14, it was time to throw the carboy into the fridge and cold crash. I did see some back-pressure action, but I'm pretty confident that the airlock / bong system worked as intended.

Final Verdict

My first impression was that this beer wasn't very good. I got a weird, earthy character from the hops I wasn't expecting. After some research, I found that sometimes Columbus can perceive that way in certain instances. But as the beer aged, that character mostly mellowed out into a nice West-Coast IPA with a bracing bitterness, exactly what I was hoping for.

The final gravity was 1.010, so it dried out pretty nicely. Overall, I'm really happy with this beer. The only issue after a few days in the keg was that I over-carbonated it, but that's an issue pretty easily fixed in a keg, just unhook it and keep pulling the pressure relief valve.

Lessons Learned

  • Taking post-mash / pre-boil gravity readings is a must. By doing so, I realized that I didn't need to boost the gravity with a pound of rice syrup solids. 
  • The orange cooler did an amazing job of holding heat, even in the cold weather. Which means I'll be doing more winter brewing than I thought I would be able to do this year :)
  • It's a good idea to completely take apart the equipment, including fittings, every few brews, if not more often. I took apart the fittings after this brew and found some stickiness in a place or two where I wouldn't have thought wort would be able to get. Cleanliness is next to godliness!
  • 48 hours at 45psi is too long / too high to carbonate!

Up next is my first gluten-free porter, to which I may add some oak staves!