IPA #2 - Final Verdict June 29 2020, 0 Comments

While brewing is a ton of fun, the best part about brewing beer is, well, the beer! So, how did IPA #2 turn out?

Well, it took a little while to get there. This ferment ended up being similar to the first IPA fermentation. The yeasties started off fast and furious and fermented right around 68F for around 6 days. On day 6, the action in the airlock was almost down to nothing, so I took a gravity reading, which was 1.018. Exactly what BeerSmith thought it would end at.

But out of a little caution, I waited until day 8 to dry hop. Another 4 oz dose, which is a lot of dry hops. And just like my first batch, the airlock started going gang-busters as soon as i put in the dry hops. After a few days, I checked the gravity, and it was down to 1.014. Couple days later, down to 1.012. Days 14 and 15 I finally got the same gravity reading, 1.010. 

So while the beer dried out more than I had anticipated, time to go ahead and bottle. It was a bit of a messy bottling day, since none of the dry hops decided to settle out, even though I did gently rock the carboy once a day attempting to dislodge the CO2 that was trapped underneath the floating hop material.

After 10 days, I put a couple beers into the fridge to try one. And my first impression was how clear the beer was! Batch #1 was very cloudy, even described as "muddy." Prior to putting the beer in the fridge, it looked a lot clearer than IPA #1. Definitely some hop particulate matter floating around in there, but not too bad.

The beer had a nice head on it when poured, but it dissipated pretty quickly. 

Pouring into the glass, it looks like there is a some chill haze, but not too bad. Again, the beer does look more appetizing than the first version. And there is definitely more hop nose on this beer. Not nearly what you would expect given the 3oz of hops in the whirlpool and 4oz as dry hops, but an improvement.

When tasting it, there is a bracing but not overpowering bitterness. A nice hop flavor, but again, not what I was hoping for. There is a powerful toffee / vanilla flavor. I think the next batch will have some light crystal, no medium crystal. I probably will remove the Goldfinch malt as well. I also get a tiny bit of a boozy flavor in the finish. Which I guess is not surprising, given that it finished up at 7.2% ABV.

So, while I would call this beer a success, it's still not where I want my hoppy beers to be. Here are some things I'm looking to improve upon moving forward:

  • I really want more hop aroma. To this end, I'll try the following:
    • Add more gypsum
    • Move the beer to a secondary fermenter before dry-hopping
    • Purge secondary / bottling bucket with CO2 to avoid oxidation
    • Eventually keg beer and bottle from the keg
  • Either lower the starting gravity or raise the mash temperature to make the beer a slightly lower ABV. Raising mash temperature should also increase body, perhaps head retention as well. Just need to make sure the enzymes are ok with a higher temperature...
  • Not that it's a flaw, but I do want to try out the Kveik yeast next time instead of the US-05.
  • Use less crystal malt, or at least a lower roast, to help avoid the toffee character.
  • Remove the Goldfinch malt and lower the Munich malt (and maybe switch it over to Vienna malt instead of Munich)
  • Make sure my volumes are right so I don't have to extend the boil (again, hoping to reduce toffee / caramel / vanilla character).