IPAs not just about hops November 09 2017
Gearing up to make the next great IPA or Imperial IPA? Trying to figure out which hop characteristics you want? While that's uber important in an IPA (duh!), don't forget about the rest of the ingredients!
Do you want a harsh, bracing bitterness? Soft and in the background? Lots of flavor, mostly aroma, straight bitterness, a good mix of all of them? And for the flavor/aroma, are you looking for lemony, floral, dank, citrus, pineapple, spicy, minty? A mix of characteristics, or one unified flavor?
If you use a base malt that is too light or neutral, your IPA can lack body and backbone, so it sometimes can end up tasting like hoppy fizzy water. If use Munich-style malts or Caramel malts too heavily, your Imperial IPA starts to enter the barley wine zone.
We recommend using a base malt that has a fairly low protein content. More and more brewers seem to be having great success with hoppy beers using Golden Promise as a base. Try to limit your specialty malt use to a minimum to draw out very specific characteristics.
Do you want fruity, spicy, or maybe neutral characteristics? Lots of sweetness left behind, or do you want a very dry beer? More or less mouth-feel and body? Clear or hazy?
There are many factors to consider when selecting your yeast!
Do you have hard water or soft water? This can make a big difference when brewing a hoppy beer. If you have too much hardness, the bitterness can come out harsh and overwhelming on the palate. If your water is too soft, the hops just won't shine like you want them to.
If you do have hard water, you can dilute your tap water using Reverse Osmosis or distilled water, in effect softening your water. If you need to add hardness, gypsum is always a good candidate.
It can a little overwhelming when considering all of the different variables that can go into preparing for brew day. That's where we come in! You are always more than welcome to stop in the Shop, give us a call (608-257-0099), or e-mail us if you have questions or want advice or a second opinion. Sometimes it takes a village to make great beer!