Stentorian Centurion

IPAs are the bread and butter of most American craft breweries. It’s the style I’m most likely to order when I’m at a bar or restaurant, as most breweries have a handle on the style by now. Since I have chosen to brew many different styles, I’ve only brewed a straight-forward IPA once, and never from all grain. One of the side-effects of this deficiency is that I don’t feel comfortable with my knowledge of hops. Additionally I usually don’t have any hoppy beers on hand, despite that often being just what I’m in the mood to drink.

This brew is inspired by an IPA that my brother shared with me, Bell’s Two-Hearted Ale. Bell’s uses only Centennial hops for that beer, bringing a strong citrus brightness with a strong malt backbone. I’ll be doing the same for this brew with the exception of the bittering addition for which I’m using Magnum.

For 5 gallons:

  • 10 lbs pale malt
  • 2 lbs Vienna malt
  • 1 lb caramel 60L malt
  • 0.75 oz Magnum @ 60 mins
  • 0.5 oz Centennial @ 15 mins
  • 1 oz Centennial @ 10 mins
  • 1 oz Centennial @ 5 mins
  • 1 oz Centennial @ flameout
  • 2.5 oz Centennial dry hop
  • 4 g CaCl
  • 7 g gypsum
  • US-05

Something not included in my recipe is yeast nutrient, which I used for the first time with this brew. My OG came in at a whopping 1.075, or at least that’s what it should have come in at. I actually measured it at 1.050, but given my pre-boil volume and gravity, this isn’t possible, and I have more confidence in those measurements than my measurement from the fermenter. Therefore I also shook up the wort to introduce oxygen twice, once after pitching the yeast and once about 12 hours later. Fermentation took off like a shot after that, and actually overran my ability to keep the temperature down, so the bulk of fermentation took place around 72-74 F with some spikes as high as 77 F. Fortunately when I added the dry hops a week later, the sample I pulled for a gravity reading contained no off-flavors, though it was pretty disappointing on the hop side.

By the time I bottled it, the situation was not much improved. I think my lackluster hop character is due to an weak boil. I just moved into a new apartment and tested the stove on a 6–7 gallons of water. It just barely boiled, nucleating tiny bubbles with a calm surface. In order to supplement the stovetop, I’m planning to go electric! I’m rapidly falling behind on my brew schedule and will try to get the project moving quickly, but I’ve been pushing the limits of my time recently (hence the lack of posts here). The plan at the moment is to install a 120V 2000W heating element in my aluminum kettle with no temperature control, which should make the project simple and cheap, but I will do the research to ensure that I can upgrade it later to a more complex system if I wish.

As a final note lately my recipes have been drifting towards less grain – it seems my efficiency has been getting better. Perhaps my water treatment is having an effect! I hope to soon incorporate pH measurements to prove it to myself, but for now, I’ve observed a move from about 69% mash efficiency to around 79-83% mash efficiency (depending on the mashing regimen). I therefore plan in future posts to reformulate my recipes to include efficiencies, gravities, etc. to allow for adjustments based on equipment.

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