Saturday, 20 February 2010

New Seasonal Ale - 6 Hop IPA


We (the brewery) were at an outside tasting one day and a normal bloke came up to the bar. He demonstrated that he wasn’t an especially clever bloke by asking for a beer which was not on the bar. He was after an IPA. When quizzed as to why he wanted an IPA he said “I like IPA”. I asked him what it was about IPAs that he enjoyed. He replied that they were easy to drink and light in flavour. Any beer enthusiasts reading this will no doubt be spitting out their supper before saying IPA should be 7% ABV and aggressively bitter you retard!

The number of IPAs in the world must be in triple figures and they vary from 3.4% ABV to 11% ABV, from 20BU to 120+BU and from pale straw to deep red. So what does IPA mean? The answer it seems is whatever you want it to mean! The only two constants seem to be that it isn’t dark and it’s never light on hops.

I don’t want to get into the history of IPA. A very clever man has written a brilliant book on the subject which I would recommend that you read.


The reason for my discussion of the initials IPA is that my next Seasonal Ale is a 6 Hop IPA.
When you are designing a beer this range of attributes gives you some latitude to go with what you feel is best. There has of course been some input from the marketing department who use market trends, consumer preferences and a flipchart to come up with some of the attributes that will appeal to the Mr and Ms Target Consumer. The two things written on the flipchart at the end of their deliberations were “golden” and “3.8% ABV”.

3.8%ABV and a golden colour puts it closer to the UK consumer’s session bitter understanding of IPA. In order to cover the US end of the IPA spectrum I decided to use an amount of hops large enough to annoy all the brewers who have to dig them out of the hop back at the end of the brew. At 3.8% ABV, using this amount of hops risks making a harsh, overly-bitter beer with poor drinkability. For this reason I have been gentle with the hops and taken the citrus and resinous flavours, leaving the astringency in the hop cones. This may disappoint hopheads but hopefully delight everyone else.

The 6 hops are:

1. Hallertauer Northern Brewer – rich herbal bitterness
2. Mysterious Slovenian trial hop with no name (exclusive to Sharps) – strong fresh fruit
3. Bobek (Slovenian hop with a name) – sweet citrus with tropical fruit
4. Hallertauer Brewer’s Gold – citrus with the accent on lemon
5. Cascade – citrus with pineapple and pomelo
6. Willamette – citrus leaning towards grapefruit

Malt-wise the grist is Tipple pale ale malt, amber malt for some biscuit and crystal for a golden colour and some sweetness to balance the generous hoppiness. The beer is fermented by Sharp’s yeast in the Sharp’s Cornish squares over the course of a week. Sharp’s yeast adds a juicy fruitiness and crisp bite. It then spends a week in a conditioning tank and another conditioning in the cask.


How does it taste? First impressions are quite positive. I am taking 9 pints of 6 Hop to a 1 dinner party tonight to road test its drinkability.

2 comments:

Chunk said...

"At 3.8% ABV, using this amount of hops risks making a harsh, overly-bitter beer with poor drinkability. For this reason I have been gentle with the hops and taken the citrus and resinous flavours, leaving the astringency in the hop cones."

Is that by adding them late / as dry hops, rather than as bittering hops?

Chunk.

Stuart Howe said...

Yes indeed Chunk, 90% of the total hop charge is used in the hop back with no hop sparge.

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