I recently(ish) brewed a beer to be ready by Christmas as part of a present to my Dad. The rest of his present was a two tap kegerator that is setup to take 1 ball lock corney keg (homebrew keg) and one 1/6 bbl commercial keg. My Dad is a fan of hoppy beers so I took a stab at brewing an Indian Red Ale. I was striving for something with loads of hoppy flavor and aroma but balanced by a clean malty backbone.
The beer encompasses a lot of my philosophy on how to use hops in beer so I thought I’d share with everyone else! I really like IPAs and other similarly hoppy beers, because of this people often assume I like bitter beers but I don’t! Well they still might be more bitter than many would like but I don’t like enamel strippingly bitter IPAs so I aim to craft beers in a similar fashion.
A lot of the maltiness comes from using Maris Otter as a base malt (~78%). Maris Otter is an English base malt that is a little darker and has a little bit more “character” than normal 2 row pale malt. In addition to the Maris Otter I used two different crystal malts (~10%), Munich Malt (~10%) and some dark kilned malts that make up less than 2% of the total malt bill. The dark malts are added primarily for color in an attempt to get that really nice red/ruby color.
For all this malty goodness I wanted to balance it with lots and lots of hop flavor and goodness. I started by First Wort Hopping (FWH) with 1/2oz of homegrown Columbus hops. Traditional brewing techniques call for the first hop addition to be added when the wort starts to boil and FWH calls for the hops to be added to the boil kettle the hot wort is being transferred from the mash tun. Almost all the beers I brew I use FWH because in my own process it lends a smoother bitterness with some flavor contributions. The somewhat debatable “science” behind FWH is that some of the volatile organic compounds isomerize at lower temperatures and transformed into compounds that aren’t blown off by the vigorous boiling that happens later. After the first addition all of the rest of the hops are added with 20mins or less in the boil. Late addition hopping or hop bursting is a technique used to really saturate the wort with hop flavor and aroma. One of the drawbacks of hop bursting is that you have to use a lot more hops to achieve the same IBU level of a more traditionally hopped beer.
In total I used 7 1/2 oz of hops on the brew day. 3 oz of hops were added after the boil. In a larger scale operation this addition is called a whirlpool addition because the wort is whirlpooled for a length of time to help the wort clear before being cooled and transferred to the fermenter. To simulate this I add hops at flame out and let them stand for ~20mins before cooling the wort and transferring to the fermenter. After fermentation I like to keep cramming in the hoppiness so I used a short two stage dry hopping schedule. Recent research shows that dry hop aroma is imparted very quickly and dry hopping for long periods of time isn’t more effective at imparting hop aroma to beer. I chose to do two, two day dry hop additions with 5oz of hops. In retrospect I think I would increase it to 3 days or 6 days total when using loose leaf hops because I don’t think there was enough time to fully saturate the dry hops. In total I used 12.50oz of hops and 12oz of which were used with 20mins or less in the boil. For hops, I used Columbus, Citra, Mosaic, Pacific Jade and Simcoe. This also reflects my belief to use highly aromatic/flavorful hops to produce unique and flavorful beers.