Author Archives: Miquel Piqué Camprubi

Author: Miquel Piqué Camprubi

Head brewer at Ctretze brewing Co, Catalonia. Awarded brewer at Barcelona Beer Festival. BJCP Judge and Beer Expert by the University of Alicante. Miquel has retail and customer service experience in the beer field and he currently focuses in new recipe development and research.

The India Pale Ale (IPA) has become synonymous with craft beer itself. In a previous article I have introduced how the style emerged in the 18th century, and in this piece I will describe the brewing basics of this hop-forward, intense beer style from a personal point of view.

Adjusting the water as a first step

If you would also like to brew your own hop fever, here is how I do it. I start by adjusting the water, that, historically and technically speaking, plays a major role in IPA’s. From a personal point of view, I like to add enough calcium sulfate to the brewing water to bring the calcium to 200ppm and the sulfate to 400ppm, in order to get a clean bitterness from the hops. If you are making a NEIPA, you may prefer using more calcium chloride than calcium sulfate to bring your calcium up, in a reason of 1/2. In mashing terms, I favour a more fermentable wort but I still look for a dash of sweetness and some creaminess in the final product, so I always aim for temperatures below 65ºC (149ºF).

The grist, fermentation profile and hops

Following with the grist, some brewers use pils as their base malts, but pale ale malt is much more traditional, both in English and American styles. The optional use of toasted or crystal malts may bring some complexity and depth of aroma, but generally make a small portion of the grist. My personal touch is to use a small amount of Golden Promise malt, that is similar to Maris Otter, but a little softer and creamier.

I want my fermentation profile to be neutral to lightly fruity, so I use an highly attenuative ale yeast and let to ferment between 18 and 22ºC (64ºF – 72ºF). The best temperature is however 19.5ºC (67ºF), as we can extract the ideal concentration of apple, peach and pear esters without excessive fermentation derived flavour.

Finally, the hops. Here is where the world of IPA’s gets really exciting – and bitter. Hops bring aroma, bitterness and tons of flavour, but different applications bring different results. If you are brewing a hop forward IPA, American style, you should go for American or New World hops, such as Cascade, Citra or Nelson Sauvin, where you will find an abundance of tropical, citrus or piney aromas. Here, you can play with generous late hop additions, dry hopping or hopinating the pouring beer. If you are brewing an English style IPA, with a floral-spicy-peppery-grassy bouquet, you may want to use classic hops such as Golding, concentrating its use in the beginning of the boil and adding some as dry hops to spice things up.

I do like to add a handful of hops in the whirlpool and then dry hopping the beer, which I believe to be the most interesting way to hop IPA’s. There is a lot to choose from.

Hops have been beer’s best friend for a long time, and IPA’s may well be the pinnacle of that friendship. The world has gotten addicted to them, and there is no turning back from this hoppy journey.

What is your favourite IPA and hop variety? Let us know!

Happy IPA’s!

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Sources

BARRACHINA, Albert (2016). cervesaencatala.blogspot.com

HUXLEY, Steve (2006). Poesía líquida. Trea.

BJCP (2015). www.bjcp.org

 

The India Pale Ale (IPA) is surely the most famous style at the moment in the world of beer. Go to the market and you will find an abundance of India Pale Ales, Session IPA’s, Black IPA’s, Belgian IPA’s, Imperial IPA’s…to name a few. One might naturally ask why are IPA’s everywhere – could hops be addictive?

To really understand IPA’s, we should travel to the 18th century.

Welcome to the 18th century British India and to the trading attractiveness of the East. Here, powerful trading companies, like the East India Company (EIC), possess important commercial warehouses to trade commodities with the rest of the World, provisioning the colonial army in parallel. Back in the subcontinent, British settlers are looking for a refreshing taste of home and are everything but pleased with the stale, infected beer coming from the Mother Land. Taking at least six months to travel to India, and having to cross the equator twice, the Pales and Bitters of the day, with low alcohol and lightly hopped, did not stand a chance.

 

IPA’s tipically make use of generous amount of flavour and aroma hops, such as Citra or Amarillo, which provides them with their characteristic fragrant hop intensity.

Back in London, close to the EIC’s docks, the ingenious Bow Brewery is establishing a new style of beer, with higher original gravity, intensely hopped and designed for maturation for at least one year. The owner, George Hodgson, has also come up with a business approach that granted extended credit to the beer purchasers, favouring his new beer over the big breweries product. Unexpectedly, this rough, highly attenuated beer matured remarkably well with the scorching heat and arduous journey of the supplying transcontinental ships, making this beer a tremendous success among its consumers in India. Hops preserving characteristics are well known, and the higher concentration of alpha acids made IPA’s fit for journey while mellowing.

From this moment on, other British breweries, such as Burton located ones, would start to replicate Hodgson’s successful style of pale ale, acquiring important business status over the years and condemning Bow Brewery to the oblivion. The India Pale Ale was born, soon migrating to the American continent by the hand of John Labatt. The hop addiction was starting.

The evolution of a style

Today, an IPA is tipically defined as a beer with around 6% of alcohol, 60 IBU’s, not necessarily pale and surely with a lot of different shapes. If the classic English style may be somehow more balanced, American IPA’s are their eccentric brother, ‘showcasing modern American or New World hop varieties (…), with a clean fermentation profile, dry finish, and clean, supporting malt, allowing a creative range of hop character to shine through. (BJCP, 2015). The popularity of IPA’s brought them to the forefront of brewing innovation, with Witbiers, Red Ales or Sour Beers being adapted to the IPA profile and pleasing the craving of beer connoisseurs; new styles of IPA are constantly being designed, such as the New England Indian Pale Ale (NEIPA) or the Brut IPA.

India Pale Ale is the perfect example of how a beer co-evolves over time and how a specific style becomes a hit. The hop phenomenon is worldwide, not only in the USA or the United Kingdom, but also in Spain. When I started brewing, in Catalonia, only one of the fellow breweries was making IPA’s; now practically all the breweries of Catalonia and Spain are brewing IPA’s and it surely is the more successful style. You may not like the craft IPA from the local brewery, but the hops assertive bitterness, spectacular aromas and surprising flavours will provide an untedious experience, and you are likely to come back for more.