Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Recipe and Tasting Notes: Killshot IPA (ver. 1)

Brewery: Bear Flavored
Style: IPA
Brewed: 7.12.2011
2.5 gallons; extract batch
ABV: 7.1%
Grade: B

Many of the beers I've brewed so far have been IPAs, as you may have noticed. They're my favorite style to drink, and since there's nothing particularly tricky about brewing them, or coming up with a new IPA recipe, I figure they're fertile ground for me to hone my skills. So, to learn how to brew a great IPA, I set out to learn as much as possible about hops. Combing hops. Citra hops. Centennial hops. British hops. Australian hops. Dry-hopping. Smelling hops. Eating hops. Sleeping in a bin full of hops. Etc.

Despite the theoretically infinite combination of hops available (I just got a little neck-tingle from seeing the words "infinite" and "hops" so close together), you can assume that most any combination will be decent to good, and therefore it's not technically "hard" to toss some together and see what it's like. I prefer my IPAs to be dry, with the focus on the hops, not malt. As a result, I haven't cared much about trying to brew a middle-ground IPA — my two Bear Flavored IPAs so far were high IBU beers over a super light pilsner malt base; basically just experiments to learn about citra hops. This one, Killshot IPA, used the last of the citra hops I had purchased for my brewing adventures, but was meant to be a step toward a more typical west-coast craft IPA — strongly hoppy, with a more complex blend of hop-types, and a slight malt backbone.

Brewing Notes-
I'm very happy with this one. I was happy with my first two citra IPAs, but I would be surprised to ever find something like them at the bar. They were unbalanced and obviously experimental. Deliciously unbalanced, don't get me wrong. But my first shot at a signature IPA — the IPA I want to design as the 'mainstay' in my perfect lineup of Bear Flavored Ales — came out like something I would almost feel comfortable charging money for. It's relatively balanced (but favors hoppy goodness), it's tasty, there are no off-flavors, no carbonation issues — basically I have no significant complaints. The blend of four different hops provides a nice complexity, a juicy, semi-bitter and semi-sweet IPA that I could crack open just about anytime. It's extremely drinkable. 

Given the hops that went into this, I'm not surprised how much it favors the juicy, smooth side of the spectrum. It's kind of creamy and very, very smooth — almost too much, actually, as I would prefer a bit more bite. This is one thing I will definitely tweak in the future. I'd like to take more of a hit from the bittering hops, either with a bigger punch or just something sharper and more noticeable. I went with northern brewer as the bittering hops based mostly on whim and the selection at the homebrew store at the time, but I already have ideas for my next batch. I probably also won't use citra for Killshot IPA again in the future — they can have their own thing, but I want this one to be totally unique, and citra just dominates other flavors too much. While Killshot has a nice complexity, it's stilllll not quite as complex as I would have hoped, with four different hops. I also wouldn't mind this being a little less sweet, and slightly less smooth. That sounds weird, I know. But an IPA called "Killshot" should be a bit menacing, a bit rough around the edges, and this one seems more like an accessible mainstream IPA. As happy as I am with this, it didn't hit the impossibly specific mark of my perfect IPA. And until I stumble upon that holy grail of recipes, I will keep adjusting. Bear Flavored Ales never settles, yo.

0.3 lb cara-pils / 0.4 lb cara 40L
Malts- 2 lb gold DME / 2 lb wheat DME
Hop Schedule-
0.33 oz northern brewer @60
0.33 oz northern brewer @45
0.33 oz northern brewer @20
0.50 oz citra @10
0.50 oz cascade @3
0.50 oz citra @0
0.50 oz cascade @0
1 oz amarillo dry hopped (7 days)
Yeast- Wyeast American Ale II

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