Single Hop IPA #1: Cascade

I’ve posted recently about my third and fourth batches of Single Hop IPA and about my first attempt at an IPA, Bitter Old Man. Soon after the latter beer, the precursors to the former were brewed. My first two Single Hop IPA batches used the same specialty grains as the Bitter Old Man. They were two two and a half gallon batches brewed on the same day.

To start, I steeped the exact same grains as Bitter Old Man. After that, I split the wort in half, beginning the boil on this batch with one half and saving the other for #2 to be finished later in the day. I scaled back the extract and the bittering hops to try to make this a standard IPA instead of the double I went for with BOM.

You may remember that I said an earlier post that while I really enjoyed BOM, it was too malty and not hoppy enough to be an IPA. If you do remember that, you’re probably wondering why I kept the same basic recipe (even scaling the hops back) for this batch. Well, this was already planned, the ingredients were bought and I was not nearly as experienced and wasn’t prepared to change plans so late in the game.

So, as you can expect, I again ended up with some tasty, complexly malty beer that bore little resemblance to IPA. Live and learn and then get more hops. I will write more about this beer tomorrow, when I cover the other batch, which was nearly indistinguishable. I am probably going to refine the recipe further before batches five and six, but I think the recipe I shared for three and four is a pretty good place to start. I will still share the original recipe below, though.

Instead of talking any more about this beer, I will switch to what should have been the focal point of the beer, the wonderful Cascade hop. Cascade hops were probably the single most important ingredient in starting the craft beer movement. They were made famous by Anchor’s Liberty Ale and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, among many other later American beers.

The hops originated several years before those beers were introduced. They were originally intended to be an American substitute for German Hallertau hops for the big breweries to use in their Light Lagers. They were bred from those German hops and share a lot of their makeup with them, however their flavor and aroma are vastly different.

Cascade hops nearly faded away before they ever had a chance, but were saved by Coors, of all breweries, when they contracted a massive amount of them at deeply discounted prices. Ultimately, they didn’t like the hops because they were considered too harsh and aromatic. Those distinct (no longer thought of as harsh) aromas are exactly why they were embraced by smaller breweries.

The big American breweries get most of their heritage from German brewing (though they have bastardized the traditions to extreme degrees) while smaller breweries like Sierra Nevada were more influenced by English brewing. The great English malts were not available to these breweries back in the 70’s and 80’s, though and as a way to stick out and make their beers their own, they loaded them with American hops, mainly Cascade. English beers are generally hoppier than German (Pils being the obvious exception), but neither traditionally have hopping rates that match the new American craft breweries.

Cascade hops were the reason for this. They have intense grapefruit character as well as some pine. If you want to experience this flavor and aroma, get yourself some Sierra Nevada Pale Ale or any of the hundreds of beers it has influenced. Almost any American Pale Ale that has been around for more than a decade is likely hopped with Cascade. Stone Pale Ale is the notable exception and they have explained that they avoided it simply because it had become so ubiquitous.

These hops may be overlooked by a lot of people now as they are no longer the only kid on the block, but they paved the way for the explosion of hoppy beers, new hop varieties and craft beer in general. And more importantly, they are just plain delicious.BeerLabelSingleHopIPA

Single Hop IPA #1: Cascade
Style: 14B. American IPA
Brew Date: June, 2012
Serve Date: July, 2012
ABV: 8.8%
IBUs: 80 IBUs

.25 lb Biscuit Malt
.25 lb Victory Malt
.25 lb Crystal 10L
1 lb Light DME
3.5 lb Light LME

1 oz Cascade @ 60 min
.75 oz Cascade @ 30 min
.25 oz Cascade @ 2 min (WAY TOO LOW)

Nottingham Dry Ale Yeast


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