Star Thief IPA

Happy IPA Day! To celebrate, I’m covering the IPA I brewed last Spring today.

This was a mostly Centennial hopped beer, but with some other hops thrown in as well. I bittered with Centennial and Australian Topaz. This is the only time I’ve ever used Topaz and since it was added at the sixty minute mark of the boil, I still couldn’t tell you what kind of flavor or aroma it brings.

Towards the end of the boil, I added more Centennial at ten minutes and flame out and Willamette at two minutes. Willamette is basically an American version of Fuggle, which I wrote about yesterday. I thought throwing in one low alpha, classic English style hop would put a nice twist on this IPA, but honestly, I think it was mostly lost in all the other hops.

I dry hopped the beer with more Centennial and Galaxy. This was soon after I had tried that Tröegs Galaxy IPA that I wrote about in my post for my Galaxy Single Hop. I had planned to use a lot more of this hop but was only able to find one ounce at the homebrew store. When I asked, I was told that they couldn’t get anymore Galaxy until the next harvest season. He actually thought they were already sold out and was surprised when I said I found one ounce in the hop fridge.

I love Centennial hops, but they were a last minute substitution when I couldn’t get my hands on more Galaxy. This was not the beer I was planning to make, but you really can’t go wrong with a Centennial hopped IPA. Founder’s Centennial IPA, Stone IPA and Ruination, Bell’s Two Hearted… the list of beers that showcase Centennial hops (alone or combined with other varieties) could go on forever.

These hops are an American classic. They have the hallmark citrusy grapefruit flavor and aroma but it is balanced by floral notes. They are sometimes described as “super” Cascade because they have some similar notes but with higher alpha acid (bitterness). I get piny notes in addition to the grapefruit from Cascade, though and that is replaced by those floral accents.

I think I had a good mix of hops for this recipe, but ultimately, I think I really should have loaded up with more of them at the end of the boil. There was a nice aroma from the dry hopping, but it didn’t punch you in the face the way I like an IPA to do.

This is a lesson that I have learned many, many times. Basically, every time I make an IPA I tend to up the late additions and every time I get a little closer, but I still don’t think I’ve completely nailed a great IPA. I have high hopes for Fruit Spectrum, but only time will tell.

Last year, I attended a class put on by Chad Reiker, head brewer at Iron Hill’s Lancaster location. He shared his method for formulating IPA recipes. He said he starts with a load of bittering hops to match the IBUs to the original gravity. Meaning if the beer starts out at 1.068, he will adjust the early bittering hop load to achieve 68 IBUs. Then, at the end of the boil he takes the volume of hops used to in the bittering load and doubles it. Then he doubles that for the dry hop. That adds up to a lot more dry hops than I have ever used.

For this beer, I had one and a half ounces of bittering hops, three ounces late in the boil and two ounces of dry hop. From my own experience, I find that flame out, or mid chilling, hop additions are the most effective. For Fruit Spectrum, which I brewed a couple days ago, used two ounces of bittering hops, four ounces late in the boil and I plan to dry hop with three ounces. I’m still not getting to his dry hop numbers, but it is very hard to scale from a brew pub system to a homebrew set up directly like that.

I’m sure the system at Iron Hill is much more efficient and as a result, their bittering loads are probably much smaller. It is not directly proportional.

I actually recently unearthed a single bottle of this beer in the basement. I think I will do tasting notes on it, but I don’t expect it to have held up at all. As I said, I think it was already a little bit under hopped and now it is over a year old.

There is more to an IPA than hops, though and I guess I should explain the rest of this beer’s makeup. This was a partial mash batch. I BIAB mashed five pounds of Pale Malt and three quarters of a pound of Victory Malt. Victory is a lightly roasted malt, similar to Biscuit. It brings a lot of bready character and brownish color when used in higher proportion. I kept it low in this recipe, but now I would skip it altogether for something lighter.

Oh, and if you’re wondering, the name comes Jim Starlin’s classic Warlock comics. You should read them. My recipe is below.StarThiefIPALabelStyle: American IPA

Brew Date: March 23, 2013
Serve Date: May, 2013
Original Gravity: 1.068
Final Gravity: 1.012
ABV: 7.3%
IBUs: 74

5 lb American Pale Malt
.75 lb Victory Malt
7 lb LME

.5 oz Centennial @ 60 min
1 oz Topaz @ 60 min
1 oz Centennial @ 10 min
1 oz Willamette @ 2 min
1 oz Centennial @ Flameout
1 oz Centennial Dry hop for ten days
1 oz Galaxy Dry hop for five days

Nottingham Dry Ale Yeast


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