I have been brewing a lot, don’t you worry, I just haven’t posted much about it. That’s going to change. My hops have already climbed as far as the roof of the house outside, and I’m turning over a new blogging leaf. Here, to ease me back in, is a short recipe post.
India Pale Ale is craft beer’s most popular style, I would imagine. But its meaning is not clear. In Britain, it doesn’t seem to mean much anymore, the glass hits the floor with the style’s nadir, Greene King ‘IPA’, a lightly hopped beer boasting only 3.6% ABV. How the mighty have fallen! I would struggle to call it a Mild. It has been suggested of English IPA that the term is just used interchangeably with “Bitter”, perhaps IPA sounds more appealing. There are some nice IPAs in Britain, but I find the majority of them quite disappointing.
Contrast this with one of the greatest family of beers on the go at the moment in my opinion, the big American IPA. Beers from Dogfish Head, Sierra Nevada, Stone, Odell, and countless others. These beers are golden amber with a caramel body, backed up with often up to 100 international bittering units (that’s a lot), and the standard strength seems to be about 7.5% ABV
Historically, the American recreation seems closer to what the style should be. I’ll leave picking apart the history of how the English got to be the way they are to Zythophile , needless to say, I know which one I prefer.
And yet, what a history India Pale Ale evokes! Beers from London and Burton, brewers like Alsopp and Hodgson loading strong, massively hopped beer in to barrels for shipping to India. Beer crossing the equator twice, four months on the rolling, foamy brine. I decided to brew one.
The Durden Park Beer Circle have a nice little booklet full of historical recipes that they have pulled from old brewing logs. When scaled down for homebrewing they are usually as simple as Pale Malt, Fuggles, Yeast. Things were simple back then. I couldn’t find my copy, but I found a recipe in Camra’s IPA book which I thought would do the trick. It’s a beer from an author called Amsinck, I think it’s from the mid 1800s.
I rounded the recipe up and down a little, but it’s basically the same. for 22L I mashed 6KG Pilsner Malt, I boiled for 90 minutes, with 400g East Kent Goldings hop pellets. The IBU that this will have is purely academic, it’s off the scale. Something like 180. In practice no one ever gets much more than 100, hence the author of the book qualifies this with “probably not relevant”. I will dry hop this with another 100g EKG pellets after the primary fermentation has wound down. I fermented with Wyeast West Yorkshire yeast.
Why Pilsner Malt you say? Isn’t this supposed to be British? Well, what’s more British than a nice yellow Pilsner? Seriously though, the historical recipe calls for “white malt” which apparently wasn’t even toasted as lightly as modern pale malt. Unless I was going to make some myself (I wasn’t), the closest thing to do was use pilsner malt, which is a whiter shade of pale. I don’t know how the body will turn out, I’m pretty sure it won’t be caramel like the Americans. I did follow the advice in that book and I mashed at quite a high temperature though, to produce more unfermentable sugars. I mashed at about 68c.
I think this is the simplest recipe I’ve ever brewed. The 400g of EKG really soaked up some wort, but not as bad as you’d expect. There was a lot of gunk at the bottom of the boiler. I don’t think I’d attempt this with cone hops, like this guy did, there’d be no beer left!