2015 Style Breakdown: Red IPA

Its time to brew some hoppy beers.  With our Belgian competition running for the past two years we have found ourselves brewing more and more Belgian inspired ales and less and less hoppy beers.  Not that Im complaining about brewing Belgian beers.  I bought a ton of hops over the winter and stocked up so that we would be ready to start pumping out hoppy beers when the weather started to get a bit warmer.  Last year the BJCP released their new style guidelines which added specific subcategories for IPA's.  Over the past 5 years or so there has been a real problem with IPA's submitted to competition.  The "specialty" category became flooded with Black IPA and Red IPA submissions in a category that is supposed to be a catch all for the creativity of homebrewers.  That wasn't really all that surprising though - the specialty category is a good place to take notes about the trends in homebrewing and the BJCP was smart to learn from the submissions in this category when they expanded their guidelines.

The IPA category has moved from Category 14 (2008 Guidelines) to Category 21.  It is divided up as follows:

  • 21A: American IPA
  • 21B: Specialty IPA
    • Belgian IPA
    • Black IPA
    • Brown IPA
    • Red IPA
    • Rye IPA
    • White IPA

Looking through the list I decided that since we just brewed an IPA with Phantom Carriage (and our homebrew test batch) that we should choose a specialty IPA to brew this time.  I dont understand Belgian IPA's and White IPA's because I still cant get on board with mixing a belgian yeast profile with assertive hopping.  Lots of people love it.  I don't.  So that left Black, Brown, Red and Rye - ultimately we decided on brewing a Red IPA.

Decisions, decisions...

We didn't have a lot of time to come up with the recipe so I did some internet sleuthing to see if I could find a recipe example for the malt bill of a red IPA off of one of my favorite commercial examples.  I have three favorites that i would categorize as a Red IPA: Eagle Rock Red Velvet, Alesmith Evil Dead Red and Heretic's Evil Twin.  If I could find one of those on the web I felt confident that I could come up with the hop bill fairly quickly.  Googling for the Red Velvet recipe quickly turned up no results.  When I searched for Evil Dead Red I found an article that I havent read in years from Jamil's old Mr Malty website.  I remember reading this back before late hopping was all the rage and its hilarious to come full circle back to this article years later.  Ironically this was Jamil's writeup in his attempt to clone Evil Dead Red and his resulting recipe was Evil Twin - two of my listed targets above.  

I decided to go with Jamil's listed malt bill as the basis, which is:

  • British Pale (3L) - 79%
  • C-40 (40L) - 7%
  • Munich Malt (8L) - 7%
  • Victory Malt (25L) - 3%
  • C-120 (120L) - 3%
  • Pale Chocolate (200L) - 2%

I modified it slightly based off of personal taste and available malts:

  • 2-Row (1.8L) - 76.2%
  • Munich (10L) - 7.6%
  • Carafoam (1.3L) - 5.7%
  • British Carastan (40L) - 5.7%
  • British Dark Crystal (166.5L) - 3%
  • Pale Chocolate (200L) - 2%

My changes are this - I don't love american crystal malt.  I don't necessarily have a problem with them but I do love the british malts - so I swapped out the C40 and C120 with Carastan and British Dark.  I dropped the Victory and added Carafoam in its place.  I always use carafoam in red hoppy beers - ambers, IRA's, etc.

Reading through the Evil Twin grain bill though, the one malt that stuck out for me was Pale Chocolate.  I think that will give some added malt complexity to the beer that should balance out the sweet caramel from the crystal malts - although it may push it a bit outside the style descriptions.  Here are some notes from the 2015 BJCP guidelines that touch on the malts contribution to this style:

But what really differentiates this style from an American Amber Ale?

So really it is differentiated from an Amber Ale in its strength similar to the difference between a Pale Ale and an IPA.  It needs to be balanced like an IPA and still finish dry like an IPA with some added malt complexity.

Here is the final hop bill for a 6 gallon batch:

10 Minute hops with some whirlfloc

  • Boil Hops
    • Chinook (9.4%) - 90 Min - 1.00 oz
    • Columbus (12.0%) - 30 min - 0.60 oz
    • Citra (13.6%) - 30 Min - 0.45 oz
    • Equinox (13.4%) - 10 Min - 0.50 oz
    • Citra (13.6%) - 10 Min - 0.50 oz
  • Whirlpool Hops (10 Minute hot, 10 Minute cool)
    • Equinox (13.4%) - 0.50 oz
    • Citra (13.6%) - 0.50 oz
    • Simcoe (12.9%) - 0.50 oz
    • Columbus (12.0%) - .25 oz
  • Dry Hop #1 (4 days, Free Ballin' @ 64F)
    • Equinox (13.4%) - 0.50 oz
    • Citra (13.6%) - 0.50 oz
    • Simcoe (12.9%) - 0.50 oz
    • Columbus (12.0%) - .25 oz
  • Dry Hop #1 (2 days, Free Ballin' @ 64F)
    • Equinox (13.4%) - 0.50 oz
    • Citra (13.6%) - 0.50 oz
    • Simcoe (12.9%) - 0.50 oz
    • Columbus (12.0%) - .25 oz

A couple of notes on the dry hop.  I have a "how to dry hop" article on this site that I wrote over two years ago.  When I relaunched this site last week I read through some of the old posts that I was going to republish and noticed that a lot of my recommended practices for dry hopping listed in that article no longer followed the current practices.

  • I no longer start dry hopping with 90% of the fermentation complete.  I like to wait now until the fermentation is 100% complete so that I can drop the temperature down to the mid-sixties after the yeast have cleaned everything up.
  • I used to drop my hops inside a stainless steel mesh container.  I actually did this up until the last two batches.  When I visited Phantom Carriage, Brendan poured us samples of Fog Island - an APA that was in the fermenter.  The lbs/bbl of dry hops that he used was much lower than the ratio I use for an IPA and the hop aroma he was getting was substantial compared to what I was seeing in our beers.  My first thought was this container wasnt giving me enough oomph/lb so i ditched the container for the red IPA and the results were fantastic.  I cant believe I let this go on for so long.
  • The duration I dry hop has gone lower and lower over the years.  For Pale Ales I do one 4 day dry hop with around half of the amount of hops listed above.  For IPA's i generally double the amount and split it into two dry hop cycles.  The first goes in followed by the second two days later.  After 4 days (total) I drop the hops and sludge out the bottom and cold crash the beer for packaging.  This limits the contact time to 4 days (for batch one) and 2 days (for batch two) and has had no impact on the aromatics other than to reduce the grassiness.