As a home brewer you will find that there is a lot of room for experimentation. You have many beer brewing recipes that you can follow to develop the flavor profiles that best suit your own palate. If you are a “hop head” and you enjoy beers with a rock solid aroma and flavor, then you are indeed a fan of India Pale Ales (IPA). In order to create better batches and achieve the boldest flavors, you must be willing to take some risks. Don’t worry. Trial and error is one of the best ways to learn exactly what you need to do to achieve success with your beer brewing efforts, and I happen to have some tips that you can use to experiment with this intense flavor to really stimulate that palate of yours.
You are definitely going to need to practice with different combinations of ingredients, which is perfect because IPA is a type of beer that invites exploration. Changing the type of yeast (or brand of hops) in a beer recipe can lead to some totally different flavors in your final product. Remember that hops are the ingredient where the selection is strictly a matter of personal taste, and there is never a wrong choice for you to make when you are experimenting with home brewing. If the flavor is too strong (or just not to your taste) make a note of the ingredients that you used and change things up the next go-round.
Hops are Hopping
The bitter, strong flavors of American hops make them a popular ingredient in many IPA recipes. Columbus, Simcoe and Cascade are a few that deliver the lighter taste of citrus fruit to home brews. If you prefer a woodsy, pine taste in an IPA then you would be better advised to add some Northern Brewer or Chinook hops to the batch. These perform well when you use them as your late addition hops that are incorporated during the final minutes of the boil process.
Amp up the Aromas in your Beer Brewing
When you add hops later in the boil cycle you will be able to create more depth in both flavor and aroma. The aroma of an IPA is always intensified by late additions of your favorite hops. In order to really boost the character of your home brew just add a few ounces of hops right before the boil is ending.
During the secondary fermentation process of beer brewing you can intensify that “bold beer” aroma with an addition of selected hops. You will only need 2-4 ounces for each 5 gallons of brew. When you add extra hops during a secondary ferment it is known as “dry hopping”.
Why Use HACC?
Hops with a high alpha acid content can be added when the boil begins. Using HAA (high alpha acid) hops is a perfect way to bring out the strong, bitter flavors that distinguish the base of your beer.
IPA brews have a distinctive pale color but the shading of the color runs the gamut from light straw to pale amber. The use of 2 row pale malt will strengthen the flavor from the hops. In most cases it will create a brew with some pronounced bitterness. This is a very desirable quality for your home brew to have.
In order to add a little sweetness I suggest using crystal malts or a honey malt. These ingredients can help balance the bitterness. Alost any specialty brand of “mash only” malt can be used to counteract those extreme bitter flavors.
Extra Ideas for Home Brewing Success
When you are adding hops late in the boil the time to do it is during the last 5-15 minutes of the boil.
Depending on the water you are using it may be helpful to add a little gypsum. When you increase the sulfate content the flavor of your hops will be able to shine.
If you add hops late in the game be sure to use the dry hopping process in your beer brewing efforts as well. This “double call” will deliver extra flavor and aromas to your home brewed beer.