I took a month or two off from brewing, but started up again last month ready to try some of my own variations based off some of the things I'd been learning.
I created a variation on the Inglewood IPA, which is recipe from Culver City Home Brew, which supplies me with most of gear and ingredients. Here's the original recipe:
Pale Malt Extract 9 lbs
Crystal 10L 8 oz
Crystal 60L 8 oz
Columbus 1.6 oz 60 min
Cascade 1.0 oz 15 min
Cascade 1.0 oz 0 min
White labs WLP001 California Ale
Gravity - 1.067
I was interested in trying to create an IPA with some serious bright citrusy hops. Ideally, I was looking to use Simcoe hops, but I couldn't get a hold of any. So I substituted some other variations to try and get a similar effect. I replaced the Columbus with Summit, left the 15 min Cascade the same, and replaced the 0 min Cascade with Amarillo. I also used two vials of yeast upon the suggestion of the guy at Culver City Homebrew.
My last couple batches, I had some issues with a little funkiness on the back end, and they weren't finishing well. My big change for this batch was using all distilled water. I read in Sam Calagione's book Extreme Brewing that using more water for your tea is better, however, I heard exactly the opposite from some other brewers. So I compromised and used somewhere between 2 and 3 gallons to make my tea. I was also much more careful not to ring out my grain sack and had a better handle on temperature than I did in my last batches. The boil went well and after cooling and adding water, I was able to get the starting gravity to about 1.072.
After 24 hours in the carboy, I went to check on the brew and found that the fermentation had bubbled up into the airlock and was really churning hard. I did some quick reading online and was able to rig a blow off tube that worked fantastically. The additional yeast obviously had a pretty huge effect, I had to leave the blow off tube on for about 4 days before I was able to switch back to the air lock. I ended up fermenting for about 2 weeks and then did a secondary fermentation for another week.
I bottled mostly 22s since I was pretty happy with that result on my porter.
It's now been three weeks, and I'm happy to say that this is the by far the best beer that I've made yet; for what it's worth, most people who have tried it seem to agree with this as well. While it doesn't have the potency of the Simcoe, it definitely is in that direction with some really bright citrusy hops that finish really cleanly and are well balanced with the cascade. The front end is fairly subdued, but there's a nice sweet, almost creamy, flavor that is beginning to carry through into the hoppy finish as we approach three weeks of bottle time. As this beer gets older and older the front end just seems to develop. I wrote that last line this morning and tasting it tonight it's starting to develop just the slightest hints of that beautiful grapefruit rind flavor. It's not an overwhelming sweetness rind, just enough to add some flavor and subtle hints of complexity.
The color is a brilliant orange, perhaps a little dark for a single IPA, but the body is clear and consistent and looks really pretty. I'm most proud that I was able to eliminate the sort of homebrew funk and astringency that had been spoiling the finish on my earlier beers; I attribute this to the careful handling of the grains and the controlled water source. That funk had been killing the hop buildup and its elimination was the main goal for this batch.
My final gravity reading is at 1.015, which by my calculations means the alcohol content should be around 5%. This seems on the low side to me. The beer is definitely light and no heavy hitter, but it sure doesn't taste as low as 5.
All in all though, this batch was a great success. I've decided to name it Gamma Ray's Bitter Burst, in honor of scientists discovering the oldest object ever in space. The way I see it, anything that's been around for 13 billion years is going to be pretty bitter, so why not name an IPA after it?