Often a hero is such because he understands great deeds already exist; valour, glory, triumph. These things have been felt by others, intensely and justly. A hero revels in the presence of these things and yearns to step up to the same plate… Homage, inspiration… Whatever it may be called. More than enough dragons exist…
Welcome, to the latest installation of the Brewdyssey! Good day all; time for the next step in our Brewdyssey to have a proper unveiling.
You may have seen our live tweet a couple of weeks ago (here’s our twitter, here’s the big fabulous compiling of the event) and, with the passage of time such as it has been, you must be firmly wondering what this beer is?
Well, (insert drumroll sound efect here – Bifur) its a black IPA, if you hadn’t guessed by that malt, that colour and that mammoth amount of hops… There’s a little twist though, as this is, what we have dubbed, a ‘blackened Vermont IPA’. “Er… What in the hell is a Vermont IPA, let alone a black version!?!?! “ I hear you cry.
Well folks, let’s go back in time to see..
Earlier this year I cracked open a bottle of Cloudwater’s double IPA (I believe it was version 2) and I was ABSOLUTELY NAILED TO THE FLOOR by how good this beer was.. It was thick, unctuous and juicy. Lemony, vibrant and with more than a hint of mango. By god, this thing was just the bomb!
I wondered, what hops did they use? Surely they have added real fruit to this? Maybe even lemon curd? What, WHAT, had they done?
I looked at their website and read about this beer; no fruit but plenty of tropical hit hops and a yeast from Vermont. I guessed that yeast was needed to help get the fermentation up into the high abv needed to get this beast up to a double strength…
My mind couldn’t give this beer up and i though “We had to out tropical this beast as part of out Brewdyssey”… To help me plan I figured hit google and read as much about different tropical tasting hops as possible and, well, in my searching I found something…
There’s something sweeping the states at the moment, something controversial, but something that I couldn’t ignore…
Apparently they started using an ale yeast in Vermont that is phenomenal at hitting high alcohol levels, but that (more interestingly) while it does this it pumps out esters that groove around your palate like a pineapple, mango, infused tribal stomp.
That beer used the Vermont yeast! Note to self… Vermont yeast MUST be used for a beer.
Shortly after this revelation I tried Brewdogs Jack Hammer… A smash in the face with a heady IBU and little malt character, this beer slayed my mouth in a riot of tasty. It was unbelievably delicious; the yummy citrus and piney undertones managed to smooth out the huge bitterness. Brewdog once again demonstrate their mastery of the hop profile
What happened next though was special. I tried the Black hammer and… FUCKING HELL, HOW DID THEY MAKE JACK HAMMER BETTER? Seriously, this beer took that starting point of Jack Hammer and somehow amplified everything, EVERYTHING, about it. Fruitier, cleaner, sweeter and bitter-er. They created a catastrophically and devastatingly good beer.
Note to self, we need to make an IPA like this…
Weeks went by and we brewed Bifs birthday beer, hooked up an international beer exchange and did the other shit we do. (In my case playing games and in Dwalins casebitching about not being able to play games – Bifur)
Then, the time was upon us: what beer do we brew next?
We threw around ideas and I put together a load of suggestions, including a summary of Black IPA (neatly placed in the middle of the list so as to draw maximum attention to it? – Bifur) and I continued to push my Vermontian agenda… At which point (and to my surprise) Bif suggested we do A BLACK IPA! (yes, well done. Your oh so subtle priming worked… – Bifur)
All that was left to do was work out a recipe and, as neither of us had brewed a black ipa before, we realised an internet trawl was in order.
We both saw plenty of recipes, often utilising layers of crystal and black to get the colour of the IPA. This super complex malt foundation was something we did with fizzy j and we thought it to be too complex and too heavy for an IPA? We didn’t know what to do… Until, that is, we checked DIY Dog.
I’m a big fan of this electronic tome; Brewdog have, in one fell swoop, managed to eradicate any sense of corporate led bullshit by releasing all of their recipes. Brewing isn’t an unobtainable, shamanistic pursuit for a select few: It is for everyone that wants a go and, importantly, brewers support other brewers. Getting phenomenal beer by the free sharing of techniques and ingredients is the way it should be.
It’s unlikely we’re ever going to brew a clone of any Brewdog beer but, by heck, we can learn from their recipes… And this beer is our first that has been developed from Brewdogs teaching.
So,yeah, we looked at the black hammer recipe and learnt that riding atop an extra pale base is just a single malt addition, Carafa 3. I figured, hell if it worked to such an astonishing effect in that beer then fuck it: let’s try it in ours.
Now, we wanted a nice level of booze to this IPA; it’s rapidly heading towards autumn now and no more do we need session strength. To hit around 8% we decided on 6kg of extra pale, adding in 500g of Carafa 3 (less than is added to black hammer due to a slight oversight on my part (In this case “slight” should be read as “A factor of 10” – Bifur)) and the fermentation would be done by that Vermont yeast we were inspired to use by Cloudwater… On that note I will say we used a different supplier, Brew UK, as they were the only place we could get the yeast from.
We didn’t order any new hops as we had a mountain left from previous brews. We knew the hops we had would cover our tropical and citrus aims and we decided to put the additions together on brew day
|Malt||6kg Maris extra pale|
|500g Carafa 3|
|Dry Hop 1||Amarillo||6.3||10.4||leaf|
|Dry Hop 2||Amarillo||10||8.2||pellet|
As you can see we’ve gone big on this one… Though we were potentially going to go bigger but, when our calculations hit 150 ibu we had a small freak out going larger would taste bad… We shall see!
We’ve dry hopped twice, after bulk fermentation and ahead of conditioning. Hopefully this launches aromatics into the sky!
Fingers crossed; we should know in around 4 weeks how its all gone… Hey, perhaps we’ll taste it next to some beers from our inspiration breweries…
Stay tuned beer fans as next time this beast of a beer gets a name!
Freud judges those that live in a bubble and don’t get inspired by others