American Pale Ale (APA) is probably one of the most widely brewed styles for homebrewers. OK, maybe it falls behind IPA and Stouts but I would bet that at some point in your brewing career you have crafted one. APA can be a difficult style to master though as brewing them really is an exercise in balance and finesse. I have heard brewery owner’s comment on how creating an APA can be a good test of a new (or prospective) employees brewing chops. Sure their new brewer can create exciting experimental styles but how do they do when it comes to this old classic? It’s kind of like a good chef being able to make a quality omelet.Hops Pic

There are a few moving parts to an APA. The first, and arguably most important, is the hop character. You need to hit a good level of hop bitterness while not going into IPA territory. One metric that helps keep you in the correct range is the bittering units to gravity units (BU:GU) ratio. This ratio is simply your IBUs divided by the last three digits of your OG. For me that sweet spot for an APA is between 0.7 and 0.8. The other end of the hop character equation is hop flavor and aroma.  I like to get at least half of my bittering from late hops and even lightly dry hop to really get the point across. This is where you need to be careful. Since you are working with a lower gravity beer, excess late process hops can lead to grassy flavors.

For the malt bill I generally like to use American 2-row with about 10% Munich and 5% C40. The Munich adds a subtly bready character and the C40 obviously a caramel character. This is another area where finesse is key. You want to create some malt complexity without taking away from drinkability or distracting from the hop character. If you overdo it with the caramel malt you can easily create a muddled APA. Use restraint here! Instead of using 2-row and Munich you could also try using 90% Maris Otter to get a similar effect. Additionally I like to use 5% carapils to help with body and head retention but you could also try using malted white wheat instead.

Water chemistry has a profound impact on an APA and this style greatly benefits from high levels of sulfate. I like to go all the way up to 300 ppm to make the beer very crisp and accentuate the hop character. Yeast should generally be neutral but sometimes I enjoy blending WLP 090 with an English strain to get a hint of fruity esters. This plays particularly well with new world fruity hops.

When I brew this APA I always keep the grain bill, water, and (usually) yeast the same but use different hops for each batch. The recipe below uses a blend of Belma, Amarillo, and Cascade but you can substitute any hop combination you want so long as you pay attention to your BU:GU. This recipe is also great for experimenting with new hop varieties by simply using one type.

I hope this recipe gets you closer to brewing that perfect APA! Feel free to comment below with questions or let me know what hop or yeast combinations you find enjoyable. You can follow all my brewing adventures on social media @hungusbrews and if you ever find yourself brewing one of my recipes, feel free to use #hungusbrews. Cheers!

Hand Stand Happy Hour

2008 10A – American Pale Ale  2015 18B – American Pale Ale
Recipe for 6 gallons of post boil

Malts

9 lb / 81.8% US 2-Row (Briess)
1 lb / 9.2% German Munich (Weyermann)
8 oz / 4.5% Carapils (Briess)
8 oz / 4.5% Caramel 40 (Briess)

Hops

20.5 IBU / 0.5 oz 10.4% Belma 60 Min
5.2 IBU / 0.5 oz 10.4% Belma 5 Min
2.5 IBU / 0.5 oz 5.0% Amarillo 5 Min
3.2 IBU / 0.5 oz 6.3% Cascade 5 Min
4.3 IBU / 0.5 oz 10.4% Belma 0 Min
2.1 IBU / 0.5 oz 5.0% Amarillo 0 Min
2.6 IBU / 0.5 oz 6.3% Cascade 0 Min
0 IBU / 0.5 oz 10.4% Belma Dry Hop
0 IBU / 0.5 oz 5.0% Amarillo Dry Hop

Yeast

WLP 090 – San Diego Super Yeast
Feel free to use other neutral yeasts or even blend with English varieties

Water

CA 165 ppm
MG <10 ppm
NA <20 ppm
SO4 305 ppm
CL 53 ppm
HCO3 65 ppm
Alk 54 ppm

Mash

Mash at 151˚ for 1 hr with a pH of 5.3. Mash out at 168 if your system allows. Sparge with 168˚ water acidified to under a pH of 6.0.

Boil

Add the bittering hops at 60 min. At 10 min left add your kettle fining (SuperMoss/Irish Moss/Whirlfloc) and your yeast nutrient (I use White Labs WLN-1000). With 5 min left add your second hop addition. At flame out add your last hop addition and whirlpool to create a trub cone. If not whirlpooling and cooling quickly with an immersion chiller you may want to move your late hops to a 10 and 15 min addition.

Fermentation

Rack to fermenter at 66˚ and ensure the wort is well oxygenated. Pitch at 66˚ and hold below 68˚ until fermentation is complete. Once fermentation is nearing 90% completion, add your dry hops and let fermentation finish. After 3-4 days, cold crash slowly to 40˚ and rack into keg or bottle.

Measurements and Calculations

Wort Volume Before Boil: 7.0 US gals
Wort Volume After Boil: 6 US gals
Volume Transferred: 5.5 US gals
Volume Of Finished Beer: 5 US gals
Pre-Boil Gravity: 1.043 SG
OG: 1.051 SG
FG: 1.010 SG
ABV: 5.4 %
IBU (Rager): 40.4 IBU
Color (Morey): 5.7 SRM
Mash Efficiency: 75 %
Fermentation Temp: 68 ˚F

Not sure we could have fit any more hops!

Not sure we could have fit any more hops!

Brewing IPA’s is not my strong suit. Give me malt forward beers all day long and I will knock them out of the park. That being said, I was glad my friend Mungus coerced me into brewing 15 gallons of one for his wedding. I couldn’t say no and I needed the brewing practice. Just because I prefer to drink malt forward beers I still need to be a master of the hops. To make things even more interesting, I had just upgraded to a 15 gallon brew kettle and this was its maiden voyage. I and no idea what my boil off would be, how my hop utilization would be affected, if my volumes were accurate, etc. And to top it all off, we did a double brew day and made 10 gallons of a Flanders Red before hand. Nothing like a brew day challenge.

Mungus Owning the hops

Mungus Owning the hops

To move between 10 and 15 gallons (and even 5) I like to think of the malt bill in percentages. This is why I always include them in my recipes. It is much easier to scale between volumes when working in percentages than in strict pounds. Hops are a little trickier. Bittering is easy as you can adjust for IBU’s but for flavor and aroma you just use your “brewers intuition”. In reality though, calculated IBU ratios can still work for flavor and aroma additions they just don’t adjust as precisely.

Mungus and Hungus

Mungus and Hungus

When I have brew hop forward beers I like to do a two step hop whirlpool. One hot whirlpool addition and one cold whirlpool addition. So basically I only add a “small” amount of bittering hops at the beginning of the boil then hit it hard once the flame is out. This helps to keep from volatilizing off all of the hop aromatics. The cold whirlpool acts as a hop back would by doing a cold steep. For dry hopping, I like to do two short (3-5 day) additions. The first is always near the end of fermentation (about 90% to terminal gravity) right in the fermenter. This ensures that there are still some convection currents at work in the fermenter that will help to fully mix the hops. The second addition I can also do in the conical once I dump the first addition and yeast. If you don’t have a conical, this is where you would do them in a secondary or in a keg.

So here is the recipe. Take note of the sugar addition (dryness) and the aggressive water chemistry (accentuate hops):

 

Dank Love IPA (Batch Number 154)

14B –American IPA
Recipe for 16.5 gallons Post Boil

Malts/Sugars

16 lb/43.8%  Breiss 2-row
14 lb/38.4%  Weyerman German Pilser
3 lb/8.2%      Breiss Carapils
1.5lb/4.1%    Breiss Caramel 60L
2 lb/5.5%      Dextrose Sugar

Hops

12 ml  Hop Extract   40IBU 60 Min
2.5 oz Simcoe          14.5% 0 Min
2.5 oz Citra              15.1% 0 Min
2.5 oz Centennial     10.1% 0 Min
3 oz    Simcoe           14.5% -25 Min
3 oz    Citra               15.1% -25 Min
3 oz    Centennial     10.1% -25 Min
2 oz    Simcoe          14.5% In Fermenter
2 oz   Citra               15.1% In Fermenter
2 oz   Centennial     10.1% Dry Hop
2 oz   Citra               15.1% Dry Hop

Yeast

Conan Yeast cultured from Heady Topper can.

Water

Strike: 11 gal, 41.8g caso4, 8.8g cacl2
Sparge: 12 gal, 45.6g caso4, 9.6g cacl2, 2.9 ml phosphoric 85%

CA 312
MG 7
NA 23
SO4 283
CL 51
HCO3 109

Mash Schedule

Single Infusion at 149 for 60 min reserving caramel malt. Add caramel malt and mash out to 168.

Measurements and Calculations

Wort Volume Before Boil: 18.75 US gals
Wort Volume After Boil: 16.5 US gals
Volume Transferred: 15.75 US gals
Volume Of Finished Beer: 15.00 US gals
Pre-Boil Gravity: 1.046 SG
OG: 1.062 SG
FG: 1.013 SG
Apparent Attenuation: 78 %
ABV: 6.5 %
IBU (Rager): 100+ IBU
Color (Morey): 7 SRM
Mash Efficiency: 68 %
Mash pH: 5.65
Fermentation Temp: 68 ˚F
Fast ferment test: 1.011

Process Notes

Mashed at 149 with no recirculation since I was doing a double batch with my friend Mungus. 75 min into the mash we started the recirculation and raised mash temp to 168 for mash out. Held a slow sparge and lauter but still had a low efficiency. This was very likely due to pre crush that Mungus brought from Morebeer. My crush is always a bit finer. We added the caramel at the start recirculation to keep the mash ph in the proper range although it ended up being high at 5.65.

Hops into the kettle

Hops into the kettle

We used 12ml hop shot (hop extract) to achieve 40 IBU at 60 min. Added water pre boil to hit starting volume. Boiled down 2.25 gal. Had to add DME to get gravity back up. Sugars added at 10 min along with nutrient and Super Moss HB. At flame out added the first charge of hops and whirlpooled for 15 min. Cooled wort down to 75 over 10 min and added second charge of hops. Continued whirlpool for 15 min. Stopped whirlpool and racked to fermenter at 66*.

Pitched 700 ml of slurry harvested from previous batch in conical. Serious fermentation action by next morning. Day 4 down to 1.027. Day 7 still fermenting but slowing. Strong hop aroma. Day 8 ferm very slow and gravity at 1.016. Added 4 oz dry hop directly into fermenter. Day 11. Gravity 1.013. Dumped 1250 ml trub from bottom dump. Added 4 oz dry hop directly into conical. Cooled to 60 for three days on the second hop addition. Did a quick 12 hr cold crash. Filled three kegs.

Tasting Notes

At three weeks old this was one of the best IPA’s I had ever made. It had a wonderfully smooth hop bitterness that really sold me on using hop extract. The hop flavors and aroma balanced very nicely with the fruity esters from the Heady Topper yeast. There were huge notes of Citrus and Apricot. The beer had an amazingly bright clarity for an IPA. We served 10 gallons of this at Mungus’s wedding and it was one of the first beers to go. The keg I had on tap at home didn’t last long at all either. All 15 gallons was probably gone before it was 5 weeks old.

IPA turned to Butterscotch

IPA turned to Butterscotch

I bottled a 6 pack to enter in local competitions and boy did I get a surprise. At about the 9 week mark, something happened to those bottles that turned the beer into a Diacetyl bomb. When I got my scoresheet back from the competition I immediately cracked one of the 4 I had left certain that they had judged the wrong beer. Sure enough the same feedback I had gotten on that scoresheet matched what was in the bottles in my basement. The beer turned very hazy, darkened, and threw down a large sediment. I am still baffled as to how such a bright, lightly colored beer going into the bottles threw this of flavor. My guess is that it was an infection from the recycled yeast or possibly my original culture from the Heady Topper can did not get a pure strain. I plan to scrap the yeast I have on a slant and go in search of ECY29 as the pure culture. So it goes. At least we enjoyed the hell out of this before it turned!

Cheers!

-Hungus