Make Your Best…
It’s one thing to follow a beer recipe, but it’s an entirely different beast to know the whys and hows and everything in between for the type of beer you’re brewing.
A retronym is a term that’s been modified to distinguish it from something similar that’s invented later—think “acoustic guitar,” which is a name we didn’t need until the electric guitar was invented. Similarly, until the American IPA took over the craft-beer world, English IPA was just… ipa. While it may be viewed as the older, boring uncle of the insane IPAS that now dominate most beer geeks’ minds, it’s still a phenomenal beer to make and drink.
Style: The English IPA is much more than simply a toned-down version of modern American IPAS. True, the IBU level is lower, but it also makes more obvious use of crystal malts. When done properly, an English IPA has more body and hops character and bitterness than the English bitters but much better balance than most American IPAS.
Ingredients: This version of English IPA is a bit redder and a bit lower in alcohol than many modern English versions. It takes the lower-gravity starting point of the traditional English IPA and adds more of the great English crystals. But the key features—lots of earthy, floral hops balanced by firm bittering and crystal malt flavors—are still there.
Start with 9 lb (4.1 kg) of Maris Otter to yield about 45 gravity points. In addition, use 0.5 lb (227 g) each of British Medium Crystal (about 45L), Dark Crystal (about 90L), and Extra Dark Crystal or “Dark II” (about 120L). This should give you an ABV target of about 5.5 percent and great flavors such as caramel, toffee, and even a bit of currant.
For hopping, add your favorite bittering hops at 60 minutes to yield 45 IBUS. Use something high-alpha because you’ll add enough hops plant matter in the later stages to start flirting with that vegetal flavor you can get from an overabundance of hops. At 10 minutes, add 1 oz (28 g) each East Kent Goldings and Fuggles, and then at flame-out/whirlpool add 1 oz (28 g) Fuggles. You’ll also add 1 oz (28 g) Fuggles post-fermentation as a dry hop.
And for yeast, my beloved Wyeast 1007 (German Ale) produces clean, slightly estery, malt-rounded beers, and it’s a perfect match for these ingredients.
Process: Mash as usual, but if you’re working with soft-to-slightly-hard water, consider a bit of gypsum to up the mineral content and add a nice flinty bite to your finished beer’s bittering. I use ¼ tsp in the mash.
Fermentation should be relatively cool; you don’t want an ester bomb. Begin at 64°F (18°C) and hold it there for 3–4 days. Then let it warm to about 69–70°F (20–21°C) to clean up any diacetyl. A few days after fermentation completes, cold crash and add your dry hops for about 5 days to add a wonderful earthy, grassy, floral kick to your beer’s nose! When dry hopping is complete, rack out from under the hops and package, carbonating to about 2 volumes of CO2.