This recipe has served me very well as a faithful Red IPA that avoids the pitfalls of the style while amplifying its virtues.
Style: Red IPA is one of the newer “defined” styles, but it’s certainly nothing new to beer geeks. Previously, Red IPAS might have been referred to as California/west Coast Red ales, Northwest IPAS, or simply as IPAS, but the distinctions of this style are useful to note to differentiate it from similar styles (American Amber, in particular). Like most IPAS, it’s characterized by a relatively high BU:GU ratio, more malt character than a traditional American IPA, and high levels of hops aroma and flavor. Many classic examples are also high in alcohol, but the style doesn’t require it, and this recipe doesn’t feature it. Made well, Red IPA is a riot of hops in a drinkable beer that you can have more than one pint of without tipping off the stool. Recipe: I approached this recipe by noting that what I was drinking was similar to my Calling Bird India Ale, a darkish English IPA but with a touch more alcohol and malt flavor and a lot more American hops. Maris Otter and Munich malts lay down a bready base. Then we add equal amounts of Crystal 40 and Crystal 120 (the Fawcett versions, if you have access to them). It’s enough crystal malt character to add some toffee-and-toast flavors, but not so much that it seems “rich.” To that we add a some Carafa Special I, a dehusked dark malt, that will add a very smooth and light cocoa background note but very little true “roast” character. We now have a deep-red wort, with an ABV potential of just about 6 percent. As for hopping, I’ve used a mix of Simcoe, Centennial, and Cascade, but I didn’t care for the result, and dropping out the Cascade improved it significantly (though obviously if you’re a Cascade fan, feel free). The Simcoe-centennial combination, though, adds a nicely complementary grapefruit-and-flowers flavor. I do all my serious bittering with the Simcoe, at 45 minutes and at 20 minutes, yielding about 60 IBUS. Simcoe and Centennial at five minutes adds a big punch of hops to the flavor profile, and about 10 more IBUS. (Simcoe is a relatively soft-bittering low-cohumulone hop, especially for an American variety). Finally, for yeast, I use my go-to Wyeast 1007 (German Ale) for its clean fermentation and a bit of supporting berry ester. Process: There are no real process mysteries here. Mash, lauter, sparge, and then boil for the full 60 minutes even though the hops aren’t going in until 15 minutes into the boil. Ferment at 65°F (18°C), and if you like you can raise that to 68°F (20°C) after 5–6 days to allow for a bit of a diacetyl rest. At this point, many would dry hop this beer, but I honestly don’t care for the grassy, resinous flavor it imparts. In this recipe, the dry hops seem like a patch or an afterthought. Package and carbonate to 2.5 volumes of CO2, and you should be good to go.