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West Coast Brewer Home Brewing Blog

Month: June 2014

Seven Easy Ways to Improve Your IPA!

7 Easy Ways to Improve Your IPA

7 Easy Ways to Improve Your IPA

 

Recently I came across a great article (5 Tips for Better IPAs) from the American Homebrewers Association where they interviewed Vinnie Cilurzo (Owner and Brewer at Russian River Brewing) and he gave 5 recommendations on how fellow brewers can improve their IPA’s.  I thought that I would take some of Vinnie’s fantastic advice and expand on it a bit with a few of my own suggestions!

 

Here are 7 easy ways on how you can improve your Home Brewed IPA!

 

 1) Every Beer Starts with Water!

 

Never under estimate the importance of beers primary ingredient, water.  The water that you are using to make your beer is critical, especially when it comes to all grain brewing.  Water plays an important part in everything from the taste and the mouth feel of a beer to the sugar conversion and acidity in a finished beer.

 

If you are using city water that has been treated with chlorine, always make sure that you are removing the chlorine with a carbon filter or alternative method.  It is also a good idea to check your city’s water report to see if you are lacking or have an over abundance of minerals in your water that may be impacting your beer.  Vinnie suggests treating your water with gypsum in both your mash and your boil to heighten the hop flavor of your beer.  You can also use low level sodium additions to have a similar effect.  Before making these additions you should first examine your existing levels to make sure that it will not detract from the quality of your finished beer.

 

2) Dry Hop Until You Just Can’t Dry Hop Anymore!

 

Unlike adding hops early in the boil, dry hopping adds little to no bitterness to the finished beer but what it does add is a strong and fresh hop aroma!  When dry hopping beer, I always recommend adding the hops after the airlock has stopped bubbling in fermentation.  That ways the escaping CO2 will not carry the hop aroma out of the fermentor along with it.  Vinnie suggests adding multiple dry hop additions at different times which may deliver additional hop aroma to your finished IPA!

 

3) Do Not Rush Your Fermentation!

 

We all want to try out our latest beer as quickly as possible, but there is allot to be said for patience in home brewing!  If you have the ability to temperature control your fermentation, set the temp between 65F to 67F.  Yeast loves a low stable temperature and produces far less off flavors than at higher temps.  It will take longer to ferment at a lower temperature but your beer will come out cleaner tasting so that your robust hop profile can really shine in the finished beer!  Also, cold crash your beer once your fermentation has completed.  Try to crash at around 36F for 2 weeks if possible.  This will help force any residual yeast out of suspension and leave you with a cleaner tasting and clearer beer!

 

 4) Don’t Skimp On the Yeast!

 

Now a days home brewers have a huge variety of options when it comes to yeast.  If you want your beer to be as good as possible, then you are going to have to use the best and most suitable yeast for the style of beer that you are brewing.  A great West Coast IPA yeast strain is the White Labs WLP001 Ale Yeast, available here.

 

Make sure that you create a yeast starter, insuring viability and that you pitch a sufficient quantity of yeast for the strength of beer that you are brewing.

 

5) Do Not Overload Your Beer With Crystal or Malty Grains!

 

Vinnie suggests that you add crystal malts sparingly to your grain bill. He remarks that the sweet flavors and aromatics derived from those grains can compete with the flavors and aromas of your hops.  An IPA is a showcase for the hops and the other ingredients should complement them not detract from them.

 

6) Consider Adding Hop Resin Extract to Your Boil!

 

Pure hop resign extracts can be a great way of boosting the bitterness of your wort with out having to add an extreme amount of hop additions to your boil.  Just like with actual hops, in order for the bitterness to be captured by the wort, the hop resign still needs to be boiled in the wort for a sufficient amount of time.

 

7)  Opt For a Dryer Beer!

 

A dryer  beer can really help the hops in your IPA stand out!  Vinnie suggests supplementing approximately 5% of your grain bills sugars with dextrose. Dextrose is a very simple sugar that yeast can easily ferment.  Another option would be dropping your mash temp down by a degree or two in order to create less complex sugars during the mashing process.

 

If you are looking to try your hand at one of Russian River’s IPAs, you can find a couple of excellent kits available here:

 

Russian River Blind Pig IPA Kit

 

Russian River Pliny the Elder Home Brewing Recipe Kit

 

Good luck and happy brewing!

 

Home Brewing Pliny the Elder Extract Beer Kit

Pliny The Elder

Pliny the Elder

 

Just wanted to let everyone know that MoreBeer is currently having a sale on their Pliny the Elder Extract Home Brewing Recipe Kit.  It is a limited quantity offer and is for today only.  It sells out each time they have one of these so act fast if you want one!

 

This is a fantastic Pliny the Elder clone kit.  If you are like most of us and can not easily get Pliny where you live, then this is a great alternative.

 

Here is the link:

Russian River Pliny the Elder Clone Recipe Kit

 

Happy Brewing,

Joe

 

Father’s Day Sale at MoreBeer.com

MoreBeer.com Fathers Day Gift Guide & Sale

MoreBeer.com Fathers Day Gift Guide & Sale

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I do not blog about home brewing coupon codes and promo codes to often, but if I come across a great one or a really fantastic sale that might save you some money then I will.  Currently MoreBeer.com is having one of those sales.  Right now you can save more than 25% off of some of their best home brewing equipment including stainless steel conical fermenters, stainless steel home beer brewing stands, home brewing ingredient kits and home brewing starter kits!  Here are a few of the items they currently have discounted.

Click here for the sale details! 

 

Stainless Steel Conical Fermenter

Stainless Steel Conical Fermenter

Stainless Steel Home Brewing Stand

Stainless Steel Home Brewing Stand 

 

More Beer Home Beer Brewing Kit

More Beer Home Beer Brewing Kit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Russian River Brewery Review

Russian River Brewing, Santa Rosa, CA

Russian River Brewing, Santa Rosa, CA

 

I recently had a chance to revisit Russian River Brewing when some friends and I decided to take a trip to Northern California to visit a few breweries.  For those of you who are not familiar with the Russian River name, they brew such popular craft beers as Pliny the Elder, Pliny the Younger, Blind Pig, Beatification, Consecration, Supplication and Sanctification.  In the craft brewing world they are perhaps the most highly regarded US brewery and for good reason.

 

 

Russian River

Russian River Brewery Review

In my opinion what makes Russian River so great is their uncompromising commitment to making the best craft beer possible.  What I just stated above sounds like something you would read on any brewery’s marketing material, but in this case I truly feel that that the statement is true and deserved.  Consider this, Russian River servers up flights of beer that consist of up to 16 beers on tap.  As you make your way through the overwhelming diversity of styles and variations, in addition to becoming intoxicated you are awe struck at how one brewery could master so many styles.  Not one of their beers are good, they are all either great or exceptional.  Sure, you may not be a fan of a few of the styles, but it is still a great beer for that type.  One of my friends ordered a porter for his second beer and I remember thinking, you are at Russian River, home of the best IPA’s and Sours in North America, why in the world did you just order a porter. So I asked him if I could try it before I passed judgement on his sanity and I was shocked by how fantastic it was.  If they make mistakes, they certainly do not serve the questionable beer to their customers.  I have never received a beer from them that was cloudy when it should have been clear, a beer that was still when it should have been carbonated, a beer that was bitter when it should have been subtle or a wild ale that was more skunk than funk.  That is what I mean when I say that they do not compromise when it comes to their beer.

 

If you are ever in the Santa Rosa area and love beer, you really owe it to yourself to stop by the Russian River Brewing Company.  There will be more than likely be a wait, parking will probably be difficult to find and the bar will probably be crowded, but it will all be worth it!

 

 

Russian River Brewing Company

Russian River Brewing Company

Butterfly Knife Bottle Opener!

Butterfly Beer Bottle Opener

Butterfly Bottle Opener

 

 

 

Every once in a while I come across something a little cool \ crazy that I just need to blog about. This is one of those times.

 

On a recent beer excursion in Northern California, after having a few to several beers, I wandered upon this butterfly knife beer bottle opener!  I always appreciate ideas and designs that are a little outside of the box and this certainly fit the bill.  It works like a functional butterfly knife, but instead of stabbing one of your friends, you can open their beer for them!

 

If you are interest in purchasing a butterfly bottle opener, you can pick one up here for about $15.

Butterfly Knife Beer Bottle Opener

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