My recipe for a refreshing IPA that’s full of flavour and body, without being overpoweringly strong and bitter.
India Pale Ale (IPA) is an extremely popular style amongst homebrewers. Although the term is used widely, almost to the point of generally meaning ‘ale’, IPA really defines a hoppy and refreshing, lightly coloured beer.
Within this definition there are many sub-varieties, from the famous American power-beers to more relaxed English ales. This recipe falls into the latter category.
Devising the brew, I was inspired by the hoppy, thirst quenching beers that appear in England in late summer, or early autumn.
It’s a full bodied drink with plenty of flavour, but is refreshing enough to suit warm weather. A moderately sweet taste is well-countered by the bittering hops, but both aspects of the flavour come through.
The Kent Goldings added at the end provide subtle hoppy notes.
If you’re after hop umph use more hops.
The recipe as stands is balanced, with no bias towards bitterness. Similarly, the flavour hops are in proportion to the beer, but if you want to bring them to the forefront you should consider dry hopping.
15g or 20g of Kent Goldings would be a good starting point.
Dry hopping is a technique whereby hops are added directly to the fermenter, after primary fermentation is complete. The idea is to let the beer absorb and retain the hop flavour oils.
At other points in the brew, for example during the boil and the first stages of fermentation, the oils and aromas can be carried away by evaporation and gas release from the fermenter.
The technique was developed by British brewers who wanted to ship beer to India but were unable to because of the long voyage. Copious amounts of hops added directly to the beer barrels staved off attack by bacteria and prolonged the beer’s life long enough to be enjoyed on arrival.
That’s how India Pale Ale was born, so for authenticity dry hops are essential. Alternatively, increase the final hop addition until you arrive at something that suits your tastes.
Word of Warning
Randy Mosher has argued that, as well as giving brewers and drinkers a new treat, the invention of IPA marked the start of the decline towards the bland, watery, yellow beers that are so popular today.
So be careful.
English IPA Recipe
Start Volume (Brew in a Bag)
Pale Ale: 4 kg
Crystal 30L: 0.20kg
Mash Target Temperature
Nugget (12%): 10g for 60 mins
Kent Goldings (5.3%): 40g for 15 mins
Kent Goldings (5.3%): 20g for 5 mins
Danstar Nottingham Ale Rehydrated in 200ml water at 35°C for 30mins
The recipe follows a straightforward, 70 minute infusion mash followed by a one hour boil with bittering and flavouring hop additions. If you’re a beginner brewer and need more information than that, this guide to brew in a bag shows the steps to follow.
I’ve had trouble getting this beer to clear so if that sort of thing worries you, add some whirlfloc or irish moss for the last five minutes of the boil.
It’s a cosmetic consideration only.
The recipe produces an IPA with a reasonably thick body, which with light carbonation gently fizzes in the mouth.
The colour is an intense yellow/orange, and it has a decent, durable white head.
I prime with 75g brown sugar boiled in 450ml water, which provides enough gas to be noticeable on the tongue and in the glass, without making the beer ‘sparkle’. This is in keeping with the target English beers, but adjust according to your own preferences.