Batch #2-15: IPA

Style India Pale Ale
Ingredients click here
Brewing Date: Wednesday, September 16, 2015
Primary Fermentation: Wednesday, September 16, 2015
Original Gravity: 1.052
Secondary Fermentation: Thursday, September 24, 2015
Interim Gravity: 1.026 (ABV 3.4%)
Bottling Date: Friday, October 9, 2015
Final Gravity: 1.022
Release Date: Friday, November 6, 2015
Alcohol by volume: 3.9% ABV


An untried recipe from (Double Your Pleasure IPA).  Normally I would use the recipe from Hearts Home Brew in Orlando, Florida, but a former Air Force co-worker, Jim Turner, turned me on to his hop harvest at Hawksbill Hop Yards.  So the 4 ounces of cascade hops in the recipe are fresh leaf hops from his recent harvest.  I’m looking forward to this new IPA.

September 1, 2015: I tried to make a yeast starter from leftover yeast, but the yeast didn’t engage like it should.  It’s not bubbling, and very little sign of life is in the starter wort.  So I am delaying the brewing for two weeks (due to scheduling).  Bummer. I’m still optimistic about the final outcome.

September 15, 2015 @ 8:30PM: Created a yeast starter from a fresh batch of Wyeast Labs British Ale Yeast.  Amazingly, the yeast was very active in the flask by 11:00PM.  One thing I did differently was that I waited until the temperature in the wort fell below 60 degrees.  Previously, I would pitch the yeast as soon as the work feel below the safe 85 degree threshold.  I think this time the wort was also about 50 degrees when I pitched it, so the near temperature match may be a factor in why it became so active, so quickly.

September 16, 2015 @ 1:00PM: The yeast is at a fury in the starter.  When stirred, it almost sends foam through the air lock.  Wow.

September 16, 2015 @ 10:30PM: This was the easiest and smoothest brewing session I have had in a long time.  I was worried at first that the 12 pounds of liquid malt was going to exceed the capacity of my brew pot, but it worked quite well.  The end quantity in the 16-quart pot was about the same as any other batch.  The aroma of the Chinook and Cascade hops in this malt is very nice.  The fermentation bucket has two ounces of the fresh cascade hops for dry hopping.  I remembered to take a gravity reading this time (yea), and the wort was about 68 degress when I pitched the yeast.  The recipe said the OG should be around 1.08, but I got 1.054.  This should still produce a high-alcohol yield, but my guess is that it will still be below 6% when it is complete.

September 17, 2015 @ 9:00PM: This was funny.  I had a flight out of town at 5:30AM, so I was not able to check the bubbling before I left.  My wife filmed the bubbling in the S-airlock with her iPhone at the 24-hour point, and it was strong at 3-bursts per second.  So the fermentation is off to a good start, thanks to the aggressive yeast starter I produced.  You can see the video here, to get an idea of how the fermentation process looks from the airlock.

September 23, 2015 @ 7:00PM: Back from traveling, and was surprised to find that after 6 days the bubbling was not over 1 minute, but only 12-15 seconds between bursts.  I have never see a batch where the yeast was working actively for this many consecutive days.  I decided to wait until tomorrow to transfer to secondary: partly due to physical travel fatigue, and partly to see if the yeast is going to become less active over the next 12 hours.

September 24, 2015 @ 1:30PM: I transferred the wort to my other fermentation bucket.  The bubbling bursts had extended a little to 15-18 seconds between bursts, but this yeast is still quite active.  This should be ready for bottling in just under two weeks, but I am going to watch the bubbling patterns every other day or so, to see if the removal of the majority of trub has a significant effect of the yeast activity.

October 9, 2015 @ 2:00PM: Bottling day.  The wort after two weeks in secondary is unbelievably smooth and the taste is wonderful.  The hops, as many as I used, are very strong but not overpowering.  I am very happy with things to this point.  I used raw corn sugar for priming, at 1/8 teaspoon per 16 ounces.  Yield was: 3x 64oz growler screw top, 7x 16oz capped, 1x 24oz capped, 3x 20oz snap top, 1x 16oz snap top, and 22x 16oz snap on IKEA bottles.  These are similar to the 32 oz clear snap top bottles I used previously, but they are smaller and tinted dark green.  The 32oz snap top bottles from IKEA do quite well, so I decided to try a set of single-service size bottles.  Conditioning is in my basement, in black plastic tubs.

October 15, 2015 @ 5:00PM: Put one of the IKEA 12oz snap-top bottles in the fridge for 2 hours.  After I opened it, I was disappointed to see only a minimal amount of head form after I poured it into a glass.  But the taste… oh my!  It was delicious.  It has a nice heavy hop flavor, and there are flavors abounding in this beer.  The carbonation in this bottle was minimal, but the overall taste is still really good.  On a hunch, I put one of the non-IKEA snap-top bottles (actually, a Grolsch snap-top bottle) in the fridge for 2 hours.  When I poured this bottle, it had a good amount of head which made for a fantastic mouth feel. After just under one week from bottling, I am really happy with what I see, although I am hoping that the low carbonation is limited to only this one IKEA snap-top bottle.

November 6, 2015 (Release Day): The beer is fantastic.  The issue with the first two bottles (IKEA snap-top versus non-IKEA) continued at the 4-week point.  For some reason the 16oz IKEA snap top plastic seals do not work as reliably as the ones on the 32oz bottles.  I don’t recommend these bottles for beer, so I will probably just use them for something else.  Lesson learned here is to use bottles designed for high pressure carbonation.