Sunday, April 3, 2016

Brett IPA (Or how to dump a batch)

While I've made a number of moderately hoppy beers recently (including multiple takes on my Mosaic Grisette) I haven't had a true IPA on hand. Part of the reason is that I haven't had time to brew much and have devoted most of that to perfecting a few recipes. Part of it is just that I don't brew IPAs that often. And part of it is that I haven't been in love with IPAs recently.

While IPA has never been my favorite style I've gone through waves of hating them, loving them, and being fairly indifferent to them. Part of my issue recently is that I've found that the IPAs (and to a large extent pale ales) I've had recently tend to fall into 2 categories: overly dank and bitter or underwhelming all around.

StarTropics is a name I've used for several very distinct beers and I want to use the moniker once again because it has the 3 things I really want in this beer: super tropical-fruit aroma and taste from both hops and yeast, beautiful bright red color, and refreshing, not assaulting, bitterness.  Past attempts at this beer have missed the mark, with one being a Brett saison that became way too heavy on the Brett and the other being a "Brett" Trois based IPA that felt too malty and surprisingly tame in terms of fruit character. This time around I needed to do another radical overhaul.

I liked my previous 100% Brettanomyces beer, but I wasn't sure BKYeast's C2 strain was ideal for an IPA. Having read a lot of Bear-Flavored and Mad Fermentationist posts about Brett C for 100% beers I decided it had the descriptors I was looking for with fast fermentation and bright fruit characteristics.

In order to keep this beer from being as malty as the last version I decided to keep it focused on Pale Ale malt with just a touch of Golden Naked oats for a light sweet, nutty complexity. The color is coming almost entirely from 3 oz. of Carafa III, which I hope will be the right amount to provide a bright red look without too much roast character.

Friday post-work brew day provided for some challenges. The cold weather made it take longer than usual to hit my strike temperature, and then my mash-in temperature was 4 degrees low. Added another couple gallons of hotter water to bring up to 151 after about 15 minutes. Had a smaller sparge due to the mash water correction and ended up getting my first stuck sparge. A number of things (stirring, adding more water, opening valve wider) didn't help but shoving the top of the dip tube to one side seemed to clear it and was able to run off enough to reach 6 gallons of reddish brown wort. Added the hopshot and bittering additions were added as First Wort with no other additions added until post boil, with the first addition added at flame-out and another added less than 10 minutes later once the wort had cooled to 160. After a 20 minute hop stand at 160 the wort was cooled down the rest of the way to 75.

Unfortunately a two day starter didn't seem to be enough to get the yeast to the levels required and after 24 hours I pitched a slurry of Brett L + C2.

I didn't want to admit it for a lot of reasons but...this one is my first full batch dumper. The Brett ended up creating a LOT of plastic flavor that outshines the otherwise pleasant hop characteristics. I am assuming that this is likely due to not having enough yeast at initial pitch and the long lag time experienced by the Brett C. I feel like this is a recipe that had some promise if done correctly but I failed to deliver and need to start over. Once again this recipe teaches me a lesson but fails to produce adequate beer.

Gave this one a month to cleanup, but I needed the carboy so it got fed to the compost. Disappointing but at least I got the impression that this hop bill worked.

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