Brewing Iron Springs IPA, Part Two: Hopping and Fermenting

Missed Part One? 

Day 5
To prep equipment for transferring, I had to mix a solution of Idophore and water. Idophore is a sanitizing chemical used in restaurants and food preparation to sanitize surfaces and equipment that might come in contact with food. Adding 1 teaspoon to 1 ½ gallons of water is recommended for brewing purposes. I used one of my plastic pails and dropped all siphoning tubing, rubber stopper and airlock parts. The glass carboy also required sanitation with this solution.

The tubing placed just above the bottom of the kettle for siphoning. I used hops pellets in this process and placed them in a mesh hops bag. The bag did a rather poor job of containing the hops fragments. This happens even in big breweries, since their vessels usually use a gravity feed bottom drain, which results in a lot of wasted beer or ale down the drain. There is also a layer of yeast on the bottom so a small amount of sediment is expected and will be removed by decanting during the bottling process.

What is decanting? If you have ever had a very old bottle of red wine or port--you will find a sediment of wine solids on the bottom. To remove the sediment, you carefully pour the wine into a decanter, while leaving behind the bulk of the sediment in the bottle. A small amount will be left the decanter but the design of the decanter is such that it should retain whatever sediment is left without getting into the glass. In beer brewing, decanting is a process where the brewed liquid is carefully siphoned once or twice, leaving the residue behind. You may have to do this more than once.

As the glass fermenting carboy was filling about halfway, I realized I should have made a bigger batch. I installed a rubber stopper in the neck of the carboy. Erring on the safe side, I did not install the normal airlock at this time and instead installed a 3 ft. length of tubing routed to a plastic cup of water. I did this because the volume of CO2 and ethyl alcohol can be so violent that the airlock cannot handle the large volume of gases and there is a possibility that water in the airlock can be siphoned back into the brew. This violent blowback does not always start right away so it becomes another time to worry when there are no bubbles in the water cup. The slow start was due to some of the yeast remaining on the bottom of the kettle, but I was confident it would resume rapid fermentation again.

This is the time to wash out the brew kettle or pot. Use dish soap and water.  If you boil outside you can get a lot of carbon black on the bottom because propane burners do not mix the gas and oxygen very efficiently. I recalled an old Boy Scout trick for camping: rub the bottom of the pot with a bar of soap. This made cleaning the kettle much easier.

By Friday afternoon, the fifth day since brewing first started, the airlock was installed on the fermentation carboy.  The airlock bubbled about 5 times an hour.

Day 11

Six days later, I added 1 ounce of the 11% Citra hops as a dry Hop. I had to double up on hop sacks, and I stuffed the sacks in the neck of the glass carboy.

There are two distinct hopping procedures when making beer into an ale. The two procedures are wet hopping and dry hopping. All beers and Ales are wet hopped. Wet hopping means that hops are added at different time periods of the boil. The simplest of beers and ales have hops added only at the beginning of the boil. However most beers and ales have additional hops of various bitterness and aromas added at different time increments to give more complexity and depth of flavor. The distinction between wet and dry is that aromatic hops are added at the end of fermentation, a week or more after the boil. This additional step is called dry hopping.

The recipe is part clone of Stone Ruination IPA and part Lagunitas Hop Stoopid IPA. Ruination is supposed to have an IBU of 100 + but it tastes more like an IBU in the high 80s. Hop Stoopid is listed as IBU 103, which is the IBU I was trying to emulate. The main bitterness comes from 3 oz. of 12.4% AAU Magnum hops. The original recipe called for 2.25oz of 16% AAU Magnum hops, but I could not obtain that strength of Alpha Acid. These hops went into the boil and remained for the entire 90 minutes. At the end of the boil I added 1 oz. of Warrior 15.8% AAU and left to steep for 15 minutes.

When fermentation is complete 1 oz. of 11% AAU Citra will be added as a dry hop to give a citrus aroma.

General background on malt and yeast

When brewing a batch of beer usually involves two kinds of malt grains. The main portion consists of nearly 70% 2 row malted barley. Malting is a process using some heat and water that tricks the barley grain to start to germinate and convert the starch inside the barley kernel to 3 types of sugars and also some enzymes. Then the process is stopped by using warm dry air.  

The remainder approximately 25-30% of the barley is called crystal malt. Crystal malt is malted barley that has been roasted at the end of the malting process. This causes some or all the sugar to caramelize. The longer barley malt is roasted the darker the caramelization, but also the less sugar. This will determine the color and taste of beers and ales. Crystal is chosen by a rating known as a Lovibond (L) scale. The scale starts at 10L and goes up to the high 180L. I used 15L for my recipe that was a pound total that was ½ 10L and ½ 20L. A typical red ale may use 40L, 60L, or even 100L. There are also malts that are so darkly roasted that they only have names, such as chocolate and coffee. The chocolate and coffee malt have almost zero sugars and is used to produce Porters and Stouts.

Strains of yeasts have also become highly specialized. Yeast comes either dry or in a liquid form no matter what type or style of beer or ale you are brewing. Dry yeasts are cheaper than wet and is about $2-$4, while liquid yeast starts at around $6.30 per batch of brew. I used a liquid yeast for British style IPA because I wanted to try something new. There also exists a West Coast and a Northwest IPA version of liquid yeast. Each has a different fermentation temperature range and flavor profile and slower acting yeasts may produce a clearer brew.

Pt. 3 will cover the rest of the fermentation process, racking to reduce sediment, bottle cleaning, charging with corn sugar, and bottling.

Jim St. Germain is president of St. Germain Cellars and the resident hops enthusiast.  When he isn't evangelizing IPAs (75+ IBUs!), he enjoys a nice glass of pinot noir or good whiskey, neat. 


(Image Credits: ilovebutter/CC 2.0/M, Photography/Jim St. Germain) 

Jim St. Germain

Jim St. Germain is president of St. Germain Cellars and the resident hops enthusiast. When he isn't evangelizing IPAs (75+ IBUs!), he enjoys a nice glass of pinot noir or good whiskey, neat.