In Mitch Steele’s excellent book, IPA: Brewing Techniques, Recipes, and the Evolution of India Pale Ale (find it on Amazon or Brewers Publications), Steele describes how today’s most popular beer style came to be. Based on Steele’s profile of the original India Pale Ale, a fellow homebrewer and I decided to brew a recipe that might approximate (even if only in spirit) the original IPAs from Burton-upon-Trent. What we came up with is a delightfully dry IPA that is as refreshing as it is interesting.
In line with Steele’s research, the recipe we developed features the following:
- 100 percent pale malt. Steele describes a Pilsener-like white malt that was popular in Burton in the nineteenth century, but we settled on an artisanal Maris Otter for a touch more flavor than today’s regular Pils malt would supply. And we used no crystal malts whatsoever.
- A relatively low mash temperature. Burton IPA has a dry finish, and a low mash temperature supplies the highly fermentable wort needed to make this happen.
- Heavy hopping with U.K. hops. We selected East Kent Goldings for the simple reasons that (1) they’re intimately associated with Burton IPA, and (2) they taste fantastic.
- Untoasted oak. Historical IPAs would have been matured and shipped in oak barrels. Steele describes the Burton barrels as having been treated only with steam, so we avoided toasted oak.
- Secondary fermentation with Brettanomyces claussenii. This Brett strain has its origins in British barrels (Brettanomyces actually means “British fungus”) and could have survived the steaming process if it were deep enough in the wooden staves. This particular strain is the least “Bretty” of the commercially available Brett products and produces more overripe fruit flavor than funk.
We served this beer at room temperature, with natural carbonation, from a homemade beer engine. Be careful if you bottle because the Brettanomyces will continue to ferment even after packaging.
For extra authenticity, gently rock the carboy around from time to time during conditioning to simulate choppy seas. Ahoy!
FG: 1.014 (may fall with time)
ABV: 6.8% (may rise with time)
13 lb (6 kg) Warminster floor-malted Maris Otter
75 minutes at 150°F (66°C)
3 oz (85 g) East Kent Goldings at 60 minutes
1 oz (28 g) East Kent Goldings at 10 minutes
2 oz (56 g) East Kent Goldings, dry hop 14 days
2 oz (56 g) East Kent Goldings, dry hop 7 days
Primary Fermentation Yeast Options
Wyeast 1203-PC Burton IPA Blend (seasonal) or 1335 British Ale II
White Labs WLP023 Burton Ale
Mangrove Jack’s M79 Burton Union or Safale S-04
Secondary Fermentation Yeast Options
White Labs WLP645 Brettanomyces claussenii
Wyeast Wyeast 5151-PC Brettanomyces claussenii (seasonal)
4 oz (113 g) untoasted American oak chips
Fermentation and Conditioning Schedule
Primary: 14 days at 66°F (19°C) with 1 oz (28 g) oak chips added at yeast pitching.
Secondary: 2–4 weeks at 66-75°F (19–24°C) with 1 oz (28 g) oak chips. Dry hop with 2 oz (56 g) East Kent Goldings for final 14 days.
Tertiary: 2–4 weeks at 66-75°F (19–24°C) with 2 oz (56 g) oak chips. Add Brettanomyces immediately after racking to tertiary. Dry hop with 2 oz (56 g) East Kent Goldings for final 7 days.