“Just like chefs or musicians, all brewers have their templates they’ve established for themselves through the years,” says Tony Lawrence, the brewmaster and co-owner at Boneyard Beer in Bend, Oregon. For him, the ideal IPA template is clean, crisp, and very dry, but not necessarily bitter, with a light grain bill that makes way for assertive hops aroma and flavor.
“Sweetness isn’t my thing,” he says. “The hops aren’t allowed to pop as much as they could if they weren’t masked by that crystal malt in IPA. I personally don’t like sweet, wet beers. I like them drier, crisper, and cleaner.”
As you can tell, Lawrence is not a “crystal malt guy.” He believes that brewers can build body in their beer recipes with mash temperatures, DextraPils, and Munich malt in lieu of crystal malt.
Ironically enough, Boneyard’s flagship RPM IPA has a sweeter, malty side created with pale malt, Munich malt, Aromatic malt, Vienna malt, and dextrose. “It’s funny to look back to eight years ago when I was formulating and homebrewing this RPM thing,” he jokes. “Then fast-forward to today, and I look at the percentages in the malts and I’m like, ‘How did that happen? That’s not who I am as a brewer!’ But clearly, people have spoken, and they love it, so we stick with it.” Boneyard balances the malt sweetness of RPM with a healthy dose of hops.
With that as background, let’s watch as Lawrence develops a recipe for Free-Style IPA.
So let’s make a 5-gallon brew recipe for an IPA. For me this starts with the concepts. I am Old School, so beer-style guidelines typically play a big role when formulating my concepts. However, these days, guidelines kind of get lost with all the mash-up recipes and styles. So on second thought, let’s just get to work and not worry too much about specific style guidelines.
First, I want to briefly explain my philosophy on brewing beer. It starts with my order of operations when tasting a beer:
That’s it! If a beer is not clean and balanced, you don’t have a good beer. I can enjoy any beer that is clean and balanced, and in my opinion it doesn’t have to be interesting for me to enjoy it. If the beer is interesting as well as clean and balanced, then it’s a homerun. If the beer is interesting but not clean and balanced, I dump it out. All this may seem obvious, but I assure you, I fail to get clean and balanced beers all the time. I can tell the brewer put lots of hard work into recipe formulation and raw-material selection but failed to respect the small things, such as yeast health or dissolved oxygen. That’s all part of brewing, just like the recipe that we will work on next.
I am going to skip all the fancy calculations for pounds needed for 15° Plato or 1.060 original gravity and color or IBUs. Everyone knows a recipe needs tweaking 5 percent this way or 10 percent that way. If you don’t hit your target gravity, then make your adjustments. Every brewhouse has its own values that need to be factored into the calculations.
Okay, so maybe I will use a calculation or two, but let’s keep it simple. I will offer guidelines I use with simple ratios or typical accepted values—like pounds per barrel or ounces per gallon. This is how I design beer concepts or recipes. If you choose to brew it and wish to make adjustments, then just bump it up or down as you think it needs.
I typically formulate or calculate in 50-barrel units. And since I am lazy, I’m simply going to take some known values here at Boneyard and work the math back into gallons or ounces or grams, etc. It should work for the most part, but if I miss something or it’s not perfect, don’t worry. Just make your adjustments. My formatting may be strange but this is how I formulate. Once I like what I see and/or taste, then I will clean it all up into a standard-looking recipe.
Just so you know, I have never used brewing-formulation software. This recipe is free style, and I will make it up on the spot. Obviously it is in my wheelhouse, and I make up recipes all the time. It will be based off where my head is currently in terms of what I am trying to brew for friends and myself.
Here is what I am thinking conceptually—an IPA at about 6.5 percent ABV.
Water. I don’t mess with water chemistry much. We’re in Bend, and the water has a total TDS of about 60 ppm. I do offer some simple concepts with salts for my pales and IPAs: calcium chloride with low ABV, calcium sulfate with higher ABV, and a blend in the middle at around 7 percent ABV. Total ppm is up to you.
Malt. Pilsner malt with 5 percent each Munich and dextrose. If this color is too light for you, mill and sprinkle a few black malt kernels on top of the mash during sparge or simply mash them.
Hops. Maybe 40–50 IBUs from about 2.5 oz/gal or 15 ounces total hops at a 1-to -1 ratio, meaning 1.25 oz/gal in the kettle and 1.25 oz/gal in dry hop. Let’s do a tropical/citrus/melon thing with a small sublayer of pine or a little dank. Yeast. We use Wyeast 1968 London ESB or A68 depending on the supplier, but you can use any good ale yeast you can get your hands on, and all should be fine.
Other Considerations. Respect number 1 and 2 from my order of operations above. How you get there is up to you, but keep your head in the game the whole 14–21 days it takes to make an IPA.
Okay, Here We Go.
Let’s make a 6.5 percent ABV IPA with 15 ounces hops for a net yield 5-gallon recipe. Typically I will see 15 to 20 percent losses from evaporation, trub, shrinkage, yeast, and hops from “brew kettle full” to “clear drinkable beer.” So let’s make 6 gallons at kettle full.
My simple math says we need about 1.7 pound of malt per gallon to achieve a starting gravity of 1.060. So...
1.7 lb × 6 gal = 10.2 lb total
I say we round down to 10 lb total malt and dextrose (I prefer lower ABV beers). That means we need 0.5 lb each of Munich and dextrose and 9 lb of Pilsner malt.
Mash. Let’s mash at 150°F (66°C) for 45 minutes and vorlauf until it’s reasonably clear. I would use some rice hulls with this much Pilsner malt to help with the vorlauf and wort clarity.
Boil. Fill the kettle to 6 gallons and check your kettle-full and last-running’s gravities. This is usable information for any adjustments needed in real time or for your next brew day. We should boil for at least 75 minutes. I always get worried about DMS with Pilsner malt.
I’m thinking 25 grams of 6 percent alpha hops at boil—just enough for surface tension and to keep the boil down. If bitterness is your thing, that’s cool, but we will get a lot from the later additions. Or override my suggestions and do what you want with it. The 25 grams will not be subtracted from the total 15 ounces of hops we discussed earlier.
Hops, Hops, Hops. We said 7.5 ounces (half of the 15 ounces total) in the kettle for a tropical flavor with a pine sublayer. Let’s rock four varieties to do this.First, we should convert the weight needed into grams.
7.5 oz x 28 g/oz = 210 g ÷ 4 = 52.5 grams per variety, but let’s call it 53.
Citrus or tropical hops: 75 percent (159 g) of the total weight will come from citrus or topical hops. Let’s do two tropical and one melon, so it’s Citra, Mosaic, and Ekuanot at 53 grams each.
Pine-like: For the remaining 25 percent (53 g) of pine or dank-like hops, I’m thinking Centennial or Chinook or maybe even Simcoe would play well here from a sublayer standpoint.
I’m thinking we throw 25 percent of the total weight in with 5 minutes left in the boil and the rest in the whirlpool. Let’s go with all 53 grams of Mosaic at 5 minutes.
That means we have 53 grams each in the whirlpool of Citra, Ekuanot, and Centennial. Like I said, maybe the Simcoe or Chinook would be a better play.
Fermentation. Ferment at 68°F (20°C) and if possible try to nail that diacetyl rest and get up to 70°F (21°C) at the end of fermentation.
Dry Hop, Condition, Carbonate. Dry hop at day 5 or 6 or at terminal gravity with 53 grams each of Mosaic, Citra, Ekuanot, and Centennial. Condition as you feel, but I am off the dry hops in about 4 to 5 days. Carbonate to 2.6 volumes of C02, if it were me.
Enjoy with your friends and discuss adjustments needed for your next attempt.
For the super scientific and mathematical beer geeks, you will definitely find flaws in my formulations or calculations—like how many hops really went into the brew as a function weight-to-volume ratio. Or malt needed to get the volume and OG desired. I simply scaled some numbers from a production-size batch at 50 barrels, and I round all calculations and considerations to even numbers. And for the few people who actually read all this, I have secret for you. I just brewed a collab with WarPigs in Copenhagen last week that is very similar to this recipe.