Historic IPA recipe from Mitch Steele’s IPA

A few weeks ago I recieved a copy of Mitch Steele’s IPA: Brewing Techniques, Recipes and the Evolution of India Pale Ale. While a significant portion of the book is dedicated to the history of British brewing and IPAs, there are a number of recipes in the back of the book. These recipes are not only for historic IPAs, but also modern IPAs, including double and black variations.

I found that the historic sections of the book, as well as the historic recipes were most interesting, largely due to how insanely hoppy the IPAs of the 1700s and 1800s were. You have to wonder about a hoppy beer being aged in oak for 1-3 years, and still being hoppy — that’s a lot of hops in the beer.

I’ve had a stockpile of Fuggles for a while, and was wondering what to do with them (they aren’t exactly my favorite hop variety), when I stumbled upon a recipe in the book that uses a massive amount of hops — 1.54oz/gallon in the boil, and 0.25oz/gallon dry hopped, for a total of 120 IBUs in a 5.8% beer. Additionally, the grain bill is just British pale malt.

From IPA: Brewing Techniques, Recipes and the Evolution of India Pale Ale

“This is a moderate strength ale with a heavy dose of hops…. each recipe varies a bit, but this one epitomizes the theme. A single malt. A single hop. This beer is decidedly different from the ones to come later in the century. The hop flavor is truly through the roof. At nearly 5 pounds per barrel at a moderate gravity, saying this is hoppy is an understatement.”

Tasting notes: “Herby, hay-ey, grassy; ladyfingers crawl through the hop mist. Thoroughly, rippingly hoppy. Hops. More hops. Hop resins. Very long, dry, and crisp finish leaves a touch of malt sweetness shellacked and varnished with hops. Delicious hop burps. Hmmmmmmm…… hoppy.”

I did some calculations assuming loss in the kettle due to all the hops, as well as dry hopping, and also due to the fact that my Fuggles were lower alpha than what the book assumes, and so my recipe had slightly more hops than what I initially calculated.

Recipe: Fuggle IPA
Style: 14A-India Pale Ale(IPA)-English IPA

Recipe Overview

Wort Volume Before Boil: 8.75 US gals
Wort Volume After Boil: 6.50 US gals
Volume Transferred: 6.50 US gals
Volume At Pitching: 5.50 US gals
Expected Pre-Boil Gravity: 1.042 SG
Expected OG: 1.057 SG
Expected FG: 1.014 SG
Expected ABV: 5.7 %
Expected ABW: 4.5 %
Expected IBU (using Tinseth): 122.5
Expected Color: 5.2 SRM
Apparent Attenuation: 75.0 %
Mash Efficiency: 75.0 %
Fermentation Temperature: 68 degF

UK Pale Ale Malt 13lb 5oz (100.0 %) In Mash/Steeped

UK Fuggle (4.0 % alpha) 4.50 oz Loose Pellet Hops used First Wort Hopped
UK Fuggle (4.0 % alpha) 4.00 oz Loose Pellet Hops used 30 Min From End
UK Fuggle (4.0 % alpha) 4.00 oz Loose Pellet Hops used 15 Min From End
UK Fuggle (4.0 % alpha) 2.00 oz Loose Pellet Hops used Dry-Hopped

Yeast: Wyeast 1028-London Ale

Mash Schedule
Mash Type: Full Mash
Step: Rest at 156 degF for 60 mins

As per my usual MO, the 60 minute hops went in as first-wort hops, and in this photo, you can see the boil trying to break through the cake of hops floating at the top. Keep in mind this is only 33% of the kettle hops.


I’m glad that I scaled up the recipe, because there was a lot of hop goo at the bottom of the kettle, and I also had a massive blowoff during fermentation. It’s about 3 days from going into the keg, and I can’t wait to see what it tastes like.


A note to new brewers

I was recently approached by an old friend who was curious about getting into the hobby of homebrewing, and wanted to know what I thought he should know and do to get started. As my mind began swimming with particulars from my experience, I also was trying to keep from overwhelming him with details that wouldn’t matter, and I thought that writing a post might be a good way to organize my thoughts.

The two absolutely most important things to care about are sanitation and temperature control. These sound incredibly uninteresting and boring, but they really will make the biggest difference in your end product.

Understand that brewing is a combination of creativity and science. To have fun and make good beer, you need to be able to respect both parts of the process, even if you lean towards one or the other (most do).

For beginning brewers, there are a handful of pieces of equipment that you need.

  • A good reference book (I recommend How to Brew by John Palmer)
  • An ample supply of PBW (or OxyClean) and star-san (or sani-clean) for cleaning and sanitizing
  • A large stockpot (at least 4 gallons, preferably 6)
  • Fermenting buckets/carboys (carboys are great because you can see what’s going on, buckets are easier to clean — pick which one is more important to you)
  • An auto-siphon
  • Packaging materials (either bottling equipment or kegging equipment)
  • A thermometer (I’ve come to prefer digital after breaking about 5 glass ones)
  • A hydrometer

There will be other ingredients in a new homebrewer’s kit, but these, in my opinion, are essential.

You can, of course, buy a kit and follow the directions, but I believe you’re rolling the dice with that approach. Take the time to either take an in-shop brewing 101 type course (usually a couple of hours), or seriously read the basics sections of the How to Brew book. Understanding the process, even just at the surface level, helps you to understand the relevance of the steps in the kit directions. Your beer and your tastebuds will thank you for it.

Lastly, a very common mistake for new brewers to make is to want their first batch to be a barleywine with chili peppers and ginger aged on bourbon soaked oak cubes (or something equally outrageous). You need to get some practice with your process and equipment before you take on something like that. Pick a simple recipe, like an american pale ale, or a stout, or an IPA. Something not too big, not too complex, and something that you can compare to a commercial beer you also like. Then, with the help of some more experienced homebrewers, you can try your homebrew alongside a commercial brew, and talk about the process, ingredients, and what you like (and dislike) about both your beer, and the commercial beer. Then you can start to tweak recipes and make them your own — in my opinion, the very best part of the hobby.

There are a million other things that are helpful, important, and also common stumbling blocks, but let’s be honest — there are only so many things you can keep in your head at once. This is an attempt to provide simple advice, and to highlight things that I think are important. The very best thing you can do is to brew with a friend who knows more about it than you do. Make sure they let you do the work yourself, but they can keep you from going too far astray.

Like Charlie Papazian says, RDWHAH (relax, don’t worry, and have a homebrew).

Crabapple Cider Pressing

My friend John makes cider every fall, and I’ve had the opportunity to taste some of his vintages over the past couple of years. I asked if he could help me make cider this year, and he kindly obliged. I went south last Friday to grind crabapples and press some cider.


Crabapples are an important part of cider making, they contribute a nice apple flavor as well as tannins. They come along early in the fall, which is why they were pressed first.

The first step was to wash the apples, and then to grind them. John took inspiration from a post on homebrewtalk.com where a press was made using a garbage disposal and hydraulic bottle jack. As we laid out the apples to prepare for grinding, we sorted the apples and composted any mushy apples in the nearby woods.


The resulting pulp ejected by the garbage disposal was collected in a 5-gallon bucket.


Once all the apples were ground up, we took the resulting pulp and poured it into a clean pillowcase, using a wooden frame to help shape the form. This bag is placed onto a plastic mesh that was made by routing out a cutting board.



Once all the pulp was bagged and shaped, a large block was placed on top of the pulp in a level fashion, the hydraulic bottle jack was set up, and the pressing began.


From 30 lbs of crabapples, we pressed just over 2 gallons of cider with a gravity of 1.064


Fermentis (Red Star)’s Côte des Blancs dry yeast was pitched, and the cider will be racked to secondary in a few weeks. This will age for roughly a year to clarify and mature, and will be blended with a second batch of cider made from a blend of other apples.

Double Brewday: Ordinary Bitter & American Amber Ales

march-301-dbl-brewdayThis past Saturday, I brewed two batches in a single day, back to back. While this did make for a very long day, I was able to gain some overlap without any additional equipment.

The way I did it, was that as I was running off the second runnings of the first batch, I was heating the strike water for the second batch. This gave me the ability to mash my second batch while boiling my first. Not a huge gain, but I imagine that I gained at least an hour.

These batches were fun, experimental batches. The first was a substatial change to my bitter recipe, a regular in my keezer. The two major changes were that I used Ringwood yeast instead of London Ale III, hoping to really boost the malt profile of a very low-gravity beer. I also replaced a pound of base malt with Victory, in hopes of getting a profile somewhat closer to Maris Otter.

Recipe Overview

Volume At Pitching: 5.25 US gals
Expected OG: 1.039 SG
Expected ABV: 3.6 %

UK Pale Ale Malt 5lb 0oz (71.1 %) In Mash/Steeped
US Victory Malt 1lb 0oz (14.2 %) In Mash/Steeped
UK Dark Crystal 8.00 oz (7.1 %) In Mash/Steeped
German Wheat Malt 4.00 oz (3.6 %) In Mash/Steeped
UK Medium Crystal 4.00 oz (3.6 %) In Mash/Steeped
UK Chocolate Malt 0.50 oz (0.4 %) In Mash/Steeped

US Willamette (4.5 % alpha) 1.00 oz Loose Pellet Hops used First Wort Hopped
UK Golding (4.9 % alpha) 0.50 oz Loose Pellet Hops used 25 Min From End
UK Golding (4.9 % alpha) 0.28 oz Loose Pellet Hops used At turn off

Other Ingredients

Yeast: Wyeast 1187-Ringwood Ale

Mash Schedule
Mash Type: Full Mash
Schedule Name:Single Step Infusion (66C/151F)
Step: Rest at 151 degF for 60 mins

The second recipe was a repeat, albeit with further modifications, of a low-gravity version of Gordon, an Oskar Blues beer. It’s now called G’Knight Imperial Red due to a lawsuit over the name Gordon, ridiculous, but so it is. It’s a bit big, but one of my favorite big hoppy beers, so I enjoy trying to make a 5% version. It’s mostly about the Amarillo hops in the finish, so the basic beer recipe isn’t that critical.

Recipe Overview

Final Batch Volume: 5.02 US gals
Expected Pre-Boil Gravity: 1.042 SG
Expected OG: 1.045 SG
Expected FG: 1.011 SG
Expected ABV: 4.5 %
Expected ABW: 3.6 %
Expected IBU (using Daniels): 33.7
Expected Color: 12.0 SRM
Apparent Attenuation: 74.9 %
Mash Efficiency: 78.0 %
Boil Duration: 60.0 mins
Fermentation Temperature: 64 degF

UK Pale Ale Malt 7lb 0oz (71.7 %) In Mash/Steeped
US Victory Malt 2lb 0oz (20.5 %) In Mash/Steeped
Breiss Crystal 20 12.00 oz (7.7 %) In Mash/Steeped
UK Chocolate Malt 0.20 oz (0.1 %) In Mash/Steeped

US Centennial (9.0 % alpha) 0.50 oz Loose Pellet Hops used First Wort Hopped
US Columbus(Tomahawk) (13.0 % alpha) 2.00 oz Loose Pellet Hops used 5 Min From End
US Amarillo (8.0 % alpha) 2.00 oz Loose Pellet Hops used Dry-Hopped

Other Ingredients

Yeast: Wyeast 1056-American Ale

Mash Schedule
Mash Type: Full Mash
Schedule Name:Single Step Infusion (69C-156F)
Step: Rest at 150 degF for 75 mins

Flanders Red Update

Back in September, I brewed my first sour beer, that is a beer with an intentional bacterial infection. That beer was a Flanders Red style beer, and after just a couple months of aging, it smelled amazing. I’ve still yet to pull a sample out, but I’m pretty excited.
flanders-red-6moI told myself initially that I just had to wait until New Year’s to keg it, then it became the end of January. Now, here it is, nearly April, and it’s still in the primary fermenter. Interestingly, in just the past month or two, it’s taken a significant turn visually. Vinnie Cilurzo of Russian River has said that you shouldn’t look at a sour beer while it’s fermenting, but isn’t that curiosity part of what brought homebrewers to the hobby in the first place?

At any rate, the photo’s not awesome because there’s a lot of condensation on the inside of the carboy, but that white discoloration isn’t yeast krausen, that’s pellicle of some sort.

I’ve now told myself that as soon as the Old Ale keg is empty, I can keg this. We might yet see summer before it’s kegged. I’ll post an update about the tasting of this batch whenever that happens.

Table Saison

OK, so, I’ve learned some lessons now after doing two saisons. First, Saison yeasts are highly attenuative. If you build a recipe like you would for an American yeast, or even worse, an English yeast, and then use a Saison yeast, you’re in for a shocker when it comes to ABV. Second, due to the really high level of attenuation, you need to watch your bitterness ratio. Bittering like an IPA is unnecessary, there’s no need for it. Keep the hops in the back end, and go easy on the bitterness.

Now that I’ve solidly learned (read: violated) those guidelines, my intention was to formulate a Saison as a table beer. Something between 3-4% alcohol, easy to drink, but lots of flavor from the Saison yeast and from the hops. The Saison strain that I’ve been using comes from East Coast Yeast, and has a brettanomyces strain as well. This is now the 4th generation, so it’s hard to say what the culture balance is, but it still tasted great on the last batch.

I also wanted to go for more of a rustic grain character on this batch, so I used unmalted wheat and munich malt, in addition to 2-row barley, malted wheat, and a small addition of C20.
table-saisonFor the hop bill, I opted to try a hop-bursting technique, which consisted of only a 20 minute, 5 minute and flameout addition. Despite the low utilization rate on these hops, they were all high-alpha hops (Nugget and Columbus), so I was able to achieve a respectably high bittering ratio with no more than an ounce at each addition.

My plans were all well and good, but I achieved an unexpected level of efficiency on this batch (87%), for which I was able to cut out a planned sugar addition, but I still overshot my gravity by 10 points. So, if it attenuates as planned, I’ll be looking at about a 5% saison. Not too bad, but I’m going to have to take my very high level of efficiency into account when formulating the next batch. My efficiency seems to increase with lower grain bill volumes.

Style: 16C-Belgian And French Ale-Saison

Recipe Overview

Wort Volume Before Boil: 7.75 US gals
Wort Volume After Boil: 6.00 US gals
Volume Transferred: 5.50 US gals
Water Added: 0.00 US gals
Volume At Pitching: 5.50 US gals
Final Batch Volume: 5.02 US gals
Expected Pre-Boil Gravity: 1.027 SG
Expected OG: 1.035 SG
Expected FG: 1.008 SG
Expected ABV: 3.6 %
Expected ABW: 2.9 %
Expected IBU (using Daniels): 32.7
Expected Color: 4.7 SRM
Apparent Attenuation: 77.9 %
Mash Efficiency: 75.0 %
Boil Duration: 90.0 mins
Fermentation Temperature: 77 degF

UK Pale Ale Malt 4lb 0oz (51.7 %) In Mash/Steeped
US Soft White Winter Wheat 1lb 4oz (15.9 %) In Mash/Steeped
UK Wheat Malt 1lb 0oz (12.9 %) In Mash/Steeped
German Munich Malt 1lb 0oz (12.9 %) In Mash/Steeped
US Caramel 20L Malt 8.00 oz (6.5 %) In Mash/Steeped

US Nugget (13.0 % alpha) 0.75 oz Loose Pellet Hops used 20 Min From End
US Nugget (13.0 % alpha) 1.00 oz Loose Pellet Hops used 5 Min From End
US Columbus(Tomahawk) (15.5 % alpha) 1.00 oz Loose Pellet Hops used At turn off

Other Ingredients

Yeast: ECY03 Farmhouse Brett

Mash Type: Full Mash
Step: Rest at 148 degF for 90 mins