Gowanus Brewery

California Imperial Style Pale Ale by Jeremy
October 30, 2007, 4:00 pm
Filed under: beer, brewing, double ipa

October 20th I brewed my first batch and in the near future I’ll bottle it. I am working with an ingredient kit I bought along with my first equipment set from High Gravity Homebrewing and Winemaking Supplies. It is the California Imperial Pale Ale and, as it sits now in a glass carboy, I can say at least that it smells like beer and it has a great deep, rich golden brown color.

I picked this ingredient kit only because it has “California” in the name and I’m from California. But that’s fine because we’re just getting started over here and this kit seems as good as any with which to start. In the future, I will try to choose other styles of beer to expand on specific skills or to explore new ideas.

Here is what the recipe page at High Gravity has to say about this kit:

This beer ingredient kit is based on the popular Arrogant Bastard Ale. The copper-colored brew begins with an intensely rich malt flavor followed by an explosion of hop aroma and bitterness.

Arrogant Bastard Ale is excellent, so this sounds great. Wikipedia has some general information on this style of beer:

Double India Pale Ales (also abbreviated as Double IPAs or DIPAs) are a strong, hoppy style of beer associated with the U.S. West Coast. Also known as Imperial IPAs, perhaps in reference to the Russian Imperial Stout, a much stronger version of the English Stout, these beers are essentially India Pale Ales with higher amounts of malt and hops. Double IPAs typically have alcohol content above 7% by volume. IBUs are in the very high range (60+).

There are some brewers that believe the name should be San Diego Pale Ale, since the style most likely started near San Diego, CA — specifically a Double IPA brewed in 1994 by Vinnie Cilurzo of the failed Blind Pig Brewing Company of Temecula, CA. Vinnie claims he ‘accidentally’ created the style by adding 50% too much malt to his mash tun. He then ‘corrected’ this mistake by adding 100% more hops. This metric (50% more malt, 100% more hops) is the basic guideline behind the style.

So, California Imperial Pale Ale may be better known as Double India Pale Ale, or Double IPA, because the recipe calls for nearly double the malt and hops required to make India Pale Ale, or IPA. Arrogant Bastard Ale is a good example of this type of beer. The “Imperial” in California Imperial Pale Ale is borrowed from Russian Imperial Stout, which is simply a stronger version of another beer: the English Stout. I guess “Imperial” might loosely mean that a recipe has been made stronger, or the alcohol content and IBU’s (yeah, what’s an IBU?) raised, by adding a lot more malt and a lot more hops.

The information included in my ingredient kit, which seems to be in line with the information above, says to expect an alcohol by volume between 5.5% and 6.3% and hop IBU’s between 80 and 100. I should point out that Wikipedia says “[t]he technical limit for IBU’s is around 100…” Obviously, this style of beer is going to be in your face and will require a period of aging prior to bottling to improve drinkability. The instructions with this kit recommend aging one month.

The kit included the following:

6.6 lbs. Plain Amber Liquid Malt Extract
2 lbs. Plain Amber Dry Malt Extract
1 lb. Crushed Crystal Malt 120L
1 each Grain Steeping Bag
2 oz. Chinook Hops (Bittering)
1 oz. Chinook Hops (Finishing Flavoring)
1 oz. Chinook Hops (Finishing Aroma)
5 oz. Priming Sugar
60 each Crown Caps
1 Packet Dry Beer Yeast

Here is a short version of the procedure I followed to brew this batch:

0. Place malt extract tins unopened in hot water to ease pouring in step 2, below.
1. Steep crushed crystal malt in a cloth bag in 2 gallons clean water at 160 to 170 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes. Remove grain bag without squeezing; discard.
2. Bring brewpot water to a boil and add now-warm malt extract, stirring until water returns to boil. Add dry malt extract, stirring until until water returns to boil. Add bittering hops. Boil for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Add finishing hops and continue to boil for 10 minutes.
4. Add finishing aroma hops and boil for final 5 minutes. Total boiling time will be approximately 60 minutes.
5. Cool the wort rapidly to 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
6. Transfer wort to fermenter, leaving behind any sediment. Add approximately 3 gallons 70-degree water until the fermenter level reaches 5 gallons.
7. Measure and record Starting Gravity and temperature, simultaneously.
8. Sprinkle dry yeast on top of wort and stir well. Close fermenter and fix airlock.
9. Allow fermentation to occur in a space with an ambient temperature between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit.
10. After 7 days, transfer wort to secondary fermenter, then measure and record Final Gravity and temperature, simultaneously.

This is the point I am at now. The kit sets the target Starting Gravity between 1.050 – 1.060 and the Final Gravity between 1.008 – 1.016. After adjusting for temperature, my actual Starting and Final Gravity, respectively, was 1.065 and 1.018.

As I mentioned above, the instructions with this kit recommend aging for one month, which leaves me plenty of time to study up and find a new kit to start on.

Roadmap by Jeremy
October 29, 2007, 4:00 pm
Filed under: roadmap

In the world of homebrewing, there is so much to obsess over, even in the basics, that I feel the need to lay out in this first post a roadmap, or a series of goals, for my first 5 batches of beer:

1. Learn the common varieties and defining characteristics of our world’s Ales.
2. Learn the fundamental elements of the homebrewing process.
3. Learn and understand the objective measures of a beer for Alcohol Content, Color, and Bitterness.

Phew. That takes a load off.