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Recipe – Session IPA


I love IPA’s (as you probably have gathered) but I also like to keep the alcohol content of my beers on the low side for health reasons. Most IPA’s are at least around the 5,5% mark, often much higher so if you’re at the mercy of commercial brewers these two goals don’t meet. I’ve done a few “Micro-IPA’s” that tried to combine bold hop flavour in a low alcohol package and it does seem that there are a few limitations that you just can’t get around in such a beer. Alcohol is a solvent that helps to extract flavour components from the dry-hopping and a beer with more alcohol can also carry more bitterness (the bitterness in low abv beers can also come across as harsh so you have to be careful with the level of IBU’s). “Small” beers can also have a thin and watery mouth-feel even if you try to compensate with a high mash temperature and choose malts that help boost the body of a beer. To help get around these limitations I think the following help when formulating a recipe :

– Choose a flavourful base malt like Maris Otter or Vienna

– Use unmalted grains : I’ve found flaked rye to give a nice boost to the impression of body in the finished beer. Some people use Oats to this same effect

– Don’t be afraid to use Crystal malts, something that I avoid in stronger IPA’s

– Mash higher than usual, around 68C/154F

– Use a characterful English yeast strain : in my attempts this has made the biggest difference. A smaller “IPA” benefits from the added flavour component that might “be in the way” in a stronger one. Also, most English strains aren’t super attenuative like the California strains tend to be

Even with these changes in the recipe formulation my best “Micro-IPA’s” have been lacking in the sense that the taste “disappears” mid-palate before you taste the bitterness. They’ve been very enjoyable but thus far that limitation has proved to be unavoidable. For  this version I’m upping the original gravity just a bit to see if I can get closer to a perfect compromise of maximizing hop flavour and keeping the beer sessionable.

The hops for this beer is a combination that I have tried before : Amarillo, Simcoe and Columbus. Last year I made a conscious effort to make hoppy beers with just one or two varieties and I think that has helped me to better understand the differences between hop varieties. This particular trio isn’t one that I came about by myself, it is a favourite of The Mad Fermentationist to whom I also credit the tips for low abv beers listed above.

Finally a word about the yeast : I used Wyeast 1469, West Yorkshire Ale and grew a starter with my spanking new stirplate. The fermentation started quickly but it seems to take time to flocculate even with the help of cold crashing (I’m way behind posting this so the beer is close to being kegged) so unless it really brings some exceptional yeast character to the beer I’m inclined to use a different yeast strain as a “house yeast” (I decided to try the brulosophy starter harvesting method to propagate yeast but I want to find a strain that is a strong fermenter, flocculates well and has a nice flavour profile). If it’s not clear(er) at the time of kegging I’ll add some finings but we will see in a few days.


Target Batch Size (Litres/Gallons): 17.00 / 4,49
Total Grain (Kg/Pounds): 2,7 / 5,95
Anticipated OG: 1.040
Anticipated SRM: 7,2
Anticipated IBU: 32,4
Wort Boil Time: 60 Minutes

81,5% 2,2 kg / 4,85 lbs  – Maris Otter pale ale, Thomas Fawcett
9,3%  250g / 0,55 lbs   – Pale Crystal malt, Thomas Fawcett
9,3%  250g / 0,55 lbs  – Flaked Rye

15g / 0,52 oz.  Amarillo (9,2% AA) @ 10min for 7,9 IBU
15g / 0,52 oz.  Columbus (15,5% AA) @ 10min for 13,3 IBU
15g / 0,52 oz. Simcoe (13,0% AA) @ 10min for 11,2 IBU

40,0g / 1,4 oz. Amarillo (9,2% AA) @ @ Hop-Stand for 30 minutes
40,0g / 1,4 oz. Columbus (15,5% AA) @ Hop-Stand for 30 minutes
40,0g / 1,4 oz. Simcoe (13,0% AA) @ Hop-Stand for 30 minutes

45,0g / 1,58 oz. Amarillo (9,2% AA) Dry Hop for 7 days in primary
45,0g / 1,58 oz. Columbus (15,5% AA) Dry Hop for 7 days in primary
45,0g / 1,58 oz. Simcoe (13,0% AA) Dry Hop for 7 days in primary

1 tsp of Irish Moss @ 10 Min.
½ Teaspoon of yeast nutrient @ 10 Min.
6g / 0,21 oz. of Gypsum in the mash

Wyeast 1469 West Yorkshire Ale, 1,5 litre starter on stirplate

23,5 Litre BIAB @ 68 Celsius for 60 mins (6,2 Gal/154F)

14/2/15 Managed to break my hydrometer at the start of the brewing so no idea how well I hit my figures… Otherwise a typical brewday. Collected about 16,5 liters/ 4,35 gallons of wort to the BB, shook for two minutes and added the decanted starter. Lifted to chamber at 18C/64F. The fermentation took of in the evening (fresh yeast and a stirplate) and by the next day was in full swing. No need for a blow-of tube, not a top-cropper despite some sources stating it is.

20/2/15 The fermentation seems to be almost finished. Added the dry hops straight to the primary. Lifted the temperature to 21C/70F for a diacetyl rest.

24/2/15 Yeast still in suspension. No signs of fermentation.

26/2/15 Lowered the temperature to 6c/42F to help the yeast settle.

3/3/15 Racked to a co2 flushed keg and lifted to the kegerator. Decided to forgo the gelatin to see if cold clears the beer (Some yeast still in suspension).

9/5/15 Tasting here. Didn’t quite work out the way I was hoping.


From → Recipes

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