For the @brewstore Homebrew Society’s August Meeting (2014): IPA Theme

This was not another solo brew but, in a shocking departure from the norm, this brew did not involve Jono either.  While Kev and Jono have brewed separately in the past, never before had they invited a third person in to bag their hops or touch their wort chiller.  That is, however, exactly what happened on this particular occasion,

After a long evening in the pub, Kev was propositioned by his pal, Mick.  “How about we make a quick Black IPA”, he said.  “Jono will never know”, he said.  How could Kev possibly resist?

After that fateful night, and a couple of weeks where Kev could only look sheepishly at Jono over the mashing and sparging bags, the guilt became too much!  Kev told Jono he was going to brew a one-off beer with Mick and the inevitable happened.

This brew was very much Mick’s choice.  He decided the beer style but, never having brewed before, left the recipe formulation to Kev.  Having got some basic information from Mick about the desired end product (ABV, levels of roastiness, bitterness, aroma, etc), Kev was off to try and create something magical.  Well, you know, drinkable at least.

A bit of rooting around on the internet for other people’s recipes as a starting point, led to the three different Black IPAs posted by @broadfordbrewer.  He had used three different techniques with which to get the ‘black’ element of the Black IPA.  Namely: some Carafa III in the mash with more added for the sparge, Carafa III for sparging only and an overnight steeping of Black Malt.  As might be expected, these all led to quite different levels of roastiness in the respective beers.

As the hope was to get some roastiness in this beer – but not too much – the option of some Carafa III in the mash (with significantly more for the sparge only) was selected.  The hope is that this will be an IPA that is black in colour, yes, but that also has a good whack of black in the flavour as well.

Just as it looked like the recipe was all set, Kev stumbled upon a conversation between @richardmackney and @kempicus about this very subject.  Always keen to learn – and never afraid to follow others in a sheeplike fashion – Kev also requested @kempicus’ briefing sheet on Black IPAs.  Having effectively disregarded the information on water treatments (not at that stage of development yet), the section on hopping was great.

A significant reworking (i.e. massive increase) of the hop schedule followed and the beer below was born.

Black IPA Recipe (10l)
2500g Concerto Pale Malt  (77%)
500g Munich Malt  (15%)
165g Crystal Malt  (5%)
90g Carafa III  (3%)
(another 210g Carafa III added for sparge only)
14g Columbus (pellet) as First Wort Hop
5g Cascade / 5g Chinook / 5g Experimental Hop 366 @ 10m
5g Cascade / 5g Chinook / 5g Experimental Hop 366 @ 5m
10g Cascade / 10g Chinook / 10g Experimental Hop 366 @ 0m
DRY HOP (8g/l for 3 days)
20g Cascade / 20g Chinook / 20g Columbus (pellet) / 20g Experimental Hop 366
White Labs California Ale (2nd Generation)

OG: 1066
FG: TBC (1016 after 7 days)
ABV: 6.7%+
IBU: 60
SRM: uncertain

The process was very similar to other brews, so won’t be covered in detail.  Kev actually forgot to fully adjust for the larger grain bill, meaning we mashed with too little liquor and were down on volume overall.  Other than that little mishap – and there always seems to be one – all went very smoothly.  Mick will be brewing with poise and prowess in no time!

A couple of new things were brought into the the brewing on this occasion.

Firstly, following a conversation at the local homebrew society, everyone seemed to feel that the process we had undertaken previously of squeezing the grain bags in an effort to extract the maximum amount of wort was not a good idea.  It was felt there was a high risk of tannins that way and that we were risking the quality of the beer by pushing efficiency too hard.  So this was the first ‘no-squeeze’ brew.  As it further affected our issues around total volume detailed above and also took our efficiency down from 65% to 60%, it was far from ideal.  It will be good to see if it positively affects the finished beer, though.

The observant among you might also have noticed that the yeast used was second generation WLP001.  We pitched about 100ml of washed yeast / slurry from the previous brew into the cooled wort.

Much as all the internet guides on washing yeast for re-use make it look very straightforward, Kev & Jono did find the whole process a little confusing and uncertain. (“Is THAT the yeast?” “I dunno.” etc.)  Because of this, the wait after pitching was a nervous one.  It worked really well, though.  Fermentation was strong after 12 hours and the beer was down to 1016 after a week.  The Mr Malty Pitching Rate Calculator proved an indispensable resource.

So, all being well, this should turn out to be a dark, quite roasty Black IPA with balanced bitterness and lots of aroma from the hops.  That’s the theory anyway… we’ll see if we managed to pull it off.

Thanks for reading.  Any comments or anything more than welcome.


TASTING NOTES – 21/10/14

This turned out to be an excellent beer, really happy with it as a first attempt at a Black IPA. The Carafa III technique we used ended up being just what we’d hoped for. There is a distinct roastiness in the flavour, but this is gentle and plays very nicely with the rest of the beer. The hops are strong. Grubbily wonderful and very dank indeed. Best aroma Kev has ever managed to coax from one of his beers too. Really was spot on flavour-wise, delighted.

Wouldn’t do too much different next time, it’s more about taking the learning from this and applying it to future beers. In a future BIPA, Kev would definitely do something very similar with the Carafa III again and the short, but quite heavy, dry hopping is something that should definitely be repeated.



    1. bagboilbeer Post author

      Thanks for commenting, Richard. Without you we’d never have got our hands on that information from JK, so thanks for that too.

      We have always done big squeezes as well. Sore on the hands when that hot, but worth the pain we always thought.

      The advice came from non-BIAB brewers, but thought we should give it a try. Probably worth mentioning that no one’s ever picked up on our beers as tasting tannin-heavy or anything. Many other things wrong with them, but not that 😉

      I will let you know if we come to any conclusions. Maybe others BIABers have experience of / thoughts on this too?



    1. bagboilbeer Post author

      Cheers for the encouragment, Ady. Cheeky taste at recent gravity check is very promising indeed, but I guess it’s the dry hop where the real work will be done. Am optimistic certainly.

      In terms of the Carafa, that’s right. We mash in our pot. It was 2 mashing and sparging bags in total, one of these contained 90g of Carafa III along with a bunch of other grain. On draining these two bags after a 60m mash, the wort was a dark brown more than a real black.

      Both bags were them dumped into an FV full of 81C sparge water along with a third bag with 210g of fresh Carafa III. After 10 minutes, all three were drained and this was all added to the pot. Ended up being a not super black – but definitely black rather than dark brown – colour.

      (NB – all quantities for a 10 litre batch)


      1. Sweet Leaf Brewery (@AdyGoodrich)

        Cheers that sounds like a great way of getting the colour without too much overpowering roasty flavours. I’ve seen blogs on 3 vessel BIPAs where the Carafa is added on top of the grains at the end of the mash so only the sparge water goes through it, but I now have a better idea of the BIAB way.
        I have tried a couple of BIPAs brewed in a Braumeister Brew Kettle but they have just been slightly hoppier stouts, no where near as hoppy for my tastes. I will attempt to show them how it should be done soon 🙂
        I think with the dry hops you are planning the hops will be spot on in yours!


        1. bagboilbeer Post author

          Yeah, it just made sense to me to try and recreate the 3-vessel style sparge that way for BIAB. Seemed like it worked just fine. Hope it does for you too if you go down that route.

          It was all a bit of guesswork in how to split the mash and sparge quantities to get the roast/hop balance right for us. Hoping for some roast but with the hops still the star of the show. We’ll see! (An 8g/l dry hop should help on that front, I suppose!)

          Anyway, go show those Braumeister Boys how a Black IPA should be done! Look forward to hearing about the results.


    1. bagboilbeer Post author

      Cheers, Jono. Yeah, will be very interesting to taste the three different BIPAs with the three different processes. Lots to learn from that, I think.


  1. Richard Mackney

    4% of Carafa III (1400 EBC) in our main mash seems to have produced a pretty black wort. Time will tell how much roast comes through. Personally I like Black Rocks and I thought that had a little roastyness that I would like to achieve 🙂


    1. bagboilbeer Post author

      Great to hear you got such good, black colour from only 4%. As you can see, we used 3% in the mash and another 7% equivalent in the sparge as well. It worked for us colour-wise, anyway. Taste-wise, the aim was to get some discernable roast flavour going on (hence not sparge only), but to keep that from becoming dominant. We’ll see in due course how close we got to that, I guess.

      Funny, we wanted some roast in there as we also had Black Rocks in mind when brewing this. An inspirational beer, clearly.


    1. bagboilbeer Post author

      Thanks for the comment, Daniel. Interesting this… wish I’d done it with a simpler beer so I could re-brew a squeezed version for comparison purposes. Big beer, though, so won’t be doing that!

      Might schedule that little experiment in over the next wee while.

      As I said above, no one’s tasted an issue with our beers (in this respect), so maybe we’ll revert to squeezing again next time round. My hands are squealing with pain at the very prospect.




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