This week on BrewZasters: Session IPA

I got a call from my friend Ron, the owner and head brewer, at Kelsey Creek Brewing Company the week before last. He had some American ale yeast, would I like it? Hell yes, I would like it. Getting “some yeast” from Ron is the equivalent of maybe 10 starter batches; it’s probably a pint (~0.5L) of active yeast.

I recently found a recipe for a “small” IPA (India Pale Ale) that I wanted to try. The recipe falls pretty well into the hoppy pale ale category. The idea is to give the “mouthfeel” and hoppiness of an IPA without the alcohol kick. Or, what I call a session IPA. Here’s the recipe:

(Anticipated) Original gravity = 1.045

(Anticipated) Finished gravity = 1.012

(Anticipated) SRM (Color) = 18

(Anticipated) Alcohol By Volume = 4.3%

Grain Bill (Mash at 152F/67C for 60 minutes)

2.9 lb (1.3 kg) 2-row pale malt (2 SRM)

2.5 lb (1.13 kg) Munich malt (9 SRM)

2.0 lb (0.9 kg) Vienna malt (3.5 SRM)

Hop Schedule

0.78 Oz (22g) Simcoe hops (12% Alpha acids) at 90 minutes

1.0 (28g) U.S. Golding hops at flameout

2.0 Oz (56g) Amarillo hops “dry hopped” in secondary


Wyeast 1968 (London ESB) yeast

The author appears to be going for an English/American fusion IPA taste by calling for a London Extra Special Bitters yeast and the aroma/dry hop additions of Golding and Amarillo hops. These aroma/dry hop additions should give the beer a floral and citrus aroma but the London ESB yeast should dampen some of the taste in ways a cleaner American ale yeast wouldn’t. The use of Munich and Vienna malts should give a fullness (I’m no expert here, I’m checking BeerSmith and BeerAlchemy for descriptions) that wouldn’t be there with straight 2-Row barley because they will yield less fermentable sugars than straight 2-Row barley would. (Experts, please leave a comment to let me know if I’m totally off base)

I wanted to make this. I really like the session beer idea where you get a lot of taste but don’t need to take a nap after two beers.

Of course, I had only two ingredients of the recipe: 2-row malted barley and Munich malt.

I needed to get creative. I had ten to twenty batch-worths of yeast that wouldn’t last indefinitely. So as somebody (Hunter S. Thompson?) once said, “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.”

My version of Laurel IPA. Slightly cloudy with a SRM color around 6.

This is a picture of my Laurel IPA, but the Session IPA looks similar.. Slightly cloudy with a SRM color around 6.

Here’s the recipe I came up with:

Estimated Original Gravity: 1.045

Estimated Final Gravity: 1.010

Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 4.5 %

Estimated Bitterness: 39.0 IBUs

Estimated Color: 6.1 SRM

5 gallon batch

Grain Bill (Mash at 152F/67C for 60 minutes)

5 lbs 12.7 oz Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM)

1 lbs 12.1 oz Munich Malt – 10L (10.0 SRM) Grain 2 20.5 %

12.8 oz Corn, Flaked (1.3 SRM) Grain 3 9.3 %

3.8 oz Caramel/Crystal Malt – 60L (60.0 SRM) Grain 4 2.8 %

Hop addition schedule

19.84 g Galaxy [14.00 % AAU] – First Wort Hop

1 Oz (28 g) Centennial [10.00 % AAU] – Boil 0.0 min

1 Oz (28 g) Falconer’s Flight [10.50 % AAU] – Dry Hop


3 pkg Wyeast Labs #1272 American Ale II (a bit fruitier than my go to yeast Safale 05)

I brewed it on July 8 and hit the estimated numbers right on. The wort cooled and I added the yeast. Visible fermentation happened in 30-40 minutes. It started so quickly I worried that it had an infection. I covered the Better Bottle carboy with a wet t-shirt to keep it cool and closer to the optimum fermentation temperature. The coolest part of my house, the basement, was hovering around 80F during the day—too warm for something that is not supposed to be a Belgian-style beer.

The specific gravity after two days in the fermenter was 1.010. It was transferred to another carboy (i.e. the secondary) and left for several more days.

My beer wench (i.e. my wife) and I bottled the beer today using four ounces of corn sugar mixed with the beer to carbonate (bottle conditioning).

I’m pleased with how it turned out. I give the beer 4 out of 5 stars. It tastes delightful with a citrusy hoppiness that dances on your tongue. It has a pleasant aftertaste. The mouthfeel is on the light/watery side of the scale. I would like to have a bit more fullness and maybe a little biscuit. I’ll add Victory and Vienna malts to the next batch in lieu of the corn and Crystal 60.


How does yeast affect the taste of a beer?

Last Saturday as part of the American Homebrewers Association‘s Learn to Homebrew Day our club the Lake County Homebrewers set up our equipment at Guido’s Pizza in Kelseyville, CA to demonstrate and explain how to brew your own beer. (If you would like to start brewing your own but missed Learn to Homebrew Day see: From no brew to homebrew: Make your own beer in 3 simple steps)

The basic recipe was:
1/2 tsp   Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate)         (Mash 60.0 mins)
5 lbs         Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.0 SRM)
4.1 lbs     Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM)
14.5 oz     Munich Malt (9.0 SRM)
7.3 oz     Caramel/Crystal Malt – 20L (20.0 SRM)
7.3 oz     Caramel/Crystal Malt – 60L (60.0 SRM)
7.3 oz     Melanoiden Malt (20.0 SRM)
0.47 oz     Columbus (Tomahawk) [14.00 %]     First Wort Hopped (FWH) 75.0 min
0.94 oz     Centennial [10.00 %]             Boil 20.0 min
1         Whirlfloc Tablet                 (Boil 15.0 mins)
1/2 tsp     Yeast Nutrient                 (Boil 15.0 mins)
1/2 tsp    Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate)         (Boil 15.0 mins)
0.91 oz     Simcoe [13.00 %]                 Boil 10.0 min
0.91 oz     Centennial [10.00 %]             Aroma Steep 1.0 min
0.91 oz     Simcoe [13.00 %]                 Aroma Steep 1.0 min

Est Original Gravity: 1.060 SG
Est Final Gravity: 1.013 SG
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 6.1 %
Bitterness: 56.4 IBUs
Est Color: 9.5 SRM

Once the wort had been boiled and the hops added (along with the other stuff) we mixed all the batches together and then divvied it up to different members who would then add yeast to the wort (and begin the conversion to beer).

The wort up to just before the yeast is added will taste identical. To be sure, the water, hops, and malted barleys will all have contributed to the taste of the beer. Yet, the addition of the yeast will significantly change the taste of the final products.

Here is a list of the different yeasts that were added to the worts:

  • American Ale (Wyeast Labs #1056) [124.21 ml]
  • American Ale II (Wyeast Labs #1272) [124.21 ml]
  • Belgian Golden Ale (White Labs #WLP570) [35.49 ml]
  • Belgian Style Ale Yeast Blend (White Labs #WLP575) [35.49 ml]
  • London Ale III (Wyeast Labs #1318) [124.21 ml]
  • London Ale Yeast (Wyeast Labs #1028) [124.21 ml]
  • London ESB Ale (Wyeast Labs #1968) [124.21 ml]
  • San Francisco Lager (White Labs #WLP810) [35.49 ml]
  • Thames Valley Ale (Wyeast Labs #1275) [124.21 ml]
  • Brettanomyces Bruxellensis Trois (White Labs #WLP650 644) [50.28 ml] [Add to Secondary]

The first two American Ale yeasts are the “controls” and should produce the closest thing to a beer at a brewpub. I chose to try a California/San Francisco Lager yeast. Below is a quick video of how the yeast looks on the day after it was pitched (added).

This shows San Francisco lager yeast eating the sugars in the beer. As the Wyeast website describes this yeast as “particularly well suited for producing 19th century-style West Coast beers with woody/minty hop flavor. It retains lager characteristics at temperatures up to 65°F (18°C) and produces malty, brilliantly clear beers.” This beer is fermenting just a little out of the preferred temperature range. I may add a wet t-shirt to it to try to lower the heat.