Wednesday, September 2, 2015


I mentioned to my wife that I was working on a recipe for a "Semper FiPA" (she knows I like IPAs) and she thought the name was kind of cool, and she said, "how about a VMI-PA?"  Being a 1989 VMI grad, I kind of liked that idea, but thought about building the recipe from scratch rather than brewing based on what I had available and going from there.

I wanted to do something that would be red in color and I found this recipe that looked really interesting, so I thought I'd give it a try.  I modified it for a 1 gal batch, and upped the hop additions a bit to get more of an IPA.

Brew Day: 2 Sept 2015

Partial Mash
11 oz Briess 2-row malt
4 oz CaraRed Malt
2 oz Crystal 60L
1 oz CaraPils
12 g Simpsons Black Malt

I followed my usual partial mash process; 2 qt water at 156 deg F in a cooler, add grains is grain bag for 1 hr.  Cycle at the end of the hour, cycle the wort through the grain bag several times manually, then remove the bag and place in 4 qt water at 170 deg F, in the brew kettle, steep for 10 min.  Resulting wort is about 1 qt; add to brew kettle, raise temperature to boiling.

While brewing, I enjoyed one my last remaining original grapefruit IPAs.

Boil - 45 min
1 lb Pilsen DME (@ 45 min)
3 oz light Belgian candy sugar (@ 45 min)

7 g Warrior (@ 45 min, bittering)
7 g Amarillo (@ 10 min - muslin bag)
7 g Amarillo (@ 5 min - muslin bag)
15 g Amarillo (@ 0 min, flameout - muslin bag)

Note: A similar hopping schedule worked out well for the Azacca or "So Fly" IPA,

Yeast: Safale US-50

As I put the fermenter away for the evening, I noted that the color of the soon-to-be beer was more brown than red.

12 hrs after brewing
The following morning, about 12 hrs after putting the fermenter away, I checked in on the beer, and it's bubbling away nicely.  Not a massive amount of krausen, but some good activity.

Addendum, 7 Sept:  Fermentation had settled out a bit, so I removed the blow-off tube yesterday morning and put an airlock on the fermenter.  I ran across a picture on Facebook this morning of a brew from Mr Rufus Brewing (you can see a picture of the brew here) with a brilliant red color, and asked about the grain bill.  What they so graciously shared was that it was 82% 2-row, 10% Munich, and 8% Crystal 150L.  Assuming that the pilsen DME equates to 20 oz of grain, the approx. percentages for this brew come in at 54% Pilsen, 30% 2-row, 10% CaraRed, 5% crystal 60L and 1+% black malt.  After we see how this one turns out, I will likely try a variation of the Rufus recipe, again going primarily for the color.  If I remove the CaraRed and the Crystal 60L, and just go with 1 oz of the Simpson's black malt, that may get me closer to the red color (I can use the other malts in later brew).

Addendum, 12 Sept: Racked to secondary, dry hopped with 15 g of Amarillo hops.  The beer had a very nice citrus orange scent throughout the process.

Addendum, 19 Sept: Bottled today.  Transferred to a clean fermenter with 1.2 oz of table sugar dissolved in 1/2 cup of boiling water.  Got 9 good bottles out of this one.  It's still darker than I'd like, but I'll be very interested in the flavor; if the hops turn out nicely, the next time I try the recipe I'll do away with the CaraRed and go with just 10g or so of the black malt, to try to get the red color.

Addendum, 5 Oct: Tasting - Beer pours with a slightly reddish-brown color, with a mild head, but good carbonation.  Aroma of sweet citrus in the nose, with a mild grapefruit flavor and a slight malt finish, albeit not a malty aftertaste.  A bit mild for an IPA; in addition to modifying the malt bill to get more of red color, I will likely also modify the hops (type and amount, but not the hop schedule) to get a bigger, bolder IPA, fitting of the name "Big Red".  For example, I might add some Simcoe.

For my next attempt, I'll drop the Crystal 60L (and maybe the CaraRed, as well), and go with about 10g of Simpson's black malt.  This should get me more of the color I'm looking for, without adding any flavor.  I've got some Belgian Munich malt, and I'll use that and the black malt for the partial mash, filling in the remaining malt bill with Pilsen or golden light DME.