Monday, May 27, 2013

Recipe and Evaluation: Black IPA

I'm back with a vengeance!  I know I haven't been updating this blog very frequently, but that's because I've been too busy brewing and going through some major life transitions (finishing grad school, ending a long-term relationship, moving, and preparing for "phase II" of my plan to dominate the world of gluten-free brewing).  I'll be sharing some of my general observations later this summer on my now-considerable experience in brewing with gluten-free grains (both malted and unmalted), but since it's been a while since I posted a recipe and discussed a finished beer, I thought I'd share my black IPA. It was a good first draft for this style, and for once I feel like the malt base is more solid than the hop schedule.  Recipe after the jump!

Inscrutable Gaze Black IPA (3 Gallon Batch):

Chestnut chips
Grain Bill:
Promalt Mash:
1.5 lbs medium crystal-malt buckwheat (homemade, from Colorado Malting Co.'s malted buckwheat)
1.25 lbs medium-roast chestnut chips (from Trail's End)
1 lb medium roast ("vienna") buckwheat (homemade)
6 oz dark-roast white quinoa (homemade, from sprouted white quinoa)

Roast quinoa
Extracts/Sugars added during boil:

1 lb brown rice syrup (60 min)
8 oz D-45 candi syrup (60 min)
8 oz D-180 candi syrup (60 min)
8 oz maltodextrin (60 min)
8 oz buckwheat honey (flame-out)

Crystal buckwheat malt
0.5 oz columbus, whole-leaf (mash)
0.5 oz columbus, pellets (60 min)
1 oz chinook, pellets (10 min)
1 oz simcoe, pellets (flame-out)
1 oz columbus, whole-leaf (dry hop)

Medium-roast buckwheat malt
0.5 tsp Wyeast Yeast Nutrient
1 tab Whirlfloc

Fermentis US-05 Dry American Ale Yeast

OG: 1.064
FG: 1.014
ABV: 6.6%
IBU: 100+

Commentary on Recipe Formulation:
This recipe was me throwing the kitchen sink at the concept of brewing a black IPA.  Black IPAs did not exist when I discovered my gluten intolerance (or if they did, they sure weren't available in my area), so my attempt at this style comes from a purely theoretical approach.  I basically looked up a bunch of different barley-based recipes, and took a shot in the dark.  This was my first beer with the buckwheat malts and chestnuts, so I had no idea what kind of contributions to expect from them.  The hop bill was also a shot in the dark; I was hoping for a strong piney flavor, as I'd attempted that in other IPAs and always ended up with more citrus than pine.

Evaluation of the finished beer:

Immediately after pour
Appearance: Dark reddish-brown body with red highlights, mildly translucent.  An effusive and extremely persistent cream-colored head that reduces very slowly to persistent cream lacing.  The head persisted for several minutes, as you can see in the second picture.

Aroma: Light citrus, some pine, and a bit catty.  Faint hint of roast.

Taste: Initially roasty, espresso-like, followed with a slightly sweet dark chocolate and a mild roast chestnut flavor.  A powerful and slightly harsh bitterness follows with a hint of pine and cattiness from the hops.  The punch of the bitterness subsides quickly but leaves a lingering light bitterness that blends smoothly with the roast character.

Mouthfeel: Surprisingly thin and dry, almost Guinness-like, with a faint solvent character.  Medium carbonation, long linger.

~3 minutes after pouring
Overall impression:
The malt base would be perfect for a dry stout; the hop character feels mismatched, and is excessively bitter for the dry roasty flavor of the malt.  The catty character of the hops is also a bit unpleasant; this beer would do better with a different hop profile, perhaps some brighter or fruitier hop (amarillo, citra, or horizon come to mind), or could be turned into a dry stout with some light English hopping (fuggles or goldings).  However, I am in general very satisfied with the malt base of this beer.  Despite its high gravity, it is nice and dry, with a smooth roast character and prominent grain flavor.  Considering that my goal of late has been to focus on the malt profiles more than hops and spices, I consider this recipe a great success.


  1. I might try this recipe as a dry stout instead.

    What advice do you have for someone who's looking to get into GF homebrewing, but doesn't have experience with "regular" homebrewing?

    I had wanted to take up homebrewing as a hobby, but then I found out I'm gluten intolerant. So... Now I want to take up GF brewing as a hobby.

    1. Hi Jamie! I highly recommend all the usual homebrewing books (especially Charlie Papazian's "The Complete Joy of Homebrewing". As for brewing this recipe, it's kind of advanced (and expensive), as it requires purchasing malted buckwheat and then toasting it (as well as making crystal malt with it). You'll also want a grain mill to grind the grains, and the mashing process (same as what I did here: ) is pretty labor-intensive. It's an easy process to goof up, and if something doesn't go right, you'll end up with a bad beer (and a waste of a lot of time/money). I'd recommend getting some basic extract recipes under your belt first, just to familiarize yourself with the process. I have a stout recipe here: , which I could modify to make it a dry stout rather than an American-style oatmeal stout. Just let me know and I'll post it up!

  2. I am delighted to find your blog. I've recently realized my gluten sensitivity & my sister has been diagnosed celiac. I've tried the commercial GF beers and only found 1 even remotely tolerable--New Planet Pale Ale. AND I have to drive 45 minutes to buy it and can only purchase 3 4packs at a time! I made a few batches of less than stellar homebrew a few years ago and currently make wine from kits, so I've been researching making my own GF beers. Your site is such a great resource. I know I need to start simply, as you mentioned in response to the post above. In my previous dietary life, I was mostly an IPA or Pale Ale drinker. Any recommendations?