Brew Day: Alan’s Stepchild (American IPA)

When conducting research for the Geary’s Summer Ale clone, I learned about the profound influence Alan Puglsey, and by extension Peter Austin, had on many early East Coast craft breweries. Leaning heavily on English brewing traditions, “Ringwood Breweries” like D.L. Geary, Gritty McDuff’s, and Shipyard share a few common characteristics: the use of mostly English malts and hops, open primary fermentation, and the distinctive Ringwood yeast.

The IPAs produced by these breweries are English IPAs, or malty, old-school, East Coast American IPAs. When I brewed Fort Dummer it was in the style of a contemporary New England pale ale/IPA. To surmise these contemporary beers are characterized by: juicy hop flavor, soft mouthfeel, low bitterness, and a hazy straw to gold appearance.

The idea behind this beer is to marry the old and the new. My thought was what would I do if I brewed at one of these older craft breweries, and attempted to design a new IPA that people could get excited about. What I would do is make a contemporary New England IPA, but one that wasn’t a complete departure from what these breweries have been doing for 20-30 years. If I poured this beer at Geary’s or Shipyard I would want to to still taste like a Geary’s or Shipyard beer while still being contemporary.

Open-fermenting with Ringwood yeast seemed like a must. My only concern is losing some of the hop aroma and flavor during open fermentation. To compensate I will add a second dry hop in a closed vessel to contain the aromatics from the hops. If the hop flavor is lacking, I can always brew this or a similar beer again employing closed fermentation.

This beer was my first one gallon batch I have brewed since I have started to scale back the amount I brew. That is the beauty of small-batch brewing.  If I have only 8-10 bottles of less than awesome beer it’s not the end of the world. I open-fermented in the above state-of-the-art fermentation vessel that also works great for serving iced coffee.

In lieu of caramel malt this recipe calls for a healthy amount of un-malted flaked wheat to add body. In a nod to tradition the base malt is Halcyon. I bought it awhile ago just to try it. Upon researching a bit more Halcyon doesn’t finish as sweet as some British barley varieties, but it does have some of the characteristic nutty flavors British malts are known for. I do want the beer to have some malt flavor, so I think this might work out perfectly. I also toasted a small amount of malt for color, body, and flavor as well.

The hop additions are a first wort hop before the boil starts, a steep at the end of the boil, and two dry hop additions. The idea is to have a juicy hop flavor and aroma with minimal bitterness. The hops I chose are a blend of Britain and America. Challenger is an English dual-purpose hop with a spice and citrus flavor that works well in classic English ales. Mosaic has such a complex flavor it should blend nicely. I blended it with three or four other hops of varying terroir in my Hot Stove Porter.

This one-gallon recipe uses 2 ounces of hops, which is probably the highest hopping rate I have ever employed for a recipe I developed myself.

I boiled off much more water than I had expected. I also had more trub loss at the bottom of my kettle than I was expecting. I ended up with less than half a gallon in my open fermentation vessel. Hopefully this won’t effect the bitterness of the beer or lead to cause my beer to caramelize. Either could make the beer overly sweet.

I topped off with filtered water to get to a full gallon. About 12 hours later active fermentation had begun and I added my first dose of dry hops. With all of the hops in this batch they will probably absorb a fair bit of the beer. I’ll probably finish with less than a gallon.

Going forward I’ll dial in my process with these small batches. I have two more in the pipeline.

Click here for full recipe and brewer’s notes.

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