The Homebrewer’s Brain – San Diego IPA
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I have been asked by a friend to brew a beer inspired by San Diego for an upcoming event. I didn’t have to think for more than…hmmm…a half second about what style I’d brew. In my opinion, San Diego is the epicenter of West Coast IPA country. Between Stone, Port, Alpine, Coronado, Green Flash, Alesmith, Ballast Point, etc… there’s more world-class IPAs in that part of the country than anywhere else. Something tells me that this won’t be an issue for the party planner.
So what makes a San Diego IPA a San Diego IPA? Well, part of it just may be the water. Since I can’t have San Diego water shipped up to me, or I guess I should say I refuse to go to such great lengths, I’ll dig a bit deeper into what sorts of hops and grains are typically used by the brewers of the area.
In referencing several texts available to me at Homebrew Heaven such as Brew Your Own Magazine and Clone Brews by Tess and Mark Szamatulski, I have come to surmise that my goals should be to use the following: American 2-row, crystal malts, something for body like cara-pils or flaked grain; hops such as Centennial, Amarillo, and Simcoe; American Ale yeast; and shoot for an original gravity of 1.070 and a final gravity of 1.012. This should give me a final product with a nice light amber color, some sweet grainy balance, a ton of pungent citrus/pine hop flavor and aroma, a clean fermentation, and about 7% alcohol by volume. This shouldn’t be too difficult.
I don’t see any reason to stray from using American 2-row as the base malt. It’s probably the cheapest route possible as well, so there’s that. For crystal malts I think I’m going to go light. I generally prefer my IPAs to be on the lighter side of the spectrum color wise. 6 SRM is the lightest color acceptable for BJCP style guidelines so I’ll shoot for that. If I can get the color I want with crystal 20 I’d be stoked. I was also thinking about supplementing the base grain with some Vienna for added grain flavor, but since I need a little boost on my color I think I’ll use Caravienne. For body I have decided to go with flaked rye. This will supply me with some viscous gums and hopefully a dash of that wonderful rye spiciness that should complement the hopiness.
Since I’ll be extracting some unfermentables from the specialty grains, in order for me to have any hope in achieving the final gravity of 1.012, I’ll need to have above average attention from the yeast. This fact leads me to making a huge starter and mashing at a temperature that is as low as possible but still converting the starches. As always, I’ll make my starter with light DME and water at a ratio of 1 cup DME to every 4 cups of water. In this case I’ll use 6 cups of water and 1 ½ cups DME and boil it directly in my 2000ml Erlenmeyer flask for 10 minutes. I find that my dial thermometer with the 12” stem and holder clip is extremely convenient to use when chilling the starter. It clips right on to the lip on the flask and allows for hands free, accurate measurement as the starter cools to about 70 degrees. I’ll pitch Wyeast 1056 American Ale since it’s neutral and very popular for American style IPAs.
I’ll aim to mash at 148 degrees. Lucky for me, my converted keg mash tun has a ½” NPT threaded thermometer with a 2” probe on it so it’s super easy to determine if I’m mashing at the temperature that I aim to.
Though Simcoe and Amarillo are often hard to find these days, I was able to stock up when they were available so I have enough to go heavy-handed with both in this IPA. Centennial has been pretty consistently available but, for purposes of experimentation, I have chosen to abandon them and go with Galena. This is a hop that I have never used before but have for a long time now wanted to try out. It is most often used as a bittering hop but I’m going to spread it throughout the boil to see how it affects this IPA. I’m also going to throw in some Summit, simply because it’s one of my favorites.
Wish me luck.