What defines beer styles? Is it the process, ingredients, or maybe where they are brewed? For me it comes down exclusively to what is in the glass. How the beer looks, smells, and most importantly tastes. I'm not saying divorcing recipe from results is easy; congratulations if you are able to brew a delicious hefeweizen with a single-infusion mash, stout without roasted barley, or lambic in Milwaukee! What would happen then if you tried to brew an American IPA without hops, the source of its style-defining pine and citrus aromatics? I decided to find out, brewing a 10 gallon batch split between a "Real" IPA brewed with hops and a faux-IPA flavored with real citrus and spruce!
I've added citrus peel to numerous batches (e.g., Grapefruit APA, Lemliner Weisse), so I won't spend much time writing about the importance of using the aromatic zest without much of the bitter pith. While I have brewed with spruce once before, with Nathan in our Scandinavian Gruit Kvass, it deserves a bit more attention. While spruce can be foraged in many places (like Nathan did for Right Proper's Invisible City of Bladensburg), I decided to be lazy and order from the Internet. Spruce is said to be at its best in spring just as the papery covers fall away from the pale new growth. These young trimmings provide a mild and citrusy flavor, which is much less resinous than older growth clippings. Once harvested they can be vacuum bagged and frozen just like hops (without the need for drying).
Gordon Strong, in his underrated Brewing Better Beer, quotes Pete Devaris who suggests measuring spruce tips by volume. This is because the amount of water they contain can vary their weight, but won't significantly change their volume. I added one loosely packed pint of spruce tips near the start of the boil to extract sugars and as much of the character as I could. I then added more at flame-out to ensure some of the more delicate character survived (allowing them to sit hot for about 30 minutes before running the chiller).
Spruce beers often age well, so I wanted to brew it early enough that it would make a nice holiday beer as the combination of pine and citrus is certainly reminiscent of Christmas! It took the zest from a fourth grapefruit in the keg to get the citrus aroma where I wanted it. I had saved some spruce for a fermentor addition, but it proved unnecessary. The batch is on tap now, so expect tasting notes later this week!
Batch Size (Gal): 5.25
Total Grain (Lbs): 13.35
Anticipated OG: 1.061
Anticipated SRM: 3.8
Anticipated IBU: 0.0
Brewhouse Efficiency: 69 %
Wort Boil Time: 90 Minutes
60.0% - 8.00 lbs. Rahr Pilsener
30.0% - 4.00 lbs. Great Western Pale Malt
7.5% - 1.00 lbs. Weyermann Wheat Malt
2.6% - 0.35 lbs. Simpsons Golden Naked Oats
1 Pint (2.38 oz) Spruce Tips @ 60 min.
2 Grapefruits' Zest @ 5 min.
1 Grapefruit's Zest @ 0 min.
1.25 Pints (3.00 oz) Spruce Tips @ 0 Min.
1 Grapefruit's Zest @ Keg
0.50 Whirlfloc @ 15 min.
0.50 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 15 min.
White Labs WLP007 Dry English Ale
Profile: Washington, Hoppy
Sacch - 60 min @ 156 F
8/22/14 - Made a stir-plate 3 L starter with 2 tubes of WL007. Aiming for 450 billion cells. Crash chilled after 24 hours. Half for this batch
5 g CaCl and gypsum added to the mash along with 2 tsp of phosphoric acid. Diluted with 2 gallons of distilled. Collected 7 gallons of 1.075 first runnings. Same treatment for the 7 gallons of 180F batch sparge water. Collected 7gallons of 1.035 second runnings. Mixed so there were 7 gallons of 1.055 runnings in each pot.
Spruce tips from Spruce On Tap. 1 pint (2 3/8 oz added at 60 min). Half what is suggested in Gordon Strong's book.
10-year-old Microplane zester broke after those two. Potato-peeler strips of zest from the final grapefruit added at flame-out along with the rest of the spruce tips. Allowed to steep for 30 min before chilling to 70F.
5 gallons at 1.064 post-boil, topped off with .25 gallons of distilled water. Left at 65F to ferment.
8/30/14 Moved to warm ambient basement to ensure complete fermentation.
9/9/14 Kegged. Put in fridge to wait for a tap to open up.
11/29/14 Added zest of one grapefruit at tapping.
1/7/14 Tasting Notes. Happy with the result, even though it isn't particularly IPA-ish. If that was your goal, bitter with 30-40 IBUs, and possibly add some whirlpool hops to give it some hop aroma.