Monday, January 30, 2012

Vienna Malt Session IPA Recipe

The measured out additions of brew day hops.I think beer is trying too hard to be wine. There is too much hype surrounding high alcohol, expensive, limited release, barrel aged beers with flavor profiles that demand splitting a 12 oz bottle three ways. Of  beer is every bit as capable as wine at excelling at that game, but where beer has traditionally dominated wine is the combination of big flavor and high drinkability. I'm not calling for all session ales, but I think there is a lot to be said for a beer that I can drink a pint of while I'm cooking dinner and not burn the French toast.

The only way to get a low alcohol wine is to water the grape juice down, but beer recipes can be adjusted to compensate for a more meager alcohol content. If you want an IPA with half of the standard alcohol content it is not as simple as cutting in half each malt and hop addition. I brewed a ~2% ABV Micro-IPA from the second runnings of a hoppy wheat beer a few months ago, and while it had the aromatic hop character I wanted it was severely lacking in malt backbone. Reducing the amount of malt can also result in a thin body, and the lower sweetness can lead to an unbalanced flavor. A few ideas to combat those pitfalls:

Boosting Perceived Body:
1. Add more crystal/dextrin malt, which will add sweetness and mouthfeel.
2. Add unmalted grains (especially oats and rye) for their beta-glucans, which add body without sweetness, but can also contribute haze.
3. Raise the saccharification rest temperature, a good choice to avoid the sweetness of crystal malts.
4. Use a less attenuative yeast strain, English strains are especially well suited.
5. Use a strain that produce a high amount of glycerin/glycerol, saison strains tend to excel at this.
6. Lower carbonation, I find high carbonation makes light beers taste seltzer-like (although higher carbonation can help excessively thin beers, like gueuze).

Enhancing Malt Flavor:
1. Use a more flavorful base malt like Maris Otter, Vienna, Munich, or dark wheat.
2. Raise the percentage of specialty malts, especially toasty malts like Victory, biscuit, and melanoidin.
3. Eliminate adjuncts like corn/table sugar, and corn which dilute malt flavor.
4. Conduct a no-sparge mash to increase color/flavor, and minimize tannin extraction.

Maintaining Balance:
1. For a hoppy beer reduce the IBUs proportionally to the expected residual extract (I think this is a better way to think about balance than the classic BU:GU ratio).
2. Do not trim late boil additions as much to maintain a solid hop aroma.
3. For dark beers consider increasing the percentage, but cold steeping your roasted grains to reduce harshness.
4. Use a more expressive yeast because the lower gravity will result in a cleaner fermentation profile.
5. Account for serving the beer fresher than you would a strong beer (e.g., use a highly flocculent yeast).

These are certainly not all things that should be done concurrently for one batch of session beer, but it is a good idea to pick the ones that make sense for the type of beer you are brewing. For this batch I switched out most of the bland American pale I would usually use in an IPA for toastier Vienna malt. I also opted for a hotter mash and no-sparged to boost the body and malt flavor. I selected a low attenuating English yeast to replace the default Chico strain, to add both body and additional flavor.

The final dose of hops going in, just as I started chilling.For hopping I went with one of my favorite combinations - Amarillo/Simcoe/Columbus (which I last used in my favorite IPA recipe); I love the bit of extra dankness that Columbus adds to the otherwise fruity duo. I used only late "hop bursting" additions to help increase the hop aroma without overdoing the bitterness. I also tried a new technique called "hop standing" which means waiting for 30 minutes or longer after the flame-out hops are added before chilling. This technique was proposed by Ray Daniels, as a way to better replicate the whirlpool additions that breweries use, which often sits in the hot wort for a substantial amount of time before chilling. This goes against the homebrew mantra (Jamil's article on late hopping) to cool as quickly as possible after adding the final dose of hope, so to cover all of my bases I added a second dose of hops as I started the chiller.

Session Vienna "IPA"

Recipe Specifics
Batch Size (Gal): 5.25
Total Grain (Lbs): 10.00
Anticipated OG: 1.038
Anticipated SRM: 5.6
Anticipated IBU: 37.5
Brewhouse Efficiency: 54 %
Wort Boil Time: 60 Minutes

72.5% - 7.25 lbs. German Vienna Malt
22.5% - 2.25 lbs. American Pale Malt
5.0% - 0.50 lbs. CaraVienna

0.50 oz. Simcoe (Pellet, 11.00% AA) @ 15 min.
0.25 oz. Columbus (Pellet, 11.00% AA) @ 15 min.
0.75 oz. Amarillo (Pellet, 10.00% AA) @ 10 min.
0.75 oz. Simcoe Pellet (Pellet, 11.00% AA) @ 5 min.
1.50 oz. Amarillo (Pellet, 10.00% AA) @ 0 min.
1.50 oz. Columbus (Pellet, 11.00% AA) @ 0 min.
1.50 oz. Simcoe (Pellet, 11.00% AA) @ 0 min.
1.25 oz. Amarillo (Whole, 11.00% AA) @ Dry Hop
1.25 oz. Columbus (Whole, 11.00% AA) @ Dry Hop
1.25 oz. Simcoe (Whole, 14.00% AA) @ Dry Hop

0.50 Unit Whirlfloc @ 12 min.
0.40 Tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 12 min.

White Labs WLP037 Yorkshire Square Ale

Water Profile
Profile: Washington DC cut 50% with distilled, plus 2 g CaCl and 1 g gypsum

Mash Schedule
Sacch Rest  40 min @ 153

1/10/12 Starter made with .75 L, first time using the stir plate.

Cut with 50% gallons of distilled water to lower carbonate. Added 2 g of CaCl to the mash since I was short on gypsum.

Valley Malting Pale.

No Sparge, filled up the 5 gallon mash tun to the brim. Collected 3.5 gallons of first runnings @ 1.060. Diluted with 3.25 gallons of the diluted DC Tap water and 1 g of gypsum.

Added 1 oz of each hop and let sit for 25 min, then chilled with the addition of an additional .5 oz of each.

Chilled to 68 F, strained, and pitched the slightly decanted starter (finished quickly and flocc'd hard). Left at 64 F ambient to ferment

Good fermentation by 12 hours. Gave periodic twists to help with the high flocculating yeast.

1/20/12 Racked to a double purged keg with the bagged dry hops. Pretty full fill on the keg. Hit with ~30 PSI and shook twice to get a jump on the carbonation. Left in the basement at ~45 F to dry hop and drop clear. Down to 1.010, tasted a bit more bitter than I expected, but cold and time should help that.

2/16/12 Couldn't be happier with the way this one turned out. Similar balance to a West Coast IPA, but at half the alcohol.


Gareth said...

I'm really excited to see how this one turns out. I made a very similar beer to this based off your Micro-IPA:

The result was a beer that was way too thin, and unbalanced. I definitely think ditching the Chico for an English strain will really help. Looking forward to the results here!

Luke said...

from the second runnings ≠ from the first runnings

Paul! said...

You eat French toast for dinner?

ChrisF said...

seriously, who eats french toast for dinner?!

Brandon Brews said...

I, too, am a big fan of flavorful session beers. I might suggest using Mild Malt as a Vienna alternative...I'm loving it in my "Oregon Bitter".

Also....Hell YEEESSSSS to french toast for dinner. :)

Adam said...

What about doing a traditional decoction mash used in German brewing for this beer. The boiling would add the body and fullness with out the sweetness from a high mash temp.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I’m not a big breakfast eater, but I enjoy the foods. Last night I fully enjoyed cinnamon challah French toast, maple syrup, and the first glass of our apple brandy barrel aged, acorn squash, spiced, sour golden.

Mild malt is certainly one of those things I need to try. Is Briess the only producer these days? I haven’t noticed more body from my decocted beers, just a bit of extra malty flavor. As a result, it might be worth it for a less hoppy session ale, but I think the huge hop nose on this batch would obscure the malt complexity from the effort.

Caleb said...

I'm surprised you mentioned eliminating table sugar since it dilutes malt flavor. I recently did the opposite- I added table sugar. Did you mean 'not substitute it in the place of malt' rather then eliminate it? I recently made an IPA on a new system (so results weren't known) where I wasn't happy with the malt balance. Since I had the IBU's of an imperial (90), the ABV of a single (5.0), and a diluted malt flavor, I chose to add table sugar during secondary and krausen to ferment it out. Since adding malt flavor wasn't feasible, my thinking was that this would balance out the overpowering hop flavor and bitterness more but increasing the ABV from 5.0 to 7.0. I know it was a band-aid, but I didn't have any better ideas. What would you have done in a situation like this (and don't say sour it;-).

HokieBrewer said...

As long as consumers are foaming at the mouth, waiting for hours in lines for limited releases, beer will continue to go down that path.

Being a homebrewer gives you a different perspective on that versus a general craft beer enthusiast though. I still like trying rare beers, but I don't look at them like liquid magic.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Adding sugar in place of malt is a great idea for stronger beers. It promotes high attenuation and makes for a beer that isn't overly malty, but those are not usually issues in a lower gravity beer.

Don't get me wrong, I love the weird limited release stuff too (sour beers being a prime example). I just worry that craft beer is shooting itself in the foot with a constant drive for what is next.

Blaise said...

Thanks for the useful information in the convenient lists. While I think I've known most of that information at various times, it's nice to have it organized like that. And I do love breakfast for dinner.

Haputanlas said...

I'm assuming that you will be tasting this soon. It's been almost two weeks since you started the dry hopping.

I'm really excited to hear how this turns out.

Also, is the SG still around 1.010? It sounds like your ABV might be roughly 3.6ish which means it should be drinkable soon :)

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I've been drinking it and really enjoying it for a week (and it was a hit at the homebrew club meeting I hosted last week), but at the moment I still don't have a camera so the "official" tasting will have to wait. I can say that the hop aroma is terrific, and it does have a nice malt note. Certainly a bit thin, but what can you expect from 3.6% ABV? I might boost the mash temp a couple degrees, or add .5 lbs of oats when I brew it again.

BKYeast said...

Great info as always. Makes me want to make a micro IPA!

Haputanlas said...

Do you have pictures or documentation of your dry hopping method? I haven't had much luck with muslin hop bags. I've used 4+ oz of hops in a bag and could barely tell. While other beers with only 2 oz without the bag were amazing.

Maybe it's the material I'm using for the bags, I would just like to know what you do.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

The key is to get a bag that is big enough that the hops are not too constrained when they expand (clean nylon stockings work really well). I also add marbles or stainless steel spoons to help keep the hops submerged (key especially for whole hops).

Haputanlas said...

I'm considering buying two of these and connecting them with twine. It's essentially a large hop ball with the space to hold at least 2 oz of hops after expansion. I hope I'm not doing something stupid here:

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Sounds like a good idea to me, let me know how it goes.

JK Starcastle, Attorney at Crunk said...

Awesome post, I'm brewing some 4% buckweat session beers currently experimenting with different yeasts.

You mention using a yeast with a high glycerin production - but this mentioned on most yeast manufacturers descriptions, so I've been wondering about it for a while, can you suggest a source of info on the relative production levels? I've seen info for a few wine yeast strains, but that's it.


The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

There isn't a great source of info on glycerin production by strain. WY3711 in particular has always struck me as leaving a much bigger body than the FG indicates. Other than the saison strains I also don't have any great guesses on what to suggest though. I have always wondered about adding a small amount of food grade glycerin directly to a beer though…? said...

Mike you talk about the drive for what is next but it is the nature of the beast. When you first started drinking hoppy beers it did not take much to get the juices flowing. Now it takes something way up the scale. I remember hating sour ales and now I love them and getting more funky all the time. I still love a good lawn mower beer when I have important things to do and need to keep a level head.

bjsbrewer said...

Mike what yo you mean by expected residual extract?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Residual extract is the amount of gravity remaining in the finished beer if you take into account the amount of alcohol (which is lighter than water) that is also in the beer. For example, there is a lot more carbohydrates in a beer that goes from 1.090 to 1.010 than one that goes from 1.040 to 1.010.

Haputanlas said...


What are your current thoughts on hop standing? Are you gaining a preference for Hop Standing over Jamil's cool quickly technique?

Not sure how many batches you've tested with Hop Standing, but I do know that you typically cooled quickly based on some of your other posts.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Tasting the wort pre-dry hopping I became convinced that hop-standing provided a more persistent hop character than a quick chill. These days, for hoppy beers, I tend to do a hot-stand until the wort reaches ~185 F, about 20-30 minutes. At that point I run the wort through my HopRocket and into my plate chiller on its way to the fermentor. I find this gives me the best of both worlds. A range of aromatics, really saturated hop flavor, delicious final result!

Paul said...

A local brewpub here is holding a homebrew competition to make the best beer that is 4%abv or less with at least 60 ibu's. I am taking a lot of your advice from this article (oats, more crystal and dextrin, no sparge, MO instead of 2row.) Just curious what your opinion is on what to expect raising the ibu to over 60 in a beer this small. I brew double IPA's frequently but have never attempted one with low gravity.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I'd go with a really smooth bittering hop, either a HopShot (extract) or Magnum. Getting most of your IBUs from the late boil additions will help too. They also won't know the target IBUs, so you can always shoot slightly lower!

Den Røde Pimpernell said...

Woow! An old post, but very good and interesting!

Have you made more batches of this, what modifications did you do and how did they turn out?

I'm fairly new to brewing, and there is something in your recipe I can't get my head around: Why is it better to dilute the wort with water instead of sparging the equal amount? Wouldn't sparging bring in more compounds from the malt, than just diluting with pure water. I know you make a point of just collectiong the first runnings and doing a no-sparge early in the post, but I don't understand why when you dilute it anyway.

The other option I'm considering is to do the mash with less grains and more water, and only collecting the first runnings. Say 6,3 gallons water and 7lb malts. What do you think?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Two reasons I didn't want to sparge in this case. First if I had sparged with the recipe as is, I would have ended up with either too much gravity or too much wort. I could have started with less grain, but aggressively sparging a low gravity beer can lead to the extraction of tannins if you aren't careful to monitor the pH and gravity of the runnings. Not a big issue if you are doing batch or no-sparge, but something to consider.

I haven't had a chance to brew another batch of this, but with the summer coming and a freezer full of hops, I should! I'll probably do a similar malt bill and just adjust the hops to use up what I have on hand.

Aaron McClain said...

I put this in my ABV calc. 1.038 to 1.010 = 3.7% Really!! That's actually exciting. Many companies are releasing SIPAs at 5.5% and above. If this beer is as good as you say, I'm in. I just wonder if the English yeast is the best idea. It does tend to kill hops.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

If you add more than 10 oz of hops to a 3.7% ABV beer, there is only so much the yeast is going to interfere. I found Yorkshire Square to work well, I'm a big fan of WLP007 Dry English in hoppy beers as well.

I really need to brew something like this again, I always seem to end up enjoy my hoppy beers in the 3.5-5.5% ABV range more than the "full-strength" IPAs and especially DIPAs.

Unknown said...

Hi mike i am trying to clone this recipe but i cant find yorkshire yeast here in korea...i have wlp007 and 028 in my fridge.. Do you think 028 would work for this recipe? Thanks

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

i've never used WLP028 in a hoppy beer, but WHite Labs says it can work. I like 007, but I'd mash a few degrees warmer if you go that route because it is more attenuative.

UselessLogic said...

I've found that for dark session ales, harshness can be a good thing. I did a few iterations of a low ABV milk stout and tested them on the unsuspecting public at festivals. The grist was very simple - Maris Otter, Pale Chocolate, and Chocolate malts and lactose. I mashed high and used WLP002 to ferment and would hit around 2.5% ABV. People found it to be a bit plain and noticeably small until I tossed in some roast barley to add a little harsh bite.

You (Mike) and James Spencer had it at NHC in Grand Rapids last year. I don't know if you were joking, but when I told you it was 2.4% you said it tasted more like 4.2 to 4.5%.

My completely unscientific theory is that the harshness can compensate for the lack of an alcohol bite and push the beer into a more "normal" or expected flavor profile.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Interesting observation. I'm sure something like that differs by style and expectation. For a stout I could certainly see how a low ABV version could come across bland unless you over-did the roast in terms of percentage/type. I'm always serious when it comes to beer!

Rye guy said...

Is making a starter really necessary for an ale with an OG of 1.038?

I know white labs has slightly lower cell count but wondering if one could get away with a little laziness in this regard.


The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Necessary, probably not, but for an extra 20 minutes of work I like to know that the yeast is thriving before I spend six hours brewing! I'd feel pretty confident with a fresh vial though (<2 months from packaging), assuming it wasn't shipped during a time when it could freeze or roast en route.

Unknown said...

I have a question slightly related to this brew. I brewed a similar beer about a year ago (session IPA, all hops post 15 minute). It was a 10 gallon batch and, long story short, I lost track of a sixtel of it. At this point it's all malt, zero hops present. I am considering adding a large dry hop to the keg after degassing for a few days. Have you ever tried to revive an IPA that lost its hops?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I haven't. I'm sensitive to the flavor of old hops and I drink IPAs quickly. There is a chance that yours may be so old that that flavor has faded though. No harm in trying it if you don't mind the risk of wasting the hops!

Unknown said...

My step father could eat breakfast meals as dinner any day of the week.