Apr 25 2012

What are the Latest Trends in Brewing?

In the coming months, I’m planning to do a mini-presentation for my homebrew club about what is hot and trendy in brewing. This seems a natural fit for me, as I have restlessly yet to brew the same beer twice, and homebrewers are on the cutting edge of brewing. Sure, the majority of beer drinkers might find out about the latest trend from a commercial example, but it was likely that a homebrewer did it first since he or she can afford to pour out 5 gallons of beer if the elements and process go horribly and undrinkably wrong.

So I’m crowd sourcing now. Leave a comment at the end of this post and tell me what you are seeing as the latest trend in brewing. Are Black IPAs still a hot trend, or have they faded? We all talk about session beers becoming the next big thing, but they haven’t yet. At least not like sours or oak aging have. Using rye in beers became popular for a time, but is that a trend? Using New Zealand and Australian hops has been a fun experiment for many brewers, too, lately.

And I am straying from the word “new” in this post because I’m not sure there is truly anything “new” in the brewing world.  The Gose has made a comeback, but it probably would be better described as a rediscovery than anything new. But I definitely encourage the return of older, or simply forgotten, styles to popularity.

Frankly, brewing has become very easy with our highly modified grains, and high alpha hops, and highly efficient brewing equipment.  Perhaps the latest trend is making beer difficult to make again. Decoctions and turbid mashes don’t make your brew days any easier or shorter. We are bringing back the bacteria and wild yeasts that brewers worked so hard to eliminate over the years with a vengeance, too.

What say you? What are the current trends in beer? What will they be tomorrow? Leave a comment please, and thanks.


Sep 10 2010

Black IPA Homebrew – Moor is Better

The Black IPA……. Here’s a beer that isn’t a style yet that doesn’t have a name that anyone can agree upon. So, like all imaginary things, I had to make one.

For the purposes of this email, I’ll call it a Black IPA because that makes the most sense in casual conversation. There is no official style guideline for this beer because it hasn’t been declared a style. Some just think it is a hoppy porter or American stout, and they probably have a point. The guys in the Pacific Northwest are claiming to have brewed it first, but most evidence points to it being first brewed by Greg Noonan up in Vermont (although I think the west coast obviously gets the credit for tweaking and perfecting it.  Whatever “it” is….)

And the name. Well, the beer is a strange hybrid (on paper) of a stout and an American IPA. Some are calling it a Black IPA, although it is only part IPA and really owes nothing to the “India” part of India Pale Ale. Some are calling it a Cascadian Black Ale (referring to the mountains in the NW, not the hops) and some favor American Dark Ale (which I like the best, but it isn’t all that descriptive.)

So, it is not a style, it doesn’t have a name, and there’s no rules as to how to make one of these things.  So I did what I always do: I made shit up.

I wanted it to be a clear combination of a roasty stout and a hoppy IPA. I could have just bought some Sinamar (which is just a dark liquid made from Carafa malt you can add to beers while imparting only a small amount of a roasted or burnt character) and dumped it in there, but then it would have just been an IPA that was black in color.  So I used roasted barley for the, duh, roast and some Carafa III, which is a debittered black malt, to mostly impart color. I, also, hopped this one up quite a bit. I used a lot of Amarillo (apricot, mango) and Simcoe (pine, grapefruit) hops at the end of the boil and dry-hopping.

I really like this homebrew, but it took me a few moments to get my head around it. I dig the way the pine seems to roll with the roast. I’d recommend a commercial version, but I really haven’t had one that I loved. I think the 21st Amendment’s Back in Black is very good, but nothing else comes to mind.

So there you go. This one is called “Moor is Better”.

Moor is Better – (Black IPA)

Starting Gravity: 1.054 (7/22/10)
Secondary Gravity: 1.011 (8/5/10)
Final Gravity:  1.011 (8/13/10) Days
5.7% alcohol (by volume)
Apparent Attenuation: 78.9%
Real Attenuation: 64.6%

Mash (65 minutes ~152º)
12 lb American 2-Row
0.75 lb Crystal 60L
0.75 lb Carafa III
0.50 lb Wheat Malt
0.50 lb Roasted Barley

Boil (60 min)
2.0 oz/ 56.7 grams Chinook (11.4% AA) Pellet Hops (60 min)
1.0 oz/ 28 grams Amarillo (7.2% AA) Pellet Hops (10 min)
1.0 oz/ 28 grams Simcoe (12.7% AA) Pellet Hops (10 min)
1.0 oz/ 28 grams Amarillo (7.2% AA) Pellet Hops (1 min)
1.0 oz/ 28 grams Simcoe (12.7% AA) Pellet Hops (1 min)
1.0 oz/ 28 grams Amarillo (7.2% AA) Pellet Hops (Dry Hop) (7/29/10)
1.0 oz/ 28 grams Simcoe (12.7% AA) Pellet Hops (Dry Hop) (7/29/10)

Primary (68º F)
Yeast – Safale-05