Black Bart IPA
I’ve recently realized that I’m a huge fan of a black IPA. I don’t normally gravitate to darker beers, but the touch of coffee on a heavily hopped base is so dang good. I came across a recipe for a Black IPA on the Northern Brewer website. I didn’t end up purchasing a kit through them, but I used their recipe as the basis for my shopping list when it came time to make this brew. BTW, I have recently made a couple of the beers from NB. I try to support my LHBS, but I’m a huge fan of the offerings over at Northern Brewer.
Ingredients: All-Grain Black IPA
- 1 oz Tomahawk (16.5%) – added during boil, boiled 60 min
- 1 oz Chinook (11.9%) – added during boil, boiled 15 min
- 1 oz Centennial (9.0%) – added during boil, boiled 10 min
- 1 oz Cascade (6.0%) – added during boil, boiled 5 min
- 1 oz Centennial (9.0%) – added during boil, boiled 0.0 min
- 1 oz Cascade (6.0%) – secondary fermenter, for one week
Additional Details / Notes
- SG 1.060 / FG 1.012
- 6.28% ABV
- Brewed 03/05/11, Secondary 03/19/11, Botted & Kegged 03/31/11
- Efficiency 70%, Attenuation 80% (from Beer Tools)
- Fermentation temps: ~60° Primary, ~65° Secondary
Mash & Boil
This was my biggest mash to date, and probably about as much grain and water as I can pack in to my mash tun. Weighing in at almost 13 pounds, this had the potential to be a big beer. It’s worth noting that the Carafa III is one of the key ingredients in a Black IPA. This de-husked malt doesn’t impart the bitterness of some of the other heavily roasted grains. Using the Carafa keeps the beer from coming across as a Stout or Porter — or so I’ve read.
The grains and water filled my mash tun to the very top, but luckily everything fit. I aimed for 152° for my mash temp, which I held for an hour. Once the hour was complete, I drained out the first gallon and carefully poured it back over the top of the grain bed, then started the sparge, using 170° water.
Time for the boil! A bunch of hop additions in this batch! Check above for all my times. The original recipe from NB had used Summit, but my LHBS doesn’t carry that hop, hence the Tomahawk. The original recipe also called for a pound of Corn sugar at flame out, which I didn’t do. I felt that the alcohol level was already high enough, and didn’t want to boost it any further. I may try it in the future just to see the difference in the body of the finished brew.
After the hour boil had completed, I cooled the brew down to about 80° with my Wort Chiller, for about 30 minutes. The next step was something new!
Oxygenating the Wort
I’d only recently become aware of the importance of oxygen in the wort at the time of fermentation. I think the Yeast Book was my first clue, and I looked in to it a bit more after that.
As you boil the wort, you are driving oxygen out of the solution. Oxygen is essential for yeast growth and reproduction. Yeast must grow and reproduce first, before actually fermenting the wort to make beer. Oxygen is really important, so it’s a good idea to force it back in to the wort. This becomes more of an issue with 5 gallon boils, as you’re boiling all of your liquid – as opposed to extract brewing with a 2 gal. boil. Pouring your wort from the kettle to the fermenting vessel will add some oxygen, as will a vigorous stir. This may work, but it’s not the BEST way. Best results come by pumping air (using an aquarium pump with a diffusion stone) OR by using a diffusion stone to pump straight oxygen back in to the wort.
The aquarium pump works, but takes a while. I opted for the much quicker oxygen tank method. You can see my aeration tools on my brewing equipment page (under odds and ends). I think the aeration wand and regulator ran me about $35, and the oxygen tank is about $8 from any home improvement store.
I sanitize the stone, then pump the oxygen in to the wort for about 45 seconds. I just count it in my head… not very scientific, but it seems to work.
Fermentation, Bottling & Kegging
I watched my temps pretty close for this batch. I keep my fermentation fridge at about 58°, which means the actively fermenting wort is about 65°. Once the wort is done generating it’s own heat, I’ll raise my fridge to about 65°. I let the vessel sit for a total of 2 weeks. I can’t control temp once I get to the Secondary, but my ‘beer closet’ sits at a steady temp of about 65°. After a week in the Secondary, I dropped the last of the hops in to my hop bag and let them soak for a week.
4 weeks after brew day, I finally get to bottle and keg the beer! I’m on a pretty solid half and half bottle to keg ratio these days. Gives me plenty of travel brews, while still keeping the fridge stocked.
Drinking the Black IPA
I have a theory that you’re best off brewing styles people aren’t overly familiar with, as you’ll get away with far greater mistakes. That said… this beer was AWESOME! I’ll make a tweak or two, but this is a repeat brew, for sure. I think the coffee and body were both a little bit heavy, but I did leave out a pound of sugar that would have thinned the body a touch. The beer is one that really grabs your sense, but it’s great! I loved it, and anyone willing to attempt to appreciate the style usually agreed. At the time of this writing, there’s one growler left, and it’s being saved for a very special occasion! (or until I make this great beer again!)