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Batch 41 : Relocation Black IPA

relocation-black-IPA-00Around February of 2012, I made the decision to leave MT and relocate to Portland, OR.  I’d been brewing a LOT, and I’d finally shaken my contamination issues, so I wanted to get one last batch in before I left.  Sometimes it’s good to dig up an old recipe that worked, which is what I decided to do for this batch.  My original Black IPA is still one of the better beers I’ve ever produced, so I wanted to make something similar again.

I made a few small recipe changes, but can’t remember exactly why.  Hard to say… Either way, this has a little more Chocolate Malt and less Carafa III than the first time around, and the Chinook was replaced with Warrior, which I probably had on had.

Ingredients: Relocation Black IPA

relocation-black-IPA-05All-Grain Recipe

  • 12 lbs. – American 2-row
  • 8 oz. – Crystal 80
  • 3 oz. – Carafa Type III
  • 6 oz. – Chocolate Malt

Hop Additions

  • .5 oz. – Tomahawk (16.5%) – added during boil, boiled 60 min
  • .3 oz. – Warrior (16%) – added during boil, boiled 60 min
  • 1 oz. – Centennial (9%) – added during boil, boiled 10 min
  • .8 oz. – Cascade (5%) – added during boil, boiled 6 min
  • 1.1 oz. – Centennial (9%) – added end of boil



  • Safale S-05 Dry Yeast

Additional Details / Notes

  • OG 1.070 / TG 1.012
  • 7.68% ABV | Color: 23.32 °SRM | 67 IBU’s
  • Brewed 4/11/12, Kegged 04/28/12
  • Mash Temp: ~153°, Thickness: 1.25 qt/g, Efficiency 80%

How to Make the Relocation Black IPA

relocation-black-IPA-01Smooth brew day on this one.  I hit my mash temp a little high, and stirred it down from 160° to settle in at 153°.  For my strike water, I used a blend of tap and RO water (3 gal / 2 gal ).  I used 4 gallons of that, then heated 5 additional gallons of RO to use for the sparge.  I also added 1tsp of gypsum, as I was experimenting with my water.

I drained off 7 gallons before the boil, which is a little higher than I normally do, but I let it stay at a rapid boil for 30 minutes before starting any hop additions.  One note about the hops, I used pellets for the Tomahawk and Warrior, but the Cascade and Centennial were grown in my garden.  I got some great use out of those!

relocation-black-IPA-02I tried something a little different for chilling on this batch, running the hose through a bucket of ice, in an effort to cool the ground water a little extra and cool faster.  It didn’t matter much.

Once cooled, I strained the wort though a wire mesh strainer, added 50 seconds of Oxygen & 1/2 tsp of Yeast Nutrient, and pitched the Yeast at 69°.  Very happy with the efficiency on this batch.

Drinking the Black IPA

FINALLY!  Finally I made a good batch of beer!  I already knew I liked this recipe, but it was great to finally make a batch without contamination (the first of many).

If you’re a fan of Black IPA’s (or CDAs, as they’re called here in Portland), this is a great recipe.  As time goes on, I’m enjoying this style less and less, but this recipe is as close to what I once loved about them as anything I’ve drank.  Not overly hoppy (but close), and a nice balance of coffee notes, without the two doing full on battle in your mouth.  Smooth drinking and tasty.  A nice Fall or Winter Ale.


Pitch Black IPA Clone

A recent issue of BYO had a whole section on Black IPA’s.  As a huge fan I rushed to try out one of their recipes.  I loved Widmer’s Pitch Black IPA, so I picked that one first.  I was really happy with my first Black IPA, so I had very high hopes for my second.  The recipe called for quite a bit of grain, so I looked forward to making a decently ‘big’ beer after my Summer of low alcohol offerings.

Ingredients:  Amber Rye Ale

All-Grain Recipe

  • 10.5 lb American 2-row
  • 24 oz Caramel 10L
  • 12 oz Carafa II
  • 10 oz Special Roast

Hop Additions

  • .7 oz Warrior (16%) – added during boil, boiled 75 min
  • .3 oz Cascade (5.8%) – added during boil, boiled 2 min
  • .7 oz Warrior (16%) – added during boil, boiled 2 min
  • .6 oz Cascade (5.8%) – dry hop, 1 week in secondary
  • .3 oz Warrior (16%) – dry hop, 1 week in secondary


  • Wyeast 1056 American Ale Yeast – reused from Amber Rye

Additional Details / Notes

  • SG 1.068 / FG 1.010
  • 7.6% ABV
  • Brewed 08/13/11.  Racked to Secondary 08/27/11.  Bottled 08/21/11.

Brewing the Pitch Black IPA Clone

For my mash water, I warmed 5 gallons of water (3 gal. jug / 2 gal. tap).  I mashed in about 4 gallons of water at 162°.  As seems to be common for me, my mash started out a bit warm, and I stirred to cool for a while and got it to 152°, which I let sit for 60 minutes.  After an hour I recirculated about a gallon of the first runnings back over the grain bed, then I started my sparge.  My sparge water was 1 gallon left over from my mash and 2gal/2tap with a T of pH balancer tossed in for good measure.

I sparged for about an hour and collected about 7 gallons in to my brew pot.  This batch had a 75min hop addition, so I got the pot to a boil and let it run about 15 minutes before my first hop addition.  I ran out of gas in the middle of my boil, so there was a point when my pot lost heat for a time.  The rest of the hop additions went pretty standard, and I added the Wort Chiller and whirlfloc at 10 minutes.

As I cooled the wort, I racked over my Amber Rye, so that I’d have a yeast bed ready for the Black IPA.  I then proceded to strain my Black IPA wort in to the Primary.  I added about 45 seconds of Oxygen before giving it a good stir and capping it.  Due to my interrupted boil, I didn’t boil off quite as much as usual, so I had more than 5 gallons of wort.  I used a blowoff tube, knowing I’d need it.  As you can see from the picutres, I REALLY needed it.  This thing took off like I’ve never seen.  I even overflowed my overflow!

A week after racking to the secondary, I made my final hop addition.  Normally I use a hop bag, but I decided to just toss them in this time to see how that works.  It didn’t…  A week later the hops still hadn’t settled out at all.  When I racked to my bottling bucket most of the hops came along for the ride.  I decided to fix this, so I poured the beer in another bucket and re-racked it over with the hop bag at the end of the cane, acting as a filter.  This took a pretty high risk of aeration, but I don’t think this played in as a factor in my eventual off flavors.

Drinking the Black IPA

So I’ve got a problem.  This batch and the Citra Blonde that followed both have an issue.  I haven’t completely figured out what my problem is, but ultimately both batches have a strong bitterness that they shouldn’t have.  There’s also a sharpness to the carbonation, and they’re a little dry.  After a lot of research I’ve decided I must have a dirty piece of equipment and each batch had a slight bacterial contamination.  It seems like a little wild fermentation has taken place after bottling that really dried out the beer, and adding some additional bitterness.  Damn.  I’ve since gone through and cleaned EVERYTHING, which has resulted in good batches ever since.

This batch isn’t so bad you can’t drink it, but it’s pretty damn bad.  Fortunately, not everyone I hang out with is a beer snob, and there are some who are more than happy to help me drink it!  As far as taste, it’s not great, but I think you have to blame my issues before you comment on the recipe.  There’s a pretty strong coffee flavor that balances out the extra bitterness, but I don’t know that I’d want it that strong, otherwise.  Trying to think past the contamination, I think I prefer my first Black IPA recipe.



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


  • 11.5 lb American 2-row

  • .5 lb Crystal Malt 80°L
  • .375 lb Carafa® TYPE III
  • .375 lb Chocolate Malt

Hop Additions

  • 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


  • 1 ea Safale US-05 (dry yeast)

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!)