The American IPA and How to Brew It

American IPA

In recent years, the American IPA has become one of the most popular beer styles among craft breweries. The American IPA is noticeably hoppy and bitter with a clean, dry finish. There is a slight grainy maltiness, but the malt character is just in a supportive role. The guidelines are listed below.

  • Original Gravity: 1.056 – 1.070
  • Final Gravity: 1.008 – 1.014
  • Alcohol by Volume: 5.5% – 7.5%
  • Bitterness: 40-70 IBU
  • Color (SRM): 6-14

American IPA Ingredients

Malt

The base of the American IPA is a 2-row pale malt to give you plenty of fermentable sugars. I would also add around a pound of Munich malt and/or Vienna malt to add to your grainy, malty flavor without adding any other intense flavors. You can add a light crystal malt to add some body and a slight sweetness to counter some of the bitterness, but no more than 5%. Some brewers add flaked oats to add a smooth, rich texture to your beer, but it is not required.

Hops

The possibilities for hops in this style are endless, but I will give you a list of some of my favorites to choose from. I would recommend using American varieties as they will give you that citrusy, floral, and piney flavors you are looking for. The hops are listed below.

Bittering Hops (60 Minute Addition)

  • Admiral – has an alpha acid percent ranging between 13 and 16 percent, and gives an strong but smooth bitterness with a citrus/orange character.
  • Simcoe – has an alpha acid percent ranging between 12 and 14 percent, and adds stone fruit, pine, and citrus character.
  • Warrior – has an alpha acid percent ranging between 15 and 17 percent, and adds a piney and citrusy character.

Flavoring and Aroma Hops

  • Amarillo – has an alpha acid percent ranging between 8 and 9 percent, and adds a nice citrusy and flowery character.
  • Cascade – has an alpha acid percent ranging between 4 and 7 percent, and adds a flowery, spicy, citrusy, grapefruity character.
  • Centennial – has an alpha acid percent ranging between 8 and 11.5 percent, and adds a citrusy and floral character.
  • Citra – has an alpha acid percent ranging between 10 and 15 percent, and adds a citrusy and grapefruit character.
  • East Kent Goldings – has an alpha acid percent ranging between 4 and 6 percent, and adds a sweet, silky, honey character.
  • Mosaic – has an alpha acid percent ranging between 11.5 and 13.5 percent, and adds a berry, fruity, and earthy character.
  • Galaxy – has an alpha acid percent ranging between 11 and 16 percent, and adds a citrusy, peachy, passion fruit character.

Yeast

For this style of beer, you want a yeast that promotes a good malt and hop character. Some of our favorite strains for this style are below

  • London Ale III – 1318 (Wyeast)
    • This yeast is highly recommended for IPA’s in general with its delicious malt and hop profile. This strain finishes slightly sweet and works nicely with dry hop additions
  • American Ale – 1056 (Wyeast)
    • This strain has a clean and crisp flavor and is great for a beer style that requires a dominant malt and hop character.
  • California Ale – WLP001
    • This strain produces clean flavors and accentuates hop flavors and aromas.
  • East Coast Ale – WLP008
    • This strain is similar to the California ale yeast, but leaves some mouthfeel and residual sweetness that nicely balances hop bitterness.

Water

Last but not least, the water. For all beers I brew, I use a reverse osmosis filtration system and build up my water profile from scratch. For the American IPA, I recommend going slightly higher with the sulfate. It will add a sharper, dryer, and fuller edge to highly hopped beers. My water profile looked like this:

  • Calcium: 50 ppm
  • Sodium: 5 ppm
  • Sulfate: 105 ppm
  • Chloride: 45 ppm

Recipe

The following is a 5 gallon version of a sample American IPA. The numbers for this beer are listed below.

  • Original Gravity: 1.065
  • Final Gravity: 1.008 – 1.014
  • Alcohol by Volume: 6.5%
  • Bitterness: 49.4 IBU
  • Color (SRM): 6.8

Grain Bill

  • Pale Malt – 10 lbs (80.0%)
  • Munich – 1 lb (8.0%)
  • Vienna – 1 lb (8.0%)
  • Caramel/Crystal 40L – 8 oz (4.0%)

Hops

Bittering

  • 1.00 oz of Simcoe at 60 minutes (40.9 IBU)

Flavor/Aroma

  • 1.00 oz of Cascade at 15 minutes (8.6 IBU)

Whirlpool

For these whirlpool hops, drop the temperature of the wort to 180 degrees Fahrenheit before adding the hops and keep them in the whirlpool for the full 20 minutes. Adding the hops below 180 degrees will limit isomerization and the addition of more bitterness while preserving the hop oils.

  • 1.00 oz of Cascade

Dry Hops

Add these dry hops after primary fermentation has finished and keep them in contact with the beer for at least 4 days but no more than 7 days. You don’t want to leave the hops in contact with the beer for too long or they will start to add grassy flavors.

  • 1.00 oz Cascade

Yeast

London Ale III – 1318 (Wyeast)

Mash

Add your salts and pH adjustment, if needed, and fill your mash tun to the required volume and temperature for your mash to drop to 152 degrees Fahrenheit. For me, the strike water was 3.9 gallons at 163 degrees Fahrenheit. After 60 minutes, raise your mash temperature to 168 degrees for mash out. After mash out, begin to sparge until you reach a pre-boil gravity of around 1.055. For me, it was 4.6 gallons.

Boil

Boil the wort for 90 minutes. Add the hops in at the given times. At 10 minutes, I added yeast nutrient and at 5 minutes I added whirlfloc tablets as my clarifying agent. Once the boil is complete, drop the wort temperature to 180 degrees, add the hops, and then whirlpool the wort for 10 minutes and then let it wind down for 10 minutes.

Fermentation

Knock the wort out in your heat exchanger so that the pitching temperature is 64 degrees and then measure your gravity/pitch the yeast. Initial gravity should be around 1.065. I let this free rise to 67 degrees as fermentation starts. Hold the temperature at 67 degrees for 5-7 days until the primary fermentation is complete, and then add your dry hops. Let the temperature free-rise up to 72 degrees to really finish off fermentation. Once your dry hops have had enough contact time, cold crash to 33 degrees for at least a day and then transfer to the brite tank to carbonate it to 2.6 vols. After 3 days in the brite tank, keg it. These types of beers are best fresh, so enjoy it while the hops flavors are in their prime!

If you decide to try this recipe, or another American IPA recipe, feel free to send us a comment and let us know how it went! And if you want to see more recipes like this, sign up for our newsletter below to be notified when a new post is released. Cheers!

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