On previous occasions, I've started my brewdays with a vision of the beer I was trying to create. They haven't always turned out to plan, but I have at least had something specific in mind.
This brew was something of an exception. All I'd decided on was something slightly autumnal, and that it would be nice to make a reddish ale.
After I'd worked out the basic grain recipe but before I actually got to the brewing stage, we spent a few days in the West Country. I managed to fit in some brewery visits including Harbour Brewing and the Bristol Beer Factory where, on hearing I was a homebrewer, I was given some very generous(to a small scale brewer like me) handfuls of hops to try.
As my hop drawer in the freezer was therefore overflowing, it seemed sensible to make my next beer hop heavy – American in this instance, as I had a wonderful collection of Centennial and Amarillo hops screaming to be used. I still didn't really know what I was making, other than some sort of hoppy, red ale. Is that even a style?
As I brewed, it was smelling (and tasting!) divine, but I didn't figure out what to call it until I came to bottle it. Halfway through that long and tedious process I noticed that it was August 2nd – IPA Day. Ok, so it's not pale but in a world where Black IPAs are apparently allowed, I've decided to declare this a Red IPA.
- 2770g Pale Malt
- 590g Amber Malt
- 295g Crystal Malt
- 295g Torrefied Wheat
- 15g Centennial hops for the full boil
- 15g Centennial hops for the last 15 minutes
- 20g Amarillo hops for the last 15 minutes
- 20g Centennial hops at flame out
- 25g Amarillo hops at flame out
- 20g Centennial hops for dry hopping
- Nottingham yeast
The brewday was painless; I batch sparged again, on the basis that it's so much easier and less time consuming than fly sparging and doesn't seem to have any negative impact. I even came very close to my target OG of 1040, just under at 1038.
Within five days, it was sufficiently fermented to be transferred to the barrel. A week later, I added the dry hops and a week after that, on IPA Day, I bottled it.
Here's me enjoying finished #IPADay, a 4.2% ABV Red IPA in it's full labelled glory. As you can see, it's a wonderful rich reddish brown, almost a deep copper tone with a thin but fine bubbled, lingering head.
The nose is mostly about the hops – a strong floral aroma that puts me in mind of cherry blossom, a subtle citrus edge, a little sweet caramel and just a hint of fresh early strawberries.
It's fairly light in the mouth; starting with a gentle sweetness and peach fruit before a good belt of hoppy bitterness puts in an appearance. That bitterness builds nicely and leads into a lengthy dry finish.
As my tasting notes say, this is the "most 'proper' beer yet" to come out of my fermenter!
Many thanks to Monica Shaw for the excellent picture at the top of the post, and the nice comments about the beer!
This post was originally published 23rd September, 2012. It was last updated 1st June, 2023.