The Black IPA is a beer style I wish had become more popular, and indeed, its one of my preferred IPA subs-styles. The touch of dark malt character, when balanced right, adds a wonderful note to the bitter and hoppy IPA character. The brewing world seems to disagree with me. But one of the nice things about homebrewing is that you’re not tied to the whims of the craft beer market.
This black IPA is roughly based on my black mamba series of beers, although not brewed with home-grown hops. Instead, I’ve gone back to the classical west coast IPA centennial and cascade hop combination. Midnight wheat provides the “black”, along with a rock-like head, with the intense hop bitterness balanced out by a blend of crystal malts…sort of.
To make this beer a little more adventurous I used the Voss strain of Kveik, which lends an orange/citrus note, and fermented at 35C (95F) to bring this character out. This, for me, was also an experiment in the use of cryo hops for dry hopping.
Before we go too far down the rabbit hole, here’s the recipe:
Jörmungandr – Recipe
This is for 23L. Water was pre-adjusted to a 200 PPM sulfate:50 PPM chloride ratio (plus 80 PPM calcium) prior to brewing.
IBU: 65 (planned)
5.00 kg Canadian 2 Row Pale Malt (2.0 SRM) 78.7 %
0.45 kg Crystal Malt – 40L (40.0 SRM) 7.1 %
0.45 kg Crystal Malt – 20L (20.0 SRM) 7.1 %
0.45 kg Midnight Wheat (550.0 SRM) 7.1 %
56.70 g Centennial [8.90 %] – Boil 60.0 min 52.1 IBUs
0.50 Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 15.0 mins)
20 minute Whirlpool:
56.70 g Cascade [5.50 %] 9.3 IBUs
56.70 g Centennial [8.90 %] 15.5 IBUs
Voss Kveik, from yeast bank, 600 ml starter
28.35 g Cryo – Cascade – Dry Hop 3.0 Days
28.35 g Cryo-Centennial – Dry Hop 3.0 Days
Jörmungandr Black IPA – Brewing Notes
The brewing of this beer was straight-forward and uneventful. I mashed for 60 min at 66.7C, providing a beer with medium body. Following my sprage I brought the wort to a boil and added my bittering charge…at which point I realized I had made a serious mistake.
I had copied some of the recipe components over from an IPA I brewed in 2017, which was a year where centennials had a much lower than average alpha acid value – 8.9%. My centennials this time around were over 11% alpha acids, meaning my 65 IBU beer was instead going to be closer to 90 IBU. But it was too late to change course, so I went ahead as planned.
After the boil I let the pot cool to 85C (which didn’t take too long, it was 10 degrees below freezing) then added the whirlpool addition. After the whirlpool I chilled to 39C, transferred to a carboy, then moved the carboy to my fermentation room. By this time it had dropped to 35C, so I wrapped it in some insulation and pitched my yeast. I had a small starter (600 ml in place of my normal 2L starter) to help emphasize the yeast character.
Visible signs of fermentation began in just four hours, and by the next morning a steady stream of foam was forcing its way along my blow-off. Fermentation subsided 48 hours after pitching the yeast, at which point I added the cryo-hops as a dry hop. The plan was to keg 2 days later (e.g. 4 days from kettle-to-keg), but due to work (and laziness) I instead kegged after 3 days dry-hop.
Jörmungandr Black IPA – Tasting Notes
Appearance: Body is midnight black, with an off-white rocky head that doesn’t go away.
Aroma: Intense pine and grapefruit notes.
Flavour: Here is where the beer is less than ideal. The high IBUs means that your first, middle, and last taste is an intense hop bitterness. While there is some sweetness from the crystal malts, it is not nearly enough to balance out the huge bitter wallop of this beer. I like very bitter beers, but even to my palate, this one is just too bitter. Unfortunately, a lot of the yeast and hop notes I was hoping to create get lost in the bitterness. As such, the hop notes are a generic citrus/resin character that fights with the bitterness for your attention. After taste is a lingering, almost gritty, bitter note.
Mouthfeel: The high bittering gives this beer a drying, almost astringent character.
Overall: This reminds me of some of the bitter bombs that were so popular at the beginning of this decade – overly bitter, and lacking countering maltiness to balance. Clearly, not what I was hoping for. But I have hope for this recipe…if I remember to balance out the IBUs next go around!