“Four C’s” Belgian IPA

Is there really anything better than combing an IPA and a Belgian beer? Probably not. I found the basis for this recipe online and made the first version of it a few months ago (a standard IPA), which came out pretty fantastic.  This time around I changed up some hops and used a Belgian yeast strain to give it an extra twist.

  • 1 lb crystal 40
  • 1 lb biscuit malt
  • 9 lb light LME
  • 2 oz challenger hops (8% aa) (60 min)
  • 1 oz citra hops (13% aa) (30 min)
  • 1 oz chinook hops (13aa) (20 min)
  • 1 oz citra hops (13% aa) (10 min)
  • 1 oz chinook hops (13aa) (5 min)
  • 1 oz cascade hops (5% aa) (dry hop)
  • 1 tsp irish moss
  • WYeast Belgian Trappist

The first thing you’re probably saying is NINE pounds of malt extract? Really?? It’s a lot, but I like my IPAs boozy. You could probably call this a double-IPA, but I’m really not sure where the line gets drawn between the different categories.

The name of this beer comes from the four types of hops used (I swear I don’t usually name my beers, but this one kinda spoke for itself).  The first rendition of this beer I used Challenger, Centennial, and Columbus in the boil. I was really impressed by the Challenger – they have this pine-y, woodsy kind of taste. If you’ve ever had Yards’ IPA, think of that.  I replaced the Centennial with Citra because I’ve heard amazing things about them and just wanted to give it a shot.  Columbus honestly didn’t really have an impact on me, so I tried Chinook which I had leftover from a previous batch.

Ok, let’s brew this dang thing.  Start by bringing 1.5 gal of water to 150 degrees. Steep grains for 30 minutes. Remove the grains and run some hot water through them while holding them over the pot to rinse all the goodness out.  Stir in 1/4 of the LME, then bring to a boil. Add hops per the schedule in the list above.  After 60 minutes, turn off the heat and stir in the rest of the LME. Cool to 80 degrees, then pitch your yeast.

One of the most nerve-wracking times for me (and for many other homebrewers) is waiting for the beer to start fermenting. After you seal off the primary, you play the waiting game.  If the yeast starts to consume sugars and create alcohol, you’ll start to see the airlock of your primary fermenter bubble, which is the CO2 being release as a byproduct of fermentation. This means you’re well on your way to creating delicious BEER, rather than useless, unfermented sugar water.  Once you seal off the beer with the yeast, the rule of thumb is that you should generally start to see the beer fermenting within 24-48 hours of pitching the yeast. There are a lot of factors which go into starting a healthy active fermentation: ideal temperatures, healthy yeast, LOTS OF yeast, and a well aerated wort. That’s all for a another post though.  I’ve gotten this part down pretty well by now, and usually start to see activity within 5-10 hours of pitching, which is extremely reassuring.  So I checked on the airlock activity after 5 hours: nothing. 12 hours, nothing. 24 hours, nothing. 36, nothing.  This is where I have a mini-panic attack. Maybe the yeast was bad? Were my temperatures too high and killed the yeast, or too cold and just didn’t start?  I contemplated opening up the primary and re-pitching, but I feel like that’s never a good idea. I did some reading online and some people noted that the WYeast Trappist can be slow to start. A few people at the homebrew store say similar things, so I waited.  FINALLY, after around 48 hours, I started to see some bubbles. As some of my friends would say: I PRAY TO GOD!!  ::wipes sweat off forehead::

I let this ferment for about 1 week in the primary before racking it to a secondary carboy.  The taste was SUPER bitter, but with some cool things to note. The citra hops came through perfectly – really fruity, a little tart, with this cool grapefruit taste.  At this point I tossed in the 1 oz of cascade and let them dissolve into the beer.

I don’t really know much about dry-hopping. This is where you add hops (dry) to the beer after it’s done fermenting (as done with the 1oz of cascade).  Since you’re not boiling the hops at this point, they don’t add bitterness to the beer – just aroma and some hoppy flavors.  In my first attempt at this beer I used 2 oz of hops in the secondary and let it sit for a week. I tasted it and honestly thought I had ruined a perfectly good IPA.  It was hoppy, but not a good hoppy. It tasted like you were literally eating hops. Very raw, grassy, and really over powering. I mean, it wasn’t terrible – it tasted like an IPA alright, but just a little overkill – I would’ve liked about 1/4 of that dry-hopped flavor.  So this time I scaled way back, and did 1 oz of Cascade for 5 days.

After 5 days in the secondary it’s time to keg. Most of the dry-hops had settled to the bottom, but there were some hops still floating around.  What I do here is actually rack this to a another carboy (if you have a spare) intermittently before going to the keg – this will help to leave the final bits of hops (and yeast) behind. Not essential, but it will save your first few pours from the keg from have hop dregs floating in it.

So, the final beer.  This beer has a great solid head which hangs around for a pretty long time after you pour. You even get the nice foam rings around the glass as your drink after each sip. So already, bonus points on appearance for this one.  OH yeah, and the taste.. that extreme bitterness from earlier settled out nicely just enough so that it wasn’t too bitter. The Citra hops were a nice addition. In the future I wanna try making an entire beer with just Citra to really understand it, but for now it did good things. The Chinook didn’t really stand out to me, but, at this point I’m starting to think that since I didn’t get much of the Columbus the first around, and now not much of the Chinook.. maybe the finishing hops just aren’t that noticeable in an IPA, given all the other hops that are wrestling for attention.  The Belgian yeast was on point for this recipe. The Trappist yeast is known for a plum / fruit flavor and aroma, which went really perfect with the Citra hops. Next time I’ll probably try different dry-hops and maybe mix two kinds together. But, overall, I’d say this beer was a success!

Belgian IPA

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Filed under Belgian, Extract, IPA

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