Hipster Ale

“This is a beer that gives more and more as it warms, I’m giving top marks.  The warm malt flavors balanced gorgeously with the secret ingredients.  Maybe a bit more hibiscus? Otherwise awesome.” – Michigan Iron Brewer Judge

The “mystery” ingredient is dried hibiscus flowers and ginger.  I can’t say I came up with this combination for a beer, it was forced on me at the Michigan Iron Brewer competition this summer.  Turned out to be a great beer and got high marks from the judges.  The one similar comment from the feedback was that the hibiscus was a bit muted compared to the ginger.  I really enjoyed the beer though, so I started planning to re-brew it and decided to give it a shot again when Bell’s Annual Homebrew Competition came around a few months later. 

Hipster AleFor the second attempt at it I halved the Ginger from the original amount, we used 2oz the first time and the beer had a strong but not unpleasant “Ginger Ale” character that overpowered the more delicate hibiscus.   I also felt the malt backbone could be boosted a bit more to help stand up to the extra ingredients.   For the Bell’s Homebrew Competition you actually have to pick up wort early in September from Bell’s to participate.  They give you 5 gallons of ~1.056 wort which you then take home, steep extra grains, mash again, boil, hop and ferment.  You then need to return 4 bottles to the Bell’s General Store by late October.

Gaming with a Hipter

“Light tart, subdued ginger flavor, fruity with a nice finish, could have more base beer with heavier malt for character” – Bell’s Homebrew Competition JudgeThe base wort they supply is 100% Michigan grown 2-row barley from Bell’s own farm which was malted by Briess.   I opted to conduct a mini-mash of Pale Ale Malt, Cara-Pils, Crystal 20L, Honey Malt and Golden Naked Oats.   That mash was combined with the wort from Bell’s and then hopped with centennial hops.   Ginger went into the boil for 10 minutes followed by Hibiscus for 5.   Beer was fermented out with WLP-001.

The resulting beer received excellent feedback at Bell’s competition earning it a place in the top 10 out of a 143 entries.  Based on the feedback I might either boost the golden naked oats on the next brew, or substitute Vienna Malt/Light Munich for some or all of the Pale Malt.

Recipe Details

Batch Size Boil Time IBU SRM Est. OG Est. FG ABV
20.8 L 60 min 20.8 IBUs 13.7 EBC 1.058 1.013 6.0 %
Actuals 1.052 1.013 5.1 %

Style Details

Name Cat. OG Range FG Range IBU SRM Carb ABV
Spice, Herb or Vegetable Beer 30 A 1.02 - 1.09 1.006 - 1.016 5 - 50 3.9 - 98.5 2 - 3 2 - 10 %


Name Amount %
Pale Ale (BestMälz) 4.536 kg 78.43
Cara-Pils/Dextrine 567 g 9.8
Caramel/Crystal Malt - 20L 340.2 g 5.88
Golden Naked Oats 226.8 g 3.92
Honey Malt 113.4 g 1.96


Name Amount Time Use Form Alpha %
Centennial 14.2 g 35 min Boil Pellet 10
Centennial 14.2 g 15 min Boil Pellet 10


Name Amount Time Use Type
Ginger Root 1.00 oz 10 min Boil Herb
Hibiscus 8.00 oz 5 min Boil Flavor


Name Lab Attenuation Temperature
California Ale (WLP001) White Labs 77% 20°C - 22.78°C


Step Temperature Time
Saccharification 66.7°C 75 min
Mash Out 75.56°C 10 min




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