I’ll be the first to admit when Rachel and I started homebrewing this was probably my least favorite style of beer by far. Imperial IPAs with their high level of hopping for me often just a mass of bitterness that I really couldn’t get behind. Rachel on the other hand loved hoppy beers so we certainly brewed our share. In fact a Black Imperial IPA was the third batch of beer I brewed, the evidence of which is still visible on our basement ceiling where you can still see hop leaves and tiny bits of wort stuck the ceiling. The whole leaf hops I added during primary fermentation (oops) clogged the airlock and blew the bung along with a couple gallons of beer all over the room. Enough beer was lost in the explosion to turn a 5 gallon batch into a 3 gallon batch. Thankfully Rachel was out of town that week visiting her sister, we might have stopped brewing all together.
Over the past year my tastes have been slowly changing and I’ve gained a new appreciate for hop forward beers. Though for me the real turning point was when I had Hop Rocket earlier this year at Arcadia Ales in Battle Creek. While it had an assertive hop aroma and flavor the bitterness wasn’t so overwhelming for me that I couldn’t also taste the malt and a hint of sweetness in the background. I loved the taste of the beer so much it stuck in my head as something I just had to brew, maybe not as a clone but at least be as an inspiration for a brew day.
Arcadia describes this beer as:
“This Imperial IPA has an assertive aroma of sticky, resinous Summit hops. A complex flavor profile includes notes of grapefruit, lemon peel, spruce and cellared mushrooms. Though the flavor focus is on hops, a trio of malts provides a balance to the beer, creating a delicious level of palatability. Hints of caramel, toffee and freshly-baked biscuits are also apparent in the flavor profile.
I decided then that I wanted to brew a beer along these lines and soon. Any amount of research into homebrewing Imperial IPA’s will eventually lead you to Vinnie Cilurzo’s excellent article on brewing a Imperial/Double IPA. In the article is a homebrew version of Vinnie’s famous Pliny the Elder which isn’t distributed here but is raved about and has more than it’s share of awards. However brewing up of a clone of something I’ve never had doesn’t really interest me and Hop Rocket was still fresh in my mind. So, I built up this recipe which draws it’s process inspiration from Vinnie’s write-up on Pliny it borrows heavily from Arcadia’s description of Hop Rocket as well.
Arcadia Ales describes itself as a brewery using English processes as well as “authentic British equipment and the finest malted barley from England.” So rather than American 2-row as a base Maris Otter serves as the base malt for this beer, I was a bit short so I rounded it out with a portion of 2-row. Since we’re brewing this in part with what I have on hand rather than an american crystal malt I went with 3/4 of a pound of Caramunich 45. The dextrose from Vinnie’s Pliny recipe was replaced with Honey and the amount of Cara-Pils remains the same. Hop Rocket is also higher ABV then Pliny so a bit more base malt is added to the mix to bring the gravity up in order to make a 9% beer.
On the hop front I’ve removed the Columbus used in Vinnie’s recipe since it made up the largest hop additions and replaced it with Summit. I also prefer a bit smoother and less sharp bitterness in IPAs so the initial burst of Summit hops went in as a first wort hop addition rather than a boil time addition. Everything else is largely based on Pliny’s hopping schedule.
Yeast takes an interesting turn however. I raised up a starter of WLP-001 California Ale Yeast and also pitched a healthy amount of WLP-007 Dry English Ale yeast and let the combination of the two ferment the beer to completion. This allowed me to have enough yeast on hand for a clean fermentation and also continue the sort of West Coast meets England theme of the beer.
|Batch Size||Boil Time||IBU||SRM||Est. OG||Est. FG||ABV|
|6 gal||90 min||160.1 IBUs||8.7 SRM||1.087||1.015||9.6 %|
|Name||Cat.||OG Range||FG Range||IBU||SRM||Carb||ABV|
|Imperial IPA||14 C||1.07 - 1.09||1.01 - 1.02||60 - 120||8 - 15||2.2 - 2.7||7.5 - 10 %|
|Pale Malt, Maris Otter (Thomas Fawcett)||12 lbs||60.76|
|Brewers Malt 2-Row (Briess)||5 lbs||25.32|
|Dingman's Caramunich 45||12 oz||3.8|
|Summit||1.5 oz||90 min||First Wort||Pellet||17.3|
|Summit||0.75 oz||45 min||Boil||Pellet||17.3|
|Simcoe||1 oz||20 min||Boil||Pellet||12.3|
|Simcoe||2.5 oz||15 min||Aroma||Pellet||12.3|
|Centennial||1 oz||15 min||Aroma||Pellet||9|
|Centennial||1 oz||12 days||Dry Hop||Pellet||9|
|Simcoe||1 oz||12 days||Dry Hop||Pellet||12.3|
|Summit||1 oz||12 days||Dry Hop||Pellet||17.3|
|Centennial||0.25 oz||5 days||Dry Hop||Pellet||9|
|Simcoe||0.25 oz||5 days||Dry Hop||Pellet||12.3|
|Summit||0.25 oz||5 days||Dry Hop||Pellet||17.3|
|California Ale (WLP001)||White Labs||77%||68°F - 73°F|
|Dry English Ale (WLP007)||White Labs||75%||65°F - 70°F|
|Mash Out||168°F||10 min|
|Download this recipe's BeerXML file|