Sour IPA #1

>> Monday, June 09, 2014

I did another late night brew session last Wednesday night. This time I made an experimental beer inspired by Red Swingline IPA Primitif from Trinity Brewing. I got a chance to try this beer at The Rackhouse Pub's All Colorado Rare Beer Tasting last year. If you get a chance to try any of their beers, do it...especially the sour/wild beers. There isn't a ton of information about this beer, but their website describes it as follows:


Red Swingline, IPA Primitif. DRAFT Magazine's Top 25 Beers in the World for 2013! A wild and sour session IPA. Brewed with three heavily fruity hops, coriander, and tangerine zest the profile is definitely American in focus. Aged in French Oak Chardonnay barrels with souring Lactobacillus, funky Brettanomyces yeast, and dry-hopped in each individual barrel. This beer is a definite wow moment. 4.1% ABV; pH 3.6; 100 IBUs; rare.

When I found out they were claiming 100 IBU's on this beer, I had to call BS. I didn't detect hardly any bitterness and bitterness can really clash with tartness.

I found out a little bit more about their process from tidbits of info from various blogs and interviews. Trinity performs a sour mash, so they aren't relying on lactobacillus for souring during fermentation. After the mash it is boiled with hop additions that result in reported IBU level of 100. The sourness doesn't boil out, so they're left with a soured and highly hopped beer straight from the kettle. After fermentation the beer ages in French Chardonnay barrels for eight months. I think a lot of the bitterness ages out in the barrel. At some point, they dry hop the crap out of this beer with Mosaic, Citra and Amarillo. The result is an amazing beer for sour beer lovers at hop heads.

EDIT: To my surprise, I recently got an email from Jason Yester, Captain of the Pirate Ship at Trinity Brewing. He assured me this is a 100IBU beer. He also sent me a recipe that I hope to brew soon that should yield results closer to Swingline than this first attempt was. Props to Jason for being such a cool guy and being willing to share his knowledge and expertise.

So right up front I'll say this recipe isn't intended to be a clone and I don't expect it to turn out exactly the same as Red Swingline but I'm hoping for something drinkable and reminiscent of Red Swingline..

I'm using a similar process as my Berliner, so I'll ferment with lacto for a few days to get the sourness level I want. That means the IBU level has to stay low; lacto doesn't like IBU levels much above 6, so there are no hop additions prior to 1 minute left in the boil. I'm also incorporating hop stands at sub-isomerization temps, trying to extract flavor and aroma without bitterness. Here's the recipe and process as I tried it on my first attempt at making this beer. I had to change a couple things from what I'd planned. For example, my local grocery store didn't have tangerines, so I went with navel orange zest.

7.5 # Muntons Pearl Malt
8.0 oz Briess Crystal 20
8.0 oz Crisp Extra Light Crystal
8.0 oz Briess Carapils
7.0g Coriander (5 min)
Zest from 2 navel oranges (5min)
0.5t Yeast Nutrient
14g Mosaic (1 min)
7g Columbus (1 min)


1st hop stand at 165F for 30 min
7g Citra (60 min hop stand)
14g Amarillo (60 min hop stand)
28.3g Cascade (60 min hop stand)
7g Mosaic (60 min hop stand)

2nd hop stand at 140F for 30 min
14g Citra (30 min hop stand)
14g Mosaic (30 min hop stand)

Dry hop
28g Citra
28g Mosaic
28g Amarillo

Wyeast 5335 Lactobacillus 
Gigayeast GY054 Vermont IPA

Mash at 152F. Perform hop stands as indicated. Ferment at 68F.  Pitch lacto at least four days and up to seven days before pitching yeast.

Update 6/9/2014
Brew day was fine on this batch, no real issues. I forgot to mention above, but you do not want to aerate this beer...just chill and pitch. Judging by the way the lacto took off, my IBU level is definitely low.

Update 6/12/2014
I pitched the Vermont IPA yeast today. Cracking open the fermenter, I was greeted with the aroma of hops and pleasant acidity. Once primary wraps up I'll dry hop it.

Update 6/15/2014
I pulled a sample today. The gravity is down to 1.007 and it has an amazing peach aroma. The tartness is there but it's a little more subdued than I'd hoped; It's probably perfect for people that don't like a really intense tartness. I'm going to cold crash it and try to get the yeast to drop out, then I'll dry hop for a few days.

Update 6/23/2014
Dry hops went in today. I also decided to add an ounce of medium toast American oak that had been soaking in Pinot noir for the past few months. I'm hoping the oak will add some complexity since it didn't turn out as sour as I wanted. 

Update 9/16/2014
Even though this beer didn't turn out as planned, it is a pretty nice beer. It has great hop flavor and aroma and the combination of hops work really well together. I decided to enter it in the 2014 Bier Brauen competition and it took second place in category 23 Specialty Beer. Granted, this is a lot smaller comp than NHC or Beehive Brew-off, but it's still nice to have it be recognized. I haven't gotten my scoresheets back yet but I'm interested to read the comments. 

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