Brew Day – Hell’uva Day for my First IPA
This would be my first time dipping my toes into the big league waters. Today I was fortunate enough to get to brew with one of the co-owners of Triptych Brewing in Savoy Illinois. We were basically gypsy brewing on his home system with some grains and hops that we supplied. This was an amazing learning experience and hopefully some continued mentorship as we get into brewing more and start looking into entering some competitions. Quick side note, if you haven’t stopped in the taproom at Triptych I would highly recommend it. These guys know how to brew some damn good beer. Today’s brew was the Calypso IPA that should turn out with some great hoppy flavor, but not punch you in the face bitter. This will also be my first experience with dry hopping during fermentation, until now it has pretty much been cork it and forget it, with the exception of temperature control of course. For this brew, it’s all about the aromas!
We used a keggle system which takes half barrel kegs and converts them to a boil kettle, hot liquor kettle, and a mash tun. This is not the exact system we brewed on, just a reference picture. This was an all grain brew using mostly pale malts with some specialty malts for color and flavor. We milled the grains and added them to the mash tun that was full of water and started stirring. Once all the grain was wet and there were no clumps we brought the mash up to temp, 165.0 for this brew. We let the hot water work it’s magic on the complex starches for an hour and then it was time to sparge. A few pans for re-circulation to make sure that the wort was clear and the grain-bed was set, then we sat back and enjoyed a cold one…or two! We ended up with around 11 gallons of sweet wort in the boil pot.
This brew had a relativity simple hop schedule, and honestly very simple for an IPA. We added a large amount of Columbus hops when the boil started and then added Calypso an hour later at flame-out. This brew we also added a couple pounds of sugar into the wort during the boil to give the yeast more to feed on and hopefully drive up the ABV a little. The boil was uneventful and let us eat some chili and enjoy some more delicious previous brews such as our Irish Red Ale. At around the hour mark, we dropped the immersion chiller in the boiling wort for about 15 minutes to sanitize it. After that time, the burner was turned off and the Calypso was added. We circulated cold water through the chiller until the wort was under 70.0. After that carboys were sanitized and filled with about 5 gallons each. Yeast was pitched, a little O2 was added to get the yeast fired up, then airlocks were put in place. Dry hopping with some more Calypso will occur after primary fermentation to add a nice aroma.
Everything seemed to go very smoothly during this brew, most likely due to having a seasoned brewer of over 20 years whom now does it for a day job overseeing the project. It was fascinating to listen to his take on the brew day, and why things are done the way they are. Hell, I just thought if I can follow the instructions I’ll make good beer. There will certainly be some getting accustomed to using our keggle system that is being fabricated, but it will be a huge upgrade not only in quantity but in ease of use and temperature control as well. This beer should be a little on the light side for an IPA in color, but not in flavor or ABV (estimated between 8-9%). Overall it was a fun brew and we certainly thank our host for the equipment, hospitality, and knowledge!