Office Brew: Bryce's Black IPAngel
WORDS: Bryce Kitcher PHOTOGRAPHS: Richard Croasdale
Friday 14 July 2017
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I think Cradle of Filth put it best when they said: “Six feet deep is the incision, In my heart, that barless prison. Discolours all with tunnel vision. Sunsetter. Nymphetamine.”
It sounds horrible, but it’s actually quite beautiful.
Okay, truth is I actually prefer a bit of Cure, Smiths and Joy Division… that intro was there for two reasons; to help fulfil a) Editor Richard’s word count demands, and b) his “in no way concerning” goth fetish. Let’s talk about beer and the brewing of such. After seeing colleague after colleague make their successful attempts at home brews, I was eagerly awaiting my chance to give it a go. It was no easy feat deciding what I’d brew when the time came though.
Should I stick to a super simple and non-offensive pale ale, should I make an attempt at Beer52’s first (intentionally) sour home-brew? When it came down to decision time, I realised there was one style of beer that I have never not enjoyed: the Black IPA. It simply had to be.
The Black IPA is perhaps a lesserknown style of beer; certainly a rarity at most bars on the planet. It’s a very new style, too, whose origins date back to just 2009. You may also find it under the moniker ‘India Black Ale,’ or ‘American-Style Black Ale.’ Black IPAs commonly have a toasty, malty flavour to them, with a hoppiness that is as subtle as a brick through a window.
I knew I had a lot to live up to for my Beer52 homebrew. Richard’s Croasdale Hospital Porter was very respectable for being the initial ‘guinea pig’ brew, James’ honey and basil witbier was totally refreshing and remains so to this day, and Fraser and Robert’s Beer Geek Breakfast was simply to die for. Then David’s grapefruit New England IPA happened… we don’t talk about David’s.
My idea for a super-sweet, supercaramelly Black IPA was met with positive vibes from Edinburgh’s Brew Store, who quickly came up with a cracking recipe, and within the week I was stood in front of the office Grainfather ready to brew my first ever beer. It only took me one look at the recipe and the confusing (at first) equipment, to thank the heavens I had Richard to help me through the process.
Without his amazingly quickly-developed expertise in home brewing, I would have had no more than an elaborate tea and coffee run to present to the office. The brewing process was interesting and heavily educational.
At the advice of the Brewstore’s Theo Barnes, we cold steeped the dark grains overnight, extracting the colour without the astringent bitterness; this is still an IPA, so we want our bitterness to come from the simcoe hops we add during the boil.
From the first step of mashing in, to adding the various hops at different stages of the boil, to finally cooling and transferring the beer into our 6 gallon glass fermenter, everything I did was a huge insight into the world of brewing; a world I wasn’t too familiar with before November last year. I’ve learned a lot in the past nine months.
When finally pumped into the carboy, I realised that my beer was perhaps the darkest beer I have seen in my life. We didn’t have an SRM beer colour chart to hand, but if we had, it would probably have measured a devilishly high 666… which would be quite the achievement considering the scale only stretches to 40.
“It’s actually absorbing light,” my customer service cohort Doug commented when he saw my wonderful creation. I’m no scientist, readers, but there was a genuine fear that I had accidentally brewed the first black hole on planet Earth. Eat my shorts, Stephen Hawking.
As I write this article (on a Friday night; my life is a ball of fire) I look forward to Monday where we introduce some experimental dry-hopping to my beer. I’ll add in Cascade, Simcoe and Ahtanum hops a full four days after the brew, to make one last effort in bringing in a bittersweet symphony to my beer. Then, I’ll sit back let the Black IPAngel – as it shall henceforth be known – do its thing, no doubt with increasing optimism and impatience each day.
Brewing my own beer was a fantastic experience which I’d recommend to anyone tempted to give it a go. Huge thanks go out to Theo from the Brew Store (brewstore.co.uk) and Richard for helping me with their tools and knowledge to make a successful brew… well, hopefully successful!
And so 10 - 14 days after writing this article, I aim to raise a Black IPAngel toast to goth icons Robert Smith, Noel Fielding, and the Addams Family: a toast to the latest success of Beer52 and Ferment magazine’s home-brewing experiment. To be continued…
Last Month's Brew...
Is still brewing! That’s right folks – a full month after pitching the yeast into Rob’s crowdsourced farmhouse saison, it’s still gently bubbling away in its temperaturecontrolled nook. Watch this space.
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