Since December, I have brewed three different Mountain IPA recipes.
Mountain IPA #1 was the culmination of nearly 12 months of research on New England IPAs. The haze, drinkability and flavor of this first iteration were spot on.
Mountain IPA #2 was a long awaited recipe for a boozy, resinous and juicy Vermont IPA. While it missed the mark, the best aspect of this iteration was its incredibly soft mouthfeel.
Mountain IPA #3 was my version of All Together, an open sourced beer collaboration launch by Other Half Brewing in response to the impact of COVID-19 on the hospitality industry. The color, bitterness, and aroma of All Together were all excellent.
While no iterations have been perfect, each had components that I incorporated into Mountain IPA #4.
Malt / Mash
I enjoyed the color of Mountain IPA #3 best so far, so I revised the grist to achieve the same 5.9 SRM. This required swapping Mecca Grade Vanora (Vienna-style) malt for Lamonta (Pale) malt, resulting in a final grist ratio of 63% Lamonta, 25% Vanora, and 12% Shaniko (White Wheat). To help boost mouthfeel and avoid over-attenuation (as seen in Mountain IPA #1), I increased the single infusion mash temperature from 149°F to 158°F (a higher mash temperature also worked well in Mountain IPA #3). I nailed my target original specific gravity of 1.042 using a 90-minute mash duration.
Hops / Boil
Since I was impressed with the quality of hop flavor and aroma in Mountain IPA #1, I used the same hop bill of Yakima Valley Hops Columbus (mash/hot-side), Amarillo & Idaho 7 (hopstand) and Citra & Galaxy (dry hop). I used equal amounts of Columbus (0.21 oz each) in the mash and at 60-minutes. I doubled Mountain IPA #1’s hopstand addition from 0.5 oz/gal to 1.0 oz/gal to help boost aroma intensity (Scott Janish uses a similar rate at Sapwood Cellars Brewery). I dry hopped at a rate of 1.0 oz/gal since it is where dry hop intensity has been shown to plateau.
Yeast / Fermentation
Mountain IPA #4 was brewed after I drank the last can of Mountain IPA #3 so I experimented with quick fermenting Imperial Yeast A-43 Loki (Voss Kveik) yeast. Kveik has become increasingly popular for New England IPAs due to it’s intense tropical fruit characteristics at fermentation temperatures >90°F. My fermentation chamber was occupied with Mountain Seltzer #1 so I gave A-43 Loki a shot to ferment in a keg in my garage. Using a Fermwrap and keg koozies, I held Mountain IPA #4 at 95°F. Due to the quick fermentation of kveik yeast, I moved the dry hop additions up to day 1 and day 2 of fermentation (instead of day 3 and day 7) to avoid missing the biotransformation window. As expected, Mountain IPA #4 had reached terminal gravity by day 3 but I did not get around to transfer to a keg until day 15. The final specific gravity was 1.007, resulting in an ABV of 4.6%.
Mountain IPA #4 has a 40% lower original specific gravity than Tree House Julius so I increased the mineral additions of Mountain IPA #1 by 40% to boost mouthfeel to levels similar to Julius. Both Mountain IPA #2 and #3 had great mouthfeel with my estimated Julius profile (but they were also 8.0 % and 6.4 %, respectively).
The Mountain IPA #4 recipe can be found here: https://share.brewfather.app/4wdmOX0yXiGE9Q
I was fortunate enough to enjoy my first glass of Mountain IPA #4 on my new covered patio!
Appearance – A very pretty glowing orange hued beer sits below three fingers of sticky white suds. The foam reminds me of the half melted ice cream in a root beer float – viscous and dense. Tons of lacing coats the glass.
Smell – Ruby red grapefruit juice is reinforced by biscuit and walnut. I also pick up on a slightly muted Juicy Fruit bubblegum aroma. No sign of the intense hop aroma punch I was hoping for. And I swear there is something different that kveik contributes but I can’t put my nose on it.
Taste – Citrus fruit peel – lots of orange, some lemon and a hint of lime. In the background, pine cone and sap become more prominent and weave into a pithy, slightly bitter finish.
Mouthfeel – The mouthfeel leans more toward crisp/dry than soft/pillowy. Part of me expected that from the 1.007 FG, but I think the kveik may have also played a role in a less-than-creamy mouthfeel.
Overall – A sub-5% New England IPA has not been easy to nail! This one is a 7 / 10 for me. It’s missing a more assertive hop aroma/flavor and the mouthfeel is not quite there yet. On a positive note, the color and drinkability could not be better!
Changes For Next Time – The next iteration will be a ~6.5% standard strength version with more bitterness and hop aroma/flavor. I enjoyed using kveik for its quick turnaround (and lack of temperature control) but it seems to be missing something compared to my go-to Imperial Yeast A38 – Juice. One thing worth trying in the future is cofermenting with A38 and A43 or staggering the pitches in succession. It might help achieve the soft mouthfeel (A38) but also dry the beer out a bit more (A43).