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Old 01-14-2008, 02:34 AM   #1
Sixbillionethans
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Default Wild English IPA?

I'll probably catch a bunch of heat for this idea...but has anyone ever considered this?

I want to make a pretty typical english-style IPA (haven't worked out the recipe details yet)...

Regular primary for a week.
Secondary for 1 week w/ oak cubes.
Add a wild yeast strain (Lactobacillus or Brett) and age for ~ 3months.

Why in the world would I want to do that?
IPA's were originally produced to utilize the preserving aspects of hops to enable beer shipment from England to troops in India. I'm guessing that all the hops in the world couldn't totally prevent an oak barrel of beer in the belly of a ship in the heat of the Indian Ocean for 3 months from catching a little bit of the funk.

I'm new to wild yeast strains, but I want to make a beer to replicate that scenario. I'm probably going to do this, regardless, but I'm wondering if anyone has any experience with something close.

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Old 01-14-2008, 02:56 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sixbillionethans
I'm new to wild yeast strains, but I want to make a beer to replicate that scenario. I'm probably going to do this, regardless, but I'm wondering if anyone has any experience with something close.
What else are you new to? If it's brewing beer, stick to a straight IPA recipe and just dig the history in your mind.

Nottingham dry yeast. That's all I'm saying.
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Old 01-14-2008, 02:59 AM   #3
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although i have nothing too constructive to offer i hope you don't get any flack. i think its a logical thing to consider since i'd gather most beers had a certain amount of sourness to them. the problem i see is that sourness wasn't necessarily a desired characteristic in a lot of beers and i'd wonder how the hoppy bitter and funky sour would get on together.....its an idea i've been thinking about as well and am looking forward to the replies.

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Old 01-14-2008, 10:57 AM   #4
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I support your decision, though of course I'd go about it in a slightly different way!

First, define "typical English IPA". Modern recipes for IPA are vastly different from the stuff that actually shipped to the Raj. Most modern Imperial IPA recipes are actually pretty close to historical IPAs, IMO.

Once you start looking at the source material, you'll find that the beers in question aren't just hoppy; they're insanely hoppy, like 3-4 oz. per gallon hoppy. There's some interesting discussion about such characteristics of historical beers amongst beer historians. The wonderful thing is, we can brew and brew and brew and never really know if we've got it right - it's the taste-testing that makes it all worthwhile! (Well, most of the time. Some day, if you're interested, ask me about my redaction of Col. Washington's Molasses Porter.)

Reading Material:

Foster, Terry. Pale Ale

http://strandbrewers.org/reviews/nhc2001-ipa.htm

http://www.durdenparkbeer.org.uk/index.html - where you can get an essential bit of source material for this project: Old British Beers and How To Make Them.

Practically speaking, there's no guarantee that your proposed IPA would have had Brett at all. Brewers have been lining their casks with pitch for a long time. There's no definitive answer to the question of "lined or unlined?", historically speaking, but it's possible that casks filled with India Ale would have been internally lined with brewer's pitch, preventing in large degree the introduction of spoiling microflora.

That said, it is known that India Ales were brewed for high alcohol and high hops rates in order to prevent spoilage. But it is possible that introduction of spoiling microflora happened at a different point, such as in the racking mechanism.

Still, should you wish to introduce Brettanomyces, allow me to suggest a method.

Use English, French or Polish oak for your cubes. First, English and French oak are appropriate, historically. Second, American oak will put way too much oak flavor in your beer, unless you specially treat the cubes before introducing them to the wort.

Prepare a small wort (like you would a starter), a scaled-down version of your intended recipe. Ferment this in a half-gallon growler with your normal (or intended) yeast. When the saccaromyces have finished their work, add your Brettanomyces. Add your oak cubes at the same time. Let that work until your main batch is ready for oaking, then retrieve your cubes from the growler, steam them in some appropriate kitchen utensil - I use a vegetable steamer - and add them to your main batch[*]. Let 'em soak for as long as you like. Taste the beer periodically to sense when you've got your desired "funk"; when you're at that point, package it. Were I you, I'd get a pin (small firkin) and cask-condition it for tradition's sake. You can keg it, too. In any case, if you keg/cask it you should not carbonate this beer beyond 1.5 volumes. Anything more is inappropriate, historically - because wooden casks, even if they're lined, leak gas from myriad orifices - and also detrimental to flavor. There is also support for bottling India Ale, but that opens up an entirely different discussion about historical bottle-conditioning practices.

Let us know how this turns out! Ain't historical brewing fun?

Cheers,

Bob
[*] Wooden casks were commonly "cleaned" with steam. Some traditional English and Belgian breweries continue use the practice. I suggest it so as to reduce the total amount of Brettanomyces to trace levels, mimicking the exposure of India Ale to soured oak on a long sea voyage.

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Old 01-14-2008, 12:33 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BobNQ3X
Practically speaking, there's no guarantee that your proposed IPA would have had Brett at all. Brewers have been lining their casks with pitch for a long time. There's no definitive answer to the question of "lined or unlined?", historically speaking, but it's possible that casks filled with India Ale would have been internally lined with brewer's pitch, preventing in large degree the introduction of spoiling microflora.
Hmm, interesting about the pitch. Although it is water insoluable, has there been any accounts of the alcohol in the beer leaching some of the pitch and imparting it's own flavor?
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Old 01-14-2008, 04:43 PM   #6
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Thanks for all the replies so far. Good points to consider.


Quote:
Originally Posted by BobNQ3X
Most modern Imperial IPA recipes are actually pretty close to historical IPAs, IMO.
Interesting, I will take a look at some of your references later and consider my hopping rate accordingly. At the onset, I assumed that the high hopping rate would ultimately inhibit the growth of wild microflora, as to only give this brew a subtle sourness.



Quote:
Originally Posted by BobNQ3X
Practically speaking, there's no guarantee that your proposed IPA would have had Brett at all.
Agreed. But brett and lactobacillus are 2 commerically-available wild strains. Sounds like I'm not as much of a historical purist as you are, I'm really just dabbling here. A) To see how it turns out. And B) ultimately, to make a beer unavailable commercially, which is why I brew in the first place.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BobNQ3X
American oak will put way too much oak flavor in your beer, unless you specially treat the cubes before introducing them to the wort.
Based on what I've read, I had planned to avoid American oak. I'm glad that French oak is acceptable because it is commonly available from my HBS.


Quote:
Originally Posted by BobNQ3X
I suggest it [steaming the oak cubes] so as to reduce the total amount of Brettanomyces to trace levels, mimicking the exposure of India Ale to soured oak on a long sea voyage.
I really like and appreciate your oak/wild yeast comments and instructions. Sounds like a good approach. Do you have any recommendations on the amount of oak I should try?
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Old 01-14-2008, 06:34 PM   #7
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If we are to believe Designing Great Beers, the classic IPAs were in fact of slightly lower gravity than ales made for the English market, OG from 1.052 to 1.067. But this resulted in a higher attenuation (also from the use of pale malt instead of the traditional brown malt), so that wild yeasts and bacterias wouldn't have quite as much residual sugars to consume. Far from today's IIPA, in terms of alcohol strength, but very close to it in bitterness.

Traditional beer at the time would have an apparent attenuation of 50% to 65%; pale ales went from there and up to 80%. The brett character, if any, would probably not be very strong, and well hidden by the ~8 pounds per barrel hop additions anyway.

BobNQ3X, did you actually brew a molasses "beer"? How did it turn out?

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Old 01-14-2008, 06:46 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sixbillionethans
Thanks for all the replies so far. Good points to consider.




Interesting, I will take a look at some of your references later and consider my hopping rate accordingly. At the onset, I assumed that the high hopping rate would ultimately inhibit the growth of wild microflora, as to only give this brew a subtle sourness.





Agreed. But brett and lactobacillus are 2 commerically-available wild strains. Sounds like I'm not as much of a historical purist as you are, I'm really just dabbling here. A) To see how it turns out. And B) ultimately, to make a beer unavailable commercially, which is why I brew in the first place.



Based on what I've read, I had planned to avoid American oak. I'm glad that French oak is acceptable because it is commonly available from my HBS.




I really like and appreciate your oak/wild yeast comments and instructions. Sounds like a good approach. Do you have any recommendations on the amount of oak I should try?
Oak would not matter as they most lilky used Brewer's Pitch in the barrel so it wouldn't take up oak flavor.
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Old 01-14-2008, 06:46 PM   #9
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Lactobacillus will not ferment very well in a very hoppy invironment, the beer will not be very sour, that's why sour beers are not hoppy.
Brettanomyces might make the beer interesting but be prepared to wait around 6 months.

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Old 01-14-2008, 08:32 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sixbillionethans
I'll probably catch a bunch of heat for this idea...but has anyone ever considered this?


Add a wild yeast strain (Lactobacillus or Brett) and age for ~ 3months.
Hate to be a stickler but... you might want to re-evaluate your taxonomic designations.
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