Originally Posted by Weizer
In my opinion FWH is a necessity with ANY IPA. It really smooths out the bitterness and enhances the hop flavors.
Preposterous!!! ...Aside from the first three words
The problem is not the traditional bitter; it's the human propensity to dislike bitter flavors in general. We tend to prefer sweet, sour, salty, fatty, rich before bitter. So we invent ways to subdue the bitterness. Truth is, the IPA style is an innately bitter and unbalanced style. Either love it for what it is or don't brew IPAs. Perhaps APA's would be more suited for some of you who are striving for "balance" and subdued bitterness.
There are more top notch commericial IPAs/IIPAs out there that DO NOT use FWH than those that do. And there is nothing wrong with their flavor or bitterness. They are rather smooth on the palate, pungent with aroma, and complex with flavor. Come to think of it, I can't even name three top-rated IPA/IIPAs that do FWH. Homebrewer forums like to promote the FWH idea for IPA's because they can't produce anything near what they can buy commercially. Everyone has a sense of personal pride for their own beers, but the reality is that you are not most likely not brewing anything like a Heady or a Pliny... especially not with FWH. I really think you should brew a perfect IPA without
FWH before you start delving into the fad for this style in the long run, which will limit you.
I strongly believe a true American IPA/IIPA should have a traditional bittering addition added to a full rolling boil. Whether that addition is large or small is up to your personal tastes. But adding hops to a full rolling boil allows the hop polyphenols to bind with the wort proteins in the hot break, which helps to create a smooth, pleasant yet bitter beer with a clearer body. If you don't get a good hot break, you'll have something with more residual polyphenols left in your glass and your IPA will taste harsh and unpleasant.