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Are IPAs hard to brew?

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Been brewing for about 5 months; I'm still using kits. Had a NB pale and Hef turn out fantastic! Tried the MoreBeer Columbus IPA and the Brewer's Best IPA kits and neither turned out all that well.

On the Columbus IPA I used Pacman yeast and a yeast starter and pitched at 70 degrees (OG was spot on at 1.058). Fermentation went crazy and I was on this forum researching blow off tubes. Fermentation was at 70 degrees throughout. On bottling day I siphoned carefully to reduce oxidation worries but there is a strong diacetyl component which is highly disappointing. Not sure what I goofed up here? Fermentation temp too high?

On the Brewers Best IPA I harvested the Pacman yeast from the Columbus, made a starter, pitched at 72 degrees (OG was spot on at 1.062). Fermentation was at 72 degrees. When I cracked open the bottle there was a heavy malt flavor. If I close my eyes and think of it as an amber ale it's pretty tasty but it's certainly not an IPA. There is no diacetyl component at all. It's just a solid amber ale.

Any advice is appreciated. Maybe I just stick to Hef's ;-)
 

Breck09

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I don't think IPAs any harder to brew than most ales really. 72° might be a tad high for an ale in my opinion but certainly not out of the range of most ale yeasts. The diacetyl from the first one is weird seeing how from my understanding it is usually cleaned up at around 70° or so. At least that is what most people do with lagers. Are you positive it is a diacetyl component? How long are you allowing fermentation to take place? That all being said I have been brewing for quite a while and my IPAs and PAs never turned out as hoppy as I would have liked until I started messing with my water composition. I was brewing with store bought drinking water and it never seemed to allow the hops to come through even with massive amounts of dry hops. I am sure there will be plenty of people that will have other easier suggestions than starting to mess with water chemistry but that seems to have what put me over the edge for my hoppy beers.
 

str1p3s

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Are you sure it's diacetyl? Oxidation can taste kind sickly sweet (to me) and that's the problem I have had with IPA. It seemed like the more dry hops the worse it was. I switched to a closed transfer and no cold crash in the fermenter to avoid suck back and things have been much better. I also use a floating dip tube in the keg to avoid needing to cold crash.
 
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Fermented for two weeks per the instructions. I'm guessing diacetyl because it has a buttery aftertaste to it and, well, I guess that's what I found out on the various web pages and message boards. So, yeah, I really don't know for sure so maybe it is oxidation? I was quite careful during transfer to the bottling bucket but maybe I goofed somewhere. I dropped half a whirfloc tablet in each.

I used the same Lake Michigan water for my Hef as well as the IPAs though there is a chlorine component here that may come into play? Based on the comments so far it doesn't seem I over/underpitched the yeast.

Thanks for the responses.
 

mattdee1

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IPAs are definitely more difficult than most styles to do well.

If your fermentation took off like you describe, then you definitely didn't under-pitch. I highly, highly doubt you over-pitched, as that is not easy to do.


So, yeah, I really don't know for sure so maybe it is oxidation? I was quite careful during transfer to the bottling bucket but maybe I goofed somewhere.
I can't say definitively that whatever specific issue you're trying to describe is caused by oxidation, but your beer is definitely oxidized, so it's as good a theory as any. Unfortunately, if you're doing open transfers to a bottling bucket and bottling from there, it doesn't really matter how careful you are; your beer is exposed to more than enough oxygen to damage it, and this fact is just inherent to the process you're using. The first casualty will be the hop aroma/flavor, and that happens very quickly - for all intents and purposes, it's immediately. Beers that do not rely heavily on late hops - especially dry hops - will fare much better, so I'm not surprised you're much happier with your hefe than your IPA. I had the exact same problem when I was bottling, and eventually just gave up on IPAs entirely, because the results were consistently poor while other styles were turning out quite nicely.

Now that I'm kegging, there are a lot of options available to use a process whereby the fermentor is never opened to the air, so hop aroma has a fighting chance. There are probably some fancy methods out there for doing it with bottling, but I got out of bottling before learning any such thing so I'm no help there.

I dropped half a whirfloc tablet in each.



Whirlfloc should be used in the boil.


 
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IPAs are definitely more difficult than most styles to do well.

If your fermentation took off like you describe, then you definitely didn't under-pitch. I highly, highly doubt you over-pitched, as that is not easy to do.



I can't say definitively that whatever specific issue you're trying to describe is caused by oxidation, but your beer is definitely oxidized, so it's as good a theory as any. Unfortunately, if you're doing open transfers to a bottling bucket and bottling from there, it doesn't really matter how careful you are; your beer is exposed to more than enough oxygen to damage it, and this fact is just inherent to the process you're using. The first casualty will be the hop aroma/flavor, and that happens very quickly - for all intents and purposes, it's immediately. Beers that do not rely heavily on late hops - especially dry hops - will fare much better, so I'm not surprised you're much happier with your hefe than your IPA. I had the exact same problem when I was bottling, and eventually just gave up on IPAs entirely, because the results were consistently poor while other styles were turning out quite nicely.

Now that I'm kegging, there are a lot of options available to use a process whereby the fermentor is never opened to the air, so hop aroma has a fighting chance. There are probably some fancy methods out there for doing it with bottling, but I got out of bottling before learning any such thing so I'm no help there.






Whirlfloc should be used in the boil.


Thanks for the info, will look into this. Appreciate the insights everyone, thanks!
 
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