How do I get lighter color with IPA?

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supersonicyears

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Hey! old member(new account) looking for some advice.

I have been brewing extract IPA's and want a lighter color, I've made brewers best kits, clone kits and made my own recipes. All have about the same color, dark orange/brownish. Can I get lighter beer with extract or is it just the nature of the beast.

My latest was
1 lb crystal 20L (20 min)
6 lb pale DME
1.5 lb cane sugar
hops were warrior, chinook, citra and dry hopped with simcoe

I have used liquid malt, crystal 10L, carapils, caramel, different hops, 30min boils, 60 min boils... All produce close to the same color

Any ideas?
 

newengland72

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I see you have made many changes already, but there's a simple solution that might fix everything.
Use lighter colored ingredients!

6lbs Briess Pilsen Light DME
1lb Carapils/Flaked Wheats/Oats/Rye (or even omit this entirely)
1.5lbs Dextrose

The lighter colored malt will result in lighter colored beer, almost every time.

Quick couple of questions, how long are you fermenting, are you transferring to secondary, are you bottle conditioning?
 
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supersonicyears

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Thanks I'll give that a try, I loosely base recipes off other clone kits and most I've seen use pale or golden light. Never even looked at Pilsen Light before now
 

Joeywhat

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Using extract can make it difficult to get very light colors, but use the lightest possible extract and make sure you're not scorching during your boil. Potentially also boil for less time if possible depending on your hop schedule.

Might also be worth considering switching to all grain so you have complete control, it's not super difficult especially if you go with BIAB.
 

newengland72

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Thanks I'll give that a try, I loosely base recipes off other clone kits and most I've seen use pale or golden light. Never even looked at Pilsen Light before now
Pilsen Light is much closer in color to 2-Row. I've always found even Golden Light DME to be darker than expected.
Couple of questions, how long are you fermenting, are you transferring to secondary, are you bottle conditioning?
 
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A couple things I'll throw in here, ultimately I switched to all grain in part because of the same reason and I have not brewed extract in quite some time (9ish years). With that said, I have learned a lot in that time and on this forum there are plenty of ppl successfully brewing great extract ipa's that I intend to try, in part for my own personal experience and second because my buddy wants to brew on a kit he got. So as mentioned above go lighter on the extract and avoid scorching. Keep in mind that post fermentation oxygen exposure will have an effect on the color as well so look at avoiding that. Maybe try a no boil recipe, there is one on here I think search for - blasphemy No boil neipa.
 
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supersonicyears

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All great info. Last batch I made was a 30 min boil but that article about adding the extract at the end looks interesting and that Blasphemy IPA color is perfect.

I usually do primary 5-6 days, secondary 10-14 days, dry hopped in the carboy 4 days before I plan to keg. Force carb the keg for 2 days at 25psi
 

NGD

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All great info. Last batch I made was a 30 min boil but that article about adding the extract at the end looks interesting and that Blasphemy IPA color is perfect.

I usually do primary 5-6 days, secondary 10-14 days, dry hopped in the carboy 4 days before I plan to keg. Force carb the keg for 2 days at 25psi
I haven’t tried what @BrewnWKopperKat suggested but its on the to-do list.
For IPAs I typically do a 20min boil with half or less of DME. Add the rest after flame out with the last addition of hops.

Based on what I quoted above, I would skip the secondary and add your dry hop towards the end of primary fermentation. Reason being that if there is some fermentation still happening your less likely to have oxygen in the headspace for very long. Also get it in the keg sooner.

I suspect some of the darkening is oxidation as @tracer bullet suggested since your describing a similar color regardless of ingredients. That dull orange color that also gets followed with a card board flavor not long after.
 
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All have about the same color, dark orange/brownish
primary 5-6 days, secondary 10-14 days
I've noticed that when I leave an extract batch in primary for 15-20 days, it tends to clarify without additional effort (which helps with color).

I have a suspicion that the primary factors for "darker than expected" extract beers are
  1. stale (oxidized) LME (doesn't apply here as you're using DME). Briess's home brewing blog has an article (link) that talks about this.
  2. expectations: for a "normal strength" IPA, one is not going to get 4 SRM from "golden light" DME. See [1] below.
  3. oxidation of the beer. Avoid transfers to secondary and/or see reply #9.
  4. cloudy / hazy beer
Fresh ingredients, adding half/most of the Pilsen DME at the end of the boil, avoiding transfers to secondary, and maybe some beer clarification techniques should get you to beer color that's appropriate to the style.

----------------------------

[1] When I looked into estimating color for "DME only" batches, I ended up with an approach that was pretty good at predicting color (roughly +/- 1 SRM). I didn't extend it to include steeping grains. For an OG 60-ish IPA, using only "golden light" DME, it would estimate SRM at around 7 - 8; for batch using only "pale ale" DME, around 11 - 12, Pilsen at about 4. Up to 20% sugar will lighten the color 1 or 2 SRM.
 
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Question related to measuring color:

how accurate is the measured color when samples are taken during the boil?

Assuming 1) a full volume boil, 2) no color contribution from hops, 3) haze is not a factor, and 4) color is reasonably measured

if I were to
  1. take a sample at the start of the boil
  2. take a sample at the end of the boil
it seems like I would know the "minimum" color for the beer and the amount of color that's added due to the boil. When measuring color after the beer is ready, any additional color would be due cold side factors.
 
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tracer bullet

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Boiling will drive off water, lowering the overall volume, concentrating the color that is there. The idea of measuring post boil, post fermentation, and at various points in time after kegging is interesting though. Try to find a consistent method to measure, I think keeping samples won't work well.

Just thinking out loud, this might all be obvious.
 

Beermeister32

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Switch to all grain BIAB, you can do it in your brew kettle. For 6 gallons (7 gallons pre-boil)

5 lb Pilsner
4.25 lb 2-row
2 oz Crystal 60
4 oz Wheat
1.5 lb Corn sugar
1.25 lb Pilsen DME (late addn)
90 minute boil

Hop schedule per your preference.
522E9BDE-A6F5-45DB-AE18-C3F722F07826.jpeg
 
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NGD

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Switch to all grain BIAB, you can do it in your brew kettle. For 6 gallons (7 gallons per-boil)

5 lb Pilsner
4.25 lb 2-row
2 oz Crystal 60
4 oz Wheat
1.5 lb Corn sugar
1.25 lb Pilsen DME (late addn)
90 minute boil

Hop schedule per your preference.View attachment 722680
Unless OP has a 10 gallon kettle already, it would require him to purchase a new kettle and likely a mill as well.
 
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Boiling will drive off water, lowering the overall volume, concentrating the color that is there. The idea of measuring post boil, post fermentation, and at various points in time after kegging is interesting though.
Makes sense.

My thought on the 'start of boil' measurement was this: I wouldn't expect the beer color to be lighter at the end of the boil than at the start of the boil - so it could be a way to measure the color of the DME/LME on hand (with proper storage/handling, it should match the specifications in the product information sheet).

Just thinking out loud
Me also.
 

MuntonsJasonC

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Hey! old member(new account) looking for some advice.

I have been brewing extract IPA's and want a lighter color, I've made brewers best kits, clone kits and made my own recipes. All have about the same color, dark orange/brownish. Can I get lighter beer with extract or is it just the nature of the beast.

My latest was
1 lb crystal 20L (20 min)
6 lb pale DME
1.5 lb cane sugar
hops were warrior, chinook, citra and dry hopped with simcoe

I have used liquid malt, crystal 10L, carapils, caramel, different hops, 30min boils, 60 min boils... All produce close to the same color

Any ideas?
It is the nature of the best to an extent. A full volume boil will get you less kettle caramelization. If you are doing a partial boil then topping off with water, use a late extract addition.

If you want a yellow-colored wort, don't use any Crystal Malts and the lightest malt extract you can find.
 

eric19312

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I like the question and all the advice here is spot on.

What I think is really the issue is that style expectations have changed. IPA (both British and American), Pale Ale and Strong Pale Ale all have really broad color guidelines extending as high as 14-16 SRM (and around 6 SRM on the low end). This is in the GABF and BJCP style guidelines going back years. I remember IPAs that were more or less hoppy ambers and still see these produced by some brewers today (but not many). Comparing 2021 guidelines to 2010 guidelines they are just about unchanged, a bit lower maybe 6-14 instead of 6-16 but not much.

But the juicy and hazy pale ales and IPAs that were not part of the 2010 guidelines are absolutely much muck lighter in color according to the style guidelines. SRM 3-7. Almost doesn't even overlap with regular American IPA...

I purposely chose GABF/BA guidelines as I believe these are reasonably representative of what drinkers of commercial beer expect. And about 90% of IPAs poured commercially these days are some variant of hazy IPA. That kit OP based his original recipe on may well come in 7-8 SRM even on the low side of IPA guidelines, but would seem very dark by today's standards as set by what breweries are now selling as IPAs.
 
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So there may be an interesting 'challenge' - brew an enjoyable American IPA in the SRM 3-7 range that uses DME/LME, steeping grains (optional), but no base malts. I'll offer the following additional statistics for BA/GABF American India Pale Ale:
  • OG: 60 - 70
  • FG: 10 - 16
  • IBUs: 50 - 70
  • SRM: 3-7 (see above)

Interested brewers: it may be time to order your ingredients ;). Personally, I have ingredients for the 1st batch in stock.
 
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It is the nature of the beast to an extent.
If it is the "nature of the beast" (brown color using "pale DME"), then it may be a beast that was created (and seems to be perpetuated) by homebrewing forums.

Getting SRM that's style appropriate is, as I suggest earlier, likely to be issues with stale ingredients or the effect of oxygen ingress. Solutions for these have been discussed in other topics.

If one wants to aim for the lower SRM (say 5 rather than 10), then the following ideas for recipe / process design may be helpful: Use low SRM ingredients, minimize boil time, prepare or buy ingredients for a short boil, consider clarity and flocculation when selecting yeast, minimize or mitigate the various forms of haze, minimize oxygen ingress, mitigate oxidation.

It only takes one or two well designed recipes (including process steps) to "slay the beast".
 

eric19312

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So there may be an interesting 'challenge' - brew an enjoyable American IPA in the SRM 3-7 range that uses DME/LME, steeping grains (optional), but no base malts. I'll offer the following additional statistics for BA/GABF American India Pale Ale:
  • OG: 60 - 70
  • FG: 10 - 16
  • IBUs: 50 - 70
  • SRM: 3-7 (see above)

Interested brewers: it may be time to order your ingredients ;). Personally, I have ingredients for the 1st batch in stock.
thats the color for Juicy or Hazy IPA not American India Pale Ale. I was able to find that BA style guidelines back to 2010 you can see there has been some drift in both low and high end of the SRM scale for American IPA. That 2015 number is really in their guideline at 6-15!

2021 4-12
2020 6-12
2019 6-12
2018 6-12
2017 6-12
2016 6-12
2015 6-15
2014 6-14
2010 6-14

Personally I do brew my IPAs in the 3-5 range most of the time. I'm not submitting to competitions but Beersmith always scolds me for making them too light but thats how I like them. My all grain grist is usually pilsner (1.8-2 lovibond) with 0-30% two row around 3 lovibond, and about 5% C10 and optionally 5-10% sucrose. I think you can get there with DME but need to go with a super light hand on any coloring malts.
 
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I think you can get there with DME but need to go with a super light hand on any coloring malts.
I think I can get there [3-7 SRM} as well.

And it only takes one or two well designed recipes (including process steps) to "slay the beast" of "darker than expected extract-based beer".
 
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Looks promising!

I have a recipe in mind to brew this weekend. It will push the limits on a couple of ingredients, so I want to taste test it before I say more about it.
 

eric19312

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Just to be contrary I'm a skeptic about the darkening effect of merely boiling wort. I did an experiment once comparing a 3 hour boil to a 1 hour boil targeting same OG (used 3 kettles/3 burners for an hour vs 1 kettle/burner for 3 hours). No difference in color. Concentrating wort will darken it. Scorching wort will darken it. But boiling isn't hot enough to darken the wort.

That said I agree no need to boil all the extract for the full boil. It's already been boiled. To be honest for an extract APA or IPA recipe would probably be better designed for a short boil....maybe I'll redesign for a 15 minute boil.
 
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1616249234449.png


This is a change in plan from what I mentioned back in #27 (I'm pushing the limits on just 1 ingredient with this recipe). 30 min boil, all DME at the start of the boil, 25% sugar. Adding the DME 'up front' should make it easier to take some meaningful "pre-boil" color measurements.
 

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Taket_al_Tauro

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In addition to what has been already stated here, I read that higher pH, both during the boil as well as in the finished product, can lead to a darker beer color.

It is very anecdotal but I have a feeling that the color of my beers has lightened significantly since I started controlling pH in a much more systematic way: Mash pH of course, but also boil ph,
fermenter pH up to (sometimes) finished beer pH.
 

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It's not easy to get a truly pale beer using extract.
A couple things I might suggest
- add most of the extract near the end of the boil - 15 minutes out, if that. Make sure you're using the lightest extract you can.
- drop the C20. Use C10 or even drop it. Maybe Golden Naked Oats or equivalent for a dash of flavor, plus as a bonus, it'll help with the mouthfeel.
- So your best to limit air / oxygen exposuse in all transfers and packaging.
This may not get it to where you want it to be, but it should help.
 
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Just to be contrary I'm a skeptic about the darkening effect of merely boiling wort.
IIRC, Basic Brewing Radio (either August 25, 2005 or November 17, 2005) has some information (from one of the extract producers) on how much darkening to expect. IIRC, the impact isn't large.

In addition to what has been already stated here, I read that ...
🤔 (hopefully, that's all I'm going to say on this subject for now)
 

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I make a very light beer with extract. Use ultralight LME or DME from Morebeer. Fresh is important. Only boil for 15 minutes or less. No caramel malts are needed. Up your hops additions to account for the shortened boil time or boil the hops in the water longer and add LME at the end. Mine are great. Don't buy into the comments that you have to go to all grain to get lighter beers.
 
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View attachment 722857

This is a change in plan from what I mentioned back in #27 (I'm pushing the limits on just 1 ingredient with this recipe). 30 min boil, all DME at the start of the boil, 25% sugar. Adding the DME 'up front' should make it easier to take some meaningful "pre-boil" color measurements.
Brewed this today. Substituted Amarillo for Cascade. Took pre-boil and post-boil samples for OG/pH/"SRM" measurements.
 

eric19312

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Brewed this today. Substituted Amarillo for Cascade. Took pre-boil and post-boil samples for OG/pH/"SRM" measurements.
How much darkening?
Also if I'd realized you were this close to brewing it I'd have suggested topping up with distilled water at end of boil back to your preboil volume. I believe a lot of what people think is wort darkening in the boil is really just wort concentrating.
 
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How much darkening?
just before flame-on (left, SG 58) and just before pitching yeast (right, SG 62)
1616361306573.png

Notes: Anchor Hocking 5 oz measuring cups. SG measurements were via refractometer at ~ 60F. 30 minute boil was at a simmer (link to Boiling Wort Visual Reference)

[...] suggested topping up with distilled water at end of boil back to your preboil volume.
The "before" measurement was in 1 gal distilled water. I added additional "boil off" water at "flame-on". I didn't measure water volume at end of boil - SG 62 (vs 58) seemed 'close enough' - and, worst case, diluting to SG 58 would lighten the wort (rather than darken it).

I believe a lot of what people think is wort darkening in the boil is really just wort concentrating.
Agreed, not "topping up" to end of boil volume is likely to be one of the process mistakes that lead to "darker than expected" beer.
 
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