How to create a 'balanced' IPA?

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snarf7

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The current trend is very much towards these super juicy hop bombs with tons of citrus and fruit up front. A lot of them are delicious and I enjoy them very much, but they're not balanced and they don't pair well with a lot of food options IMO. Even with dishes that have a lot of bold spicy flavors, I find the hops can blow out the palate and completely overwhelm the food.

I'll give you an analogy. I love fine scotch as well...everything from the milder fruit/floral Speysides to the aggressively smokey peaty Islay malts. But each has it's place right? I'd never sit down to dinner and order a super peaty scotch, it would dominate everything else and that would be all I would taste of my meal...rather I'd happily savor that after dinner.

So how to brew a balanced IPA that will compliment the food and marry well with a broad spectrum of dishes? OK so the obvious thing would be to just cut the amount of hops right? But what about specific hop choices? Should I shy away from some and prefer others? Ealry vs late additions? Dry hopping? What about malt choices? I find bringing more malt to the table will balance out the hops.

Just spitballing here, hoping someone else has run into this and found a good balance. Thanks
 

RM-MN

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You are talking about 2 different things. A balanced beer has it's inherent sweetness balanced by the bitterning of the hops.

You're talking about the hop aroma. If you want a beer to feature the hop aroma, dry hop it to whatever level you want. If you want a subdued hop aroma, choose a hop with less aroma or use less of it.

Sometimes I want a beer to pair with my meal, sometimes I want to drink between meals. Between meal drinking works fine with a beer that has a lot of hop aroma.
 

JONNYROTTEN

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I hate NEIPA's...They're like sweet potato french fries. The first one is awesome but by the third one your wishing you had regular fries.

Limit the hops and add at a 160 hopstand with no boil hops. It tastes like commercial beers you might be used to. Every IPA I've made for years taste to bitter the "normal" way with 60/15/0 hop additions
 

Iseneye

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I love an NEIPA but maybe you're looking for the wrong style. If I want a balanced beer with food I'd be looking for an APA or some sort of mellow lager like a helles. Having said that I don't particularly find any beer that enhances food and prefer to have beers after eating as it stuffs my palate.
 

SoCal-Doug

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As a huge single-malt fan, i definitely understand your analogy. But as someone who despises over-hopped anything, I can't get past the word "balance" with anything that is by design, out of balance. I can't think of any food that I could keep down, while drinking the "best" hop-bomb.

However, a beer that's slightly/mildly out of balance (example: Goose Island IPA) might be tolerable with something salty like a Bavarian pretzel or smoked oysters with blue cheese on a whole grain cracker.

The problem is hop oils to a number on the senses. Foods to go with them, really need to pack a solid punch to achieve that "balance". It's like finding foods that pair well with sipping Nyquil or turpentine. Changing from Cherry to Original flavor Nyquil wont make much difference.
 

Coastalbrew

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Have you ever thought about different styles besides ipa? To me ipa's are by definition and design unbalanced. They are supposed to be hop intensive. Maybe try pairing some other more balanced styles with food and save the ipa for your after dinner drink. I have y brewed some Irish red ales that had 3 oz of hops in the boil with no post boil additions that paired with food very well. Also a rye brown ale that is very tasty with grilled meat and richer food.

Imo, to create a beer that is more balanced and pairs better with food, stick to hop additions during the boil and skip the post boil additions all together. Use hops known for more neutral flavor and use less of them.

Just my 2 cents. Good luck.

Cheers!
 
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snarf7

snarf7

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You are talking about 2 different things.
No not really. Balance is a concept that spans multiple variables, not just the bitter-sweet dimension. And they need not all be viewed as polar opposites either. If you have something overwhelmingly bitter, you can add all the sweet you want to it and it's not going to fix it, there's more going on with what we taste than just that.

Here is a visualization for scotch profiles that's a better way of thinking about it: https://i.imgur.com/1fh6eyc.png
 
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snarf7

snarf7

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As a huge single-malt fan, i definitely understand your analogy. But as someone who despises over-hopped anything, I can't get past the word "balance" with anything that is by design, out of balance. I can't think of any food that I could keep down, while drinking the "best" hop-bomb.

However, a beer that's slightly/mildly out of balance (example: Goose Island IPA) might be tolerable with something salty like a Bavarian pretzel or smoked oysters with blue cheese on a whole grain cracker.

The problem is hop oils to a number on the senses. Foods to go with them, really need to pack a solid punch to achieve that "balance". It's like finding foods that pair well with sipping Nyquil or turpentine. Changing from Cherry to Original flavor Nyquil wont make much difference.
I guess it will take some experimentation on my part to mute it down to the level I want. You're absolutely right that the over-hopped beers that have become so popular are by definition unbalanced but it wasn't always that way I don't think. It would be interesting to find an IPA recipe from before the craft brew explosion in the U.S. I think that would be closer to what I'm targeting. It should be possible to brew something with a balance of bitterness and fruit/hop aroma that is compliments what you're eating rather than overwhelming it.
 

yowzers

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Do you have a commercial beer in mind that works for you? You can find a clone recipe for almost anything now.
 

SanPancho

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Im going to say you should consider an IPL. Hops shine through. Easy drinking. Easy to get malty profile by using base malt like vienna, munich, etc instead of crystal. Which means less bitterness needed. Which often goes better with food. And easier drinking in general.
 

BrewnWKopperKat

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It would be interesting to find an IPA recipe from before the craft brew explosion in the U.S. I think that would be closer to what I'm targeting.
Microbrewed Adventures by Charlie Papazian (2010) has number of clone recipes (numerous styles, including APAs and IPAs) that go back into the 2000s, 1990s, and 1980s.

Recently, I had a 4.5% pale ale (Tahoma & Santiam hops) at a micro craft brewery in Central WI (it was a "second runnings" beer). Thought the hop combo was familiar, so I checked the 1982 SNPA clone recipe in Microbrewed Adventures - not a perfect match, but interestingly close enough.

update: "Homebrew Favorites" by Lutzen & Stevens (1994, Storey Publications) should be good for ideas on hop combinations that were used at the time. The recipe on p 58 may be interesting from a techniques perspective: partial mash with brewing salts and a purposeful steep of some hops added after flame-out. Also suggested: add 1 oz Willamette (5.75 gal into the fermenter) in the final five minutes of the boil for a more assertively hopped beer.
 
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Dgallo

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If you striving for balance.
87.5 % 2 row
5% Munich or Biscuit
5% white wheat
2.5% honey malt

Hops I would use would be Amarillo, simcoe, mosaic, magnum

1 oz magnum @ 60
1 oz simcoe @10
.5 oz Amarillo @f.o

Dryhop
1 oz mosaic
1.5 oz Amarillo
-Both two to three days before packing in keg or bottles.

This grain & hop bill should give you a slight caramel/cracker sweetness and a nice rounded hop profile of pine/floral/fruit. should provide a balance between the two.

Yeast Wl007-dry English ale. High attenuation high floc
 
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Dgallo

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Or you could always find a nice English ipa. Much more balance to those ones
 
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snarf7

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Im going to say you should consider an IPL. Hops shine through. Easy drinking. Easy to get malty profile by using base malt like vienna, munich, etc instead of crystal. Which means less bitterness needed. Which often goes better with food. And easier drinking in general.
That may indeed wind up being a good solution, it's just that the turn around time for lagers is much longer so I thought I'd play around with some ale recipes first. If I can get something decent then yeah that would be really interesting to use a lager yeast and low temp, long ferment on the same base recipe
 
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snarf7

snarf7

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Microbrewed Adventures by Charlie Papazian (2010) has number of clone recipes (numerous styles, including APAs and IPAs) that go back into the 2000s, 1990s, and 1980s.

Recently, I had a 4.5% pale ale (Tahoma & Santiam hops) at a micro craft brewery in Central WI (it was a "second runnings" beer). Thought the hop combo was familiar, so I checked the 1982 SNPA clone recipe in Microbrewed Adventures - not a perfect match, but interestingly close enough.

update: "Homebrew Favorites" by Lutzen & Stevens (1994, Storey Publications) should be good for ideas on hop combinations that were used at the time. The recipe on p 58 may be interesting from a techniques perspective: partial mash with brewing salts and a purposeful steep of some hops added after flame-out. Also suggested: add 1 oz Willamette (5.75 gal into the fermenter) in the final five minutes of the boil for a more assertively hopped beer.
Yeah that would definitely be interesting to find a recipe from before the American hop revolution just to get an idea of the quantities and types they were using, thanks for the suggestions.
 
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snarf7

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I was going to suggest an english IPA as well. It is much more balanced the an american IPA and the hops used are much more palatable.
I considered that...and maybe I just need to try some more English IPAs but from my experience they're two completely different styles even though they share the same name. I still want an American style IPA, just toned down a bit and balanced out. Though you may be onto something that borrowing some from an English IPA recipe could help with what I'm trying to get to. Maybe Marris Otter rather than 2 row? Throw in some biscuit malt maybe? Get some more toasty malty flavors in there?
 

SanPancho

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Without sending you down a rabbit hole i hope, look up the quick lager method, which is about 21 days. And the warm ferment lager thread, which can be as little as two weeks. 34/70 does it for me, mid 60s, a little o2, and a bit of rise at the end. Cali common is another popular pick for warm ferment if you like the taste of it(i hate it). Hop them well, light on the bittering, and they go down like water at 6-7%abv.
 

danielthemaniel

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I considered that...and maybe I just need to try some more English IPAs but from my experience they're two completely different styles even though they share the same name. I still want an American style IPA, just toned down a bit and balanced out. Though you may be onto something that borrowing some from an English IPA recipe could help with what I'm trying to get to. Maybe Marris Otter rather than 2 row? Throw in some biscuit malt maybe? Get some more toasty malty flavors in there?
Exactly! You could use an english IPA grain bill and substitute american hops. It's not an american hop but mandarina bavaria is cross bred from citra and a german noble hop. I have a pale ale on tap using it. It's a toned down classic american ipa flavor hop.
 

Dgallo

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Exactly! You could use an english IPA grain bill and substitute american hops. It's not an american hop but mandarina bavaria is cross bred from citra and a german noble hop. I have a pale ale on tap using it. It's a toned down classic american ipa flavor hop.
Pretty sure mandarina has cascade as the father. Your right though with the noble part. Mothers is an unidentifed noble
 

smata67

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It might be helpful to identify a widely available IPA brew that would set the standard as to balance. Perhaps Bells Two Hearted Ale? Then you might say a balanced IPA has 55 IBUs, but there isn't an equivalent acceptable measure for the other side of the equation, the "sweetness" or whatever counterbalances that to end up with a "balanced" IPA. But if you could, then you might be able to put together a recipe consisting of a variety of specialty malts that equal this other criteria. A flawed methodology, no doubt, but might be a starting point.
 

danielthemaniel

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Pretty sure mandarina has cascade as the father. Your right though with the noble part. Mothers is an unidentifed noble
You might be right, regardless its classic american "c" hop presented a little more more balanced. I think it would complement an English IPA grain bill while still bringing a prominent american component.
 

Dgallo

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You might be right, regardless its classic american "c" hop presented a little more more balanced. I think it would complement an English IPA grain bill while still bringing a prominent american component.
No doubt. Cascade is great in my opinion and so is mandarina. I’m still sticking with recipe I posted earlier in post that it will give him a good starting point with the grain bill and the right amount of ibus to complement the piney, floral, and fruit notes
 

danielthemaniel

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No doubt. Cascade is great in my opinion and so is mandarina. I’m still sticking with recipe I posted earlier in post that it will give him a good starting point with the grain bill and the right amount of ibus to complement the piney, floral, and fruit notes
Hey I'm all for whatever great beer can be made!
 
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snarf7

snarf7

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Hops I have on hand

Mosaic
Sterling
Cascade
Citra
Summit
Saaz
Mt Hood
Hallertau*
EKG*

* are less than 1oz each
 
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