It's Easy to Make a Killer IPA

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First I would like to give you a little background about myself. I have been brewing beer for only about a year now and it's been all extract and mainly kit beers. I recently bought a new kettle and some other equipment so I'm moving to all grain BIAB. I gave up bottling several months ago and moved into kegging. I cannot count how many different batches of beer I've done but it's been a lot.
I've discovered that in this short amount of time that I can save a significant amount of money by making some modifications. I can also make some extremely good beers in the process. A good American style IPA is currently my favorite. The reason that I decided to write this article is to help the beginning brewer save some cash and make a fantastic beer at the same time.
There was a recipe that I came up with around Christmas. I had a little help from some of the homebrewers on HBT, and along with a little research a recipe was born. I had the intention of making a clone of my favorite IPAs; Great Lakes Chillwave. The flavor is great but it comes in at 9.2% so I couldn't drink as many as I wanted to without making the room spin. The following recipe is what I came up with.Batch size 5 gallons
Wyeast Scottish Ale ($7)
8oz Honey Malt ($1.25)
8oz Carapils ($1.25)
Steep 20-30 mins at 150-160
8oz corn sugar ($1.50)
9 pounds Pilsen Light LME ($18)
1.5 oz Nugget 60 ($3)
Irish Moss 15 ($.50)
1oz Cascade 8 ($2)
1oz Mosaic 8 ($2)
1oz Cascade Flame out ($2)
Dry hop after 2.5 weeks with 2 oz Cascade ($4) for 5 days
ABV 6.5%
Total $42.50
After the total calculation I realized that it probably wasn't any less expensive than buying a kit from Midwest or someplace like that. I knew that there had to be a better way.
Finally after about a month this recipe was ready to drink. I poured the first glass and I thought that this beer was amazing. In fact it was so good that I believe it's much better than the original Chillwave. Just over the weekend the Chillwave was on the shelf again so I purchased a 4 pack for $10. It was not nearly as good as the beer I had brewed in my opinion.
Now you may be asking how exactly this saves money. Well there are several ways to do this. With hops coming in at a crazy $2/ounce and up, by purchasing by the pound you can save 50% or more. A pound of Cascade at the LHBS is $16 and I recently bought a pound for $12 on sale. That right there cut the cost by over 50%. If you're like me and like a bold IPA, a pound will not last that long.

You can then freeze your hops and vacuum seal them. Purchase a cheap scale at the LHBS or anyplace that would have them. Weigh out your ounces and save for later. Pellet hops will last a year or more in the freezer. They'll last even longer if they're vacuum sealed. Oxygen is what can dilute the quality of the hops. With the pellets being compressed and if their vacuum sealed on top of that they can last more than 2 years.

Another option is the yeast. I was reading an article from Brulosophy about harvesting yeast from starters. This is something that is very easy to do. Let's say that you want a 1 liter starter. Just make a 1.5 liter starter and fill up a sanitized pint mason jar and throw it in the fridge for next time. Each time that you do this the yeast gets cheaper. The only thing that will cost you is the DME. One could also harvest the yeast from a previous brew. I haven't tackled that because the starter thing works great for me.
As far as LME or DME goes, it seems like it's not very easy to locate a 'cheap' price on that stuff. I am fortunate that at one of the LHBS they sell bulk Pilsen Light LME for $2/pound. I just tell them how much I want and they put it in a sealed plastic bag. You could shop around and possibly buy bulk. I did find a 50 pound bag of DME from GW Kent for around $130 shipped. That's the best price I could find. Perhaps with a little more research or a group buy you can do better.
Now let's go back to the original recipe. Some may not think that 6.5 ounces is enough hops for an IPA. I disagree but to each their own. I recently heard of a 5 gallon recipe that included over 1 pound of hops. I'm sure that's delicious but I assure 6.5 ounces makes a delicious IPA as well.
I modified that original recipe recently where I swapped out the Cascade for Simcoe and the Mosaic for US Golding. I also added a 15 minute addition and 2 more ounces for the dry hop. There was also an additional pound of LME and 8 ounces of corn sugar. This is what I'm currently drinking and it's very good but different than the original.You could easily swap out the steeping grains for something different such as Crystal or just about anything.
You could make it a pound of each or add another flavor. There could be dark or amber LME in place of the Pilsen Light. Use a different strain of yeast or some dry yeast. Get a variety of hops like myself and exBEERiment! It would be very difficult to ruin a beer like this or even get one that you couldn't drink. I bought a pound of Lemon Drop hops recently. With a name like that it can't be bad, right?
Happy brewing!



I enjoyed your article but after reading the title I thought the focus was going to be more on technique versus cost savings. Still lots of great points on that end though. I never really gave much thought to buying a pound of hops before, but I see now how that makes sense. A final cost breakdown after your savings tips would of been nice as well as what the commercial and homebrew beer tastes like. Here's another tip: save your vials from White Labs, they make a great way to save some slurry from your starter. Just be sure to label it.
Change the title, to "killer ways to save money for your next IPA" I enjoyed the read, and some good points on saving money. I too was expecting some tips on making a "killer IPA" IPA is probably the easiest beers to make yet can be one of the most complex in flavors, I love AIPA.
Move to All Grain, buy bulk and start saving even more. If your moving to BIAB, I guess you are.
Thanks for the replies! I can see how I could've changed the title. Each time I drink one of these IPAs I think to myself; this is a killer IPA!
After doing a little research I see that since I can purchase my extract for only $2/pound, I won't be saving that much moving to all grain/BIAB. It may be more depending on efficiency. I don't have any room in the kegs right now to try!
I feel a similar way toward IPAs. I think it is one of the easiest styles to really design exactly the way you want it. Maltiness, which hop flavors you like, etc... its an easy one to dial in. Thats why I always have it on tap.
Looks good. Would be interested to know the beer's stats--OG/FG/Abv, if you measured.
Some other hop varieties would be good in there, like Centennial & Amarillo.
@rmyurick the first beer mentioned with the Cascade and Mosaic had a 1.062 SG and a 1.014 FG. The other that I mentioned with the Simcoe and US Golding I didn't measure the SG but the FG was 1.020. The Simcoe I used Wyeast American Ale and I don't think it performs as well as the Scottish Ale. Although it could've been because I added another pound of LME and the yeast could only do so much.
Good write up. I document all my batches with cost break downs as well. Harvesting yeast is a huge cost saver. My last 5 gal batch of an Irish Red cost $18 (not including gas/electricity). I bought a 33#jug of LME and it came out at $1.82 per pound. 6 pounds of LME ($11), 1 pound specialty grains ($2), 2 oz hops ($4), and harvested yeast ($1 for a starter). It tastes great and costs 33 cents a beer!
I can get a bulk bag of Rahr 2-row for $35 from my LHBS, that is .70 cents a pound, I could get a bulk bag from my buddy who works at a brewery for $20.00 that is .40 cents a pound (which that deal was short lived) :-(
Then you are correct, up your efficiency and use less grain save even more money.
Personally, honey malt kills it for me. I had 4oz in an IPA I brewed and it ruined it, I dumped all 5 gallons. Horrible horrible horrible, the nutty-ness was just not for me.
Not sure why this is a front page article. There is no misinformation here or anything, but it's just one person's account of making a beer. There is little discussion of the style... or of anything really. Just a suggestion to harvest yeast and buy hops by the pound. Cheers
I've been brewing for close 20 years and have brewed a lot of IPAs, some really, really good, some not so much. Here's my 2 cents: 1. Learn how to make a really good one at 6.0% abv. Then try to make one just as good at 4.8%. 2. Try minimizing the specialty grains; don't be afraid to go 95% base malt. Avoid Munich malt altogether. I actually have done very well with honey malt in moderation. 3. The Scottish yeast completely puzzles me. Try White Labs 007 sometime. 4. Use a blend of ~3 complementary finishing hops; think like a winemaker.
"The reason that I decided to write this article is to help the beginning brewer save some cash and make a fantastic beer at the same time." This is a good artilce for the audience quoted above, beginners may not initally think of these things and I applaud Jason for writing for them!
"Try White Labs 007 sometime." Also try a Kolsch strain. I have been surprised at how well it preserves both malt and hop flavors in the end product.
Jason, once you go BIAB you will see your cost per batch go down a lot. I do partial mash BIAB on my stovetop and depending on the beer, I get away with using 2lbs of DME or 3.13-3.3 lbs of LME.
I used Brulosopher's yeast starter method. Another method I used to use was to plan out my batches where I would use the same yeast for 3-4 batches in a row. I'd make sure the first batch was a lightly hopped session beer, then I would harvest yeast to use in subsequent batches.
I wrote a post of my own about brewing economically: http://beverly.wickedlocal.com/article/20140815/BLOGS/308159973/-1/blogs01
@SpotTab you will find that the Scottish Ale yeast is extremely clean. I'm not sure why you're baffled by this. I used it because it was the only clean yeast available in my fridge. Come to find out that it makes a fantastic IPA. Maybe you should try it sometime? I realize that I don't have as much experience as you but I'm sure you would enjoy these beers, even though they only have 2 varieties of finishing hops ;) I'll give the 007 yeast a try sometime. I'm very open to your suggestions.
@PrinceOfThePoint as I mentioned in the article it's for a beginner brewer or extract brewer that is trying to save money or just make a great beer easily. I didn't want to have a 5000 word article that would bore people. Just simple and to the point.
@rupert130 I'll give the Kolsch a go on an IPA. I've been thinking about it. I have some WL in the fridge.
@BleacherBrewing thanks for the link! I'll check it out
With these IPAs there is no 'nutty' flavor. The honey malt brings a sweetness and that is all to help balance the bittering hops.
@Backslide I can assure you that these beers are top notch.
I have a couple batches of all grain with this style brewing. I'm sure they will be good and hopefully better than extract.
I'd have to disagree. You can make beer with extract that is as good as or better than some made All Grain. It's all a matter of using fresh ingredients (extract needs to be fresh too!), and following good brewing practices/procedures. Extract used to be much worse than it is today. It's improved to the point where quality extract that is not very old is readily available. The last extract I purchased online had a manufacture date less than 2 weeks before I received it! The beer I made with it was better than some of my favorite commercial craft beers. Extract is a viable option these days, but it is more expensive, and freshness does matter!
@Backslide Although I've always been an all-grain brewer I must admit those guys are right in saying you can make a great beer with extract. Our last club meeting was an exBEERiment where the same recipe was used to brew an Irish Red (timely St. Pat's theme) and an Irish Stout. We all tested them blind and had 9 people who brewed the Irish Red. We discussed the beers as we tasted them and one of our BJCP judges took notes. There were two Irish Reds that were neck-and-neck in the voting. I about fell off my stool when my favorite of the Reds turned out to be an EXTRACT brew. I just didn't think it was possible. I think there were 6 all-grain and 3 extract for that category. I think the key was that the brewer cold-steeped his specialty grains and really knew what he was doing. I will not be so quick to discount extract brews next time.
42 dollars for a batch of IPA is a lot of money. Assuming you get 50 beers, that's almost a dollar a beer, not far from buying it at the store. Still, your money saving tips are great. I just think extract is way too expensive to be financial viable. Under 4 dollars a six pack is what I consider reasonable for homebrewing - but whatever works for you, that's what matters.
I made this. Noob to homebrewing...most definitely a killer ipa. I can't believe I actually made this. Did I mention how amazing this tastes? And that I actually made this! Killer!