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Looking to get my IPAs out of the mid-30's.

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phenry

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While I know there can often be disagreement with judge's opinions, I feel like I usually agree with the scores and feedback I get. My IPAs are good by my standards, but they're definitely missing that extra umph to really open my eyes when I take my first drink. My biggest problem area seems to be flavor. I typically score between 8-12 out of 20 for this section, so I figure here is a good place to start troubleshooting. The reviews are almost always the same as well: more hops. To give you an idea of what a typical hopping schedule of mine looks like:

1 oz Bravo - 60 min
1 oz Centennial - 15 min
1 oz Chinook - 10 min
1 oz Columbus - 5 min
1 oz Cascade - 0 min
1 oz Cascade - Dry hop - 5-7 days
1 oz Centennial - Dry hop - 5-7 days

Grain bills are typically Briess 2-row with ~10-15% Vienna and ~4% C-20L, OG around 1.065-1.070, mashing around 150-152*F to typically finish out at 1.010, and fermented with S-05 around 68*F. Water is tap water, treated with campden for chloramines and CaCl2 and CaSO4 to reach:
Ca Mg Na SO4 Cl HCO3
107 19 47 300 55 73

I feel like I'm doing most things by the book, is the secret to getting a hoppier IPA to really just throw more hops in the kettle? Or should I just stick to 2 or so hop varieties so it's a "cleaner" hop profile? Any advice is welcome.
 

smizak

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My two cents.

Replace the Chinook and Columbus 5&10 min additions with half ounce each of the Cascade and Centennial. Double your 0 min addition with ounce each of the Cascade and Centennial. Move the Columbus in with the dry hops. Also, if possible, replace the Cascade with something piney, Simcoe perhaps. Balance the citrus.
 

EllisTX

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Try to do away completely with the 60 min addition. Add all of your hops at 20 or later and see what you get. I've started hop bursting my pale ales and the hop flavor is definitely the first thing you taste.
 
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phenry

phenry

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Thanks for the quick replies. Looking at what I've currently got in the freezer, I've been playing on Brewtarget and came up with this:

1.0 oz Chinook - 20 min
1.0 oz Centennial - 15 min
0.5 oz Cascade - 15 min
1.0 oz Chinook - 10 min
0.5 oz Cascade - 10 min
1.0 oz Centennial - 5 min
0.5 oz Cascade - 5 min
1.0 oz Centennial - 0 min
1.0 oz Chinook - 0 min
2.0 oz Cascade - 0 min
1.0 oz Centennial - Dry hop
1.5 oz Cascade - Dry hop

Which comes out to just shy of 70 IBU via Tinseth. And for the grainbill, I was thinking:

9.25 lb 2-row
2.00 lb Vienna
0.50 lb Victory
0.50 lb Crystal 20*L

Does this look more like it'll have more of an explosion of hops as far as flavor goes?
 

Paramecium

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Also hop bursting works well but only get rid of the 60 if you don't really want bitterness from the hops but just a real big hop aroma and flavor. I like to do some light early hopping and then fo big at the end for a nice balance.
 

kingwood-kid

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From the original post, I would say you should increase all the non-bittering hops at least 50%, maybe as much as 150%. You might look into some method of steeping 2-5oz between flameout and cooling. 180 is the usual target temp for this, but I've seen lower. I know that smooth bittering is the norm, but you might try using something rougher, like chinook, to see if it has more oomph. I'm assuming you're using clean yeast; a lot of micros use English yeasts so that the fruity esters mix well with the fruity hops. You could play with the grain bill too. Try using Vienna or MO as your base malt or 50-50 with 2-row to see if it's any better.
 

jtejedor

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I usually go bigger then that on the dry hop. I usually do 4 ounces per 5 gallons. I am a bit of a hop head and that is usually what most of my ales get. For an IPA I do multistage dry hopping, even if its not an IIPA. After doing the Pliny clone that is pretty much what I do with most of my IPAs. 4 ounces of dry hop for a week, cold crash rack to secondary dry hop with another 4 ounces. Cold crash rack to keg and even thrown in around an ounce of dry hops into the keg in a hop bag. I am a big believer in flameout hops too I usually use quite a bit of those.
 

greenbirds

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A couple questions...

Are you using hop bags? muslin? nylon? stainless strainer? I think being able to throw your late additions (i.e. < 5 mins) directly into wort can make a big difference vs being bound up in a bag.

Leaf or pellet? Typically you see literature telling us that pellet hops will increase bitterness by 10% relative to leaf hops, presumably due to a higher hop oil to vegetal mass ratio. But I have found that I also get more pungent hop aroma/flavor character with pellets. Perhaps because the hop oils are more exposed after the pelletizing process when compared to raw leaf hops? This is especially applicable in the case of dry hopping, since you don't have that hot boiling wort to assist in breaking open the lupulin glands.

Age of your hops? We all know older hops contribute less bitterness, but just because year-old hops have an alpha of 9% instead of 10%, doesn't mean that they still have 90% of their aromatic character. Hop aroma/flavor compounds likely break down at different rates. My take home point here is that hop freshness matters, especially for late and dry hop additions.
 
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phenry

phenry

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Holy Sulfate Batman!
300ppm is actually restrained by some people's standards apparently, I started upping the sulfate after reading some stuff by Tasty McDole and using Bru'n water and liked the change it brought. I've gone higher, but it only took one time going to 600ppm to realize that 300 was pretty happy medium.

Also hop bursting works well but only get rid of the 60 if you don't really want bitterness from the hops but just a real big hop aroma and flavor. I like to do some light early hopping and then fo big at the end for a nice balance.
I have a really hard time distinguishing bitterness in general, so I'll probably have to have some of my friends help me with this part. I can't tell the difference between a 30 IBU beer and 60 IBU beer typically, so yeah.

From the original post, I would say you should increase all the non-bittering hops at least 50%, maybe as much as 150%. You might look into some method of steeping 2-5oz between flameout and cooling. 180 is the usual target temp for this, but I've seen lower. I know that smooth bittering is the norm, but you might try using something rougher, like chinook, to see if it has more oomph. I'm assuming you're using clean yeast; a lot of micros use English yeasts so that the fruity esters mix well with the fruity hops. You could play with the grain bill too. Try using Vienna or MO as your base malt or 50-50 with 2-row to see if it's any better.
So 0 minute addition, then a steeping addition? I'll have to give that one a try. The hop bitterness isn't lacking in my IPAs, nor the aroma, it's just the flavor is muddled or muted for some reason.

I do know that one of my favorite IPAs (Sweetwater out of GA) uses Wy1968, so I'll probably give that a try as well.

I usually go bigger then that on the dry hop. I usually do 4 ounces per 5 gallons. I am a bit of a hop head and that is usually what most of my ales get. For an IPA I do multistage dry hopping, even if its not an IIPA. After doing the Pliny clone that is pretty much what I do with most of my IPAs. 4 ounces of dry hop for a week, cold crash rack to secondary dry hop with another 4 ounces. Cold crash rack to keg and even thrown in around an ounce of dry hops into the keg in a hop bag. I am a big believer in flameout hops too I usually use quite a bit of those.
If you're going to dry hop with more than one type of hop, do you use a different one each round of hopping, or do you just keep the blend equal throughout?

A couple questions...

Are you using hop bags? muslin? nylon? stainless strainer? I think being able to throw your late additions (i.e. < 5 mins) directly into wort can make a big difference vs being bound up in a bag.

Leaf or pellet? Typically you see literature telling us that pellet hops will increase bitterness by 10% relative to leaf hops, presumably due to a higher hop oil to vegetal mass ratio. But I have found that I also get more pungent hop aroma/flavor character with pellets. Perhaps because the hop oils are more exposed after the pelletizing process when compared to raw leaf hops? This is especially applicable in the case of dry hopping, since you don't have that hot boiling wort to assist in breaking open the lupulin glands.

Age of your hops? We all know older hops contribute less bitterness, but just because year-old hops have an alpha of 9% instead of 10%, doesn't mean that they still have 90% of their aromatic character. Hop aroma/flavor compounds likely break down at different rates. My take home point here is that hop freshness matters, especially for late and dry hop additions.
I exclusively use pellets for IPAs, no hop bags. I don't know if the age of the hops comes into play much, this is a consistent problem, no matter if I brew with hops bought directly after the harvest or ones that have been sitting in the freezer for a number of months. I do leave the hops in the mylar (I think that's what it is?) bag they come in, and put that in a vacuum seal bag and seal them up that way.
 

Paramecium

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300 just seems high to me but if it's working for you by all means go ahead. Unless I am wrong that a chloride to sulfate ratio of like .17 which is pretty drastic. I've noticed all of my beers got better when i started going for softer water altogether.

As for the hop additions the late hop bursting will give you that great in your face hop smell but you need to drink those beers fresh. After a month or so they start to fall off pretty fast. Any IPA is better fresh but it's that big hop nose and taste that you get from hop bursting that fades fastest.
 

beachy

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While I know there can often be disagreement with judge's opinions, I feel like I usually agree with the scores and feedback I get. My IPAs are good by my standards, but they're definitely missing that extra umph to really open my eyes when I take my first drink. My biggest problem area seems to be flavor. I typically score between 8-12 out of 20 for this section, so I figure here is a good place to start troubleshooting. The reviews are almost always the same as well: more hops. To give you an idea of what a typical hopping schedule of mine looks like:

1 oz Bravo - 60 min
1 oz Centennial - 15 min
1 oz Chinook - 10 min
1 oz Columbus - 5 min
1 oz Cascade - 0 min
1 oz Cascade - Dry hop - 5-7 days
1 oz Centennial - Dry hop - 5-7 days

Grain bills are typically Briess 2-row with ~10-15% Vienna and ~4% C-20L, OG around 1.065-1.070, mashing around 150-152*F to typically finish out at 1.010, and fermented with S-05 around 68*F. Water is tap water, treated with campden for chloramines and CaCl2 and CaSO4 to reach:
Ca Mg Na SO4 Cl HCO3
107 19 47 300 55 73

I feel like I'm doing most things by the book, is the secret to getting a hoppier IPA to really just throw more hops in the kettle? Or should I just stick to 2 or so hop varieties so it's a "cleaner" hop profile? Any advice is welcome.
There is nothing wrong with your origional recipe if you just want a nice IPA to drink. However to win a competition an IPA needs to have a huge fresh hop aroma and flavour.

To achieve this the first thing I would do is drop the vienna. The flavour from it is competing with and muting hop flavours.
I do not like cascade in an IPA. It just does not seem to have enough kick in a beer where you are trying to get as much flavour/aroma as possible. My favourite IPA hops are centennial, chinook, simcoe and citra @ 8g/L from 10-0 minutes in the boil plus 4g/l dry hops.
Finally the yeast needs to be very clean, 1056 or US05 fermented at the correct temp are the only choices IMO.

Once again though these ideas are for a succesful competition IPA and you might actually enjoy drinking your origional one more.
 

jtejedor

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phenry regarding the dry hop I usually keep them at about an equal blend through the dry hopping stages. I had read of pro breweries doing the multistage dry hopping and it does add some crazy aroma. Aroma and flavor usually go hand in hand but if you say your aroma is good but flavor is not as good not sure about that one. I don't usually do the high sulfate thing, the highest I have gone is around 200ppm on sulfates. I usually go balanced with chloride and sulfate both at around 100ppm. I know a lot of pro breweries use these high sulfate water profiles to make their IPAs but I personally like a more rounded water profile. I can add a metric ton of hops and don't get the harshness from the high sulfates. Of course everyone has their way of doing things and maybe I waste hops but I am just starting to get the aroma and flavors I have been searching for.
 
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