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Need help diagnosing a 1 dimensional IPA

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mithion

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I brewed this IPA a couple of months ago and it now ready for consumption. I've had several bottles of and although it's a "good" beer in the sense that it is fairly dry, had good bitterness and has a good aroma, it's not special or exceptional in any way. What I'm trying to say is that I find it lacks complexity like good commercial examples (like SN torpedo or Lagunitas for example). The malt is boring and the bitterness singular. I wondering if it's a recipe issue or a technique issue. So here's what I brewed.

IBU: 73
Color: 8.1 SRM

Grains:
11.50 lbs Brewer's 2-row
0.50 lbs Red Wheat
0.50 lbs Biscuit
0.50 lbs Carastan
0.25 lbs Crystal 90L

Hops:
1.00 oz Centennial (11.2%) 60 mins
1.00 oz Cascade (5.4%) 15 mins
1.00 oz Centennial (11.2%) 15 mins
1.00 oz Cascade (5.4%) 5 mins
1.00 oz Centennial (5.4%) 5 mins
1.00 oz Cascade (5.4%) Dry hopped 14 days in secondary

Yeast: Wyeast 1099 Whitbread

I know this is a long shot as I'm having a hard time explaining what I find wrong with this beer, but trust me when I say this beer lacks character. Where to improve?
 

daveooph131

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I would start with your hops. Cascade and Centennial are pretty similiar. Through in something like Columbus (which I love) or Simcoe and Amarillo. The hops in my opinion are just too similiar.

I just brewed an IPA that is fantastic....according to me and friends :)

I used Marris Otter and just a bit of crystal. This malt base is simple and allows the hops to shine but also supports to make it not too bitter.

My hops were Columbus for bittering / Amarillo and Centennial for Flavor and aroma...Then dry-hopped with all 3.
 

mullenite

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I agree, I don't think using those two hops together works for depth of flavor. I like pairing them with Amarillo personally, similar enough to not clash but just a tad bit sharper in the flavor that helps it stand out.
 

mmonacel

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I would agree as well. Essentially the same flavor profile with the hops. I also agree with the Amarillo pairing with those. I'd choose either the Centennial or Cascade and then pair it with two others such as: Amarillo, Simcoe, Warrior, or Columbus. Nugget could also be a good add here as well.
 

jlpred55

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I will change the vote. I believe it is the yeast. I've used it several times and it has always left me with bland and boring beer just as you describe. I disagree on the hops. Those hops work great together and I believe you have a solid grainbill. I vote to change the yeast to a yeast that let's the hops shine
 

smarek82

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From my understanding the Whitbread strain should lend a more malt forward profile. So YES I would definitely change your yeast. Try something along the lines of Wyeast 1272 if you are into liquid strains. Your grain bill looks like you have plenty of complexity there. Unlike IIPA's... IPA's are supposed to have more malt profile, but both are styles should still showcase hops. There aren't too many beers than can have complexity and be as simple as a bell's two hearted per se, so other than changing the yeast I would definitely bring in different hop combinations.

If you mash around 152 and use the C hops for bittering and finishing, but add in a UK style for flavor, you may find the complexity of hops and malt you are looking for.
 

jaobrien6

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Unlike IIPA's... IPA's are supposed to have more malt profile, but both are styles should still showcase hops.
Well, I'm no BJCP judge, but I completely disagree. Just based on commercial examples, I find that IIPA's have a *much* heavier malt emphasis, with some almost coming out like barleywines.
 

smarek82

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Granted I have only been brewing for a little over a year now, and have "tried" brewing IIPA 3 times. All 3 recipes have been accompanied by research; mostly on this site. It seems that, when trying to craft an IIPA you want to dry it out as much as possible (low mash temp, sugar additions, mostly base malt etc), so the hops come through way more than the malt.


Are you an avid high gravity consumer?

I am not, but even though a beer may be considered dry for the style, it may only finish at 1.015 still lending many unfermentables and the palate perceiving a heavier bodied, more malty beer if you are not used to higher gravity beers. Just a thought!
 

jaobrien6

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I have been at times, an very avid high gravity consumer (IIPA's, RIS's, Barleywines) but have never tried brewing one myself (I'm a fairly new brewer). Point being, I have had quite a lot of commercial IIPA's and regular IPA's over the years.

I'd guess that IIPA recipes have you trying to dry out the beer specifically *because* they're maltier and you're trying to get something that doesn't end up tasting like a barleywine (where the malt really starts to take over).

You're talking about a "dry for the style" IIPA that finishes out at 1.015, which is higher than my IPA's normally finish out. And you're saying it's only perceived to be maltier? I say if it walks like a duck...

Anyway, I'm now feel like I'm guilty of hijacking this thread, I don't have any suggestions or good info for the OP, so I'll let it go.
 

mmonacel

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I will change the vote. I believe it is the yeast. I've used it several times and it has always left me with bland and boring beer just as you describe. I disagree on the hops. Those hops work great together and I believe you have a solid grainbill. I vote to change the yeast to a yeast that let's the hops shine
I disagree to your disagreement! :D I've used the Whitbreat strain for a DFH 90 min. recipe to great success. (At least in my experience) It lends a nice malty backbone without overtaking the hops.

I think the solution is to brew more beer! :mug:
 

14thstreet

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Are the grains and/or hops a new lot or are they from your storage bins? Have you used these before in a different recipe and noticed a similar result? Did you drink samples along the brewing process and note anything? Fermentation/storage conditions? Bottling also can be inconsistent. It can be frustrating for sure. I brewed an amber ale with Victory and Cascade/Centennial and found it rather meh, too. Still don't know what it could have been. I was fooling around with water adjustments back then, so it could have been a water issue. So many variables! I can also agree that with similar hops, the differences or complexity they do bring also fade away rather quickly. And you are talking about an age of 2+ months...
 
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mithion

mithion

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Wow, thanks for all the replies. I didn't get back to my computer until this morning. To answer 14thstreet, I don't buy my ingredients in bulk. I buy everything I need right before I brew so everything is pretty fresh. I also have noticed some of my other beers lacking depth. I used to attribute it to using really simple recipes, but as some have pointed, the IPA I posted should have some malt complexity according to the grain bill. I'm almost certain the hops aren't the issue since I modeled the hop schedule after one of my favorite beers, Sierra Nevada Harvest. They don't give numbers for the quantities added, but SN harvest is bittered with Centennial, and finished with Centennial and Cascade for a total IBU rating of 67.

I believe that I have narrowed the problem down to three factors. The first being the base malt. I don't have any information about which brand of grain it is and I know that there there are different qualities depending on which company makes it. The LHBS does sell a British pale malt which I assume is equivalent to MO but I rarely use it because it is double the price. Maybe I should bite the bullet and try the recipe with that malt instead because it's possible the 2-row I buy is just cheap crappy malt. The second problem could be the yeast selection. But 1099 being a British yeast should lend the IPA more character than the often used 1056 Chico strain which is supposed to be super clean. However, 1099 is seldom used around here so the aren't many reports as to what is does to the beer. Some hate it, some love it. The third factor is water chemistry. I can post some numbers and maybe someone more knowledgeable can analyze them and see if the water chemistry isn't right for the style. These are the tap water numbers and I haven't made any modification when I brewed this beer.

Calcium 14.4 ppm
Magnesium 6.32 ppm
Sulfate 16.4 ppm
Sodium 17 ppm
Chloride 13.5 ppm
Bicarbonates 68 ppm

I started looking into water modifications, but I'm still new and I don't really know how to interpret the numbers for brewing purposes.
 

mullenite

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I find SN Harvest to be a bit one dimensional in the hop department. I'm going to stick with it being the hops.
 
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mithion

mithion

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I'll try to play with the hops at my next iteration of this recipe. I'll keep everything else constant. I'm very fond of Amarillo and Ahtanum which are not available here so I'll have to work around that. Hop selection isn't great here, but I recently tried some Nugget hops in another recipe and was quite pleased with it. I may do a Nugget/Centennial hop schedule with my next iteration of this beer.
 

beerjunky828

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I like to throw a little corn sugar in my IPA's and double IPA's to make sure they finish dry. I also like to use WLP001 or US-05 as the WLP lends a very fruity flavor.
 
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mithion

mithion

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I like to throw a little corn sugar in my IPA's and double IPA's to make sure they finish dry. I also like to use WLP001 or US-05 as the WLP lends a very fruity flavor.
Dryness isn't so much an issue. Although I don't bother measuring gravity, the beer mouthfeel was perfect. Not too sweet and not bone dry either.

I'm wondering if age is also an issue. I started this beer in mid April and bottled in at the end of May. So it's been in the bottle for about a month and a half. How long before the flavor/aroma degradation becomes noticeable usually?
 

snailsongs

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Dryness isn't so much an issue. Although I don't bother measuring gravity, the beer mouthfeel was perfect. Not too sweet and not bone dry either.

I'm wondering if age is also an issue. I started this beer in mid April and bottled in at the end of May. So it's been in the bottle for about a month and a half. How long before the flavor/aroma degradation becomes noticeable usually?
right on the bottle of pliny the elder, it asks you to drink it young and not age it. THis has been my experience as well. I have brewed several IPA's and they peak between 3-5 weeks from BREWDAY! The clean yeast and simple grain bill allow for a quick turnaround which maximizes the freshness and complexity of the hop flavor.....try crash cooling and kegging after a 10 day ferment with a clean yeast like WLP001 (WY1056) - or if you bottle, crash cool, pitch part of a pack of S-05 at bottling and drink young...you will be amazed at how good it is right at 21 days.....

I also place my vote that you change your yeast, though really nice IPA's can be had with only centennial and cascade.

...oh, and if you are dryhopping you can do a week in primary, a week dry-hop, and then bottle.....
 
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mithion

mithion

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Yeah, my brewing schedule is really long. Most of my beers, I do a 21 day primary and then bottle condition for 2-3 weeks. For the IPA, I added a 14 secondary to dry hop it as well. So that's a 2 month from grain to glass which is quite long. I could probably combine primary and secondary next time. Maybe do 1 week primary and then dry hop directly in the primary fermentor for a week or so. The 2-3 weeks bottle conditioning cannot really be circumvented. It just takes that long for bottles to carb up. I sometimes dream of kegging but I just don't have the money to get into that at this point.
 

snailsongs

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Yeah, my brewing schedule is really long. Most of my beers, I do a 21 day primary and then bottle condition for 2-3 weeks. For the IPA, I added a 14 secondary to dry hop it as well. So that's a 2 month from grain to glass which is quite long. I could probably combine primary and secondary next time. Maybe do 1 week primary and then dry hop directly in the primary fermentor for a week or so. The 2-3 weeks bottle conditioning cannot really be circumvented. It just takes that long for bottles to carb up. I sometimes dream of kegging but I just don't have the money to get into that at this point.
This would work well. the bottle conditioning time is fine, too. Just keep in mind that aging is not a benefit to an IPA and that english yeasts tend to add yeast funk, which is great in a lot of beers and really adds a nice element, but I don't want it near my american IPA's, for the most part.

practice making a nice clean and refeshng IPA first, then when you have that down you can play with yeast.....that's my advice anyhow. happy brewing!

another thing I thought of was your water.... consider your watersource and if it's tap, maybe you can get a water report and tinker with your water some.
 
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mithion

mithion

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The water profile I posted is basically tap water. I started making water adjustments with the two batches of beer I've done since brewing the IPA. Since the IPA, I've done a calico amber ale clone where I calibrated my water to replicate San Diego water. I also brewed an Irish Red where I modified the water to replicate Dublin water. For an IPA, what should I do to the water to compliment the style the best?
 

rockfish42

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Something like this is what a lot of people use for pale ales, it's attributed to Randy Mosher. The key numbers here are the sulfate and chloride, you want something above 200. Then there is the chloride to sulfate ratio, this example is 1:7 and gives you a very hop forward beer. There is conflicting information on that ratio depending on if you consult a continental or UK brewing guide. I've used this successfully for an ESB that came out great.
Calcium - 110
Magnesium - 18
Sodium - 17
Chloride - 50
Sulfate - 350
Alkalinity - 57
 
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