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Very new brewer here, and I recently tried a generic IPA recipe doled out by my LHBS, and it ended up very sweet with little bitterness or hop aroma. The recipe is here:

http://homebrewmart.com/recipes_beer.php#AmericanIPA

I followed it mostly to the letter, and ended up with about a 7ish% abv beer that tastes more like a belgian tripel than it does any IPA i've grown accustomed to.

Does anyone see anything weird about that recipe, or must it have been something I did? Comparing to other IPA recipes i've seen online, the amount of DME seems high and the amount of hops seems low, but I don't have enough batches under my belt to predict the end character of a beer by recipe alone.

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How many gallons did you boil? A concentrated, smaller boil volume will reduce hop utilization. A fuller 5.5 to 6.5 gallon boil (assuming a 5 gal batch) will give better utilization. I'm not sure if it's the same with hop flavor or not, but def is with bitterness. –  danafr4 Nov 19 '10 at 19:18
    
Oh, and boil vigor. A full boil will extract more from the hops, a lower boil, less so. –  danafr4 Nov 19 '10 at 19:33
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4 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

First, for an IPA, that recipe looks a little low on the late hop additions for flavor and aroma for modern US-style IPA.

Did you add the 1 oz of cascade as a dry hop called for in the recipe? Their recipe page has it listed on the same line with the yeast rather than the next line, and maybe you missed it; I know I missed it on the first read through. If that was omitted it would definitely have less hop notes, given that only half an ounce is used for late hopping in the boil.

On the sweetness and bitterness. Did you measure your final gravity? If your fermentation didn't quite finish out all the way, you might be somewhere in the 1.020 - 1.030 FG range, which is going to make it taste sweeter. Your final gravity should be less than 1.018 for that style.

Assuming the 9# from the recipe is liquid/syrup and not dried extract, I've calculated you should have had an OG around 1.075 and IBUs of 65 for a 5 gallon finished batch size. For an IPA, you want an IBU to Gravity Ratio (BU:GU) of .8 or so. That recipe is about .86, which is about right. (Noticed you said DME, aka DRY malt extract...if you used dry extract, you definitely added too much malt and not enough bittering hops; 9# dry in 5 gallons would bump it to 1.086 OG. Dry and liquid malt extract are NOT interchangeable 1-to-1)

Assuming you finished around 1.018, you should have a 7.7% beer. If you say it's only 7%, then perhaps you're fermentation didn't finish completely.

So in summary, the recipe is about right as far as bitterness goes, but light on flavor and aroma hops (especially if you forgot the dry hop cascades). If you used dry malt extract, you used too much for the amount of hops listed.

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I just noticed the lack of specification as to the type of extract on the page. The in-store flyer I am almost positive said DME, so that's what I used, 3 3-pound bags of dry extract. –  Jarrod Nov 13 '10 at 0:34
    
Good catch on the DME vs liquid. Jarrod, if you're new and haven't already purchased a hydrometer, I can't encourage you enough to get one. I spent too many brews without one, and when things go well, you can get away with it, but when they don't, you MUST have one to begin diagnosing problems. –  Mlusby May 10 '11 at 15:46
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If your beer had a Belgian-type yeast character, that's a sure sign you fermented too warm. This is especially important with English ale yeasts. A buddy of fine ended up with a decent Belgian Blonde by letting his pale ale with WLP007 Dry English Yeast ferment too warm. Definitely not the Pale Ale he was shooting for.

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With you 100% here Graham. On several occasions I have fermented IPAs and bitters too warm ~25C/77F (before I realised the importance of temp control for ale yeasts) and my beers all ended up tasting sweet and generically "belgian". –  Poshpaws Jun 28 '11 at 15:15
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In general, if the beer tastes too sweet, you'll need more bittering which comes from hops.

I might try adding a couple hop additions, perhaps like this:

  • 1-2 oz - 60 min
  • 1 oz - 20 min
  • 1 oz - 10 min
  • Dry Hop 1-2 oz

You can add even more, if you want. My base IPA has:

  • 2oz - 60 min
  • 1oz - 20 min
  • 1oz - 10 min
  • 1oz - 0 min
  • 2oz Dryhop

Edit: For aroma, see related question: How can I maximize dry hop aroma

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The other thing to consider is your water. Hoppy beers like IPA really benefit from an elevated sulfate level to accentuate the hops. You might try adding a tsp. of gypsum to the kettle next time to see if it helps.

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