Seeing that getting a proper brewing venue is taking way longer than expected, our mission for 2012 is to sort out some of the beer recipes…

So far this year we made two batches of an American Pale Ale, a Black Ale and an English Ale on our pilot system, and on the 1 gallon system a few Belgian style ales.

Today seemed like a good day to crack open a few packets of the super high alpha hops from to make a proper American IPA.
A proper American style IPA is not for the faint hearted… Typical beers in the style are hop-forward to say the least. They are characterised by the floral, citrus-like, fruity, piney & resinous notes from the hop varieties of the American Northwest.

Many of the beers being sold as IPA’s are not quite IPA’s… Some people tend to incorrectly label American Pale Ales as India Pale Ales. Luckily The Brewers Association 2012 Beer Style Guidelines provide an additional classification for these inbetween beers, i.e. American-Style Strong Pale Ale.

American-Style Pale Ale
OG: 1.044-1.050
FG: 1.008-1.014
ABV: 4.5-5.6%
IBU: 30-42
Color: 6-14 SRM

American-Style Strong Pale Ale
OG: 1.050-1.060
FG: 1.008-1.016
ABV: 5.5-6.3%
IBU: 40-50
Color: 6-14 SRM

American-Style India Pale Ale
OG: 1.060-1.075
FG: 1.012-1.020
ABV: 6.3-7.5%
IBU: 50-70
Color: 6-14 SRM

Double or Imperial India Pale Ale
OG: 1.075-1.100
FG: 1.012-1.020
ABV: 7.5-10.5%
IBU: 65-100
Color: 5-13 SRM

If all goes to plan we will end up with a proper American IPA.
The alcohol content by volume should be in the region of 6.3-6.5%. The calculated bitterness will be at 85 IBU. This exceeds the style guidelines quite a bit, but as it clearly states “guidelines” we reckon some of the values are left open the interpretation and a bit of leeway is allowable.
The beer will have a bold hop aroma and strong hop bittering thanks to ample amounts of Apollo, Columbus, Centennial & Cascade hops.

Simple Pleasures

It seems as if the craft beer scene is about to explode in South Africa. There is definitely more and more interest in small scale and artisanal beer offerings and people are more willing to try new beer styles.
For way too long the South African beer drinker had to be content with stock standard – and in many cases rather bland – lagers. Personally I prefer ales. American & English ales are my favourite, Belgian ales come second. Belgian beers are great, but so far they are simply not my favourite…

Talking of Belgian beers… The Belgians are the masters of adding weird and wonderful ingredients to beer. This is a skill they have honed over centuries thanks to the fact that they were not limited by the silly Reinheitsgebot. (As most people know the law had in fact very little to do with the purity or quality of beer. It was in fact a method of ensuring food security and a steady tax income for the government)

Lately it seems as if some brewers and marketers are trying to push concept that craft beer is synonymous with way-out, weird & wacky beers with exorbitantly complex recipes. I am not against the weird and wonderful, but it must be clear that this is only a small piece of the craft beer pie.

I can appreciate the absurdities of some recipes (liquorice root, buchu, tea, oak aged, soured, etc.) for certain types of beer, and also the necessity of craft brewers to create these beers in order to inspire other brewers to step outside the comfort zone of their regular brewing. However, is it not so niche that it’s simply not worth the effort to promote beers with this type of complexity?

A more complex beer does not necessarily make for a better beer, or make it more palatable.

Why does craft beer have to be so complex?

Is it a vanity contest for some brewers?

My stance is: Simplify! Simplify!
Make simple beer, but make it well…