Brewing an India Pale Ale

I finally started brewing beer. Finally. It only took eight months of talking about it before I actually pulled the trigger. I should say first that I’m not brewing on my own, I’m brewing with a friend. I’ve watched some people brew in the past, but it wasn’t nearly as hands on.

Back in June I ordered four pounds of hops from the states through a firm called Hops Direct, LLC. The order included a pound of Amarillo, Columbus and Cascade hops.

Before brewing, I was relegated to sneaking good beer into Korea.

I figured that once I ordered all the hops I would have to force to myself to brew. Not really the case. Because I’m likely to leave Korea at the end of my contract, I felt that the brewing was a lost cause. I didn’t want to spend $200 on equipment and turn around and sell it all off after a few rounds of brews. Plus, I literally have no room in my place to put the necessary equipment.

A few weeks ago I sent a message to Ryan asking him for a deal. We would use my $60 worth of hops to brew beer jointly using his equipment and split the bottled earnings. He was more than happy with the idea.

Using all the necessary ingredients at our disposal we decided on brewing an India Pale Ale, a type of beer known for its bitter hop taste and high alcohol content. After 60 minutes of boiling and a few hours of prepping the malt, we figured out that we used close to 17 ounces of hops for our wort.

To put that into perspective, some light beer variations like hefewizens or pilsners only use about two ounces of hops. After spending an afternoon making our wort, we concluded by putting the mixture into a fermenter to sit for about four or five days.

Due to the extreme amount of hops we used, it looked like we had live-boiled Shrek into a casing for an IED.

What the wort looks like in the fermenter.

Ryan sent me updates on the fermentation over the course of several days. When air bubbles escape the release valve, it means the yeast is eating away at the sugar and making beer. Click here for a video: beer brewing.

More recently, I went over to Ryan’s place in Sinchon, Seoul to remove the hop sediment from the fermentation bucket in order to prevent our overly-hoppy beer from getting what is described online as a “grassy flavor.”

The hops can be seen caked at the top of the fermenter

As of now, it looks like our India Pale Ale is set to be at about 7.3% ABV and have a bit of a strong hop bite. My goal is to someday emulate the taste of the Green Flash Imperial IPA or the Sierra Nevada Torpedo Xtra Pale Ale.

Ryan said that he is very optimistic about the results and that it may be his “best beer ever.”

Our brew should yield about 30 22oz bottles of beer. We were shooting for 40 bottles worth, but due to our extreme hop usage, we lost some possible bottles to sediment.

With our abundant supply of hops, we figured the best beer to make would be an aggressive IPA. So far, I’ve learned a lot of the technical information (that would be pretty boring to share) necessary for me to independently brew beer in the future, no matter where I live.

Now I just have to come up with a name for the beer that Ryan and I made. Suggestions?

This weekend I’ll likely head over to his place and bottle the beer so it can be ready for the Homebrew Korea: ‘Brew Your Best’ Fest set for November 20 in Gangnam.

The event info is here:

Date: November 20th, 1pm ~ 5pm .

Location: Gangnam Oktoberfest (2min walk from Gangnam Station).

Price: 25,000won per person in advance (see below for bank details), 30,000won per person at the door. Everyone must pay that enters the pub – drinking or not. Shinhan Bank: 110-235-397249 (RobertJTitley). Please email homebrewkorea@gmail.com with your account name and the amount transferred.

What you get: Unlimited house beer (pilsner, weizen and dunkel), each table of 4 people will get a few plates of food (salad, nachos, haxen).

Who’s invited: Anyone and everyone.What to bring: You best homebrew, hopefully!! Please bring at least a pint (500ml) per beer entry. You may bring more to share. Please see Homebrew Community Forums for more details and discussions. It’s going to be a great afternoon!! Lots of delicious beer and food, great company and tons of beer/homebrewing talk.

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