How To Brew Double IPA | Homebrew Challenge

by Steve Thanos | Updated: March 22, 2021

Double IPA is a fairly strong beer with a strong hop presence, clean, dry, easy drinking beer that lacks any harshness from the hops or the alcohol content.

It is bigger than an English or American IPA considering both the alcohol strength and overall hop level.

A double IPA is less malty, lower body, less richness, and overall greater hop intensity than an American Barleywine.  

The American Motto

With the American motto of “bigger is always better” and “go-big-or-go-home,” the double IPA carries the label of being a pretty big beer.

With the bitterness levels ranging from sixty-five to ninety IBUs, the bitterness factor of this beer is what has helped this beer live up to the hype over the last thirty years or so. 

The Art of the IPA

The true test of a beer that contains such a high bitterness level is to have the malt backbone to carry it through and allow the beer to be enjoyable. A counter-balance of malty sweetness and hoppy bitterness must work in harmony.

Oftentimes there seems to be a discontent with one of the components of a double IPA that makes it almost undrinkable. The harsh burning sensation at the end of a sip of a double IPA must not be overlooked.

This important oversight is often a direction contribution of the hops or malt. 

Vinnie Cilurzo

When one talks about double IPAs, one is usually talking about one brewer in particular. While starting his brewing career at Blind Pig Brewery in Temecula, California and then starting Russian River Brewing Company with his wife, Natalie.

Vinnie Cilurzo is the brewer that made the double IPA a staple in so many menu boards across American breweries and taprooms. Pliny the Elder has become the standard when discussing double IPAs. 

Style Profile for Double IPA

Appearance

Double IPAs range from being straw gold to bronze orange. Clarity will depend on whether or not the beer is dry hopped. A white to off-white head will foam with good retention. 

Aroma

The hop aroma derives from American or New World hops and consists of such atoms as: floral, citrus, stone fruit, pine/resin, tropical fruit, berry, and melon.

Hop aroma can be quite intense, especially if the beer is dry hopped. Malt can carry over with a slight sweet character. A slight alcohol aroma can be noticed, but should be low. 

Flavor

Hop flavor will come out immediately with a double IPA. The hop flavor will be American or New World hops and consists of such atoms as: floral, citrus, stone fruit, pine/resin, tropical fruit, berry, and melon.

Hop bitterness can be high. Malt will be clean and have a grainy character with notes of caramel or toasty flavors possible.

Some fruitiness is acceptable. Dry to medium dry finish with bitterness lasting to the finish of the beer. Some light and clean alcohol flavors are acceptable, but it should not be hot. 

Mouthfeel

Medium to mid-high carbonation is acceptable. The beer’s texture should be smooth without harsh astringency from the hops. Some alcohol warming is acceptable. 

Food Pairing

Double IPAs pair well with spicy dishes such as Indian, Mexican, and Cajun food. Roasted and grilled meats, fish are also good accompaniments.

A burger or beef sandwich can also go well with a double IPA. Cheese such as Stilton and Linburger pair well. Desserts such as carrot cake, cheese cake, or creme brulee can be a nice pairing. 

Tips for Brewing your own Double IPA

Grain

85 to 90 percent of the grain bill will be made up by a base grain of 2-Row or Maris Otter. Play around with other base grains to see what you like best. Avoid roasted or highly kilned malts.

A small amount of caramel malt will give the beer that kiss of caramel flavor that it is looking for. Vienna, Munich, Wheat can be added as well for a little complexity.

The addition of dextrose sugar can allow for the gravity to rise and thus giving the beer more alcohol. It will also dry the beer out a bit and give it a lighter body. 

Hops

American hops really should be showcased in this beer. A traditional bittering charge at 60 minutes is a nice place to start with your hop schedule. Something like Chinook or Simcoe will give the beer a nice bitterness.

After bittering hops, the sky’s the limit with how much or little hops you want to add. Cascade, Citra, Columbus, Centennial, Amarillo, Simcoe, Warrior, Mosaic, or Chinook are always a good way to start when thinking about the hop schedule.

Hopping with New World hops like Galaxy, Nelson Sauvin or any of your favorite hops from New Zealand or Australia will work here too.

Dry hopping is very common with the style and encouraged to extract more hop aroma and flavor in your beer. 

Yeast

The yeast for a double IPA should be well attenuating strain with a clean, neutral character.

Some options include: While Labs California Ale (WLP001), California Ale V WLP051, Wyeast American Ale 1056 or Northwest Ale 1332.

Imperial Yeast’s selection of yeasts are also a good choice.

A18 Joystick, A20 Citrus, A24 Dry Hop are only a few of the wonderful yeasts produced by Imperial Yeast. If dry yeast is your thing, then Safale US-05 is a good choice.

Considering the gravity of the beer, 2 packs of US-05 are in order.

A yeast starter is also in order when using liquid yeast.

Double IPA the By the Numbers

  • Color Range: 6 – 14 SRM
  • Original Gravity: 1.065 – 1.085 OG
  • Final Gravity: 1.008 – 1.018 FG
  • IBU Range: 60 – 120
  • ABV Range: 7.5 – 10.0%

Martin Keen’s Double IPA Recipe

Grain

  • 85 %            13 lbs.             2-Row   
  •   6 %              1 lb.               Crystal 45
  •   2 %              4 oz.              Flaked Wheat
  •   7 %              1 lb.               Corn Sugar (Dextros)

Hops

  • 1.00 oz         Galaxy – Boil – 60 min
  • 1.00 oz         Motueka – Boil – 15 min
  • 1.00 oz         Pacifica – Boil – 5 min
  • 1.00 oz         Wakatu – Boil –  5 min 
  • 1.00 oz         Nelson Sauvin – Boil – Whirlpool
  • 1.00 oz         Pacifica – Boil – Whirlpool
  • 1.00 oz         Galaxy – Boil – Dry Hop
  • 1.00 oz         Motueka – Boil – Dry Hop

Yeast

1.0 pkg   American Ale Wyeast #1056

Directions

  1. Mash at 148°F (64°C) for 60 mins
  2. Boil for 60 mins 

Transcript: I am pretty excited about all the things I’m going to be able to do with a glycol chiller.

I’m heading out to Atlantic brew supply to pick up this month’s batch of ingredients. These days I batch everything up. So I put together all of my recipes for category 22. I come down here to the Homebrew store to go pick them up.

So these days I just show up and Todd from ABS has got all the ingredients bagged for me, the hops, the yeast, everything, I’m good to go. They also hooked me up with a shirt as well. Pretty cool.

My name’s Martin Keen, I’m taking the Homebrew Challenge to brew 99 beers in 99 weeks. This week is a bit of a hop Fest. It’s double IPA.

I’m bringing a two and a half gallon batch, but even then I still have a pretty big bag of grains here. So let’s get these into the water.

Now with a double IPA, obviously the focus on everything is with the hops. But the grain or the, the sort of the malt base behind all of this that we want to build is getting to have a fairly light body.

So we’re going to mash this one low and slow. What I mean by that is I’m going to be mashing at 148 Fahrenheit or 64 Celsius to really make sure that this beer properly converts without really being too heavy. The emphasis on this beer really isn’t getting that pleasant hop flavor and aroma profile into this beer. So yeah, one, one 48 Fahrenheit.

And when you are mashing at these lower temperatures, it is possible that it will take a little bit longer for the mash to convert. That said, I’m going to mash here for an hour and see where I get.

Now, the style guidelines for double IPA allow quite a strong beer. You can brew this bit up to 10% ABV and stay within the style guidelines. I have a lot of big beers coming up, so I’m going to scale this one pretty much right in the middle of the guidelines.

So I’m building a beer here with an original gravity of 10 74, which should give about an 8.6% beer. Now I’m going to be using as my base malt; two row pale malt that will make up 85% of my grist. And then in addition to that, I’m going to add 6% of crystal 45.

I do also like just a little bit of wheat in these beers. So I’m going to add 2% flaked wheat, and you might be thinking, hold on a minute, Martin, that does not add up to 100% and you would be right. There is one other fermentable that’s going in after the mash.

And that is corn sugar. This is straight up yeast food. So there’ll be none of this sugar left in the finished product, but it will help bump up the ABV a little bit. And this will go in with the boil.

One of the most important things you can do as a home brewer is temperature control. If you can control the temperature that your beer is fermenting at, you really have a lot of control over what the yeast are doing and the sort of flavors and profiles that you get.

And for almost all of my beers, I do my temperature control in chest freezers. I have three chest freezers down here in the basement that I use with temperature controllers to set an exact temperature that I want for fermentation. And also these allow me to perform things like a cold crash as well.

For the most part, I think it works really well. I am producing some pretty good beer, I think, but I do always wonder that how accurate this really is, especially because of the way that I’ve set this up. So I have a temperature probe that goes into a bottle of liquid, and that gives me a reading for how cool the temperature is in my chest freezer.

Um, but that might not necessarily be the same temperature of my beer. As the beer is fermenting, and it’s especially very active, it can be quite a bit warmer than the main temperature in the chest freezer. So that coupled with the fact that sometimes I will squeeze two fermenters in here, and they’re both at different stages of fermentation means that I’m not always sure that I’m fermenting at the temperature that I intend to.

Which is why I’m so very excited to control fermentation temperature, the same way that the pros do, which is to say, to use glycol. And that’s through this, which is the glycol chiller provided to me by Blichman engineering.

Now glycol, like the stuff in here has a freezing point lower than the freezing point of water. The way that you use the glycol chiller is you fill up the reservoir with a mixture of glycol and distilled water, and then you will pump that through your fermenter to help keep it cool.

The first thing I had to figure out though, was how much glycol to add versus how much water.

Blickman manual says you need 35% glycol to 65% of distilled water. It has an eight gallon reservoir, and I had two gallons of glycol. So that left me with a little bit of a math problem. Actually, I asked around everybody in my house and we couldn’t quite figure out what the exact answer is. Let me show you, so we’ve got two gallons of glycol and that’s 35%, and then we have 65% of distilled water.

How much distill water exactly is that? It’s like a little bit less than four. I think anyway, I put in four gallons of distilled water and two gallons of glycols. [Here is how to build your own DIY Glycol Chiller]

Mashing out here at 168 Fahrenheit. And now let’s talk about hops.

This is going to be hoppy beer, of course. So we’re going to be adding hops really a pretty much every occasion. So bittering, flavor, aroma, whirlpool, dry hop, really trying to pack in the hop flavor that we want for this beer at every opportunity.

Now, speaking of that hop flavor, well, I am going for hops with a theme and my theme is “down under.” So everything I’m using are hops either from Australia or from New Zealand, I really enjoy those kind of new world hops, the fruitiness, the little bit of spiciness that sort of the tropical characteristics, um, tartness of them, I just, just really enjoyed these hops.

So this is the combination that I’ve come up with. Um, I do have my iPad here because normally I memorize what hops I’ve added in to tell you on camera. And my goodness, there’s so many this time. So my iPad says, we’re going to build an IBU in total of about 87 or 88, but that really doesn’t tell you very much.

So let’s go through these hops in order. So first of all, the bittering hop and the bittering hop that you want to use in the double IPA is clearly going to be something with high alpha acids, just so we can keep down the amount of hop material that’s going to end up in this beer.

So I’m using galaxy hops as my bittering hop. I’m going to add this in, at the start of boil. Now, 15 minutes is when I’ll make my first flavor and aroma addition. This is Moteka, which should give the packaging describes as zingy, citrus, and herbal flavors. So that’s going in with 15 minutes to go then with five minutes to go, I have two hops that I am combining in here.

So I have Pacifica and wakatu. I think that’s how you say it. And between those, we should get limes zest and an orange marmalade kind of flavors and aromas.

Then with the boil complete, I’m going to perform a Whirlpool. So the Whirlpool hops, I’m going to add a two more. I have Nelson Sauvin and Pacifica as my two. whirlpool hops. It should give some limey notes to the beer as well. Um, in addition to all of that, I will be dry hopping this beer as well, a couple of days into fermentation. In fact, just before fermentation completes. And, uh, my iPad tells me that Galaxy and Matuka are going to go in the dry hop.

In with the five minute hop addition. And at this point, this is when I’m going to add in my sugar, into the boil, just to give it time to dissolve. I go straight into the boil, not in the hop filter.

So the boil is done and it’s time for the Whirlpool. And now what I’ve cooked up here is I’ve hooked up my plate, chiller to my pump, and I’m reset collating out the bottom of the kettle here through the plate chiller and back into the kettle. I do that pretty much every time, just five minutes from the end, because it will sanitize the plate chiller. Um, but I’m going to use that really as my whirl pooling capability this time.

So I’ve cut off the heat and now I’m going to add in my Whirlpool hops, let’s give them a little stir because with so many hops in this sleeve. Now I I’ll make sure that they are getting utilized and mostly they are. Now going to leave this at this temperature for about 20 minutes.

Now to use a glycol chiller. You need some way of getting the glycol in and out of the fermentor. Um, I have only one fermentor right now that will allow me to do that. And that is this small fermentor from Anvil. So this is ideal for kind of three gallon batches.

And what this has is it has a lid here with a big port in the top. And then we have here this cooling coil, which we can insert into the lid. So I’m going to connect the hose from this in to my pump, and that will pump glycol up into it. And then glycol will flow into the fermenter come up the other end. And then I’m going to dump this back into the glycol reservoir.

The way that I’m going to control the flow of this pump is to use the other thing that came with the glycol chiller, which is this, which is a temperature controller.

There’s not a lot of configuration to get this glycol chiller running. Obviously there’s a power switch. And then we just have the option here to set the temperatures up set, and then I can set the temperature that I want to set this to. And that will chill the reservoir to that temperature.

Then looking inside, there is just the glycol reservoir here itself with some chilling coils to keep this thing cool, bit of installation here as well. And then if I just turn this around to the back, you can see at the back here, we’ve got, uh, power, uh, we’ve got this little tray here as well, which we can use to, uh, for cable management and so forth.

And also in here is a bit of foam. And in this foam here, this is where we’re going to stick some things through some tubing through, uh, to access the glycol reservoir.

They can see here that the temperature from this thermal well here is currently showing us 81 Fahrenheit that is as cool as I could get it with the temperature of my groundwater. So I’m going to use the glycol chiller to get down to yeast pitching temperatures.

So I’m going to set the temperature that I want, which is 68. And you’ll see the cooling light is on. So now I need to plug in my pump and we’re now sending glycol into here. And then it’s dumping it back into the reservoir when it’s done. And let’s see how long it takes to chill this down to 68.

While we’re waiting for that. Perhaps now’s a good time to talk about the Yeast. I am using Wyeast 1056. This is American ale yeast. Um, yeah, just to sort of a good performing, fairly clean yeast is what we’re for here and something that can handle some of these higher ABV. So I think this one’s a good choice.

Well, that took about 25 minutes to go from 81 to 68. Every now and again, I would give this a little stir just to make sure that there are no kind of cold spots and warm spots in here. Um, so yeah, that’s, that’s pretty good. When I do this same thing in a chest freezer, it typically takes me about two or three hours to drop that much of a temperature change. And I just use that time to clean my equipment. So this is all clean and full of PBW now.

So I’m ready to add my yeast. Just touching this coil, that really nice and chilly because of the glycol. And I’m going to leave this to ferment at 68 Fahrenheit for the next few days. And I’m going to add those two dry hops in, and then bump the temperature up a couple more degrees. All right, I’m set. I’m going to leave this be.

What is going on with this beer? You know there’s something about these glasses, we poored them and then it sort of, I don’t know. It’s like. Anyway, this is Donna. Donna, Welcome to the tasting. Hi, thanks for having me. Yeah.

So let’s see what we think about the color of this double IPA. Let’s say very bubbly it, yeah. It’s highly carbonated, like a sort of a dark gold color. Yeah, honey, honey. Yes, honey is, there’s a kind of a honey color. Yeah. Very pretty beer. Like with the very white head on top and it grows, it keeps growing well, if we can get through through the bubbles, let’s see if I can get anything on aroma.

So I’m definitely picking up quite a hoppier aroma. Um, a little bit of sweetness, I think, in the, in the aroma as well. Are you getting anything? Yeah. Uh, the sweetness ofor sure, uh, do you think you can, uh, get to the liquid beneath? I can. I can definitely do that. Give it, give it a taste.

So I’m not really an IPA person. Um, but this is, this is okay. It’s not too hoppy. I don’t know. I think to me this the definitely the hop bit and as you pick it up on quite quite bitter, right? Yeah. For sure. It’s definitely a very bitter just tastes like an English bitter. Yeah, yeah.

Yeah. So, so that’s the second part I was going to say actually, is that there’s a very, like a John Smith. Yeah. There’s a real malt presence to the beer. So you’ve got this combination really quite bitter, which you actually wouldn’t find it maybe in John Smiths, but then you’ve got this very malty sweet character to the beer as well.

Um, that’s what makes a double IPA so good I think. Is it’s got a lot of body to it, a lot of malt profile, which I really like in a beer. Um, but also a real hop bite to it. I can get a better smell now. Yeah. Yeah. I can smell those hops too. Uh, Donna, thank you. Thank you very much for tasting this beer. You’re welcome. Cheers. Cheers.

I am the former President of my homebrew club, Plainfield Ale and Lager Enthusiasts (PALE) in the western suburbs of Chicago, IL. I brew on my BIAB system with my incredibly patient and understanding wife, adorable 9 year old daughter, and 12 year old brew dog.