How To Brew English IPA | Homebrew Challenge

by Steve Thanos | Last Updated: September 26, 2020


English IPA is one beer that everyone looks to when they are talking about the history of a particular beer style.

English IPA as a style came about due to the need to provide beer for those in the British Empire in the east, more specifically India. It was much too hot to brew beer in India.

Also, the real ale that was popular in pubs in London would not survive the long boat ride.

Fact or Myth

A London brewer that went by the name, George Hodgson, saw this opportunity to use the high beta acid found in hops. There is information out there that disputes Hodgson having a monopoly on brewing beer sent to India. Some also speculate that Hodgen’s brewery, Bow Brewery, was not the first to add extra hops to a beer sent to India.

There are those that say beer was being exported to India from the beginning of the 18th century. Even though there was some beer spoilage, much of the beer was sent to easily last for a year or more in a cask. Bottom line, a new beer style was not invented at this time.

Also, the beer that became the English IPA was not actually stronger in alcohol. It was about 6.5 percent by alcohol, slightly weaker than the porters and other dark beers enjoyed by many from Sri Lanka to the West Indies. Much of the above information was ascertained by an article by Martyn Cornell from Beer Connoisseur magazine.

Aging Beer for a Long Journey

The beta acids maintain their bitterness longer and the taste evolves over time. The beer as a result takes on a pleasant fruity flavor. This is actually reminiscent of aged wine. The beer not only survived the long journey on the Atlantic Ocean, but improved immensely.

Hodgson’s IPA became the prototype. The beer eventually became paler and more refreshing to suit the drinkers in the warm Indian climate. Other brewers, such as those at Bass, adjusted the style that resembled more like a pale ale for those back in England.

Style Profile for English IPA

Appearance

Color ranges from golden to deep amber. Most examples of the style are actually pretty pale. Beer should be clear, but unfiltered, dry-hopped versions may see some haziness. Moderate-sized persistent off-white colored head caps off the beer’s appearance.

Aroma

A moderate to moderately high hop aroma is typical for the style. Floral, spicy, peppery are the aromas you will find. A small amount of grassy dry-hop aroma is acceptable. A moderately low caramel-like or toasty maltiness can be present.

Low amount of fruitiness is also acceptable. Sometimes a small sulfure note may exist, however, it does not need to present.

Mouthfeel

Smooth with a medium-light to medium bodied mouthfeel without hop astringency. Medium to high carbonation can cause a dryness. A low alcohol warming is present in stronger versions of this beer.

Taste

Hops flavor is medium to high, with an assertive hop bitterness. The hop flavor mirrors the hop aroma, floral, spicy, peppery and possibly slightly grassy.

Malt flavor is medium-low to medium-light with biscuit, toasty, toffee, caramel flavors dominate. The finish is medium-dry to very dry with a lingering bitterness.

Tips for Brewing your own English IPA

Grain

A proper English IPA would be brewed with English 2-row malts such as Maris Otter or Golden Promise. US 2-row pale malt works well here too, even Pilsner malt if you wanted to brew a pale version of this beer.

A small amount, around 5% of the total grist could be dedicated to a low color crystal malt. 20 or 40 lovibond would do well here. The crystal malt will add some color and a little fullness to the palate for this particular beer.

Hops

Bitterness levels for an English IPA should be around 40-60 IBUs. English hops, of course, should be your first choice when considering how to hop an English IPA. Target or First Gold should be considered for bittering due to their high alpha acids.

English Goldings and Fuggles for aroma and again for dry-hopping. This is not the style to experiment with US citrus hops.

Yeast

The yeast choice for an English IPA is pretty wide open. As long as the attenuation is 70% or better, you should be in good shape. It should be noted to keep fermentation temperatures below 70°F (21°C). You do not want any esters in this beer.

English IPA By the Numbers

  • Color Range: 6 – 14 SRM
  • Original Gravity: 1.050 – 1.075 OG
  • Final Gravity: 1.010 – 1.018 FG
  • IBU Range: 40 – 60
  • ABV Range: 5.0 – 7.5%

Martin Keen’s English IPA Recipe

Grain

88% 11 lbs Golden Promise Malt

8% 1lb Crystal 45 Thomas Faucet

4% 8oz Biscuit Malt

Hops

1 oz Target – Boil 60 min

1 oz Fuggle – Boil 10 min

1 oz East Kent Goldings – Boil 10 min

1 oz Fuggle – Flameout

1 oz East Kent Goldings – dry hop (4-5 days)

Yeast

1.0 pkg Wyeast WhitBread 1099

Mash at 152°F (66°C) for 60 mins

Boil for 60 mins

How To Brew English IPA Homebrew Challenge

Transcript: Since I started brewing these beer styles I keep getting the same question and I keep giving the same answer. IPA’s Yet? No, no, but it all changes today because it is IPA day, specifically English IPA. And in the course of brewing that up, I’m also going to talk about two modifications I’m making to my brewery, which I hope will solve a couple of problems.

I’m Martin Keen. I’m taking the Homebrew Challenge to brew 99 beers in 99 weeks. And yes, it is IPA day. Now the main IPA styles, they still come quite a ways down in my list of beers to brew, but the style guidelines have thrown me a bone and put the English IPA’s up much earlier with the British beers.

Now this beer style may or may not have originated from the need to transport beers from England on a voyage across to India via ship, and to make it survive. That journey story goes that the beer was made extra hoppy for that purpose, seems to be a little bit of debate it’s whether that’s true or not. But either way, this beer is a clean, dry beer with a hoppy finish and aroma. And although it’s not quite as hoppy as an American IPA, it is a real favorite around these parts.

So this is the part of the video where I typically talk about ingredients. And boy, have we been on a journey with ingredients the past few weeks. Now for the longest time, I would talk about ingredient values in terms of absolutes.

So I’d say you would need X number of pounds or kilos of this and X number of grams of that and so forth. But the trouble with talking about absolutes is that it’s very specific to my system. So it’s very specific to the batch size that I’m using and the brew house efficiency of my beer system.

So then I switched to talking about percentages. So I’d say, Oh, for this beer, you need 87% of this grain and 4% of that grain and so forth. And did that for a few weeks and then switched back last week to talking about absolutes again. Well, here’s the thing last week. My “not so ordinary bitter” video was published. That was the first video where I switched to talking about percentages. And my goodness, everybody seems to really like talking about percentages. So here’s what we’re going to do.

Going forward: in the videos. I will talk about percentages. If you want to see the absolute values, take a look at the recipe, link in the description, and that will take you to the Atlantic brew supply website, which will show you the absolute values for brewing a five gallon batch, and also allow you to order the recipe, uh, as a kit from their website.

So let’s talk then about the ingredients for this beer. This is going to be a beer of an original gravity of 10 64. So a 6.1% beer. When it comes to the base malt, you really do want to use British base malt to get that biscuity character to your beer.

So I’m going to use golden promise for this 88% golden promise as my base malt. Then the specialty malts well, I’m using crystal 45, 8% of the grist. Is that, and did I mention biscuity character? Yep. 4% biscuit malt is going in as well.

Let’s talk then about solving some of the problems I’m having in my brewery. And the first one relates to this pulley. Now I use this pulley to lift up the grain basket. Um, when I have completed my mash and my buddy Alex has been watching these videos. And after everyone likes to remind me that I am using this pulley upside down.

Specifically, when I mount this guy on this end is mounted up to the ceiling. And then this end is the end that I pull on. And right now, when I want to raise this thing up, I have to pull upwards to raise the pulley. Alex tells me that you should actually be pulling downwards to raise the pulley, cause it’s going to be a lot easier.

Now, clearly I have this thing upside down, but the issue is that there is a little lever here, a little lever that I need to pull to reverse directions.

So when I want to pull this thing back down, I need to pull up and then I can reset the pulley. And if this is right on top of the ceiling, then I can’t reach it. So I have a solution for that. That is a chain. So this chain is going to Mount here with this carabiner, to my little mount on the ceiling, hanging down. And then the theory goes that I will then connect this guy to the bottom of the chain. And I should now be able to both reach this little mechanism and also pull down instead of pulling up. Let’s give it a go.

How To Brew English IPA 2

How about that? Yes, this is an IPA. So the IBU’s are a little bit higher than theirs. I’ve been brewing recently going for an IBU of 55. I’m going to get there primarily through my bittering hop, which is Target. I’m adding this in at 60 minutes looking to get an IBU of 40 from that. Then for 10 minutes from the end Fuggle and East Kent Golding are going to go in.

This will contribute about 6 IBU each, but really we’re adding those in for their flavor. Then at flameout that’s when Fuggle comes back into play again, throw in another bag there, and I am going to dry hop this beer and I will be using East Kent Golding to dry hop.

Now Eagle eye viewers might have noticed the second modification already, and that is related to my ventilation hood. I lowered it much, much lower than it was before. Now, the problem I was having with this guy is, well, a lot of condensation.

So as the steam would rise out of my brew kettle it would hit this ventilation hood and, uh, a lot of the liquid, but end up dripping back down again, certainly not an ideal situation. So Evan and I yesterday had a go at lowering this thing down a little bit.

As to the strength of this thing. I actually don’t remember. I bought this thing off eBay years ago, so it’s just possible that there’s not enough suction out of this thing, but I do think that lowering the distance between the ventilation hood and the source of the steam probably should help. Now we did lower this thing as low as the support would allow.

So I can’t really get any closer than this, have only been boiling for 15 minutes now. And what I would normally see is when I take it, these grills off, a ton of water would come out. So let’s give that a try now. Yeah. Still an issue that has not become steam and disappeared off of that fence.

How To Brew English IPA 3

The yeast for this beer. That is Wyeast 1099. Whitbread ale, going to add that now. I’m going to ferment this beer at 68 Fahrenheit and as for the modifications I made to the brewery. Well, the I’m putting work pretty damn well. That was much easier pulling down. Thank you, Alex. The ventilation hood though, still dripping…

Lauren back with me again for more beer. And we have got, um, a style that I really like, my favorite and the last it’s a style. That is an IPA, an IPA! Finally. So this is not your typical American IPA. You probably noticed that from the appearance. If we take a look at that, um, already it’s quite a, uh, copper color, orangy. Yes. Yes.

How To Brew English IPA 1

Okay. For me, um, it’s quite light when I smell it. Um, there’s not too much of a smell that’s overpowering for me. Like sometimes you can smell like an abundance of hops and kind of like, Hmm, that smells like poperee. But this one is, it’s kind of like mellow.

Yes. Yes. So I think that’s the English hops coming through. They’re not really quite as in your face as you would get with a regular IPA. Right. So, okay. Let’s see if we do get some bitterness and hoppy taste. You go first.

For me, this is like, I wish the style had come sooner because I’ve really enjoy this style of beer. And I would just have this on tap all the time.

It is really good. Um, I have to say, it’s not like your normal IPA, like American style. It isn’t in your face. Is it like when you’re trying to differentiate what for floral tastes or what hoppy tastes it is? This one’s like super mellow and it sits really good on the palette. And I like it.

Well, it is many months until I’m bringing another IPA based on the schedule. So we will make the most of this one and continue on with the Homebrew challenge BJCP guidelines. Okay. Well on that note, 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.