Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Coming up: IPA for Beerfly Alleyfight

On Saturday, May 16, Leah and I will be participating in the third annual Beerfly Alleyfight, held at the Chicago Rock Bottom and sponsored by the Drinking & Writing Brewery. Leah and I have actually participated in each of the first two Alleyfights, and you can learn more about it by reading our recap of last year's event here; if you're looking for the Reader's Digest Condensed Version, here it is: we brew a beer, make some food to pair with it, and then we're paired with an artist who interprets our pairing. Then people come, pay a few bucks, and get to enjoy all the beer and the food and the art. It's a lot of fun.

Anyway, for the third Alleyfight, the theme is India pale ales. I'm excited about this because, as the three of you who read this blog know, I'm not an IPA guy. I'm not really that big of a hops guy. But I like being forced to work out of the box (like last year when we brewed our Worst Case Scenario), and this is a great opportunity to do just that. So, the first thing I started thinking about is hoppy, IPA-like beers I really like. Two that jumped out at me are Two Brothers' Cane and Ebel and Stone XI 11th Anniversary Ale. The former is a rye beer, and the latter is a "black IPA" or India black ale if you're not into oxymorons. So I had my start: it's gonna be black and brewed with rye.

Next my thoughts turned, naturally, to the label. In my opinion, one of the most iconic album art ever is Cannonball Adderley's Somethin' Else. It's an all-time classic jazz album, and really more of a Miles album than a Cannonball album, but that's all beside the point. I figure this beer is definitely gonna be somethin' else in terms of what I usually brew, and it might be somethin' else in terms of what people will expect at the Alleyfight. So it occurred to me... maybe I can make this beer the liquid representation of a jazz club. It's dark, like the club. It's got rye, like the whiskey that many patrons would drink. It's got aromatic, piney hops which remind me of the aromatics found in gin. And then the next thing hit me: it should be smokey, just like the clubs of old. Not too smokey, mind you. After all, I want this to be popular at the Alleyfight, and overpowering smoke might freak people out. But I'll throw in just a touch of peak-smoked barley to give it an edge.

And thus Somethin' Else was born. The grain bill I have right now is:

10.00 lb Pale Malt (2 Row) UK (3.0 SRM)

3.00 lb Rye Malt (4.7 SRM)

1.00 lb Caramel/Crystal Malt - 60L (60.0 SRM)

0.50 lb Carafa III (525.0 SRM)

0.13 lb Peat Smoked Malt (2.8 SRM)

It's estimated to clock in at an original gravity of 1068 with a color of 27 SRM. My tentative hop schedule is:

1.00 oz Simcoe [13.50 %] (60 min)
0.80 oz Simcoe (20 min)
0.40 oz Simcoe (10 min)
1.00 oz Simcoe (1 min)
1.00 oz Simcoe (Dry Hop 3 days)

Should give me around 65 IBU's. The thing is, since I really don't know that much about hopping IPA's, I'm thinking I should diversify the hops, particularly when it comes to the late additions and dry-hopping. Any thoughts? As I've mentioned before, I'm more of a piney guy than a citrusy guy.

So that's where we're at right now. Of course, there are two other things to consider: the food and the art. We're currently thinking of pairing our beer with some kind of bacon mac and cheese, possibly made with smoked gouda. And as far as the art is concerned, I learned today that we're being paired with Naomi Ashley. I don't know Naomi personally (well, at least not yet) but she's a guitarist/singer-songwriter who did an awesome job at Beerfly Alleyfight last year, so I'm definitely looking forward to whatever she comes up with this year.

Well, I should probably shut up (or, technically, quit typing) and go to bed now, but before I do, one quick update on the Maibock. After only six days at 50°F it had dropped from 1070 to 1031 so I started upping the temp for the diacetyl rest on Saturday. I let it sit at 60°F for three days and started dropping the temp back down yesterday. I dropped it back down to 50°F tonight and hope to take a gravity reading again tomorrow before starting to lager. It may actually be ready by May 1!

UPDATE: Read about the brew day here.


Blogger Señor Brew™ said...

How about some Chinook? They taste piney.

8:14 AM, April 09, 2009  
Blogger Russ said...

It's really sad how little I know about American hops. Supposedly Stone XI used half Simcoe and half Amarillo. I just looked up some descriptions of Chinook and that sounds right up my alley. I'm wondering, though, if I should also throw a little Amarillo in there to get a little citrus kick to add some depth. Maybe some Amarillo at knock-out to get some citrus flavor but then Chinook to dry-hop so I don't get any cat pee aroma?

11:19 AM, April 09, 2009  
Blogger Russ said...

On second thought, I would think the Simcoe will give me all the citrus I need. Maybe I'll just go with half Simcoe and half Chinook for all of the late additions.

11:21 AM, April 09, 2009  

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