Homebrew Batch #5: Rye IPA

I brewed my last beer, a cream stout, over three months ago.  My first four homebrews were extract with steeping grains.  I think I have a good grasp of the extract brewing process and decided to take the next step and do a mini-mash.

In a mini-mash (or partial mash), the starch conversion is performed on a small quantity of wort and augmented with extract. After the the initial mash, the brewing process is essentially the same as a basic extract brew. For more on mini-mash, check out this excellent summary.

I also wanted to experiment with various yeasts.  So I decided to split my wort into two batches and ferment them with different yeasts. 

Then the biggest question...what style to brew and which yeasts to use?  I decided to make a Rye IPA.  I love IPAs and have enjoyed the few rye beers I have tasted.  I think it'll be a great combination!

For my yeasts, I decided to go with Safale US-05, a dry California Ale yeast.  I've used this before and liked the result.  For the second yeast, I decided to be a bit more daring and used White Labs WLP400, a liquid Belgian Wit yeast.  This yeast should provide some tartness as well as spice.  I can't wait to taste the differences between the two!

I'm considering skipping secondary fermentation for these batches.  My sources tell me racking to another vessel for secondary is not necessary and that I can leave the beer in the original fermentation bucket / carboy for a longer period.  I'm still debating this...

I got the recipe from Northern Brewer.  You can see it in detail here.  Here's a high level summary of the key ingredients.
  • Style:  Rye IPA
  • Malt Base:  Briess Amber liquid malt extract
  • Partial Mash Grains:  2-Row pale malt, Rye malt, CaraRed
  • Hops:  Zeus 17.7% alpha acid (bittering) and Palisades 8.4% alpha acid (aroma)
  • Yeast: 
    • Safale US-05 (for three gallons of wort)
    • WLP400 (for two gallons of wort)

Brew Log:
4/17:  WLP 400 in carboy.  US-05 in bucket.
Apr 17:  Brew day.  The mini-mash process was fairly straight forward.  I did the mash on my stove and closely monitored the temperature with a probe thermometer.  Next time, I'll mash in a picnic cooler, which should make it easier.  OG 1.061.  I used my trusty home made wort chiller to cool the wort and pitched both yeasts at 68 degrees F.  I didn't make starters.  Note the expiration date on the WLP400 vial.  Think this will come back to haunt me?

Apr 18:  On cue, the US-05 was happily bubbling away.  Nothing happened with the WLP400.  It looked exactly the same as when I started.  Zero activity.  Wondered if I should re-pitch. 

Apr 19:  In the morning, nothing on the WLP400.  Big regrets about not making a starter.  I read some info on web saying WLP400 is a slow starter, and that it helps to shake the carboy.  I shook the carboy gently.

In the evening, still nothing.  I shook the carboy very vigorously.  Almost instantly, a layer of yeast separated from the sediment and rose to the top.  I immediately saw airlock activity!  Fingers crossed.

Apr 20:  Finally!  The WLP400 made airlock burps every 30 seconds. 

Apr 21:  WLP400 again slowed down.  I never got vigorous bubbling, so I knew it wasn't done.  I gave the carboy another strong shake. The US-05 has been going strong for the past few days and finally started to slow down.

Apr 23:  Now we're talking!  I finally got vigorous fermentation activity on the WLP400.  There was serious churning activity visible in the carboy.  I've always fermented in bucket, so I was never been able to view the fermentation activity.  It was quite calming—like watching a lava lamp.  It also kicked off a nice tart aroma!  US-05 still bubbled, but slowly. 

4/23: Vigorous fermentation.  Finally!

More updates coming soon....

Have you brewed a Rye IPA or used Belgian Wit yeast?  How did it work out?

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  1. How much rye did you use? I did a rye pale ale, I used 2lbs (21%) and next time I'll do more.

    1. Hi Mike. I used 1.5 pounds of rye malt. I got the recipe from Northern Brewer and attached a new link to it in the post.


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