Sunshine IPA

What we have here is a lesson in how not to brew a beer. After a few months off and transitioning back to brewing in Korea, the final product didn't exactly finish the way I would've liked. However, there was a positive start to it all. After going through all of my previous equipment notes from brewing here in Korea, I wound up getting the majority of my supplies from the utterly fantastic Seoul Homebrew. The site's in English, intuitive to use, has plenty of ready-to-go kits, and most importantly for this post, equipment kits. I wound up picking up their Basic Kit for glass bottling which included almost everything needed other than the brew pot and strainer. As I've mentioned on here before, one of the lovely things about living and brewing in Korea is the amount of heavy duty kitchen supplies that are available in every city and tiny village. Food is taken extremely seriously here, and as a result there's not only delicious cuisine to take in, but affordable and reliable cooking equipment. If you're just getting going here, I'd highly recommend checking your local kitchen supply store before buying anything online. However, if you want to go the easy route, Seoul Homebrew can take good care of you.

So, down to the beer. I based the recipe on a Brewer's Best American IPA BIAB kit found through the Bell's General Store and made a few tweaks. Mainly I spent my time cutting the 5 gallon batch down to 3 gallons and converting from Imperial to Metric. I teach English for a living. Math is not my strong suit. But with the help of a few conversion apps and the trusty phone calculator I thought I had everything good to go. I was able to cut and convert everything down and keep Pale Malt as the base with Carapils, Caramel, and Victory carrying the finer notes. Luckily everything was available for custom purchase through Seoul Homebrew as well. The only minor tweak I had to make to the recipe itself was to sub 24 grams of Cascade hops for the Simcoe the recipe called for. In the end I'm more than alright with it since it felt a bit wrong to brew an IPA without Cascade. (For a full rundown of the ingredients needed, you can check out the recipe here.)

But back to this being how not to brew a beer. Aiming for an 11 liter yield, I started my day with 20 liters of strike water and followed my usual BIAB mash schedule. Even though I had spent a substantial amount of time reducing and converting the ingredients to order, I had neglected to finish the finer points of the recipe until day of. So, on the fly I was converting from Fahrenheit to Celsius, gallons to liters, and so on. I'd thought I did a decent enough job until I took my OG reading and got 1.038. Well below the target 1.059 - 1.065 and something that would leave me with a "beer" under 4.0%. Surely I had incidentally smited the old beer gods and the new. How could this have happened?

My initial thought was that the boil wasn't hot enough and therefore enough water didn't evaporate out, but that wouldn't result in such a deviation from the expected OG. So I looked over my recipe notes again and let out long winded, detailed, and thunderous tirade against myself I'm quite happy the majority of the neighbors couldn't translate. There in plain sight was a mashing direction I mindlessly followed: "While your grains are mashing, prepare a clean empty bucket and one gallon of clean warm water for lautering stage." Like a moron, I hadn't cut this down to the half gallon (aka 1.8 liters) it should've been. So I removed the grains from my boil, lautered em up good in my gallon of water and added it back to the brewpot without thinking twice. I had just diluted my batch by about 1/3 of what I wanted it's total volume to be... essentially creating 133% of the water volume required for the grains I had.

So that batch went down the drain.

But, like a good student I ran it through the primary fermenter first and tested the flavor just to see if I managed to get the other aspects of the brew right. I was happy enough with the flavors that I decided to try it again instead of bottling and serving beer flavored water. There's already enough Hite as it is in this country. So I ordered up the ingredients for round two, double checked my calculations, and completely removed the lautering step since I've rarely done it in the past. The second go round yielded another disappointing OG in the form of 1.045, but I wasn't about to dump two batches in a row. After some more reluctant investigation into my own ineptitude, I realized the mistake was adding too much strike water yet again. The eyeballing "technique" that had gone relatively well for me in the past had failed me twice and will forever be abandoned.

Unfortunately this was my last brew before the summer heat would make fermenting impossible, so it was disappointing to spend so much time on a single batch. However, the lessons learned regarding lautering and strike water were expensive and frustrating enough to serve as an ongoing reminder to eliminate such half-witted and simple mistakes moving forward. In the end, the beer gods smiled on me with the magic of fermentation giving a FG of 1.002 and an overall ABV of 5.6%. Not where I wanted it, but certainly enough to make it a respectable session IPA. So as not to confuse the neighbors I let out a controlled, but still quite rowdy 아싸 to let them know all was indeed well in apartment 104.

Check out the full Sunshine IPA recipe HERE.


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The Concept

Brew Day is a brewers collective with a different obsession every month. Each month the homebrewers involved will tackle a different style of beer by brewing a batch and getting their malt-stained hands on as many pints of the same style as possible. Each brewer will bring their own warped concept to their batch helping to create as many variations as there are brewers involved.

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