Batch #2: Earl Grey IPA

Ever since I started brewing, I have wanted to make an Earl Grey IPA. The flavours are practically made for each other: spicy, citrusy hops with bergamot (a citrus fruit) and bitter black tea? Yes please! I’m not the first person to think of this, obviously: at least one commercial brewery has done it, and it’s a popular topic on the homebrew forums. Last Monday, Brew Assistant Alex and I decided to give it a shot. There’s no consensus about how exactly it should be done, let alone a recipe, but he hates recipes and I’ve never been one for following instructions, so we improvised. It went pretty well.

Recipe (if that’s your thing):
6.6 lbs golden LME
1 lb Crystal 60 malt
1/2 lb Vienna malt
1/2 lb Carapils malt
1 oz Amarillo hops @ 60 min
1 oz Centennial hops @ 40 min
1 oz East Kent Golding hops @ 20 min
1 tsp Irish Moss
1 gallon very strong Earl Grey tea
1 vial Wyeast London III Ale Yeast

The process:

01steeping_2

Steeping the grain. We used the exact same grains as last time (the difference in flavour will come from the hops and, of course the tea) and steeped them the same way. We even used the guitar capo to hold the grain bag again, because why not? Clothespins are for chumps.

While this brewing session went a lot more smoothly than last time, there were some setbacks… namely the fact that the brew paddle broke as we were trying to squeeze any remaining liquid out of the bag.

02brokenpaddle_2

RIP brew paddle. You will be missed.

04boil_2

Coming to a boil. Without the lid this happened slowly, but without explosions. I continued to use what was left of the brew paddle to stir, since no other cooking implement was long enough for an 8 gallon pot.

05hops1_2

First round of hops! The Amarillo hops were whole/leaf hops, so they had to be steeped in a bag. I didn’t actually order these; my supplier just sent them to me because I’m pretty sure he is on drugs. Or maybe just drinking too much of his own homebrew.

06tea1_2

This is the tea. We used 100 grams of loose-leaf Earl Grey, steeped in a gallon of water (metric and imperial in a single sentence? Oh my!) for about a half hour. The tea came out extremely dark and strong, which was exactly what we were looking for.

07tea2_2

We strained the tea leaves out before adding the tea to the wort, at the end of the boil.

08straining_2

Straining the cooled wort into the carboy. This bizarre 3(4?)-stage straining process was Alex’s idea, and I take no responsibility for it.

09carboy1_2

Here it is in the carboy, right after the yeast addition. This was my first time using Wyeast brand yeast, and it’s odd, to say the least, but it seems to have done the trick.

10carboy2_2

After 24 hours active fermentation was well underway. We decided to use a blowoff tube instead of an airlock this time, even though there was probably enough headroom for an airlock. (Yes, the cupboard is a mess.)

The beer has been fermenting for a week now, and we’re planning to bottle in a week or two. This will be a much less hoppy beer than the last batch (3 ounces of hops as opposed to 5, plus no dry hopping) and hopefully the Earl Grey will add some interesting flavour, assuming it doesn’t all get absorbed during the fermentation process. We may add a bit of bergamot oil when we bottle, though that depends whether we can find it and whether we feel the bergamot flavour is strong enough already.

Next up: Cider.

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