Forte | Imperial NEIPA

Forte | Imperial NEIPA

Amidst a fairly heavy focus on mixed-fermentation beers, brewing the ideal NEIPA has become an unexpected side-project of mine. My first version, La Brume, was so close to being everything I love about the style – moderately bitter, uber tropical, with a soft, pillowy mouthfeel. Disappointingly though, it had nowhere near the haze I was after. Although La Brume started off life with a light haze similar to the original NEIPAs (e.g. Heady Topper), it cleared up entirely over around two weeks in the keg.

La Brume - very tasty, but a short-lived haze

Being a doctor by trade, brewer by nature, I decided to employ a (rather sketchy) scientific approach to re-brewing with haze in mind – change one variable, and measure its effect. Thinking perhaps I’d underdone things from a high-protein adjunct perspective, I ramped up this component of the recipe, while keeping other parameters roughly similar.

For the recipe below, please note that some of the parameters have been auto-entered by BeerSmith – for example, I didn’t measure the post-mash gravity. My post-boil gravity was 17.2 Brix (1.071) – a little lower than I was shooting for.

Brew Day 21.7.20

Post-boil gravity: 17.2 Brix WRI (OG = 1.071)
~ 250 mL of Vermont Ale slurry from last IPA batch added to ~ 18.5 °C wort, fermentation chamber set to 20 °C.
Fermenting very strongly the next afternoon (~1300hrs first time checked)

23.7.20
1215hrs – added 25 g each of Mosaic, Citra, and El Dorado. VERY active fermentation!
24.7.20
Same amount of hops added 1700 hrs, much reduced CO2 production, krausen fallen. 8.2 Brix WRI = 1.011 SG. Ramped to 24 °C.
26.7.20
2300hrs – 8.0 Brix WRI, crashed to 1 °C with CO2 balloon attached.
28.7.20
1700 hrs – kegged at 1.1 °C into CO2-purged keg. Placed on 35 PSI at 2.5 °C.
30.7.20
Well carbonated, tasting hot – possible fusels, maybe some diacetyl. Good tropical nose, papaya etc. Fruity palate but not overwhelmingly so.

1.071 OG, 1.010 FG = 7.98% ABV

Ignore the OG here - the Tilt doesn't seem to read accurately at high gravities

Tasting Notes 

Appearance

Again, an outrageous, meringue-like head. Far more retention than last brew, I imagine owing to the higher percentage of adjuncts. More on the amber spectrum than golden (the latter of which I’d hoped for). Perhaps the omission of KMB from this version is responsible for the darker colour, however I think I’ll be skipping the Aurora malt the next time I brew this. The haze is similar to the last version, though appears to be holding its own for longer.

Aroma

Pineapple, mango, papaya, and Sophie gets a touch of lime zest and resin.

Taste

Light to moderate bitterness (I’ll aim for a touch higher IBU next time). Mango juice, papaya and granny smith apple on the palate, with minimal pine. The lactose is not missed from my last brew, however there’s a nice residual sweetness here that adds to the juicy perception.

Mouthfeel

Smooth and juicy. The sulfate:chloride ratio feels just right.

Drinkability and notes

It would appear that the high-protein adjuncts are simply one component of the NEIPA, rather than being the key to haze.

Thirst-quenching and satisfying, the sessionability is fairly limited by its high ABV, and I wouldn’t want to hit more than a pint and a half of this stuff. I worried about a little diacetyl slickness early on (no surprise given the super fast fermentation schedule designed to get this ready for a rather fancy event), though that’s settled out.

Changes for next time? Lower ABV, similar adjunct proportions, higher bitterness, and more resin – I think a touch of Cascade or Simcoe at whirlpool would push this to the next level. Most importantly though, I believe a change of yeast is in order. Vermont Ale has served me well, however I’m hoping London Fog will produce some serious haze.

Cheers!

B.

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