One of the best things about getting into home brewing has been the progression from absolute uncertainty and lack of confidence in the brewing process to craving the ability to completely dictate the outcome of your beer. After brewing a few extract kits strictly by the book, I began to seek ways to add to flavor and increase quality. For me, that next step would come in the form of an IPA.
The first thing I wanted to do with this batch was to give the secondary another shot. Instead of using the borrowed glass carboy I had used previously (with poor results), I decided to purchase a 5 gallon Better Bottle. In addition to a new carboy, I picked up the extract kit for an IPA and opted to add a pound of dextrose to give the yeast a few extra fermentables; now we’re getting crazy.
All went well with the boil, primary and secondary; there were no odd color changes or flavor faults from step to step. With each phase passing successfully, I felt I needed to continue to step outside of my comfort zone. The thought of dry hopping terrified me but I was willing to risk disaster and go for glory. I ended up adding Columbus hops for the final week prior to bottling with good results.
The beer ended up tasting great. The first bottle I opened had a great scent; heavily floral. The flavor was just as pleasant; a thick and pungent hop bite that ended with a floral effervescence. I did notice that the hops faded greatly as time wore on, which is expected, but I still really enjoyed this brew.
After all was brewed and consumed, I was encouraged to continue seeking ways to take control of my beer. This would follow shortly in the form of ditching the kits and following my own recipe; no directions, no double checking brew schedules and no limits! OK, I’m still brewing extract, but I plan on changing that soon.