A bit of a belated post here. Just continuing the theme of writing up notes on my last few brews, to get up to date. It's fair to say that my most successful brew up until this point had been Propaganda, my black IPA, so I decided to have a crack at another one.
I tweeted that I was trying to plan a black IPA and didn't know whether to use any crystal malt. I received a few replies and among the people responding was James Kemp, or JK, formerly of Fullers, Thornbridge and Buxton breweries, who knows a thing or two about black IPAs to say the least.
The answer to my question by the way, was yes. About 5% crystal malt will help to darken the colour a bit, limiting the amount of Carafa III needed and would also help to support the massive dry-hopping needed. JK also very helpfully supplied me with some further advice regarding water manipulation and hop schedules. Thanks mate!
The grain bill I ended up with looked like this:
Maris Otter 5000g (69.4%), Munich 1000g 13.9%), Crystal 120EBC 350g (4.9%), Carafa Special III 325g (4.5%), Chocolate Malt 175g (2.4%), Wheat Malt 350g (4.9%)
The important thing was to use about 5% medium crystal and to limit the Carafa to the 4.5% region, to minimise the roasted flavours. I didn't add the Carafa at the end but instead mixed the whole lot in together.
I decided to use a single hop, Citra, with a single bittering addition of 28g at 60 minutes and a flameout addition of 175g. JK said that the 0 minute additions do add bitterness and suggested using 4-5% utilisation when working it out. With such a large amount being used, the effect is substantial and with this brew, over half the bitterness is added after flameout.
Unfortunately, when took a gravity reading, it was only 1.060. I'd been hoping to make a beer nearer the 7% mark, so it was nowhere near. In hindsight, all I could think of was that I'd not broken up the grain properly when mashing in and had left some doughballs behind. I went and bought a big stainless mash paddle for next time.
I carried on and the ferment finished at 1.012, making the finished beer 6.3%. I dry hopped with 200g of Citra pellets, which makes a rate of about 9grams per litre.
I had been gradually cutting down on the carbonation over the last few brews but probably went too far with this one and should have gone for a bit more. It eventually got to the point where it was just about carbed enough but the beer still needed swirling round in the glass to get a decent head. I'd try to get it a bit fizzier next time.
Overall, I was pleased with the end result, which was definitely black and had a really good hop aroma. I'd use some other hops next time, probably Columbus, Citra and Nelson and of course try to iron out some of the little mistakes I made. As always, I learnt a lot though, which is the main thing!