Craving extra hoppy brews these days? We've got you covered with this pick list. —INGRAIN, Spring 2019
STORY / Beau Forbes
If all of that Double IPA hops talk got you in the homebrew and tasting mood, we've got a few words on both.
The best recipes use a malt bill loaded with characterful English pale malt. Do NOT add crystal or caramel malt to a DIPA recipe, as the malt sugars will break down into raisin and dried-fruit flavors that will cover and conflict with the hop character of the beer. Adding sugar to get a high alcohol content is fine, as the sugar will ferment out and keep the beer dry. The high alcohol content will add the perception of body (mouthfeel), so the combination of fermentable sugar and avoiding caramel malt is critical to the classic dry, hop-focused character of this beer. Malt flavor absolutely belongs in the background for this one, so simple is best.
Pro Tip Pitch twice as much healthy, viable yeast as you usually would. This beer needs a clean fermentation with classic American “Chico” yeast to avoid off-flavors and allow the hop character to shine.
For hops, go buck wild. Add as many as you can stand and then throw in more. Specifically, use a very small bittering charge at the beginning of the boil (10 to 30 IBUs, depending on the style), and then wait until the last 10 to 15 minutes to begin bombing the beer with hops. Keep hops-bombing in the whirlpool, then dry hop the hell out of it after fermentation is over. Then wait a few days and dry hop it again. Then wait a few days and dry hop it again.
Pro Tip If you are into Hazy DIPAs, make sure to dry hop it during fermentation. The world of research into biotransformation of flavors due to dry hopping during fermentation is intense and complicated, so wander into this method of beer making very carefully.
DIPA TASTING PICKS
Please bear in mind that this is not a comprehensive list of the “best” DIPAs. Rather, these are a few classics that deserve to be lauded and are pretty widely available, though some are seasonal and/or very limited releases. (RIP Double Jack from Firestone Walker, which deserves to be here but is no longer commercially available.) And if you’re wondering what is the best Double IPA in America, my answer is still going to be the freshest one that you can find.
PLINY THE ELDER
Santa Rosa, CA
THE legend. The original and still a liquid time machine back to the ’90s. Piney, bitter, some supporting caramel, and finishes dry and clean. The whole craft beer game has changed, seasons have come and gone, but Pliny remains the same. Bonus points if you’ve ever tasted Pliny the Younger, the Triple IPA version.
SIP OF SUNSHINE
A game changer when it emerged, Sip of Sunshine pushed the Double IPA flavor profile from pine and grapefruit to tropical fruit and pineapple, and caused a generational shift in palate and flavor expectations for DIPA.
There are so many stories about this beer that it’s hard to keep track of them all. Still, even after 14 years of production, crazy difficult to find? Check. Always fresh because of excellent supply-chain management and the fact that it sells out extremely quickly? Check. Fermented with a yeast literally named Conan?
Check. This beer changed the IPA world and continues to influence it today.
A Midwestern classic. Honey serves as the sugar addition in this beer, giving it a sweet edge. Blasted with loads of Simcoe hops (i.e. “Cascade on steroids”) to give flavor and aroma qualities of pine and passion fruit. A winter seasonal release and much beloved.
Now that you know some of the DIPA options, grab a brew and head over to Total Palate Annihilation to learn about DIPA's history.