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How bitter is your ideal DIPA? Only mildly? What's the secret?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by thecheapies, Jan 26, 2013.

  1. Southern Tier Unearthly comes to mind. Solid malt backbone, but well hopped.

    Also, not technically a double IPA, but OB G'Knight is supremely well balanced.
  2. I think that malt is your enemy in a DIPA. Many top brewers are doing everything they can to minimize the malt contribution to the style. We're making a high-alcohol beer in this case, so you can't get around using a lot of malt. Following from that, brewers often minimize specialty malts to add just a touch of the flavor that they are looking for, while not promoting excess body or caramel sweetness. Then simple sugar is commonly utilized (just like brewing a Tripel) to lighten the malt flavor further and promote a dryer finish.

    Hop-wise, most DIPAs are brewed to the limit of alpha acid saturation in wort. So many hops go in the kettle that it just becomes irrelevant what the actual IBU calculation is. Other factors like pH, sugar concentration, and fermentation/finishing characteristics end up determining the real IBU numbers in the finished beer. Some brewers can't get over 70-80 IBUs in their DIPA while others get close to 100, and it has nothing to do with a lack of hops.

    My opinion on that magical balance hinges on several factors that follow from the assumption of a clean, dry malt flavor. Alcohol is a big one. More alcohol provides more balance. Alcohol is slightly sweet, so despite a very low residual sugar, it can add a noticeable balancing character. Then the amount of finishing hops also balances bitterness. Hop oils and their fruity-sweet character offset hop bitterness and round out the overall character of the beer. Very heavy dry hopping will make a DIPA seem less bitter. It's about the overall package of flavor that is coming across. The less aroma there is, the more the existing bitterness will stick out. And the last thing that comes to mind right now is filtration. Filtered DIPAs tend to have a rounder flavor because yeast and tannins are removed that contribute to a harsher flavor.
  3. Ataraxia

    Ataraxia Savant (250) Massachusetts Sep 20, 2012

    Drinking Heady for the first time. I'd say it's a touch too bitter (in the taste), which I find a pity as the aromatic aspect is impeccable. Ideally it would be a little sweeter and a little maltier.
  4. No mention of sulfate levels, which can cause the bitterness to linger and cause it to be dry.

    For anyone that thinks Hopslam is bitter, it only has an IBU value in the 60s. Bells Oracle has a very high bitterness.
    As to the level of PtE, it is only about 90 in the lab. Don't trust IBU hype.
  5. peteinSD

    peteinSD Savant (255) California Apr 25, 2010

    alpine's IPA/IIPA success is based on dry, relatively bready malt backbones with over the top, dank floral aroma and complimentary (not dominating) bitterness.
  6. Sulfate is a very good point to bring up. I never thought Hopslam was bitter at all compared to most west coast DIPAs that I'm used to. When I first had it, I wasn't sure if I would even put it in the same style, More like a slightly sweet imperial honey ale with a lot of aroma hops. They are definitely going for something different with that beer.
  7. The Oracle is Bells take on a West Coast DIPA. Very bitter lingering finish.
  8. jackndan

    jackndan Advocate (565) Illinois Feb 25, 2002

    I'll admit to not getting bitter in DIPA's. DIPAs and other hop bombs taste floral to me, and the hoppier, only the more "crisp" it seems. I assume that is because of the American hop profile, and I am not being critical.

    Maybe I can't taste "bitter" anymore. Probably a reason I don't do reviews anymore. I find Dreadnaught refreshing, I taste the hops, I enjoy the hops, but cannot imagine describing the hops as "bitter."
  9. terrapinmark

    terrapinmark Zealot (85) Ohio Sep 23, 2010

    I like very bitter. Like Pallet Wrecker
  10. elNopalero

    elNopalero Advocate (665) Texas Oct 14, 2009

    I love this thread. Cheers to a well-written extensive post! I don't have anything substantial to add per se other than an anecdote about a conversation I had at a DIPA festival some years back between myself preferring hop-forward brews with little-to-no malt backbone and someone who, almost completely in contrast, loved the malty, chewy, resiny character of the DIPAs. Lincoln-Douglas debates it was not. And in the time since then my preferences have not changed so much as expanded. There are times when I want an intensely bitter and syrupy DIPA (not a young barleywine!) and times when I just want pure hop intensity. Fortunately these are times when my options are many and they are all so very, very tasty!
    thecheapies likes this.
  11. Its a balancing act every brewer does to get the results he/she desires.

    There is a plethora of things that effect balance. Variety of hops, amount and how long they are boiled; length, variety used and amount of dryhopping; attenuation of yeast; amount and type of specialty/crystal malts used; finishing gravity; amount of alcohol; mouthfeel; etc all contribute to a beer's balance.
  12. Ive had ipa
    naw man. What do u think makes the great ipas great? Why not just drink hop juice? The malt changes everything. Its part of the flavor experience . Have u had a ipa with a shitty malt back bone before? They suck
  13. compton

    compton Aficionado (165) Georgia May 20, 2009

    Crystal malts are the ones most brewers like to avoid when brewing DIPA's, not just malt in general. You'll see most west coast breweries actually use less malts than their regular IPA's, at least in variety, to make their doubles; often drying them out with some sort of sugar like dextrose (Pliny).

    A huge factor that often gets overlooked with hopping is water chemistry and and PH. In addition to early vs. late addition like mentioned before, these have a massive impact on how those additions of hops get absorbed into the beer. Mash hop with acidulated malts and you'll extract all sorts of hop essential oils and flavors while leaving behind the back-of-the-tongue resonating stank.
  14. Thanks for all of the responses! I read every single one of them; learned a lot in the process. I have a better understanding of what it takes to make what I like to drink, and I received some great suggestions of beers to try.

    Cheers and thank you all for contributing!
  15. My all time favorite is Bootleggers Knuckle Sandwich. Sixpoint Resin is my local go-to. FFF Dreadnaught is unreal! Weyerbacher Double Simcoe and Anderson Valley Heelch O'Hops are both very underated.
  16. I'm also a huge fan of Double Simcoe. That beer has that caramel malt sweetness attached to it, not to mention some toastiness. It'd be hard to call that DIPA malty, but there's a lot of grain seeping through. However, the aroma and flavor of pine and marijuana is impressive. Resin-y, hell yes. Juicy, not really. Bitterness is moderate-to-high, from what I remember. One of my favorites of the darker, more bitter, Imperial IPAs out there.

    I've never had the unfiltered version, and I think I really need to.
  17. I think the thing people get wrong the most (for my palate anyways) is how well the hops and malts go together. Something with more of a bready/biscuity/rye malt profile needs something that's spicier and pinier than something with very little malt profile, where I tend to prefer a juicier/fruitier hop.
  18. I prefer the sweet tropical and citrus flavors that have a balanced bitterness.

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