Monday, July 12, 2010

British Sedition

In the current edition of Brew Your Own magazine there is an interesting article about the birth of a new beer style, at various times the style in question has been called Black IPA or Cascadian Dark Ale or in my ever so eloquent term when I first had the style, "crap". Having got together an eminently qualified collection of experts, it was decided to set the parameters for the new style, which at the Great American Beer Festival will be known as "American Style India Black Ale". The parameters for the GABF are as follows:
  • Color = 25+ SRM
  • Original Gravity = 1.056–1.075
  • Final Gravity = 1.012–1.018
  • Bitterness = 50–70 IBU
  • Alcohol by volume = 6–7.5%
In terms of mouthfeel and so on, the parameters have been set as follows (and I have taken these directly from the Brew Your Own website):

Aroma – Prominent Northwest variety hop aromas – resinous pine, citrus, sweet malt, hints of roast malt, chocolate and/or Carafa®, can include mild coffee notes, dry hopped character is often present.

Appearance – Deep brown to black with ruby highlights. Head varies from white to tan/khaki.

Flavor – A balance between citrus like and spicy Northwest hop flavor, bitterness, caramel and roast, chocolate, or Carafa® type malts. Any roast character should be subdued. Black malt is acceptable at low levels but should not be astringent. Any burnt character is not appropriate. The finish should be dry with caramel malt as a secondary flavor. Diacetyl should not be present. The main emphasis should be on hop flavor.

Mouthfeel – Light to medium, hop bitterness and tannins from roast malts combine to create a dry mouthfeel. Resinous character from high levels of dry hopping may create a tongue coating sensation.

Comments – Some brewers prefer to cold steep the dark grains to achieve a very dark beer without the tannin contribution of adding these grains to the mash. The use of Sinamar® color extract to enhance the color is common.

The article itself, which you can read here, then goes on to explain how ASIBA is different from a hoppy stout or porter, but I personally am unconvinced. Therefore I have decided to try an experiment with an upcoming homebrew project. I am going to take one of the clone recipes provided with the article, leave the malts alone by and large, but substitute the hops with British varieties such as Challenger, Target and Northdown. As of this moment I am undecided as to whether to stick with an American yeast or use a British ale strain of some kind.

If I discover that indeed ASIBA is significantly different from a traditional porter, then I would like to believe that I will have developed a new beer style to revolutionise the world of brewing, the British Style American Style India Black Ale! I am sure the world waits with bated breath.


  1. Well, I'll be interested to see the results: haven't had a "black IPA" yet, but my one experience of a stout brewed with massive amounts of C-hops was pretty vile.

    Incidentally, it's very rude to criticise fellow bloggers' speling, but that's "bated" breath, as in abated, ie, you're holding your breath (sorry).

  2. Was very interested in brewing something like this when I read the article in BYO. Will probably do one of the recipes listed there and post the results. I'll stick with the american version as opposed to altering your version, however if I did a version of your take would that then be an Irish Style British Style American Style India Black Ale (ISBSASIBA for short)?

  3. Martyn, thanks for the heads up on the "speling" - I assume that is pure solidarity? ;) Given your post a while back on hot maturation, I wonder if I could find a place to keep the beer at a steady warm temperature and see how it would taste then!

    Mark, it might be interesting to do one of each and compare the differences.


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