Countdown Imperial IPA – What the what? 4/1/2014


Well, what do we have here? Another IPA you ask?  An Imperial IPA?  But you already made a single IPA called Countdown IPA, so what’s up with the IIPA version?

My previous iteration of Countdown IPA turned out really good, but I felt like the amount of hops I used were bordering on excessive and/or unbalanced.  My friend Tim also mentioned something to this effect as well, so I decided to increase the alcohol and body a little to match the hops.  However, if you’re going to scale up the batch of beer, the hops need to scale up as well!  So, I present to you, my loyal viewer(s), my Imperial version of Countdown IPA.  One of these two beers will be renamed soon, but the concepts and most of the ingredients behind them will stay the same.

During the recipe formulation process of this beer, I looked back to my tasting notes on the previous batch of Countdown.  I decided that there was too much CTZ in the beer, and there was allot of grapefruit and pine flavor as well.  I decided right after drinking, aka KILLING the last Countdown keg that I need to remove some CTZ from the hop bursting additions, and add something fruity like Citra to the mix.

I recently moved to purchasing my grains in bulk, and grinding them myself.  The result was a switch from Great Western 2 row to Gambrinus pale 2 row malt.  The differences weren’t discernible to my palate, but I enjoy the Grambrinus well enough, and it’s a few dollars cheaper for a 5lb heavier bag of base malt.  I’ll make another post about bulk malt purchases and grinding your own grain soon…

There were a few deviations from the recipe that I will explain in my brew day run down, but for the most part the beer turned out fantastic!

Brew Day

I took the day off from work on April fools day to brew a batch of beer guilt free.  On a normal brew day I’ll feel the guilt of asking my wife to watch our soon to be one year old all by herself for five hours so I can pursue my hobby.  This time, I dropped Violet off at daycare, came home, and was able to get to work.

I heated my mash water, prepared the grains (cranking a mill by hand SUCKS), and gathered supplies in an attempt to have an organized brew day.  I actually managed to weigh out my hops well ahead of time, which further improved the serenity of the brew day.

I mashed in and hit my target temp with ease, I am fairly certain that I have this dialed in almost perfectly now.  I went for a 75 minute mash just to make sure that conversion was complete.

I added a small amount of sparge water to the mash, and started to vorloft until the wort ran clear.  Once this happened I started my fly sparge.  The gravity reading on my first runnings was pretty fantastic, so I continued a nice slow sparge with the rest of my HLT contents.

Once I reached about seven of the eight gallons of pre-boil volume I took another gravity reading.  This reading was done at a temp well over 160 degrees.  As some of you know, a hydrometer is not built to give anything close to an accurate reading at these temps…  Obviously, my reading was low, but since I am trying to play it cool on brew days and stop running around in a panic, I decided to draw off my last gallon of wort into a separate pitcher.  I figured if I didn’t have a real efficiency problem and the gravity came out higher than planned I could dilute the wort in my kettle with that last gallon and hit my target starting gravity.

At this point I start my boil, add my hop additions, and check in on the hydrometer periodically.  At about 30 minutes into the boil the hydrometer reading has gone up substantially, so I add half of the one gallon that I set aside to the boil.  It’s at this point that I’m starting to think that I am going to be right on target and my efficiency was half way decent.  Oh how wrong I was.

With my boil just about done, I began preparing for a 30 minute hop stand.  This process bumps up the hop flavor and aroma of the beer even further!  It was at this point that the hydrometer started to give me the news I was hoping for, but wasn’t actually expecting.  The gravity on my wort pre boil was actually quite a bit higher than what I had originally targeted.

Unfortunately for me, the left over wort in my pitcher was not boiled, therefore it is not sterile, therefore I cannot add it to the no longer boiling kettle to lower the gravity.  Sure, I could have boiled the wort in a separate pot and add it to the existing wort.  You know what else?  Hindsight is a son of a bitch.  I wasn’t smart enough to come up with that plan at the time..  So, my starting gravity was 10 points higher than I had originally planned.  This means my beer would probably come in over 9% abv instead of the nice 8.5% I had planned.  Is this really a problem?  No  Will my yeast starter be able to tear through the extra sugar?  Probably.  Did it?  YES!

Original Gravity: 1.084 Final Gravity: 1.014 9.3% ABV = Sploosh!


I took a hydrometer sample after primary was completed (9 days), prior to adding dry hops.  The hydrometer sample tasted fan-fucking-tastic.  I declared to myself that this was one of the best beers I have ever made, and furthermore, it was my own recipe.

About a week later, Countdown is in a keg and starting to force carbonate.  It’s at this point in one of my brews that I will pull off a 6 ounce sample every couple days to see how the carbonation is coming along.

Once again, I declare to myself that this is one of the best beers that I have ever made.  I decide to pour another quality control sample and give it to my lovely wife.  I kid you not, the first words out of her mouth besides “mmmmmmm…” are, “I think this might be the best beer you’ve ever made”.  I laughed to myself and told her I just got done saying the same thing.

To wrap this long story up before I go off on another tangent…  I am entering this beer in my home brew clubs competition.

The Cascade Brewers Cup is this weekend, and there are over 400 beer entries at this point.  I entered the beer in group 14c.  This is my first competition, and I will be stewarding as well, so there should be a blog post about that soon.

The recipe is below, I did have to substitute the Amarillo dry hop addition with Ahtanum since I unknowingly used the last of my Amarillo in the hop stand.


Countdown IPA

All Grain Recipe

Brewer: Chudson
Batch Size: 6.00 gal Style: Imperial IPA (14C)
Boil Size: 8.02 gal Style Guide: BJCP 2008
Color: 8.1 SRM Equipment: MY GEAR Pot and Cooler ( 5 Gal/19 L) – All Grain
Bitterness: 85.9 IBUs Boil Time: 60 min
Est OG: 1.074 (17.9° P) Mash Profile: Single Infusion, Light Body, No Mash Out
Est FG: 1.010 SG (2.6° P) Fermentation: Ale, Two Stage
ABV: 8.5% Taste Rating: 30.0


Amount Name Type #
14 lbs Pale Malt, 2 row (Gambrinus) (2.0 SRM) Grain 1
14.0 oz Biscuit Malt (23.0 SRM) Grain 2
14.0 oz Cara-Pils/Dextrine (2.0 SRM) Grain 3
14.0 oz Caramel/Crystal Malt – 20L (20.0 SRM) Grain 4
8.0 oz Honey Malt (25.0 SRM) Grain 5
0.5 oz Warrior [15.0%] – Boil 60 min Hops 6
0.24 tsp Irish Moss (Boil 15 min) Misc 7
1.00 tsp Yeast Nutrient (Boil 15 min) Misc 8
0.5 oz Columbus (Tomahawk) [14.0%] – Boil 10 min Hops 9
2.0 oz Simcoe [13.0%] – Boil 8 min Hops 10
2.0 oz Centennial [10.0%] – Boil 6 min Hops 11
2.0 oz Amarillo Gold [8.5%] – Boil 4 min Hops 12
2.0 oz Cascade [5.5%] – Boil 2 min Hops 13
1.0 oz Amarillo Gold [8.5%] – Steep 15 min Hops 14
1.0 oz Cascade [5.5%] – Steep 15 min Hops 15
1.0 oz Centennial [10.0%] – Steep 15 min Hops 16
1.0 oz Citra [12.0%] – Steep 15 min Hops 17
1.0 oz Simcoe [13.0%] – Steep 15 min Hops 18
1 pkgs San Diego Super Yeast (White Labs #WLP090) Yeast 19
1.0 oz Amarillo Gold [8.5%] – Dry Hop 4 days Hops 20
1.0 oz Cascade [5.5%] – Dry Hop 4 days Hops 21
1.0 oz Citra [12.0%] – Dry Hop 4 days Hops 22
1.0 oz Simcoe [13.0%] – Dry Hop 4 days Hops 23