Thursday, June 23, 2011

Brewing An IPA For A Competition

Brewing is an art, and all art has critics. Beer is no exception. Of course, just like art, the way a beer is perceived can vary from person to person. Our taste buds are unique; we don't all experience flavors in exactly the same way. So, when brewing an IPA that must appeal to the masses, what type of malt and hop profile do I shoot for? Do I want more Earthy/Piney hop character or would a more grapefruit/citrusy hop aroma and flavor win over more people? Shuld the hops fully dominate, or do I want a more balanced IPA with a slightly sweet malt character to compliment the hops?

These are the types of things I must consider when crafting my latest IPA recipe; since this beer will be for a competition. However, this will be a non AHA/BJCP-Sanctioned competition. That makes a difference. Why?

BJCP Certified judges must adhere to a strict set of rules when judging in an AHA/BJCP-Sanctioned competition. A beer cannot be judged on personal taste or simply how well you 'like' it over another entry. Each beer in an AHA/BJCP-Sanctioned competition is judged on its own merit by a specific set of criteria and how close the entry comes to meeting the definitions of the particular style category the beer was entered into for each of those criteria.

Also, in an AHA/BJCP-Sanctioned competition, there can be no style variations. For example, you could not enter, for example, an Imperial IPA or a Lavender IPA into the IPA category as defined by BJCP. Imperial has its own separate category and using Lavender would place any entry in the 'Specialty Beer' category, since it would not meet the 'classic' definition of an IPA.

In the competition I'll be entering, there are no such restrictions. Want to make a Cotton-Candy IPA? Go for it. How about an Oaked Honey IPA? That'd work too. So I also need to decide if I'll make a more traditional IPA for this competition, or if I'll get a bit more creative and add one or more special or unusual ingredients.

I'm planning to brew the IPA sometime this weekend, however, so I need to make my decisions and finalize my recipe soon. If I manage to win the competition, my IPA will likely become one of the very first beers to be brewed by the Flying Bike Cooperative Brewery, which is pretty exciting. So wish me luck!

Drink responsibly and stay safe out there.

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