A maltier take on the beloved American IPA, let’s talk about the Red IPA! A beer that features the bitterness and dry finish of your classic American IPA, but with added caramel, toffee, or dark fruit characters. In this article, I’ll discuss my simple Red IPA BIAB Recipe.
What is a Red IPA?
The Red IPA is essentially a maltier version of the popular American IPA. It differs from a red ale or amber ale in that it is stronger, more bitter, and maintains the same drinkability that’s expected in an American IPA. This means that a red IPA must retain that same dry finish.
The flavors that are found in a red IPA that aren’t traditionally found in an American IPA include toffee, caramel, toast, or dark fruit. However, hop presence should still be very high in a red IPA.
The overall impression according to the BJCP (Beer Judge Certification Program) reads as follows, “Hoppy, bitter, and moderately strong like an American IPA, but with some caramel, toffee, and/or dark fruit malt character. Retaining the dryish finish and lean body that makes IPAs so drinkable, a Red IPA is a little more flavorful and malty than an American IPA without being sweet or heavy.”
How to Brew a Good Red IPA?
A good Red IPA should be strong, malty, hoppy, and sport a dry finish. Let’s go through the ingredients one-by-one.
Use a similar water profile as you would for an American IPA. I like to add slightly more gypsum to get a bit more of the bitterness and dry mouthfeel to shine through.
The grain bill will be the biggest difference between the Red IPA vs a traditional IPA. You will want to add additional crystal/caramel malt to get the malty/toffee notes that are associated with this style. Lighter crystal malt will add sweetness; whereas, darker crystal malt will start to add more toasty, caramel, dried fruit and toffee notes.
In addition, since one of the differentiating factors of a well-made red IPA vs traditional IPAs lies in its red color, let’s discuss how to get that.
How to Get Red Color in a Red IPA?
Adding caramel/crystal malt will lend a slight red color beer, so that is an acceptable option. However, if you really want your red IPA to stand out, adding Red-X malt is a great option. Red-X has properties of both Crystal and Munich malts. It lends a very strong red hue to your beer. It can be used up to 100% of your grain bill. In this case, your beer will come out extremely red! In this recipe, I chose to employ Red-X for about 15% of the malt bill.
Hops are a predominant part of this style. Most American or New World hops will fit just fine in this beer. Any of your common hop flavors/aromas are acceptable, ie floral, piney, resinous, spicy, citrus, dark fruit, melon, etc. You can also dry hop to get additional hop aroma in your final product. I would recommend staying away from very unique hop properties, such as though often found in New Zealand hops. I’m not saying that this would make a bad Red IPA, but you don’t want the hop flavors to clash with the malt notes.
Yeast character should be neutral to slightly fruity. English ale yeasts can add this slight fruitiness. Given that the predominant features of a Red IPA should be the hop and malt characters, I prefer to use a yeast that is clean and neutral. I have had good success using the classic Safale US-05. However, using a yeast like Safale S-04 could give you more of those fruity characters. Your beer might not finish quite as low (dry) using S-04 vs US-05, though.
Let’s get to the recipe! This recipe is for a one gallon BIAB batch. It can be scaled up as much as you need to for a larger BIAB or all-grain batch!
Red IPA Recipe
Volume: 1 gallons (3.8L)
Predicted SRM 15.15
Predicted IBU 83.54
Original Gravity 1.068
Final Gravity 1.012
2lb (0.91 kg) 2-row
8oz (226.8 grams) Vienna Malt
8oz (226.8 grams) Red-X
2oz (56.7 grams) Crystal 15L
2oz (56.7 grams) Crystal 60L
2oz (56.7 grams) Crystal 75L
Irish Moss (10 minutes)
Safale US-05 (1/2 packet)
Heat 5 quarts of strike water to 162°F (72.2C). Add brewing salts. Mill the grains and mix with strike water to reach a mash temperature of 152°F (66.7C). Hold mash temperature for 60 minutes. Sparge the grains with 170°F (76.7C) water until you reach a volume of 2 gallons (7.6L) of wort. Boil for 60 minutes, following the hop schedule. Add Irish moss at 10 minutes.
After the boil, chill the wort to slightly below fermentation temperature, about 64°F (17.8C). Aerate the wort and pitch the yeast. Ferment at 64-68°F (17.8-20C) for 2 weeks, then cold crash the beer to 35°F (1.7C). Bottle or keg the beer and carbonate to approximately 2.25 volumes of CO2.
Turn Up the Red
As mentioned in the ‘Grain Bill’ section, the Red-X malt does a wonderful job of adding a beautiful red hue to your beer. If you want your beer to turn out even more red than mine did, feel free to turn up the Red-X! It could be used to replace the Vienna malt or even part/all of the 2-row.
Dry It Out
As mentioned, this beer should feature a dry mouthfeel increasing it’s drinkability vs a standard strong red ale. If you want to dry out your particular beer even further, feel free to add additional sugar during the boil. As sugar additions tend to thin the beer out, this is welcomed within the style. The low end of the final gravity according to the BJCP is 1.008, so keep that in mind.
Thank you for stopping by!
If you are interested in how to homebrew using the brew-in-a-bag BIAB method, please see my post here.
If you would like to see more small batch recipes like this, please follow this link.