Brew Log: Hop Break (Hoppy APA)

Do I call it ‘Hoppy American Pale Ale’, perhaps the most correct term, or ‘Session IPA’, certainly the more marketable but surely confusing title? More eloquent writers than yours truly have dedicated words to this debate, so I’m mostly going to stay out of it. It is clear that this style of beer is a relatively new and exciting thing: A lower ABV, crushable pale ale with pronounced bitterness and hop flavour/aroma. As such, it sits in between the American IPA and the American Pale Ale – borrowing the over-the-top hopping of the former and the drinkability of the latter.

Whatever you want to call it, I brewed one, targeting about 4-4.5% ABV, 30 IBU and ideal crushability – “sessionability” if you prefer. To make a beer this light which retains some semblance of balance, I will have to give it some interesting malt character (Munich and wheat malt should do the trick), some unfermentable sugars (mash-in at 154), and a yeast strain that isn’t going to totally dry the beer out (Safale S-04). I’m also looking for a beer that’s going to ferment out quickly and be ready to bottle within 10-14 days, as I still have those Berliner Weisses hogging two of my carboys (they’re getting better, but slowly). I’ve thoroughly enjoyed a few beers that feature Amarillo recently, so I thought I would do the same here. I really like the tangerine/orange character of this hop and I think it will play nice as a dominant addition in a wheat-inflected pale ale. I’m a fan of Columbus as a late addition, as it adds a dank, resiny character and big flavour that I find adds complexity in hoppy beers.


Recipe: Hop Break American Pale Ale

Estimated OG (70% efficiency): 1.046
Actual OG: 1.047
Estimated IBU: 31


4.5 lb / 55% 2-Row pale malt
2 lb / 25% Pale Wheat malt
1 lb / 12% Light Munich
7 oz / 5% Acidulated Malt
4 oz / 3% CaraFoam

Mash at 154F for 60 minutes (BIAB)


0.5 oz / 31 IBU Columbus (15%AA) (60 minutes)
1.5 oz each Amarillo and Columbus (30 minute hop stand at 175F)
3 oz Amarillo (dry hop 5 days)

Boil 60 minutes, chill to 175F, hop stand 30 minutes, chill to 65F, aerate and pitch yeast.

Yeast: Safale S-04

Extras: 7g gypsum (mash pH adjustment), 1 tsp carrageenan (whirlfloc), 1 tsp yeast nutrient.

Brew Log: 

2014/07/12: Pretty standard brew, thankfully! BIAB as usual. Mash dropped from 153.7F to 152F over 60 minutes. Big hot break on this likely owing to the inclusion of wheat, leading to the name of the beer.

2014/07/13: Fermenting vigorously, nice bready/hoppy smell coming out of the blowoff.

2014/07/23:  1.014

2014/08/04: 1.012 – 4.5% abv and 75% attenuation. Bottled after 6 days dry hopping with 3 oz amarillo. I didn’t use a bag, and this resulted in a lot of hop chunks getting siphoned. In the future, I need to approach hoppy beers differently – in a bucket with hops in bags seems to be the best call.




– Richard


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