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Aging an IPA

What is the best length of time to age an IPA. I assume the aroma from dry hopping would eventually fade. I want to give out some chinook ipa’s as gifts. I bottled Sunday but it wouldn’t be for 3-4 weeks after they carb for 2-3 weeks.

That’s a perfect timeline. IPAs are young drinkers but do benefit from some aging and a month is just about right.

My ROT for a standard IPA is 10-14 days for fermentation followed by a week for dry hopping, then serve when carbonated. Pretty straight forward. Unlike most styles, I think bottle conditioned IPA’s are best consumed within a couple months–sooner is better. When kegged you can get a little more mileage before the hop aroma starts dropping off. Maybe another month.

I personally hate bottling IPAs and APAs because I feel like the hop flavor fades quickly, like within weeks. After a month or two there is a very noticeable difference. I much prefer to keg hoppy beers. But unlike bottled, I feel they do take some time to peak while kegged. My lightly hopped APAs are good after only a week or two, but sometimes IPAs that are highly hopped can take 2, 3 weeks or even a month for the flavors to really balance and come together. These are just my observations and my tastes.

Depends on the kind of IPA you’re making.
Traditionally and historically, IPA is a long aged beer. In recent decades, it has become something that is usually cranked out in a hurry.

But the real answer to the question posed by the OP is that the ideal age for IPA is “whatever your tastebuds determine to be ideal.”
Your recipe formulation will also have a lot to do with the ideal age. For the last 35 years, I’ve been routinely bulk aging mine for anywhere from 8 to 12 months. But that’s mainly because it’s the way the IPA I was buying in the 1960s and 70s was made.

Before prohibition, the Feigenspan brewery in Newark, NJ aged their IPA in huge cyprus tanks for a minimum of two years. In the years after prohibition (and at least up until the early 1970s), the Ballantine brewery aged their IPA for one year in ginormous wooden tanks (oak or cyprus, depending upon which accounts you believe)…and despite that, while it naturally didn’t feature the grassier fresh hop flavors favored these days by some, it did have an intense and clean bitterness as well as a hop aroma that has actually yet to be equalled by any IPA made today.

So generally, the idea of drinking IPA ‘young’ is a relatively modern (and very American) conceit. There definitely are a few very good ones out there in the stores today, which are obviously formulated and designed to be consumed comparatively young. Besides, aside from the aforementioned evolving and changing tastes, most craft brewers simply don’t have the tank space to age an IPA in the manner that big brewers like Ballantine did back in the day anyway.

There’s no question that many (if not most) people like the greener flavors of the modern American ‘young’ IPA coming from the craft brewers, their tastebuds having been ‘tuned’ to that particular profile. So it’s great that there are so many commercial ones out there to cater to them. :mrgreen:

Ironically hops help preserve beer as it ages. I don’t know if I’ll ever actually brew it but I have a recipe for an “Historical” British beer that I hop the beejeezus out of (close to 200 IBUs) and age for quite a long time with regular rousing of the yeast. If I do brew it I would in late spring so it would age over the summer when it’s warmer to mimic the long hot journey to India in a ship’s hold.

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