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How do *you* make a hoppy beer?

Personally, I lower the gravity, lower the mash temp, and double down on my salts. I like the cutting bite of a proper bittering hop, then a tingling pause where the malt fails to keep up, followed by appreciable aroma and flavor blooms that piggyback on the initial hop bite that lingers into stark mineraly-ness.

Why am I asking this? I’m afraid that the most important beer in US history, the West Coast pale ale/IPA is dying in an arms race for ever bigger and less hoppy beers.

A propeller head was needed for a meeting with clients from San Diego last week. The clients insisted upon a beer bar because they thought it was important that “you East Coasters” learn about “proper West Coast IPA.” They didn’t know that I grew up on the West Coast and I didn’t tell them that I learned to brew on the West Coast. I enjoyed their pale barley wines, but I found them flabby and boring. They were great technical achievements, but they were not IPAs, much less the beer that started the arms race.

I am enamored with the incredible aroma and flavors that come from a lot of the newer hop varieties, but I don’t feel the need to be caught up in the IBU & ABV arms race. My sweet spot for a hoppy beer is 5-7% ABV and 35-50 IBU. I’m also not a huge fan of Crystal malt in my hoppy beers, so I have been alternating between experiments of hopping up certain lager styles (Marzen, Helles Bock) and tweaking my more “stock” IPA malt bill of 2-row/Munich/Victory.

My hopping strategy is either 50% of my IBU from FWH & 50% from late hops (for less bitter styles), or 1/3 each from FWH, 60-min and late hops for something closer to a true IPA. I generally hop stand for 30-90 minutes. I brew 3 gallon batches, and start with a minimum of 2 oz for my dry hops, and have pushed that pretty high (as much as 8 oz for a 2-gallon batch of IIPA).

I’m always refining my process for my hoppy brews, since that represents at least half of what I brew. I’m always trying out new ideas, and I’m always looking for new ways to get more hoppy goodness in my beer.

I use First Wort Hops and also a 60 minute addition. Then a huge load of hops at flameout… nothing in between. Then I dry hop the bejeesus out of the beer.

For hop appreciation, I like 1/2 of the hop load at 60, 1/4 at 15, 1/4 at 2.

I prefer my hoppy beers to be less bitter and more hop flavor/aroma. I’m also always refining how I hop by beers, but lately I’ve taken to doing first wort hops to maybe 40 IBUs and the rest goes in at flameout with a hopstand. I haven’t dry hopped much in the past because I seemed to have poor luck with it. But I dry hopped my last IPA to try it out again and it is awesome. So I may start dry hopping the crap out of anything hoppy from now on.

[quote=“Wahoo”]I use First Wort Hops and also a 60 minute addition. Then a huge load of hops at flameout… nothing in between. Then I dry hop the bejeesus out of the beer.[/quote]+1 Now that I have a pump and can whirlpool, this is my standard IPA hopping regime - it allows for boiling to the proper OG without having to worry about timing the late additions.

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