Rye IPA

This is another post in our series on IPA variants. Today’s post is written by Denny Conn, longtime homebrewer of rye IPAs and co-author, along with Drew Beechum, of the upcoming book, “Experimental Brews” (2014, Voyageur). Links to other articles in this series are given at the end of the post. 

 

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Rye IPA brings the spicy “zing” of rye to an IPA grist, complememting the pale and crystal malts.

India Pale Ale (IPA) is arguably the most popular craft beer style in America today. For evidence, all you have to do is look at the proliferation of variations on IPA. After beginning as an English style, hoppier and stronger than their pale ale, American IPAs came into vogue with the introduction of Anchor Liberty in 1975. It was the first American IPA brewed since the end of Prohibition. As the years passed and taste buds acclimated to the hoppy bitterness and aromatic fragrance of Cascade hops, it seemed a race began to make IPA bigger and more varied. First came imperial IPA (sometimes referred to as double IPA), a short step away from American-style barleywine. In short order, we were introduced to Belgian IPA, black IPA, session IPA and others. Fortunately, in the midst of madness, there’s a sane variation . . . rye IPA.

Rye is a perfect ingredient to add to an IPA. Its spiciness complements the hops. The earthy flavor is a perfect foil to the pale and crystal malts used to brew an IPA and rye adds a nice full mouthfeel that balances the hoppy bitterness in IPA. In short, rye is an ingredient that belongs in IPA!

I’ve been making rye IPA for over 15 years, and in that time I’ve brewed dozens and dozens of batches of it. The story of my rye IPA making is well documented if you look around the internet. Here are a few tips based on what I’ve learned about making rye IPA. I’ll also include my recipe so you can either brew it or use it as a starting point for your own version.

First, use enough rye to make it noticeable. Some people are afraid of using too much, thinking they won’t like the flavor. Their objections are usually based on their opinion of rye bread, but often it seems it’s the caraway that’s common in rye bread, not the rye itself, that is the issue. I feel like you need to use enough rye to make it at least 15% of your total fermentables. My recipe uses 18% and I’ve done rye beers with as much as 40% rye.

Be aware of possible lautering complications. Depending on your lautering system, rye might present runoff challenges, especially in higher amounts. The hose braid system I use has never had any problems, even with large amounts of rye malt. But if you’ve found that your lautering system can be prone to stuck runoffs, tossing a handful or so of rice hulls into the mash can help you out.

Flaked rye will get you the mouthfeel and a bit of the spicy flavor, but I think rye malt has much more flavor than flaked rye. If you’re an extract brewer, keep in mind that both flaked and malted rye need to be mashed. You’ll need to do a minimash to use them. Alternately, Briess makes rye malt extract. It also contains some base malt and crystal. In fact, the proportions are just about perfect for making an extract version of my rye IPA recipe!

Think about the other flavors in the beer. I’ve found that yeasts that are high in fruity esters, like some British or Belgian yeasts, can fight with the rye flavor and make a less than pleasant taste experience. I like either a neutral American yeast, or a tart, spicy Belgian yeast.

Carbonate to a reasonably high level. I shoot for 2.75–2.85 volumes of CO2. That helps cut the thickness of the rye and carry the flavor and aroma better than lower levels.

That’s about it! It’s up to you to start experimenting now. Take your favorite American IPA recipe and swap out part of the base malt for rye malt. Brew a batch, see what you think, and adjust from there. To get you started, here’s my Rye IPA recipe. Hope you enjoy trying rye!

 

Rye IPA

by Denny Conn

All-grain: English units

 

INGREDIENTS (for 5.5 gallons)

 

Water

Water adjustment as necessary to reach 250 ppm sulfate

Malts (for an OG of 1.073)

11 lb. 2-row pale malt

3.5 lb. rye malt

22 oz. crystal malt (60 °L)

0.50 lb. Carapils-dextrine malt

0.50 lb. wheat malt

Hops (for 73 IBU)

Mt. Hood whole hops

1.0 oz., at 4.9% alpha acids, as first wort hops (FWH)

Columbus whole hops

0.85 oz., at 17.8% alpha acids, boiled for 60 minutes

Mt. Hood whole hops

0.50 oz., at 4.9% alpha acids, boiled for 30 minutes

Mt. Hood whole hops

1.5 oz., at 4.9% alpha acids, added at knockout

Columbus whole hops

1.0 oz., added as dry hops

Yeast (for 7.5% ABV)

Wyeast 1450 (Denny’s Favorite) or Wyeast 1056 (American Ale)

3-qt. yeast starter

Other

1 tsp Irish moss or ½ Whirlfloc tablet, boiled for 10 minutes

 

PROCEDURES

Rest mash at 153 °F for 60 minutes.

 

 

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Rye IPA

by Denny Conn

All-grain: metric units

 

INGREDIENTS (for 21 L)

 

Water

Water adjustment as necessary to reach 250 ppm sulfate

Malts (for an OG of 1.073)

5.0 kg 2-row pale malt

1.6 kg rye malt

620 g crystal malt (60 °L)

230 g Carapils-dextrine malt

230 g wheat malt

Hops (for 73 IBU)

Mt. Hood whole hops

28 g, at 4.9% alpha acids, as first wort hops (FWH)

Columbus whole hops

24 g, at 17.8% alpha acids, boiled for 60 minutes

Mt. Hood whole hops

14 g, at 4.9% alpha acids, boiled for 30 minutes

Mt. Hood whole hops

43 g, at 4.9% alpha acids, added at knockout

Columbus whole hops

28 g, added as dry hops

Yeast (for 7.5% ABV)

Wyeast 1450 (Denny’s Favorite) or Wyeast 1056 (American Ale)

3-L yeast starter

Other

1 tsp. Irish moss or ½ Whirlfloc tablet, boiled for 10 minutes

PROCEDURES

Rest mash at 67 °C for 60 minutes.

 

Related articles

Session IPA

Belgian IPA

Wheat IPA

Relatively Darkish, IPA-like Thingys

 

Comments

  1. I see Chris edited out my curmudgeonly comments about black and session IPA…probably a smart move!

    • Chris Colby says:

      I like BWJ articles to focus on the factual, and this article had so much good stuff in it, I didn’t feel the opinion added anything. Great article. Thanks, Denny.

  2. Andrew Debenham says:

    I love Tröegs Nugget Nectar and was thinking of brewing something similar. I found a recipe on HBT that includes Munich and Vienna. After reading this article, I’m thinking maybe I’ll swap out some of the Munich for rye and see how it goes. Great article – it gave me some new things to think about!

  3. I love rye beers. Currently have two clones in my kegerator brewed with rye. Alpine Nelson with 1450 and a Wytchmaker with S-05. Very different beers but oh so tasty. Might just have to try this recipe. Thanks, Denny.

  4. Johnny P says:

    Anyone have an extract version of this beer, I would love to try ti, maybe using James’s 1 gallon method.

  5. Matt Moore says:

    Denny and Chris,

    I’ve tried a couple of Rye-PAs (Founder’s and Sierra Nevada), and my frustration is that I can’t taste the rye since the hops just overwhelm the flavor in these. They taste just like a regular IPA to me. This hopping rate looks more reasonable, but an ounce of Columbus in the dry hop + the spiciness of the Mt. Hood in the flavor/aroma addition also looks like it would mask things. I’ll try it before I knock it, though! I brew a low-gravity brown ale with Rye and I can taste it on the edges, but I think it’s time to do a 50/50 pale malt, rye malt small batch to see what this stuff really tastes like in a beer.

  6. Guillaume Miko says:

    Hi,

    I just what will happen if I use unmalted Rye, and just put more Pale Malt to increase the OG ?
    Have you idea about that ?

    Thank you anyway for your amazing job on BWJ !!
    Such a great source of inspiration for homebrewing 🙂

    Guilaume

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