Homebrew Recipe: Neck Tat That Says “Evil” Black IPA

G18_Homebrew_708x380 Illustration by David Witt

This recipe appears in Michael Dawson’s book, “Mashmaker: A Citizen-Brewer’s Guide to Making Great Beer at Home.” Learn more at mashmakerbook.com.

At a recent brewing conference I attended I sat next to a guy with a neck tattoo that was simply the word “evil.” At least I think that’s what it said—I was too scared to stare directly and it was hard to read the stylized script with a semi-averted gaze. Even if that wasn’t what his tattoo actually said, or if the guy didn’t actually have a neck tat and just badly missed his mouth with some heavily-sauced brisket… Well, as the man said, never let the truth get in the way of a good story.

But everything that follows is verifiably factual:

At that same brewing conference I had the chance to try an award-winning American black ale—more than once—and it was very good. As you have probably gathered, both of these experiences left an impression that are now converging in this month’s recipe.

Going by the Numbers

Some may know it as black IPA, Cascadian dark ale, bullshit hoppy porter, or some other adjective-laden and possibly contradictory stylistic designator. But in pro competitions sponsored by the Brewers Association it’s called American-style black ale. From the BA 2014 Style Guidelines:

… very dark to black. Medium caramel malt and dark roasted malt aromas are evident. Hop aroma is medium-high to high, with fruity, floral, herbal or other hop aroma from hops of all origins contributing. Medium caramel malt and dark roasted malt flavors are evident. High astringency and high degree of burnt roast malt should be absent. Hop flavor is medium-high, with fruity, floral, herbal or other hop flavor from hops of all origins contributing. Hop bitterness is medium-high to high. Body is medium. Original Gravity 1.056–1.075; Apparent Extract/Final Gravity 1.012–1.018 (3.1–4.6); Alcohol by Volume 6.30%–7.60%; Bitterness 50–70 IBU; Color SRM 35+

What Makes It Tick

It should be stout- or porter-like in color, hoppy in aroma and flavor, but not astringently or acidic in its roast—check. In both neck tats and American black ales, subtlety is for losers. So we’re going to aim at the upper end of the range for gravity, bitterness, and ABV percentage. We’ll get some classic Pacific Northwest IPA hops and make sure they cannot be overlooked in the glass through heavy additions late in the boil and a hopstand prior to cooling. To get deep, dark color without astringency or bitterness, we’ll use a de-husked roast grain combined with a separate cold steeping process.

A Recipe to Try: Neck Tat That Says “Evil” Black IPA

Target OG: 1.075, Target IBU: 65–70

12.5 pounds Rahr 2-row pale
1 pound Patagonia Perla Negra
Important: bag and mill the grains separately!

1 ounce Chinook
2 ounces Centennial
2 ounces Simcoe
2 ounces Amarillo

Wyeast 1056 American Ale

Mesh steeping bag for cold-steeping the Perla Negra

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