I wanted to brew a Centennial IPA recipe after getting bored with an Imperial IPA that I've been brewing for the past six months. And though I liked it some, it took a bit too long to age and sometimes didn't always sparkle the way I had hoped. It was however always at a nice strength of 7.5% to 8% abv. The strength kept it a bit too malty and one batch tasted something like apple pie - it was time for a change.
As I thought about what I wanted to brew next, I thought about giving my next IPA recipe a single hop variety to really examine it. I chose the Centennial hop because it expresses both aromatic as well as bitter characteristics.
The Centennial Hop is an American variety created at the year of my birth, 1974 from the United States Department of Agriculture in Washington State. It was a cross from multiple varieties that included a genetic compilation of Bavarian Hops, East Kent Goldings, Fuggle, Brewers Gold and an unknown variety.
Often considered the Super Cascade because of its similarity in aromas in addition to its much greater bittering potential, the Centennial Hop is one of the Three Big C’s in American Ale Hops along with Columbus and Cascade. Its Alpha Acids range from 8 to 11% while Beta Acids fall in between 3.5 to 5%.
My Centennial IPA recipe is composed of two dry malt extract DME varieties as well as one crushed grain steeping malt. I used California Ale Yeast to continue the tradition of west coast India Pale Ales that I love so much, and will prime with raw Demerara cane sugar.
Day 1 - Ordering the Centennial IPA Recipe Ingredients:
Day one is more like ordering day, which I like to do before going to work on a Monday or Tuesday. If you get your ingredients from multiple sources like I do, ordering early in the week gives it time to come in by the weekend.
Day 2 - The Big Brew Day - Centennial IPA Brewing Instructions
Once finished brewing the Centennial IPA recipe, I took an original gravity which came in nicely at 1.080.
My wife helped me film while brewing my Centennial IPA recipe and I rewarded her with a nicely aged White Wheat with champagne yeast I created over the Summer. I finished the night with a freshly ready Cascadian black IPA then retired late into the evening before my ride to work the next morning.
Day 14 - Racking the Centennial IPA Recipe
It was the the fourteenth day into brewing my Centennial IPA recipe and time to rack it into my secondary fermenter. For the secondary, I use a five gallon glass carboy.
I set my six gallon glass carboy on top of my counter and side by side had a hydrometer, the five gallon glass carboy, and an old Mr. Beer fermenter that was going to play a key role in the special experimental batch.
The gravity reading came in at 1.042 giving it a surprisingly low present alcohol content of 5.07% alcohol by volume. I added some awakened California Ale Yeast I saved during the brew day and added it to the secondary. To get a higher alcohol content and try to reawaken my yeast cells, I'm going to store it in a closed in closet with its own radiating heat.
For the experimental batch, I boiled two cups of raw Demerara cane sugar and pitched the package of Dry Red Wine Yeast. After adding the sugar, the gravity reading came in at 1.050, and with some arithmetic, I'll be able to get a final alcohol content determination.
Day 28 - Bottling and Aging the Centennial IPA Recipe
Now that it was time to bottle my Centennial IPA, I sanitized all my bottles and equipment with Star San, gathered my specialty brew along with my five gallon glass carboy and began the long process of bottling.
I started with my specialty batch that had been undergoing a secondary fermentation with the red dry wine yeast and an additional two cups of raw cane sugar. As I prepared to bottle it into my champagne bottles, I took a final gravity reading which came in at 1.030, adding 3.33% alcohol by volume. Summing the total of 5.07% plus 3.33% gives me a final alcohol content of 8.40%!
I primed each bottle with 1.5 teaspoons of the raw cane sugar. I was hoping for six champagne bottles but ended up with a total of four bottles. I bottled these during a friend’s birthday and will send him the bottle titled 1 of 4, and will age the rest for a minimum of three months, but I could see these age up to five years in my private reserves.
For the twelve ounce bottles, I boiled 1.5 cups of water then added ⅔ cups of raw cane sugar for my priming - I’ve made an early brewing decision not to use refined corn sugar in my beer, then added the boiled primer to my bottling bucket as I racked the Centennial IPA recipe to my bottling bucket, mixing the sugar and beer during the racking.
As I racked, I took a sample for my final gravity reading which came in at 1.030, giving it a final alcohol content of 6.67% abv. I was disappointed that it did not do better during early fermentation, but was glad it reached this abv level after aging in the secondary. The additional yeast, but more importantly the warmer temperature helped bring that alcohol level closer to its potential.
Once racked and primed, I bottled a total of thirty seven 12 ounce bottles along with an old Mr. Beer 1.5 liter plastic bottle - the bottle helps me to gauge when the beer has carbonated by adding noticeable pressure to the walls of the plastic bottle, a feature I’ve grown accustomed to since I often found myself opening imperial brews too early.
After the Centennial IPA has been bottled, I will store the twelve ounce bottles back into the dark and warm closet for an additional two to three weeks then open and enjoy!
Stay Tuned For the Next and Final Steps!