How to Brew a Double IPA

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Double IPA is a modern American classic beer style. Hopped to the extreme, high alcohol, and astronomically flavorful, DIPAs are fun – and challenging – to brew at home.

Brewing a double IPA requires great quality ingredients, attention to detail, and tight control of every variable. To brew the best double IPA:

  • Use lots of very good quality American, New Zealand, and Australian hops
  • Pitch enough healthy yeast
  • Control fermentation temperature
  • Minimize oxidation through careful dry hopping and packaging

Our guide highlights every step of the process to brew amazingly fragrant and deceivingly strong DIPA at home.

What is a Double IPA?

Kicked-up alcohol punch. Dry and malty backbone. And most importantly, big and aromatic hop character.

What we know as modern Double IPA first started surfacing in the early 1990s. Pioneers like Vinne Cilurzo at Blind Pig (now of Russian River fame) were pushing the boundaries of IPA in terms of hoppiness, bitterness, and ABV. Craft beer lovers couldn’t get enough of the dense layers of hop aroma and flavor.

Widespread popularity of the style has since made DIPAs a staple in craft breweries around the world. The BJCP guideline is a great starting point to understand the style. In recent years, however, their definition of Double IPA has been reinvented by modern craft brewers.

Per the BJCP, Double IPA has the following characteristics:

IBU60 – 120
SRM6 – 14
OG1.065 – 1.085
FG1.008 – 1.018
ABV7.5% – 10%

Contemporary versions of the style have a wide range of flavors. They can be much closer to New England IPA, with a focus on a soft body and low bitterness. West Coast Double IPA aligns more closely with the guidelines. Most breweries have focused on reducing sweetness (by minimizing the use of crystal malts) and dialing back the bitterness.

What makes a good Double IPA?

With the changing landscape of DIPA, and the style’s massive popularity, there are hundreds of amazing variations. The best double IPA follows a few fundamental rules:

  1. Most importantly, Double IPAs are complex beers with expressive, almost explosive, hop character.
  2. They should be dry, but still have enough malt backbone to prop up the hops.
  3. Yeast character takes a background role in DIPA. West Coast versions are clean and dry. New England style can have more prominent fruity esters.
  4. Drinkability is high despite the elevated ABV.
  5. Alcohol presence is inevitable in a high ABV beer but alcohol burn or “hot” flavors are undesirable.
  6. Appearance should be light with yellow to orange hues. Dark DIPA is a sign of oxidation or the use of too many crystal/caramel malts, leading to an overly sweet and cloying result.

How to brew a Double IPA

Double IPA is strong – between 7.5% to 10% ABV. Stronger beers can be difficult to brew for a number of reasons.

They can be too sweet if the yeast doesn’t attenuate fully. They can be hot – meaning they taste of alcohol – if fermentation temperature isn’t controlled. If overly bitter, strong beers can be a chore to get through a glass. On the other hand, not bitter enough and they’re left too cloying and heavy.

Follow our guidelines to make sure your DIPAs find the perfect balance of these complex variables:

Hops

Double IPA is all about the hops. Make sure you’re using very high quality, great smelling, and freshly opened hops.

American “C” hops – Cascade, Centennial, Columbus, CTZ, and Citra – are great candidates for a classic West Coast profile. Simcoe is a staple as well.

Newer American varieties like Strata, Idaho 7, Sabro, and Mosaic are also great choices for more tropical and stone fruit character.

Australian and New Zealand hops go great in DIPA. Galaxy, Nelson Sauvin, and Enigma can add layers of complexity with notes of guava, mango, lychee, and melon.

Bitterness in DIPA

Aim for an IBU of about 60 to 70.

We recommend using a high alpha acid bittering hop at 60 minutes. Higher alpha hops add a lot of bitterness without much vegetal matter. Hop extracts are even more consistent but can be a bit pricey and hard to find.

How to add hops to double IPA

StepTimingQuantity
Boil30-40 IBU at 60 minutes

5-10 IBU at 15 minutes (optional)
Depends on hop alpha acid
Whirlpool at 165-175°F (74-80°C)30 minutes giving 10-15 IBU1.5 oz/gallon (11 g/L)
Biotransformation Dry Hop (optional)During active fermentation1 oz/gallon (7.5 g/L)
Dry Hop3-4 days before packaging2 to 3 oz/gallon (15 – 22 g/L)

For New England style DIPA, use fruit-forward hops in the dry hop. Focus on varieties like Strata, Sabro, Galaxy, and Enigma. Make use of biotransformation by hopping during active fermentation. This helps extract fruity flavors and also contributes to desirable haze formation.

For West Coast versions, stick to the “C” hops and make good use of Simcoe for its classic pine character.

Malt

Base malt should consist of 2-row malt or a British pale malt like Maris Otter or Golden Promise. Keeping the color as light as possible will help prevent a murky beer. New England versions benefit from higher protein malt and adjuncts like wheat and oats to add body.

West Coast DIPANew England DIPA
90% 2-Row
5% CaraFoam
2.5% Light Munich or Vienna Malt
2.5% Crystal 20L
75% 2-Row
10% Wheat Malt
15% Flaked or Malted Oats

For an original gravity (OG) between 1.065 – 1.085, a 5 gallon (19L) batch will need 15 to 20 pounds (7 to 9 kg) of malt total.

Mash on the low end to promote a highly fermentable wort. 149-151°F (65-66°C) is ideal.

Yeast

A big and healthy yeast starter is required for brewing a clean double IPA.

Fermentation temperature should be kept on the lower end of the chosen yeast strain. For most fermentations (not including kveik), keep the fermentation temperature stable at around 65°F (18°C).

West Coast DIPA Yeasts

For a clean West Coast profile, use American Ale yeasts with neutral flavor, mild ester production, and good flocculation, such as:

  • White Labs WLP001 California Ale Yeast
  • Wyeast 1056 American Ale
  • White Labs WLP090 San Diego Super
  • SafAle US-05
  • LalBrew BRY97

New England Style DIPA Yeasts

For New England style Double IPA, choose a yeast with higher ester production and lower attenuation, such as:

Using Kveik for Double IPA

Kveik is also a great choice for DIPA. Most strains have a very high alcohol tolerance. For brewers without temperature control, kveik is very useful because it ferments clean and fast at high temperatures.

Try LalBrew Voss for a cleaner fermentation, suitable for the West Coast style. The Hornindal strain is perfect for a fruitier, New England style approach.

When using kveik, add plenty of yeast nutrient to the end of the boil.

Water

More classic DIPA brewers aim to bump sulfates to boost hop clarity. The New England approach leans more on higher chlorides.

Aim for a chloride to sulfate ratio of about 2:1 for the New England Style, and 2:3 for the West Coast style. Try not to exceed 200 ppm of chlorides or sulfates in either case. Calcium, about 80 ppm, will help with yeast health.

Use very clean, low mineral water as a starting point. Reverse osmosis (RO), distilled, or carbon filtered water are ideal. Chlorine and chloramine found in many municipal water supplies will destroy hop expression. Make sure your water is free from those or treated with a Campden tablet, if necessary.

Fining and Packaging

Double IPA looks great when it’s clear but hazy versions are massively popular with NEIPA lovers. If you’re looking for a clear DIPA, consider using a highly flocculating yeast (like White Labs WLP090 San Diego Super) and adding gelatin to the keg. New England-style DIPA does not need to be fined.

When it comes to packaging, kegging is the best way to package double IPA. It’s a very volatile style packed with extremely oxygen-sensitive hops. Shoot for about 2.5 volumes of CO2 for carbonation.

Once kegged, all those pungent hops need time to condition. Give DIPAs at least 2 weeks to condition at very cold temperatures. This conditioning time will soften the alcohol bite and bitterness, and allow any hop harshness to fade.

Double IPA Recipe – Modern DIPA with Strata Hops

We like our DIPAs to punch you in the face with hops. That doesn’t mean overly bitter. At around 70 IBU, 8.9% ABV, and a light golden hue, this double IPA epitomizes modern brewing. West Coast dryness combined with contemporary, fruit-forward hops. Dry, juicy, and exploding with hop character that leans heavily on Strata for a dank, fruit-punch vibe.

Final VolumeOriginal GravityFinal GravityABVIBUSRM
5.5 Gallons1.0801.0128.9%706

Fermentables

AmountTypePPG% Grist°L
16 lb (7.26 kg)2-Row Malt3794.1%1.8
0.5 lb (0.23 kg)CaraFoam342.9%2.2
0.5 lb (0.23 kg)Crystal 20L3529%20
17 lb

For extract brewers, use 9 pounds (4 kg) of Light dry malt extract (DME) and steep half a pound (0.23 kg) of Crystal 20L for some extra body.

Hops

AmountVarietyAA%UseTimeIBU
2 oz (57g)Simcoe12.7%Boil60 min37
1 oz (28g)Simcoe12.7%Boil15 min9
2 oz (57g)Simcoe12.7%Whirlpool at 165°F30 min~7
2 oz (57g)Citra13%Whirlpool at 165°F30 min~7
3 oz (85g)Strata12%Whirlpool at 165°F30 min~10
4 oz (113g)Simcoe12.7%Dry Hop4 days
4 oz (113g)Citra13%Dry Hop4 days
5 oz (142g)Strata12%Dry Hop4 days

Yeast

Wyeast 1056 American Ale (make a 2L yeast starter 2 days ahead)

Water

Use RO, carbon filtered, or distilled water. Aim for the following water profile, adjusting with calcium chloride and calcium sulfate:

  • Sulfates – 150 ppm
  • Chloride – 125 ppm
  • Calcium – 80 ppm
  • Sodium – 40 ppm
  • Magnesium – 20 ppm
  • Mash pH – 5.2

Process

  1. Mash with a single infusion rest at 150°F (65.5 °C) for 60 minutes. Sparge the full volume into the kettle.
  2. Bring the wort to a boil.
  3. Add 60 minute hop addition.
  4. Add 15 minute hop addition.
  5. Turn off heat.
  6. Chill wort to 165°F (74°C)
  7. Add whirlpool hops and hold temperature at 165°F (74°C) for 30 minutes.
  8. Chill wort to 65°F (18°C)
  9. Transfer cooled wort to a sanitized fermenter, leaving behind trub and hop matter.
  10. Oxygenate wort and pitch the yeast.
  11. Ferment at 65°F (18°C) for 7-10 days.
  12. Add dry hops and leave for 3 to 4 days. Pay attention to limiting oxygen exposure.
  13. Cold crash for at least 24 hours.
  14. Transfer beer to sanitized and CO2 purged keg, ideally with a closed transfer process.
  15. Carbonate to 2.5 volumes of CO2.
  16. Condition keg at 32°F to 35°F (0 to 2°C) for at least two weeks.

Final Thoughts

Double IPAs are as satisfying to brew as they are to drink. Brewing any strong style is a challenge, but DIPA is even more complex in pursuit of achieving a bright hop expression that sings on top of the high ABV.

Make sure to use enough healthy yeast. Keep fermentation temperature controlled. Add a lot of hops at every step in the brewing process. And – maybe most importantly – minimize oxygen during dry hopping and packaging to preserve those delicious hop flavors.

You’ll be happy having your very own DIPA on tap. Enjoy responsibly – these tasty brews can really sneak up on you!

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