Cryptographic DIPA – Local Nate Smith’s GABF Pro-Am


NateProAmBrewDayCollageAs anyone from around here knows, there’s no dearth of good beer or good breweries in the Bay Area.  But where do they all come from? Well, if you’re sitting in a beer bar, chances are there’s a future brewmaster sitting a couple stools down from you. Most production brewhouses can trace their lineage back to a pot and a hydrometer in someone’s kitchen, where thousands of brews occur every year- not for money, but simply for the love of brewing.   In fact, the beer industry pays homage to homebrewing at the Great American Beer Fest, the biggest beer event in America, held every fall in Denver. Each year the Brewer’s Association invites commercial breweries to team up with a homebrewer to scale up and brew one of their award-winning homebrew recipes as a collaboration beer for a pro-am throwdown, and have it judged by the world class judges brought in for the annual commercial beer competition.  It’s only fair, since American craft beer can be directly traced back to the passage of 1978’s H.R. 1337, which legalized homebrewing in the US (perhaps Jimmy Carter’s greatest humanitarian effort to date).

One such multiple award winning homebrewer is Nathan Smith, who also makes his home in San Leandro with his fiancée (and Master Cicerone) Nicole Erny.  Regulars of the Barrel House will recognize Nate, as he’ll often swing by for a pint, to assist with staff sensory tastings, and recently to brew a kick ass DIPA alongside our trusty brewer Devonne. Nate’s recipe, Cryptographic Double IPA, is our GABF Pro-Am entry, and in the interest of making Nate feel like a real brewer, we’re gonna grab a beer and make him tell you about it:

A Double IPA from Drake’s and me? Brewing Network listeners and East Bay beer fans knew it had to happen someday.

The original homebrew idea behind this beer back in late 2012 was to create a stripped-down R&D IPA to explore new hops and IPA brewing techniques. After brewing and revising North Oakland Double IPA for 6 years, I felt like that was well dialed-in and it was time to move on. (Die-hard East Bay beer fans might remember North Oakland Double IPA from the Triple Rock Pro-Am I did back in 2008). I wanted to start over to create a platform for experimentation with all of these new & interesting hop varieties that have recently become available. This was a good opportunity to start over from scratch and look beyond the old recipes that leaned heavily on the well known signature hops such as Simcoe & Citra. This beer features the hops 052526, 01210 and HBC 369.

Luckily enough, people seem to be into this experiment. The 1st batch of this idea was 1st place in the IPA category at the Bay Area Mashers World Cup homebrew competition in 2013. Repeat batches were a hit at the Southern California Homebrewers Festival in 2013 and the coolest award this one has achieved is a 1st place  IPA & Best of Show at the San Mateo County Fair, 2013.

When the Brewing Network crew headed down to the Southern California Homebrewers Festival in the spring of 2013, I didn’t have a good name for this beer. I simply called it “[whatever numbered variety I was trying to highlight] IPA.” That’s boring, and [the Brewing Network’s] Justin Crossley was just the guy to assist. He named the beer “Dragon Semen Double IPA.” Excellent, thank you Justin! A geeky name that might make people slightly uncomfortable and maybe just vaguely offensive. Right up my alley. Although I just couldn’t ask Drake’s to take it out into the marketplace with that name, so I kept it geeky- “Cryptographic IPA.” With all of the numbered hop varieties in the beer, the recipe reads like some sort of hidden encrypted code. Proof once again that you can’t let brewers name the beer, and you certainly can’t let Homebrewers name a beer!

Cryptographic DIPA will go on tap this afternoon (Aug 28) at Drake’s Barrel House, and Nate’ll be here at the DBH to get as nerdy as you wanna get with him.  Don’t worry, homebrew geekery is not a requirement to try the beer.  That said, if you like homebrew geekery…

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Simple malt/grain bill. Introduce some subtle complexity through blending 1-2 base malts with a very low amount of crystal malt and a small amount of sugar/dextrose. Avoid the use of higher melanoidin content Munich & Vienna type malts. In my experience, these flavors can conflict specifically with these new-school tropical/berry/melon hops. This recipe used the following 3 base malts: 73% Rahr 2-row, 12% English Crisp Maris Otter and 12% Belgian Castle Pils. Choose one (and only one) dextrin or mouthfeel building malt, 3% Simpsons 10-15L caramalt was used in this recipe.

Pale color, Single-digit SRM.

Simplify kettle hop additions. Remove mid-boil hopping. Balance the desired aroma/flavor/bitterness with 1 bittering, 1 whirlpool addition.

Choose 1 low-cohumulone bittering hop and stick with that 1 bittering hop only.

Choose 3 flavor & aroma hops. 2 high-contrast high-oil signature hops and 1 reinforcing hop.

Showcase new flavor & aroma of new varieties. Avoid leaning on the well known signature IPA hops.

The signature hops in this beer are HBC369/Mosaic from the HBC program, for that berry, tropical, fruity southern-hemisphere-like complexity; and 05256 from the Steiner program for contrasting dank, herbal, resinous qualities.

01210 is the reinforcing hop with an old-school focus: grapefruit, lemon and pine.

Original drafts of the homebrew recipe:

If you made it through all that official-looking text, you’ll probably be interested to know that we operate a homebrew email inbox,  Feel free to shoot them an email if you have a pre-brew day question and they’l try to get back to you.