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Gula Gula IPA — Now Bottled

This is another beer post. I’m going to put it in an extended post so that only those interested see it.

Well, I just bottled my Gula Gula IPA. “Gula” is the Indonesian name for what is often in homebrewing books referred to as “jaggery” — a form of tropical palm/coconut sugar common across South and Southeast Asia.

(If you’re looking to buy some in Korea, it apparently is available. Just go to the Pakistani-run food shops and ask for “ger,” explaining what it is. If you ask for “jaggery” they’ll look at you funny, or this was my experience.)

Anyway, this IPA is a little bit dark, because the gula I used was a bit dark. It’s going to affect the flavor too, I expect — gula, like all jaggery, is not completely processed, and has stuff in it that isn’t broken down by the yeast that eats up the fermentable sugar. This is probably not so great for clarity, but it is great for mouthfeel and flavor, at least in theory. That said, the final gravity was very low in this beer, so maybe it’ll be clearer than I thought?

One thing I didn’t know about is that you can cold-crash a beer before bottling it. Cold-crashing pulls the yeast and other solids out of suspension, resulting, perhaps, in a clearer beer. I’ll have to try that next time. Then again, I don’t think it’s quite cold enough outside for real cold-crashing anyway. Until I have a spare fridge around (ha!) that’s going to have to wait till the weather complies.

(Which, by the way, I’m kicking myself over. I really should have made the pilsner I’m about to make before the IPA, not after. I could have lagered the beer rather conveniently in a closet on my outdoor balcony during the recent cold snap. I’m afraid that it’s likely to warm up in the next few weeks, so that is out of the question. There is, however, an unused fridge I can probably commandeer down in the basement.)

Anyway, one odd thing I noticed during cleanup was that the beer was very foamy. Any agitation caused huge foaming. In my previous batch of IPA, the presence of any bits of hop pellet in the beer caused this too. I’m not sure if it’s a property picked up in dry-hopping, or beer that’s heavily hopped during the boil, or what. But it’s weird, and I’d like to know more. I asked a question about it over at the Homebrew Korea board, maybe someone there will know.

I don’t have a recipe, or too many details, about this beer. I brewed it up before I started taking detailed notes, and my memories of what I did a month ago while brewing it are far too hazy to be of much use. I can say, though, that I put a full kilogram of gula into the mix, along with 500 grams of “light” malt extract — knowing the sugar was dark and flavorful, I didn’t want to darken it more. It was hopped with two types of hops —  Cascade earlier on for bittering, and East Kent Goldings later on for flavoring and aroma. It was dryhopped with a whole bunch of East Kent Goldings, too.

If that doesn’t mean much to you, well, join the club. At this point, I don’t know enough about hops to tell different types apart yet. I’m guessing that knowledge will come with time and experience, though of course there are also shortcuts. I have enough brewing-related books for now, though, so I’ll keep referring to recipes in the books I have for now, and see what I like.

Gula Gula IPA yielded 18.5 liters of beer, actually 19L but the last 500ml bottle is a risky thing, as I ended up using the beer from the first bit siphoned out. It was through a filter — a metallic scrubber I sterilized by boiling — but it sat out for a while before being added to the bottle, in an unsterilized tin. I’m considering that little bottle an experiment in wild fermentation.

It will sit in my brewing closet for a few days, since it’s warmer than outside and the beer needs to carbonate. Then, out into the balcony closet it goes to condition for the next few weeks.

Next up, I’m thinking, is that pilsner I’ve been wanting to make, with kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, and some hot chili pepper. Should be fun. More about that recipe when I have finalized it. (Probably right while I’m brewing it, in fact. Which will probably be tonight!)

UPDATE (29 April): Holy crap this one is hoppy. Yeah, I overdid it. Though who knows, maybe the hoppiness will mellow a little with time. It’s only been in the bottle ten days now, and is definitely somewhat green. I didn’t expect it to be ready yet, but it sure is hoppy as all get-out. Were it in a keg, or cask or something, I’d be considering blending it with a simple pale ale or something. We’ll see whether it mellows, I guess.

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