Firestone Walker Wookey Jack Black Rye IPA

Firestone Walker Wookey Jack Black Rye IPA

 

Introduction

While the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) only introduced the "Black IPA" style in 2015, some would argue it predates that considerably, possibly even as far back as the 1800s. At the time when English beers were being exported to India, some of the dark Porters had hopping rates of five or six pounds per barrel (31 gallons) or even higher. While these would have been brewed with British malts and hops and therefore would not have had the typical American IPA qualities we're familiar with today, it was a start. 

The actual birth of the Black IPA style we understand today can be traced back to the early 1990s when the late Greg Noonan (a well-known beer author and brewer for Vermont Pub and Brewery), produced the first commercially available version as Blackwatch IPA. At the time the style name was controversial, with fans calling this beer an India Black Ale, American Strong Black Ale, Cascadian Dark Ale, or a few other variations. If you were looking to get into a fist fight at a beer festival back then, sticking to your preferred naming convention and denouncing all others as "completely wrong" was a sure bet to get you in trouble. 😉 The name "Cascadian Dark Ale" was especially controversial given that it points to the origins being from the West Coast when in fact it can be argued the style probably had more roots in Vermont.

The style slowly gained popularity across North America as different breweries started to create their own versions. According to the book IPA: Brewing Techniques, Recipes and the Evolution of India Pale Ale, credit for widespread popularity has to go to Stone Brewing who brewed the first Black IPA to be available on a national basis in 2007 as "Stone 11th Anniversary Ale", later to be renamed as their Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale. In 2010 it won a bronze medal in the new "American-Style Black Ale" category (remember that BJCP had not cemented the official style name yet) at the Great American Beer Festival (GABF). Fist fights still abounded, but at least there was good beer to drink.

Eventually Firestone Walker Brewing Company threw their hat into the ring and released their own version called "Wookey Jack Black Rye IPA" in March 2012 when the popularity of the style was just peaking:

Popularity of Black IPA over time

This newly released Wookey Jack was very well received and earned gold in that same "American-Style Black Ale" category at the 2012 GABF.

The origins of the name are uncertain, though it definitely has nothing to do with "Wookiees" from Star Wars. Some say that it's related to the brewmaster Matt Brynildson's favorite band, Phish (fans of this band are often referred to as wookies). Co-proprietor and British expatriate David Walker suggests a connection to Wookey Hole, an English village noted for its dark caves and resident witch. The brewery has never really officially clarified, and probably enjoys the bit of mystery.

So what's the beer taste like? According to Brynildson the vision behind Wookey Jack was to push this new Black IPA style in a fresh direction:

"Wookey Jack is our first foray into the dark outer world of black IPAs. Rich dark malts and spicy rye careen into bold citrus laden hops creating a new dimension in IPA flavor. We wanted it to be intensely flavored and hoppy, but also balanced and complex. The rye malt makes it interesting, bringing everything together with a rustic edge.

Wookey Jack is black in color, but if you close your eyes and taste it, you'll say it's a true IPA. The roasted character is about as light as you can get in a beer this dark.

This brew has been left unfiltered and unfined to retain all of its texture and character. At 60 IBUs, Wookey Jack is gnarly on the outside yet complex and refined on the inside."

Firestone Walker is very "homebrewer friendly" and has been very forthcoming about the ingredients and processes they use to produce their beers (homebrewers have even been known to email the brewery and receive responses directly from Matt). Their website offered the following ingredients in producing Wookey Jack:

The malted rye and caramel rye (sold as Weyermann CaraRye) impart a spicy grain quality while the Citra and Amarillo hops bring a citrusy dimension to the aroma profile. All the darker kilned malts that are used in this recipe are dehusked which is critical keeping astringency and harshness out of the beer. We don't want this to be a hoppy porter or stout. We left out the Wookey dust as our local home brew shop was out of stock.

Brew up a batch and let us know how you like it! And no fighting please!

 

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Firestone Walker Wookey Jack Black Rye IPA

Size: 12.0 gal (post-boil @ 68F)
Mash Efficiency: 93% (slightly lower due to the high gravity)
Attenuation: 81.7%
Calories: 265 kcal per 12.0 fl oz
Original Gravity:
1.080 (style range: 1.050 - 1.085)
Terminal Gravity: 1.015 (style range: 1.010 - 1.018)
Colour: 26.5 SRM (style range: 25 - 40)
Alcohol: 8.5% ABV (style range: 5.5% - 9.0%)
Bitterness: 60 IBU (style range: 50 - 90)

Mash:
23.75 lb Domestic 2-Row Malt (80.9%) 
2.9 lb Rye Malt (9.9%)
0.9 lb Weyermann CaraRye Malt (57-76L) (3.1%)
0.9 lb Weyermann Carafa III Special Malt (525L) (3.1%)
0.9 lb Midnight Wheat Malt (550L) (3.1%)

Boil:
1.25 oz Magnum Hops (12%) - added during boil, boiled 90 min [23.4 IBU] 
2 oz Citra Hops (13.3%) - added during boil, boiled 20 min [23.2 IBU]
2 oz Amarillo Hops (7.7%) - added during boil, boiled 20 min [13.5 IBU]
1 Whirlfloc Tablet (Irish moss) - added during boil, boiled 15 min

Post-boil:
3.5 oz Citra Hops (13.3%) - added immediately after boil
3.5 oz Amarillo Hops (7.7%) - added immediately after boil

Yeast:
8 packs White Labs WLP007 Dry English Ale yeast (or an appropriate starter)

Dry hop: 
2 oz Citra Hops (13.3%) - dry hop #1 (added to primary fermenter near end of fermentation, steeped 3 days)
2 oz Amarillo Hops (7.7%) - dry hop #1 (added to primary fermenter near end of fermentation, steeped 3 days)
2 oz Citra Hops (13.3%) - dry hop #2 (added to brite tank, steeped 3 days)
2 oz Amarillo Hops (7.7%) - dry hop #2 (added to brite tank, steeped 3 days)

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Notes / Process:

  • Add 500mg potassium metabisulphite to 20 gallons water to remove chlorine / chloramine (if required).
  • Water treated with brewing salts to our Hoppy flavour profile: Ca=110, Mg=18, Na=16, Cl=50, SO4=275 (Basically Randy Mosher's ideal Pale Ale numbers with slightly less Sulphate). For complete details on how to adjust your water, refer to our step by step Water Adjustment guide.
  • 1.25 qt/lb mash thickness.
  • Mash at 148F for 90 mins, then raise to 155F and hold for an additional 30 mins.
  • Raise to 168F mashout temperature and hold for 10 mins.
  • ~90 min fly sparge with ~5.6-5.8 pH water (measured at mash temperature). Collect 14.9 gallons.
  • Boil for 90 minutes, adding Whirlfloc and hops per schedule. Lid on at flameout, start chilling immediately.
  • Cool the wort quickly to 60F (we use a one-pass convoluted counterflow chiller to quickly lock in hop flavour and aroma) and transfer to fermenter.
  • Aerate well. Pure oxygen from a tank may be used at a rate of 1 litre per minute for 120 seconds per 5 gallons.
  • Pitch yeast and ferment at 62F (wort temperature). We use modified stainless fermenting buckets in wine fridges.
  • Add dry hops #1 once fermentation is nearing completion (i.e. 5 points from terminal gravity) and raise the temperature to 70-72F. In our case we simply turn off the fermenting fridges and allow the beer to naturally rise to room temperature. Steep for 3 days while fermentation finishes.
  • Add dry hops #2 to brite tank (we use 5 gallon glass carboys), purge with CO2 to avoid oxygen pickup, then carefully rack in the beer on top of the hops. Allow to steep for 3 days at 70-72F room temperature, gently swirling a few times a day. We do not recommend using hop sacks or containers as you'll get the best extraction if you let the hops roam free.
  • After 3 days in the brite tank package as you would normally. We rack to kegs that have first been purged with CO2, and then carbonate on the low side (around 2 volumes of CO2) to minimize carbonic bite and let the hop and malt flavours shine through. We chill the kegs to near freezing while carbonating at the same time in a 6-keg conditioning fridge. After ~1-2 weeks at serving pressure the kegs will be carbonated and ready to serve. Like most hop forward beers this IPA is best consumed fresh so feel free to raise the CO2 pressure temporarily to 30-40 PSI to carbonate quickly over a 24 period, and then turn back down to serving pressure. Some hop bits will have invariably made their way into the keg during transfer so we use a Hop Stopper Keg Edition filter to ensure that hops do not clog the dip tube and/or end up in the glass. Force carbonating at high pressure and using a Hop Stopper filter allows us to serve this beer 24 hours after kegging. There's no need to wait a few days for any hop bits that made their way into the keg to first settle out.
  • We do not recommend using finings such as unflavoured gelatin as it may "round off" hop flavours / aromas.

For detailed brewing instructions, see our Brew Day Step by Step guide.

Enjoy!

Questions? Visit our Firestone Walker Wookey Jack Black Rye IPA forum thread

Interested in seeing what we're brewing right now? Follow us on Instagram for pictures and videos of our brewing activities as they happen.

 

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