It’s been a few weeks since I brewed the Lavender IPA experimental single-gallon of homebrew so I thought I’d share how it turned out. First, I must say, I’ll be doing a lot more of this single-gallon experimenting. Granted, I only ended up with about 9 bottles of beer, it’s enough to get a taste for the recipe and to get some feedback on it. If I were to brew this recipe again, I would cut back on the lavender. I thought I was playing it safe with the amount I had, but the flavor is so potent and aromatic, that it overpowers the generous amounts of centennial hops. Scaled up to a five-gallon recipe, I added the equivalence of a half ounce of lavender – I’d probably cut that in half next time or even more. Good thing I don’t have 5 gallons of it, right?
So on to the review – it’s still a great beer and my brother in law Dave’s comment was, “I don’t think I’ve ever tasted anything like that before…”. Yes, it was a good comment – I guess you could take that many different ways while reading this post, but he quickly confirmed that he enjoyed the brew.
Appearance: It’s red and caramel colored. A little hazy, like a Wit.
Characteristics: It pours a giant head that settles down to about 1/8" and then remains there while you drink through the beer. It’s worth mentioning that this was the first bottle of homebrew that I used Northern Brewer’s fizz drops. The fizz drops worked well carbonating the beer, but it almost seems over-carbed with the amount of head you get and the aggressive release of gas when you pop the top.
Smell: Lavender, lavender… and more lavender. Not much to say here. The lavender added at the end of the boil was overpowering the hops.
First taste: You get hit immediately with the floral flavor of the lavender. It tastes dry and overpowers your senses for a few moments. Then everything invites you back to take another sip as you’re interested and realize that a bunch of flavors are behind that wall of flowers.
Mature taste: Okay, my taste buds are awake and they’re a little numb to the lavender and signs of dryness are prominently coming through along with pepper. The Maris Otter malt provides a nice base grain as it adds stability to these powerful sips of IPA.
Conclusion: I might brew this beer again with a fraction of the lavender and maybe mix in a few other aroma hops like citra to add complexity to the flavor. Next time, I would want a hint of mystery instead of a valley of flowers on my pallet. It’s interesting. It’s very interesting. It makes me want to experiment more with the herb and see what I can do with it. I’m wondering if I am the only person out there to mess around with this flavor. Have you ever used lavender in your homebrew? I’d love to hear some other experiments, whether they were successes or failures. Please comment below the recipe.
The Recipe (5 Gallons All-Grain)
12 lbs. Maris Otter
1 lb. Caramel 40L
1 oz. Centennial @ 60 min.
1 oz. Centennial @ 20 min.
2 oz. Centennial @ 5 min.
0.5 oz. 0.2 oz. Lavender @ 2 min.
1 oz. Centennial Dry Hopped @ 7 days remaining
2 packages of Safale US-05
The recipe shown is modified to reduce the amount of lavender from 0.5 oz. to 0.2 oz based on the post written above. The original gravity was around 1.070 and finished at 1.020 (6.6% ABV). Mash in and rest at 150 degrees for 60 minutes and sparge at 168 degrees.