Brewing a Red IPA with Black Oak Brewing

By Jesse Reynolds

The American IPA is the hallmark of the craft beer industry. It’s arguably the most popular style of beer among craft beer drinkers, and as a result it has spawned a number of spin-off hybrids — styles which take the aggressive hop profile of the IPA and combine it with another type of beer.

Belgian IPA, Black IPA, White IPA, Brown IPA, Rye IPA, Red IPA… The list goes on, and is likely to continue expanding over time. The BJCP calls these Specialty IPAs; when made well, they offer a world of new and interesting flavour combinations.

A personal favourite is the Red IPA. It typically blends dark fruit, caramel and American hops along with a fuller body and slight sweetness not found in a standard IPA.

While they’re not necessarily as popular as most of the other Specialty styles, there are a few Red IPAs to be found commercially in Canada.

Black Oak Brewing’s Love Fuzz checks all the boxes for a Red IPA, though it’s marketed as a Red Pale Ale. It’s got the full, malty character you’d expect from a red or amber ale, but the specialty malts and hops add a fruity complexity and a pleasant drinkability that makes this style of beer ideal year-round.

“What makes Love Fuzz a truly unique beer is its focus on dark fruit flavours,” says Jon Hodd, brewmaster at Black Oak. “(It) has a strong background flavour of blue and blackberries.”

The use of Special W malt, typically found in Doppelbocks and Belgian Dubbels, is the key to this recipe.

“Typically red ales use dark crystal malts to give you that colour and leave you with a caramel flavour. Our goal was to have a ruby red beer with very little caramel flavour.”

Special W provides the desired colour with emphasis on dark fruit. Other specialty malts employed in this recipe include Carafoam (body and head retention), Chocolate Wheat (chocolate undertones, colour) and Carafa II (colour).

An interesting part of this recipe is the hop schedule: all hops are added within the last 15 minutes of the boil. The goal of this is to achieve an explosive juicy and citrusy profile without too much added bitterness.

“Since we already have such a flavourful malt profile, we need to use a lot of hops to cut through the malty body,” says Hodd. “Late hopping is going to allow us to use a lot of hops to reach our target flavour without being left with too much astringency.”

Abundant dry-hopping also pushes the fruity flavours and aromas to the forefront without adding bitterness. What we’re left with is a very smooth, well-balanced malty and fruit red ale.

As with all heavily-hopped beers, this recipe is best enjoyed fresh!

Love Fuzz Clone (BJCP Category 21F: Red IPA)

(all-grain, 5.5 gallons)

OG: 1.061

FG: 1.014

ABV: 6.2%

IBU: 46

SRM: 18


8 Gallons Tap Water (treated w/ Campden tablets)  or Spring Water

Add 2tsp Calcium Sulfate (Gypsum) to Mash Water


10.75lb 2-Row Malt

1lb Carafoam

0.5lb Special W

0.25lb Chocolate Wheat

0.05lb Carafa Special II


2oz Legacy (22 IBU, 15 mins) (potential substitute: Topaz)

0.5oz Simcoe (8 IBU, 10 mins)

1.5oz Simcoe (13 IBU, 5 mins)

2oz Galaxy (4 IBU, 0 mins)

Dry Hop with 2oz of all three hop varieties for 3 days towards the end of fermentation


Escarpment Labs Cali Ale or White Labs WLP001 California Ale

Brew Day Instructions

Mash in grains with 4.5 gallons of water to reach 154F (68C) and hold for 60 minutes. Use direct heat or infuse mash with boiling water to raise temperature to 168F (76C) and hold for an additional 15 minutes. Drain your wort into the boil kettle while sparging continuously with 168F water until you collect 6.5 gallons of wort.

Bring the wort to a boil for 60 minutes, adding hops at times directed above. Remove from heat and chill rapidly to 68F, aerate your wort and pitch the yeast.

Ferment at 68F for 12-14 days or until beer has reached final gravity. Package, carbonate and enjoy!

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