Sister Star of the Sun

An Award Winning India Pale Ale

By Dave Brockington, 7/95



I like to design my own beers, and everything that I brew is a beer that, ultimately, I have designed. Of all the beers in my repertoire, India Pale Ale (IPA) is perhaps the singular beer which I would claim to be my trademark beer. I have brewed this beer (or some variation on it) 20 times since I designed my first IPA in 1990. This beer has won more awards than any of my other recipes; in fact it is responsible for nearly a third of the ribbons on my wall. Tellingly, every batch that I have entered has won at least a second place ribbon at competition. This beer does have an impressive hop profile. In the words of Alan Marshall, this beer is "not for the hop virgin."


An IPA ought to have an assertive hop bitterness, period. If the beer does not have a stick-to-your-ribs bitterness, it simply is not an IPA, marketing claims regardless. When I first designed the IPA, I selected Chinook as my bittering hop, primarily for its very high alpha acid percentage. I have stuck with Chinook through the years, although several reputable brewers have a strong disdain for the hop, because it simply offers (in my opinion) the best clean, sharp bittering profile that I had tried. I have sampled IPA's made with Centennial, Nugget, Galena, and even Cascade as the prime bittering agent, and none of those beers convinced me to switch away from Chinooks. The Nugget and Galena, especially, had a rougher bitterness than the Chinooks; I found that rough bittering to detract from the beer. (Ironically, the Nuggets have a lower co-humulone percentage than do the Chinooks; normally hops higher in co-humulone are regarded as having a "harsher" b itterness. This has yet to be proved scientifically, however.) Centennials work OK, but are not as sharp as the Chinooks (and tend to have lower alpha acid ratings as well.) As for the Cascades, one must dump a ton of Cascades, with their relatively paltry alpha rating, to do any credible damage to the wort. While I am not a Cascade detractor (I brew a pale ale which is completely hopped with Cascades) the five or six ounces per five-gallon batch in an IPA to get the IBU's high enough leaves behind an overbearing Cascade profile (and you know what I mean) which also detracts from what ought to be the primary focus of an IPA -- the bittering hop. Better IPA's have a strong malt profile as well, which is really important to support the bittering hop; healthy additions of flavor and aroma hop round an IPA out to perfection.

The flavor and aroma hops have been carefully selected. Use East Kent Goldings as the 15-minute hop. I have chosen to go with imported Fuggle as the finishing hop (allow the hop to steep while chilling; do not boil) although many people tend to prefer E KG to Fuggle in that capacity (and this is the only beer where I utilize those two hops in that order). I imagine that they can be switched with no serious impact on the beer. If you choose to switch them, though, make sure that both varieties are used at some point towards the end of the beer; having several varieties of hop in this beer adds a distinct sophisticating note. If you don't have imported fuggle lying about, Willamettes serve as an excellent substitute (over domestic Fuggles, even). The E KG's can be replaced with British Columbia Goldings, but I much prefer the real thing.

Malt/Hop Balance

This is the current incarnation of my IPA. I make sure that I have some of it on tap or in bottles at my house at all times. Clearly, the dominating factor in the recipe is the three ounces of Chinook hops in the kettle. The 13 pounds of Hugh Baird Bri tish ale malt lends an excellent supporting maltiness to this beer. If Hugh Baird is not available, try either Munton & Fison (I have had excellent results with that malt). Marris Otter-based malts, such as that offered by Crisp Malting, are a stunning base for this beer. Do not, under any circumstances, use domestic two-row -- the beer is too insipid, lacking a credible maltiness, making for a rather one-dimensional IPA. Obviously, stay away from six-row as well. Furthermore, I wouldn't use DeWolf-Cosyns Pale Ale malt. I have a bunch of that around and tried it in the IPA once; the malt profile wasn't nearly as good as the English Pale based IPA's. The 135 crystal adds a coppery hue and some caramel notes to the maltiness. The wheat merely aids in head retention. If one is kegging, dry-hop with a quarter-ounce of Fuggles in the keg.


Ingredients for Five Gallons:


Mash in a single infusion at 151F for 60 minutes. The hops were, and always are, whole flower. Fermented in a controlled environment at 65F for two weeks. My system is somewhat inefficient, so your extraction may be higher than my reported gravities. As I generally realize 26 points/pound, you should adjust the grain bill accordingly.


  1. 1992 Oregon State Fair: First Place, Pale Ale
  2. 1993 Heart of the Valley, Corvallis, Oregon: Second Place, Light Ale
  3. 1993 Vancouver Island: First Place, Pale Ale; BEST OF SHOW
  4. 1994 Bay Area Brew Off, Dublin, California: Second Place, IPA
  5. 1994 America's Finest City, San Diego, Calfornia: First Place, English Pale Ale (IPA)
  6. 1994 BOSS Challenge, Chicago, Illinois: Second Place, English Pale Ale (IPA)
  7. 1994 Heart of the Valley, Corvallis, Oregon: First Place, English Light Ale (IPA)
  8. 1994 Vancouver Island: Second Place, Pale Ale (IPA)
  9. 1994 Novembeerfest, Seattle: Second Place, Pale Ale (IPA)
  10. 1995 Boston Homebrew Competition, Boston: Second Place, IPA
  11. 1995 Heart of the Valley, Corvallis, Oregon: First Place, Pale Ale (IPA)

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