The spice of traditional English hops accentuates the bright, pepperiness of rye. Simply take any IPA recipe, and add an additional 10 percent rye, preferably malted, along with a pound (per five gallons) of rice hulls to aid runoff. If you’re using unmalted rye, you’ll get more out of it if you grind it fine, and cook it up like porridge before adding it to your mash. A crockpot works well for this. Rye will make the mash sticky and sluggish, so it’s especially important to keep the mash bed temperature above 160 degrees during the sparge. The spiciness of English hops–Challenger, maybe?–will enhance the peppery qualities of the rye. OG: 1060; 60 IBUs; color: deep gold.
IRA–India Red Ale
The potent carameliness contributed by a big dollop of Munich malt and dark crystal allows us to add even more hops and still maintain some sort of balance in this beer. Grist should be 60 percent pale ale malt; 30 percent Munich malt; 10 percent dark crystal, or mix of crystals. I’d go with Cascade or Liberty hops, as this one’s as American as they come. The Sierra Nevada “American Ale” yeast ought to do well here. OG: 1065; 75 IBUs; color: deep reddish-amber.
This takes advantage of the grapefruit character of some of the West Coast high-alpha hops, and expands on the theme. Start with a European pilsner malt, and add 10 percent of the dark Munich malt called “aromatic.” For hops, I would go with a mix of Saaz and one of the grapefruity American hops such as Chinook or Liberty. You might get really perverse and use the Saaz for bittering, and use the American hops for aroma. The twist in this recipe is grapefruit peel. Use just the outer layer, shaved off a well-scrubbed grapefruit with a potato peeler. About half a grapefruit peel should be added to the kettle at the end of the boil. Ferment it with your favorite Belgian yeast, but keep the temperature on the low side to keep the Belgian character subdued. OG: 1057, 60 IBUs; color: bright amber.
Jaggery Pale Ale
The (East) Indians treasure a beautifully creamy partially refined sugar made from the fruits of certain palm trees. Golden in color, and congealed into blocks the size and shape of a fez hat, jaggery resembles maple sugar in taste and aroma, except perhaps with some buttery accents. I recently used some in one of our Chicago Beer Society’s 25th anniversary brews, this one in conjunction with Todd Ashman, brewer at the Flossmoor Station brewpub in the south suburbs. It has the effect of lightening up the texture of a beer, while adding soft caramelly/mapley notes.
Here, 10 percent of the recipe is jaggery, which can be found at markets specializing in Indian foods. Just break it apart and add to the kettle. The rest of the recipe should be a good British-type pale ale malt. Add a few percent of crystal if you want a little color and caramelly flavor. If you want to get really adventurous, I would suggest adding a teaspoon or two of crushed fenugreek to the secondary. This spice, popular in Indian cuisine, has a delicate mapley character, and is used in pancake syrup for that very purpose. Here it will accentuate the mapley qualities of the jaggery and add a fruity depth to the beer. OG: 1067, 65 IBUs; color: deep gold.
India Cream Ale
The cream ale style is kind of an amalgam of the English-derived American ale style as brewed by German brewmasters in American lager breweries. It’s my view that many of them simply applied their experience with German ales such as Kšlsch bier and–voila–Cream Ale. Here, we’re making a much stronger version. Historically, Clusters would have been used, at least for bittering. I can’t in good conscience recommend them, so use a spicy German hop such as Tettnanger or Spalt, with a big load of them added at the end of the boil. Ten percent malted wheat will help provide a creamy texture and lively head, and 10 percent corn sugar will lighten the body and keep the beer crisp and refreshing, as well as being true to history. A small amount–say, five percent–of pale crystal malt will add a little caramelly twist. The rest of the grist should be American 2-row pilsner malt. OG: 1062; 50 IBUs; color: bright gold.