The best malts to use for a Double IPA (DIPA)

As the saying goes: “Everything’s bigger in America.” It’s apt, then, that it was in the USA where the Double IPA was born, as American brewers sought bigger, bolder flavours and higher alcohol content than a regular IPA.

Are you thinking of brewing a Double IPA soon? If so, here are some of the malts we can deliver to you to help make this strong and hoppy beer.

History of the Double IPA

Double IPAs, or Imperial IPAs as they can also be known, originated in the USA in the mid-1990s.

Traditional IPAs in the UK, those brewed in the 19th and early 20th centuries, tended to be somewhere between 5.5% and 7% in alcohol content. However, by the 1990s, British IPAs were being produced by large brewers for cask at around 3.5% to 4%.

So, the original Double IPAs brewed in the USA saw a return to the traditional IPA style. The difference, though, was that these beers were stacked with American hops and not British hops.

It was brewer Vinnie Cilurzo who is believed to have brewed the first iteration of the Double IPA while at the now closed Blind Pig Brewing Co. in California.

While this triggered other breweries to start to brew their own Double IPAs on a small scale, it was in 1999 that Cilurzo who was now at Russian River Brewing Co. – brewed Pliny the Elder. This was one of the first commercially brewed Double IPAs in America.

Its popularity saw the beer win numerous awards and resulted in the Double IPA category being created at the Great American Beer Festival in 2003. More than 20 years on, Pliny the Elder remains Russian River’s most popular beer and one of the world’s flagship Double IPAs.

IPA vs Double IPA

The differences between an IPA and a Double IPA are fairly straightforward.

With a standard Double IPA said to range from 7% to 10% ABV, it goes without saying that the style has more alcohol content than that of a modern IPA. It doesn’t necessarily always have double the alcohol content though, as the name perhaps suggests.

Increasing that ABV is generally achieved by there being more fermentable sugars in the mash, which means the addition of more malt.

There are also many more hops added, too, with the additional malt helping to counteract the extra bitterness generated by the hops. So, to recap, a Double IPA has more hops and more malt, making it a much bigger beer.

Base Malts for a Double IPA (DIPA)

Golden Promise – In most Double IPAs, the majority of the grist – at least 80% – is made up from the base malt. What base malt that is tends to be entirely down to the brewer’s preference. But due to the intended influence of hops in this style, a malt with a light flavour is more common. This includes the likes of Golden Promise, Low Colour Maris Otter, Extra Pale Ale or Finest Lager malts. Cloudwater Brew Co. in Manchester have experimented with both Low Colour Maris Otter and Golden Promise in their DIPA recipes. Verdant Brewing Co. used Golden Promise as the base malt in their Double IPA called Putty, which can be seen in the main image of this blog.

Check out all of our Base Malts HERE.


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Crystal Malts for a Double IPA (DIPA)

Crystal Light – It’s not recommended for a Double IPA to have more than 5% crystal malt in the total grist. Why? Well, crystal malts contain unfermentable sugars and, in higher amounts, will give more sweetness without increasing the alcohol content. Speaking about crystal malt in IPAs, Logan Plant, Founder of Beavertown Brewery, said in this Cloudwater Brew Co. blog: “Dryness to me is also essential. I don’t like IPAs to be too cloying or sweet, so less crystal malt, the better.” If you do decide to dabble in some crystal malt in your Double IPA, we’d recommend our Crystal Light for its mild caramel and toffee flavours. Crystal T50 also boasts delicate malty notes with a slight toffee flavour.

Check out all of our Crystal Malts HERE.

Extra Special Malts & Grains for a Double IPA (DIPA)

Dextrin – Also known as Carapils, Dextrin malt is a handy little tool to keep up your sleeve. It can be used sparingly in a Double IPA to add body, mouthfeel and foam stability. It is also particularly useful in balancing the bitterness in this hop-forward style. Again, like the crystal malt, we’d recommend using Dextrin in no more than 5% of the grist. In greater amounts, the likes of Wheat Malt and flaked products such as Flaked Barley, Flaked Wheat and Flaked Oats can also be used to enhance the haziness of the beer’s appearance.

Check out all of our Extra Special Malts HERE.

Check out the best malts for other beer styles

Photographed beer: Verdant Brewing Co. – Putty

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