Brewing a west coast classic: Firestone Walker’s Union Jack I.P.A….

Union Jack IPA Firestone Walker is not a name you hear too often up here in Toronto. We kind of live behind an iron curtain of sorts when it comes to the amazing selection of craft beers in the United States.

As my interest in the American craft beer scene deepens, I’ve been hearing more and more about them. It seems like they have something very special going on out there in Paso Robles, California. For starters, they are the only brewery in North America that uses a “Burton Union” style fermentation system, aptly titled the “Firestone Union“.

Of their many award winning beers, one has become a classic example of the west coast style IPA, Union Jack IPA. I’ve been reading Mitch Steele’s IPA book and For The Love of Hops by Stan Hieronymus recently, which has got me very inspired to brew some heavily hopped beers. Lucky for us, in both books, the brewers at Firestone Walker have been kind enough to let us in on how they make it.

First, let’s hear what Firestone Walker’s Brewmaster, Matt Brynildson, has to say about Union Jack IPA:

What I found most interesting about this recipe was the hopping schedule. I usually load on a large amount of late hops, with just enough at the beginning of the boil to provide the level of bitterness I’m looking for. Union Jack IPA adds a decent amount at 30mins and at 15mins, which may give it some of the character I’ve been missing in my beers. I’ve also only ever dry hopped a beer in 1 stage. Union Jack IPA uses a 2 stage hopping regime, consisting of 3 days each. Firestone Walker believes that a short contact time with the hops is preferred, so the beer is racked off the first batch of hops before being introduced to the second batch.  Some further experimentation with dry hopping lengths is warranted for me to fully understand what the differences in character may be, but regardless, it will certainly bring some big hop character to the beer.

Here’s the recipe:Carbonation and Storage

Firestone Walker Union Jack

American IPA

Type: All Grain Brewer: Hoptomology
Equipment: 7.5 Gallon Stainless Steel Pot + 5 Gallon Cooler Mash Tun
Est Original Gravity: 1.068 SG Measured Original Gravity:
Est Final Gravity: 1.012 SG Measured Final Gravity:
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 7.4% Actual Alcohol by Vol:
Bitterness: 77.7 IBUs Bitterness Ratio: 1.141
Est Color: 8.2 SRM Calories: 228.8 kcal/12oz



Amt Name Type # %/IBU
10 lbs 15.0 oz Pale Ale Malt 2-Row (3.5 SRM) Grain 1 88.0 %
12.0 oz Munich Malt – 10L (10.0 SRM) Grain 2 6.0 %
6.0 oz Carafoam (2.0 SRM) Grain 3 3.0 %
6.0 oz Caramel/Crystal Malt – 45L (45.0 SRM) Grain 4 3.0 %
0.917 oz Magnum [12.20 %] – Boil 60.0 min Hop 5 50.8 IBUs
1.000 oz Cascade [6.40 %] – Boil 30.0 min Hop 6 14.6 IBUs
1.000oz Centennial [10.00 %] – Boil 15.0 min Hop 7 12.0 IBUs
1.000 oz Cascade [5.50 %] – Flameout (Steep 10.0 min) Hop 8 0.0 IBUs
1.000 oz Centennial [10.00 %] – Flameout (Steep 10.0 min) Hop 9 0.0 IBUs
1.0 pkg London Ale (White Labs #WLP013) [1.20 oz] Yeast 10
0.500 oz Cascade [5.50 %] – 1st Dry Hop 3.0 Days Hop 11 0.0 IBUs
0.500 oz Centennial [10.00 %] – 1st Dry Hop 3.0 Days Hop 12 0.0 IBUs
0.250oz Amarillo Gold [7.50 %] – 1st Dry Hop 3.0 Days Hop 13 0.0 IBUs
0.250oz Simcoe [13.00 %] – 1st Dry Hop 3.0 Days Hop 14 0.0 IBUs
0.125 oz Citra [11.10 %] – 1st Dry Hop 3.0 Days Hop 15 0.0 IBUs
0.500oz Cascade [5.50 %] – 2nd Dry Hop 3.0 Days Hop 16 0.0 IBUs
0.500oz Centennial [10.00 %] – 2nd Dry Hop 3.0 Days Hop 17 0.0 IBUs
0.250 oz Amarillo Gold [7.50 %] – 2nd Dry Hop 3.0 Days Hop 18 0.0 IBUs
0.250 oz Simcoe [13.00 %] – 2nd Dry Hop 3.0 Days Hop 19 0.0 IBUs
0.125 oz Citra [11.10 %] – 2nd Dry Hop 3.0 Days Hop 20 0.0 IBUs
Total Grains Used: 12 lbs 6.9 oz Total Hops Used: 8.142 oz

Mash Profile

Mash Style: Double Infusion, Light Body
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75.00 %
Mash Steps

Name Description Step Temperature Step Time
Beta Rest Add 4.00 gal of water at 156.5 F 145.0 F 60 min
Alpha Rest Add 1.00 gal of water at 205.3 F 155.0 F 30 min
Mash Out Add 2.00 gal of water at 208.3 F 168.0 F 10 min
Sparging: Fly sparge with 2.05 gal water at 168.0 F to achieve 6.31 gal

Boil Profile

Boil Size: 6.31 gal Boil Time: 60 min
End of Boil Volume: 5.46 gal Estimated pre-boil gravity: 1.057 SG
Batch Size (into fermenter): 5.00 gal Measured pre-boil Gravity:
Final Bottling Volume: 4.80 gal

Fermentation Profile

Fermentation: 66F – Ale
Primary Fermentation: 1.00 days at 60.0 F
Secondary Fermentation: 10 days at 66.0 F

Carbonation and Storage

Carbonation Type: Keg Volumes of CO2: 2.5
Pressure/Weight: 10.73 PSI Age Beer for: 5.00 days
Keg/Bottling Temperature: 36.0 F Storage Temperature: 39.2 F


Taste Rating: 0.0 / 50
Taste Notes:
Other: – A little about life, a lot about beer.

I’m very grateful to two friends of mine that secured me a bottle of the original. I’ll compare it against my version when it’s done. I’ve never had one before, so I’m looking forward to it.

I’ll post when it’s ready for tasting!


7 Responses to Brewing a west coast classic: Firestone Walker’s Union Jack I.P.A….

  1. Looking forward to hear how this turns out for you. I also read Steele’s “IPA”, and there’s way too many recipes in there that I want to brew that I’ll ever realistically get to anytime soon!

    I think I’ve settled on the Hill Farmstead James clone as my second clone attempt from that book (first was the Smuttynose Finestkind IPA clone).

    • I know, there’s a ton of them in there I’d like to do.
      I want to try a historical version with all the minerals in the water just to see how it turns out.
      Bottled the Pliny the Elder clone I did = HOLY CRAP is it good!!

  2. There’s a CYBI episode and Matt gives out this recipe verbatim
    78% 2 Row
    15% Munich
    5% CaraFoam
    2% C120

    He talks a bunch about their hopping, dry hopping. Fermentation and mash temps, etc… They begin dry hopping while the fermentation is still fairly active.

    Good luck! This should be a good one!

    • I’ll check that out, I’d love to learn more about their techniques, they’ve got it going on there!
      It turned out really good, but haven’t compared it to the original yet.
      The dry hopping presence wasn’t as pronounced as I expected. I blanketed my transfers with tons of CO2, but perhaps it lost some aroma along the way.
      Has a nice, rich malt character to it though, reminds me more of an English style IPA..perhaps that’s what they go for with it.


      • I must admit, after hearing the CYBI ep with Matt, I tried his dry-hop technique for myself and was also disappointed with the aroma it produced.

        Basically, he says to begin your DH 2 days into active fermentation. By day 5, he’s hit FG and is dumping the hops and trub. If it’s a APA, beer goes to condition/brite tank and is packages inside 2 weeks If it’s the IPA, on day 5 he gives it a second dose of hops. Conditioning cycle is extended a bit. I am going from memory here so I might be a touch off on the timeline, best listen for yourself.

        For their mash, they do both an Alpha and Beta rest (146-158 I believe). Depending on the beer it might get a longer or shorter beta. They are using an English strain of yeast but they still manage to really dry out their beers. I imagine it’s mutated somewhat and they must pitch really big!

        Here’s the episode:

        • For the amount of hops I put in it I was expecting more, but having said that, it is still a very good IPA with a solid malt body to it.
          I want to try adding the first round of dry hops at the end of fermentation without racking it. A buddy of mine mentioned he does it, and I can’t see any reason not to try it.
          I used the A & B rest mash schedule and used White Labs London Ale (which I’ve not tried before).
          Still have to find some time to write up the results, but will hopefully get to it soon.

          Cheers for the link, I’ll give it a listen!

  3. Pingback: Bringing Union Jack IPA to Canada; comparing my version to the original… | Hoptomology

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