Whilst my obsession with home brewing is quite strong, I really haven’t been doing it for a whole lot of time. Because of this I haven’t really brewed any one style more than once. Whilst this can be fun, I haven’t been able to dial in any of my own recipes. I thought it was perhaps time that should change.
I thought long and hard about what my first ‘house beer’ should be and settled on Pale Ale. Whilst I love IPA’s and these are always great for drinking, the high alcohol associated with a (properly made) IPA means it’s not really the beer I need to be perfecting and drinking a lot of first.
So for my first version of my House Pale Ale, I thought I would put together a basic recipe and tweak from there. I did a little bit of review of other recipes and had a general idea of where I wanted to start. I imagined an almost amber red pale ale that has lots of flavour and an abundance of hop aroma. I wanted very little bitterness and just enough to carry the malt bill. I also wanted it to be dry to allow for the hops to shine and for it to be a beer I could consume a fair few off without feeling full.
I settled on the following:
OG: 1.051 (1.050 achieved)
FG: 1.009 (1.008 achieved)
4.1kg Pale Ale Malt (73.7%)
0.73kg Munich II (Weyermann) (13.2%)
0.73kg Victory Malt (13.2%)
10g Horizon @ 40mins- 10.8IBU
20g Amarillo @ Cube- 12.3IBU
15g Citra @ Cube- 12.8IBU
30g Amarillo @ first dry hop (4 days)
30g Citra @ first dry hop (4 days)
40g Amarillo @ second dry hop (7 days)
45g Citra @ second dry hop (7 days)
American Ale Yeast- 2L starter
So one big issue I had with this brew, my thermometer broke! Well it didn’t really break as much as the needle kept getting stuck. Which is surprising given its high value (it’s actually just a really cheap coffee thermometer I got with my second hand gear). In any event my mash was around 66 degrees. This is around the middle of the range for mouthfeel but I suspect it may have gone a touch lower given the dryness of the beer.
I boiled for 90mins as per my usual procedure and cubed the batch with the cube hops. I pitched a 2L starter of American Ale Yeast which is more than enough yeast. Fermentation was accordingly quick and the two dry hops were added at 4 and 7 days respectively. I cold crashed and used gelatine to fine the beer. This beer was in the keg and carbonated and my first tastes were 12 days after the last dry hop with the focus being on freshness. So my impressions?
I used the BJCP scoresheet to essentially ‘score’ this beer to get an idea of what I wanted to improve. My comments were as follows:
Aroma: Low to Moderate hop aroma, citrus and piney but light- needs more. 6/12
Appearance: Perfect clarity, deep amber, excellent head that laces well- no haze 3/3
Flavour: Subtle hop flavour- pleasant but underhopped- sweetness from specialty malt- no fruity esters- dry finish. Bitterness on point and lingers. No grassy or Diacytl notes 12/20
Mouthfeel- Medium body, good carbonation-smooth 3/5
Overall Impression- Good beer- very morish (is that a word?)- from dryness. Good hop aroma but lacks- up the hops. 6/10
Total Score 30/50
This beer wasn’t the hit I was hoping for with my lager drinking family members at Christmas lunch but I definitely got some really positive comments from my wife. The next brew I will move all the bitterness hops to cube additions, up the fermenter hops and put them into one big dry hop session and keg hop. For the moment I will leave the malt bill the same.
I think we are going to be onto a great thing here soon and until then, I’ll guess I’ll just have to drink many litres of pale ale. I mean, its a tough job, but somebody has got to do it.
What about you? What would be your perfect pale ale?