Summer Blonde Ale

One of the primary limitations of brewing in southern California is the weather…there is a short window indeed where ambient air temperature–even in a basement–is within the happy zone for ale yeast. You can brew when it’s warmer, of course, but there is more danger of off-flavors developing (well, unless it’s a Belgian…off-flavors are the default there). So, I’ve been mostly limited to brewing between November and March, with maybe a little wiggle room on either end. It also meant I had to get as much brewing as possible during that window, to have a good supply for the long summer months.

Well, those days are now at an end. The parents shipped me a Ranco temperature controller for my birthday, which regulates a fridge or freezer into appropriate fermentation temperatures. I bought a cheap 7 cubic foot chest freezer, hooked it all up, and now I’m ready to go! First up…a good, drinkable summer blonde ale. This recipe is ever-so-slightly modified from one that originally appeared in BYO.

Summer Blonde Ale

  • 10 lbs. 2-row pale malt
  • 8 oz. 20° crystal malt
  • 1 oz. Willamette hops pellets
  • 1 tsp. Irish moss
  • 1 pkg. (11 g) Safale American US-05 yeast
Steps
  • I preheated the mash tun and added the grains with 1 tbs. of 5.2 pH stabilizer.
  • I mashed in with 3.25 gallons of water at 165°. I adjusted the water slightly by adding 1 gallon distilled water (and another gallon when I did the sparge).
  • The mash temperature stabilized at 152.3°, was down to 151.5° within 30 minutes, and was at 149° after 60 minutes.
  • After 60 minutes, I added 1.08 gallons of water at 170°, stirred, and let it sit for 10 minutes. I then decanted ~3.15 gallons of wort.
  • I added 3.14 gallons of water at 170°, stirred, and let it sit for 10 minutes. This raised the temperature of the mash to 160°.
  • In the end, I collected 6.5 gallons of wort. Pre-boil gravity was 1.040, which works out to around 67.5% mash efficiency.
  • After heating the wort to a boil, I added the hops pellets and boiled the wort for 60 minutes. 10 minutes prior to flame-out, I added the Irish moss.
  • I cooled the wort down to ~78°, and transferred it to the carboy. Total volume is 5 gallons. 
  • After rehydrating the yeast in 1 cup of water, I pitched it and sealed up the fermenter.
  • In order to gain a clean flavor profile, I’ll be fermenting at ~62°. The plan is to ferment for around a week before bottling. Starting gravity was 1.046.
  • The beer was brewed and yeast pitched on Saturday, June 28. By the next morning, visible fermentation had started.
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