Lab Bench Pale Ale

Another weekend, another brewing session. Because the IPA on tap just ran out, I figured it was a good time to rev up another IPA or pale ale. A recipe I saw in the September 2013 issue of BYO was intriguing. Miss’ippi #BIGCASCADE Pale Ale was originally brewed in honor of the legalization of homebrewing in Mississippi, back on July 1, 2013. Beyond its historic interest, this recipe also interested me because it incorporated hops in the mash as well as first wort hopping. I had heard of both techniques, but never used them, so this seemed like a great opportunity to expand my brewing horizons. I made a few other (minor) adjustments to the recipe for my equipment, and thus Lab Bench Pale Ale was born.

As another note, I added a small amount of gypsum to the boil. My hope is that the sulfate from this will help add some “zing” to the hops character. Additionally, I prepared the yeast starter 4 days in advance, and cold crashed it in the refrigerator after 3 days. After approximately 36 hours, and just prior to pitching the yeast, I decanted most of the spent wort, and pitched just a yeast slurry of approximately 0.5 L volume.

Finally, I have been doing some adjustments to my equipment profile in BeerSmith, to try and get my mash temperatures a little closer. For this time around, I assumed a mash tun temperature of 164°. Finally, that seemed to do the trick, and I hit my mash temperature pretty much square on.

Lab Bench Pale Ale

  • 8.6 lbs. 2-row malt (Great Western Malting Co.)
  • 6 oz. 40° L crystal malt
  • 0.5 oz. whole Cascade hops (added to mash; approximately 85 minutes steeping total)
  • 0.5 oz. whole Cascade hops (first wort; steeped in wort for approximately 45 minutes and boiled for 60 minutes)
  • 1 oz. whole Cascade hops, 20 minute boil
  • 0.75 oz. Cascade hops pellets (7.5% alpha, 5.5% beta), 10 minute boil
  • 1.25 oz. Cascade hops pellets (7.5% alpha, 5.5% beta), added at flame-out and steeped for ~30 minutes during chilling of wort
  • 2 oz. Cascade hops pellets (7.5% alpha, 5.5% beta), dry hop for 10 days
  • 1 tbs. 5.2 pH stabilizer (added to mash)
  • 8 g. powdered gypsum (added to boil)
  • 1 tsp. Irish moss  (10 minute boil)
  • California Ale Yeast (White Labs WLP001), prepared 4 days in advance with 1.5 L starter
Anticipated statistics
  • 1.047 o.g., 1.010 f.g., 4.8% abv
  • 37.8 IBU
  • 5.0 SRM
  • I mashed in with 4 gallons of water at 164°. The grains, 0.5 oz. of whole hops, and 5.2 pH stabilizer were all included in this mix. The temperature had stabilized at 152° within 10 minutes, and was down to 150° after 30 minutes.
  • After a 60 minute mash, I added 1.35 gallons of 190° water, let it sit for 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected approximately 3.25 gallons of wort.
  • I added 3.14 gallons of water at 180°, which brought the mash up to 168°. I let this rest for 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected the remainder of the wort.
  • All together, I collected ~6.65 gallons of wort, with a gravity of 1.038 at 60°. This translates to 76.8% mash efficiency, within a percentage point or so of where I predicted.
  • I added the gypsum and brought the wort to a boil, adding hops at the designated intervals. Thus, hops were added at 40 minutes, 50 minutes (along with Irish moss), and 60 minutes (at flame-out). I noted a larger than normal amount of hot break; I’m not sure why this was.
  • I chilled the wort down to 72°, transferred it to a carboy, and pitched the yeast. I plan to start fermentation (the first 12-24 hours) at 67°, and will do the remainder of fermentation at 65°.
  • I plan to transfer to the keg and dry-hop in 7 to 10 days.
  • Starting gravity was 1.047, exactly as calculated by BeerSmith. This has been a really good brew session, in terms of nailing efficiency, temperatures, volumes, and gravities.