This was another quick kitchen-sink recipe to finish up some stray ingredients, with the side benefit of putting a tasty brew on tap. It’s interesting how amber ales really aren’t that common anymore in craft beer, given how prevalent they were 20 years ago. In a quick search of local breweries, I didn’t find a single example in their offerings! That’s part of why I homebrew, I suppose.
(As a historical note, the very first amber ale I did as a solo homebrewer was in December 2009. On average, I have brewed roughly one batch a year since.)
Melange Amber Ale
- 8.25 lb. 2-row malt (Great Western)
- 1.75 lb. Munich I malt (Weyermann)
- 1 lb 2.4 oz. Crystal 75 malt (Great Western)
- 0.5 lb. Crystal 60 malt (Great Western)
- 1 oz. Carafa Special III malt (Weyermann)
- 1 oz. Cascade whole hops (5.5% alpha), 60 minute boil
- 1 oz. Cascade whole hops (5.5% alpha), 15 minute boil
- 2 oz. Cascade whole hops (5.5% alpha), 5 minute boil
- 1 Whirlfloc tablet, 5 minute boil
- 1 pkg. Safale American Ale yeast (US-05)
- 60 minute infusion mash, 152°, batch sparge
- 1.052 o.g., 1.011 f.g., 31 IBU, 15 SRM, 5.4% abv
- Claremont tap water
- I mashed in with 4 gallons of water at 162°, to hit a mash temperature of 152°. I added 2.5 mL of 88% lactic acid, to adjust the pH.
- After 45 minutes of mashing, I added 1.25 gallons of water at 190°, to raise the mash temperature to 158°. I let it rest for another 15 minutes, before collecting first runnings.
- Next, I added 3.75 gallons at ~185°, let rest for 10 minutes, and collected the second runnings.
- In total, I collected 7.2 gallons with a gravity of 1.045, for 76% mash efficiency. This was exactly where I wanted to be!
- I boiled for 60 minutes, adding hops and finings per the recipe. After 60 minute, I chilled down to 78 °, and chilled another 10° in my fermentation chamber, pitching the yeast ~8 hours later.
- Starting gravity was 1.051, with 5.75 gallons into the fermenter. I brewed the beer on 13 June 2020, and fermented it at 66°.
- After about a week, I pulled the beer out to finish at ambient (~75°), in order to free up room in the fermentation chamber.
- I kegged the beer on 23 June 2020; it had a final gravity of 1.013, for 5.0% abv. I added 2.5 oz. corn sugar in 1 cup of water for priming and sealed it up to carbonate.
- When I tried the beer after ~2 weeks, carbonation seemed a bit low, so I finished carbonation using my CO2 tank. I am beginning to wonder how reliable the BeerSmith carbonation calculator is for kegged batches, because I’ve had this as a perpetual problem.
- The beer is a gorgeous deep amber color, and fairly clear, with only a touch of haze at this point (~2 weeks at serving temperature of below). It pours with a thick ivory head, that thins to a persistent rim around the glass.
- Crisp, caramel aroma that’s really pleasant and distinctive, with a background of woody hop aroma. Very, very nice!
- Malt forward, with a bready richness backed up by a touch of caramel. Bitterness is moderate, but not quite enough to keep the malt from becoming too cloying. I think it has just a touch too much caramel malt, and so it’s on that edge of too sweet. After a sip, though, the hops and malt really nicely balance each other out as it lingers on the palate.
- Medium-full body, medium carbonation. Smooth finish, that’s not too dry.
- Would I brew this again?
- This is a good enough beer, but as mentioned above it has a bit too much caramel on the flavor. Crystal malt makes up 15% of the malt bill, and I would probably ratchet it back a touch (probably on the crystal 75) to bring it a little more into a balance I like. I think this would drink a little better in the late fall / winter, when a fuller, maltier beer is more welcome than during a warm summer afternoon! So, it’s not an awful beer, but not the best amber ale I’ve done.