I’ve been doing a lot of IPAs lately, and decided to mix things up a bit with an American pale ale for my next hop-forward beer. The December 2017 issue of Brew Your Own had a clone recipe for Dale’s Pale Ale (by Oskar Blues Brewing), which is one of my favorite beers. I particularly like the malt body with it, so riffed off the recipe to come up with my own version. My other requirement was to focus on piney-type hops, so I bolstered the Cascade core with a hefty Simcoe late addition and dry hop. My hope is to turn this around pretty quickly, because I’m likely going to be out of my Thanksgiving IPA in a matter of days!
Old Pine Pale Ale
- 9 lbs. California Select 2-row brewer’s malt (Great Western)
- 1 lb. Golden Promise malt (Simpsons)
- 0.75 lb. Victory (biscuit) malt (Briess)
- 3 oz. 80°L caramel malt (Briess)
- 2 oz. Cascade whole hops (5.5% alpha), 60 minute boil
- 2 oz. Cascade whole hops (5.5% alpha), 10 minute boil
- 1 oz. Simcoe hop pellets (13.6% alpha), 5 minute whirlpool after flame-out
- 1 Whirlfloc tablet, 10 minute boil
- 1 pkg. California Ale yeast (WLP001), prepared in starter
- 3 oz. Simcoe hop pellets (13.6% alpha), 5 day dry-hop
- Infusion mash to hit target of 152°. Batch sparge.
- Claremont tap water, with addition of RO water and mineral adjustments to hit target of 98 ppm Ca, 22 ppm Mg, 24 ppm Na, 196 ppm SO4, 48 ppm Cl, and 167 ppm HCO3.
- 1.055 s.g., 1.012 f.g., 54 IBU, 7 SRM, 5.7% abv
- Three days in advance of brewing, I prepared a 1.5 L starter (to produce enough yeast for the pitch on this batch as well as to have enough to save for later).
- For the mash water, I added 2 gallons of RO water to 1.67 gallons of tap water, with mineral additions of 5.9 g gypsum, 0.6 g table salt, 4.8 g epsom salt, and 1.4 g CaCl. I also added 4.5 mL of phosphoric acid (75%) to balance out the pH.
- I mashed in with 3.67 gallons of the above water at 165°, to hit a mash temperature of 153°. After 50 minutes, I added 1 gallon of tap water at 185°, let sit for another 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected the first runnings. I added another 3.6 gallons of tap water at 185°, let sit for 10 minutes, vorlafued, and collected the remainder of the runnings.
- In total, I collected 6.65 gallons of runnings with a gravity of 1.045. This equates to 75% efficiency.
- I brought everything to a boil, adding the various hops and Whirlfloc at the appointed times. After 60 minutes, I added the final hop addition, let sit for 10 minutes, and chilled down to 77° before transferring to the primary fermenter and pitching the yeast.
- Starting gravity was 1.052, just a touch below the predicted. A slightly more vigorous boil probably would have brought things more into line. Even so, I’m not terribly worried; it’s well within overall parameters.
- I brewed this beer on 2 December 2017, and am fermenting it at 66°.
I wanted to have a nice IPA on-hand for Thanksgiving. So, I brewed up a recipe based on my Centennial IPA, first brewed last year. The base beer is a favorite of mine, so it seemed like an easy choice. I did modify it slightly to use crystal 20 and Victory malt instead of Caravienne and Carahell. I also mixed the hopping up a little bit, maintaining focus on the citrus/pine American hops. This was combined with Mandarina Bavaria hops, to add an interesting twist that I hoped would play well with everything else.
Thanksgiving IPA 2017
- 10.5 lbs. California Select 2-row brewer’s malt (Great Western)
- 1.75 lbs. Vienna malt (Great Western)
- 0.5 lb. 20°L caramel malt (Briess)
- 0.25 lb. Victory (biscuit) malt (Briess)
- 1 oz. Centennial hop pellets (7.6% alpha), first wort hop with 60 minute boil
- 1 oz. Centennial hop pellets (7.6% alpha), 15 minute boil
- 1 oz. Cascade whole hops (5.5% alpha), 10 minute boil
- 1 oz. Centennial hop pellets (7.6% alpha), 10 minute boil
- 1 oz. Amarillo hop pellets (9.2% alpha), 5 minute whirlpool
- 1 oz. Mandarina Bavaria hop pellets (9.5% alpha), 5 minute whirlpool
- 1 oz. Centennial hop pellets (7.6% alpha), 6 day loose dry hop in primary
- 1 oz. Amarillo hop pellets (9.2% alpha), 6 day loose dry hop in primary
- 1 oz. Mandarina Bavaria hop pellets (9.5% alpha), 6 day loose dry hop in primary
- 1 pkg. California Ale yeast (White Labs WLP001), prepared in starter
- I mashed in with 4.25 gallons of Claremont tap water at 161 degrees, to hit a 150° mash target. After 60 minutes, I added 0.75 gallons of water at 185°, let sit for 10 minutes, vorlaufed and drained. I then added 3.5 gallons of water at 185°, let sit for 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and drained.
- In total, I collected 6.75 gallons of wort at a gravity of 1.050, for 71% efficiency.
I brought the wort to a boil, and added hops per the schedule.
- After a 60 minute boil, I chilled to pitching temperatures and added the yeast (which was prepared in a starter).
- Original gravity was 1.062.
- I brewed the beer on 7 November 2017, and fermented at 66° for 6 days. On 13 November, I added the dry hops directly to the primary fermenter. On 19 November, I cold crashed the beer.
- On the morning of 20 November, I accidentally added 0.25L of lager yeast pitch intended for another beer. Oops.
- On the evening of 20 November, I split the beer into two kegs (2.5 gallons each). The more full keg received 1 tsp. of gelatin in 1/4 cup of water, heated to 150 degrees. The other (less full) did not get gelatin. I force carbonated the kegs.
- Final gravity was 1.008, for 7.1% abv.
- The Basics
- 1.062 o.g., 1.08 f.g., 7.1% abv, 62 estimated IBU, 6 SRM
- This beer is a deep gold, with a modest haze (it looks a bit darker in the photo due to the lighting). The head is exceptionally persistent and off-white, with beautiful lacing on the glass.
- Light yet rich citrus aroma from the hops, with a light malty aroma with a slight hint of caramel behind that
- The beer has a bready malty character, with a firm and persistent malt bitterness. The hop flavor is piney and citrusy, tending towards a grapefruit character. The bitterness is perfect, with a smooth quality and smooth finish.
- The beer has a medium body and has a moderately dry finish with moderate carbonation.
- Would I brew this again?
- Yes! This recipe once again satisfies, and I’m quite pleased with how the hops turned out. This is a classic west coast American IPA. The hop aroma could maybe be a touch stronger, but that’s a minor complaint overall.
I’ve been wanting to do a head-to-head comparison of my festbier versus commercial examples, and finally got the chance to do so tonight. My buddy Steve stopped by, and I poured out three sampler glasses for each of us. Steve didn’t know which was which, other than that one was homebrew and two were commercial beers.
For my commercial comparison, I chose Ayinger’s October Fest-Märzen and Sierra Nevada’s Oktoberfest. Both were available at local stores, and are reasonably well regarded. I sampled the beers before and after brewing, to give me a bit of an idea what to expect in a festbier.
Three festbiers (from left): Ayinger’s October Fest-Märzen, my Festivus Simplex, and Sierra Nevada’s Oktoberfest.
Steve and I tasted simultaneously, but I tried to avoid giving him any leading comments or critiques that might sway his opinion. Our observations are below; I transcribed his comments, but wrote down my personal observations without telling him, so as to avoid that avenue of bias.
- We noticed that my beer has an ever so slightly lighter color, as well as a taller and more persistent head. All of the beers are quite clear.
- Steve noted that the Ayinger version had a more prominent malty aroma. We both perceived malty sweetness and a hint of ginger in the flavor (the latter likely from the hops). I think that the maltiness is potentially from mild oxidation, which wouldn’t be a huge surprise for a beer that might have sat on a store shelf for some time after import. The malty character had that slightly cloying aspect from oxidized beers, as I experienced in an excellent seminar at the 2017 Homebrew Con.
- The Sierra Nevada version came across as a little less carbonated to me, and Steve remarked that the flavor was a little flatter on the tongue. We both noted that the taste was less complex, and its head was not very persistent relative to the other two beers.
- Steve described my homebrew as having a more complex taste than the Sierra Nevada version, and he preferred that mine had a less distinct after taste than the other two beers. For me, the hop aroma on mine was a touch more pronounced than in the Sierra Nevada and maybe a shade more than in the Ayinger, which I liked.
- When asked to guess which was the homebrew, Steve guessed mine, based on the slight color difference and some intangibles in flavor. When asked which he preferred, he ranked my homebrew and the Ayinger pretty closely, with the Sierra Nevada in third place. I am biased, but I preferred my homebrew by a slight margin (although perhaps a fresh example of Ayinger would perform better), and agreed that the Sierra Nevada came in third place.
Overall, I think my festbier is definitely a contender against the two commercial varieties I sampled. It captures the style quite well, and in some ways (especially appearance, via head and head retention) exceeds the commercial examples. As I noted in my earlier tasting, I could up the maltiness just a shade. But overall, I’m pretty thrilled with how my version of a fall favorite turned out! This exercise in comparison was really educational–I’ll be trying it again for selected beers.
Tasting time! Tasting time! For this round, I’m evaluating my festbier.
- The Basics
- 1.056 o.g., 1.014 f.g., 5.5% abv, 21 estimated IBU, 6 SRM
- Burnished gold and quite clear, with a thick white head that is quite persistant. Very pretty!
- Modestly malty (characterized by bready and toasty note), with a slightly spicy hop aroma.
- Gorgeously malty character that is at the forefront, with bready aspects dominating, but still quite drinkable. The bitterness is clean, moderate, and well balanced against the malt; there’s not much in the way of hop flavor, other than a slight herbal and spicy character. I feel like I could up the malt character a bit (maybe even go completely with Munich and Vienna, cutting out the pilsner malt) and the beer would be even better.
- Moderate body, with a moderately high (but not effervescent) carbonation. The finish is slightly dry, but not overly so, and doesn’t linger forever.
- Would I brew this again?
- Absolutely! This is a really nice festbier, and falls squarely into everything I’m looking for in a drinkable fall lager. I might up the maltiness just a touch.
Our upcoming club competition focuses on porters of all types. My own entry is a bit of a last-minute affair; this is coupled with a need/desire to use up some ingredients in the brewing stash.
For this batch, I wanted something more on the English end of porters. I’ve done a lot of American porters and robust porters, but it’s been a long time since I’ve deviated from those. This one isn’t a true English porter–the base malts are decidedly German–but the overall feel is on the west side of the Channel.
Transferring the wort into the fermenter
Gravel Bottom Porter
- 5.25 lbs. Munich I malt (Weyermann)
- 1.5 lbs. Vienna malt (Great Western)
- 1 lb. crystal extra dark malt 120° (Crisp)
- 1 lb. pale chocolate malt 225° (Crisp)
- 6.4 oz. flaked barley
- 4 oz. caramel 120° malt (Briess)
- 3.2 oz. flaked wheat
- 1 oz. Cascade whole hops (5.5% alpha), 60 minute boil
- 0.85 oz. Willamette hop pellets (4.9% alpha), 10 minute boil
- 1 Whirlfloc tablet, 10 minute boil
- 1 pkg. Empire Ale dry yeast (Mangrove Jack’s M15)
- Infusion mash to hit target of 152° for 60 minutes, batch sparge
- Claremont tap water
- 1.049 o.g., 1.013 f.g., 4.6% abv, 27 IBU, 29 SRM, 5.5 gallons into fermenter
- I mashed in with 3.25 gallons of water at 165°, to hit a mash temperature of 153°. After 45 minutes, it was down to around 151°.
- After 60 minutes, I added 1.37 gallons of water at 185°, let it sit for 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected the first runnings. Then, I added 3.5 gallons of water at 185°, let sit for 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected the second runnings.
- In total, I collected ~6.25 gallons of wort. This was below my target, so I added RO water to get to 6.8 gallons. This equates to around 79% efficiency.
- I brought the wort to a boil, adding hops and Whirlfloc at the appropriate times.
- After 60 minutes, I turned off the flame and began chilling. Once I was down to ~78°, I transferred to the primary fermenter and pitched the yeast.
- Starting gravity was 1.049; right on the nose!
- I brewed this beer on 4 November 2017, and will be fermenting at 68°.