Gondwana Pale Ale 1.5

african_queenMy local homebrew shop happened to have a pound of African Queen hop pellets during my most recent visit…for those not in the know, this is a variety grown in South Africa, and one of the few that is available (for now) in the United States. Due to some recent hop farm purchases, future South African hop availability is likely to be even tighter than before, so I had to jump at this chance to brew with this variety.

These hops are touted as being on the flavor/aroma end of things, so I wanted a good pale ale recipe that would highlight this. My classic Gondwana Pale Ale seemed like just the ticket! I subbed in a little Vienna malt for the 2-row to help bolster the maltiness. Otherwise, there is very little changed here from my most recent iteration, just the hops.

Gondwana Pale Ale 1.5

  • 6.5 lbs. 2-row malt (Rahr Malting Co.)
  • 3 lbs. Vienna malt (Great Western Malting Co.)
  • 0.5 lb. crystal 40 malt (Great Western Malting Co.)
  • 7 oz. Carafoam malt (Weyermann Malting)
  • 0.35 oz. Warrior hop pellets (15.8% alpha), 60 minute boil
  • 2 oz. African Queen hop pellets (14.5% alpha), 5 minute boil
  • 2 oz. African Queen hop pellets (14.5% alpha), dry hop in keg
  • 1 Whirlfloc tablet, 10 minute boil
  • 1 pkg. California Ale yeast (WLP001)

Target Parameters

  • Infusion mash to hit target of 152°. Batch sparge.
  • Claremont tap water.
  • 1.053 o.g., 1.011 f.g., 5.4% abv, 41 IBU, 6 SRM, 5 gallons into fermenter


  • A few days in advance, I made a yeast starter, cold-crashing it and setting aside some for a future batch.
  • On brew day, I mashed in with 3.5 gallons of water at 163°, to hit a 152° mash temperature. The temp had dropped to ~150° after 30 minutes.
  • After 60 minutes, I added 1.25 gallons of water at 185°, let sit for 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected the first runnings.
  • Next, I added 3.5 gallons of water at 185°, let sit for 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected the remainder of the wort.
  • In total, I collected 6.6 gallons of wort with a gravity of 1.045, for 78% efficiency.
  • I started the boil and added everything per the schedule.
  • After 60 minutes, I chilled the wort down to 70 degrees, and pitched the yeast. I’ll be fermenting at 66°.
  • Starting gravity was 1.053 (right on target!). I brewed this beer on 27 May 2017.
  • Final gravity on 7 June 2017 was 1.012, which equates to 5.4% abv. I added the hops to the keg in a mesh bag, and began carbonation and dry-hopping at room temperature.
Posted in hops, pale ale | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Thought of the Day

As an AHA forum discussion thread grows longer, the probability of LODO derailment approaches 1.

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Beer Tasting: Dunkel-Osteus

20170514_170015I love this beer. Quite frankly, it’s one of the best I’ve brewed in a long time. And, it was just plain enjoyable! There aren’t a lot of commercially available Munich dunkels out there, so I was happy to really get to know this style. Of course, a tasty beer sadly leads to an empty keg…with dreams of rebrewing this sometime.

  • The Basics
    • O.G. = 1.050; f.g. = 1.016; 4.5% abv; 20 SRM; 22 estimated IBU
  •  Aroma
    • Nice toasty and malty-sweet aroma, with the very slightest hint of chocolate behind that. Wonderful!
  • Appearance
    • Deep reddish brown color with brilliant clarity and a fine ivory head that sticks around nicely. This is a really pretty beer!
  • Flavor
    • Rich and toasty flavor, with a clean hop profile.
  • Mouthfeel
    • Medium bodied, moderate carbonation that seems to fit what I have read about the style. Malt dominates the finish.
  • Would I brew this again?
    • Absolutely! This is a phenomenal recipe, and I’m really pleased with my first effort at the style. One friend who tasted it (whose taste I trust) suggested it is maybe a touch on the sweet side, and that a lower mash temperature would dry it out a bit. Along these lines, I might aim for a 150 or 152 degree target temperature. Alternatively, I might use the decoction schedule in Gordon Strong’s book and see if that also does the trick. In any case, this ranks among my favorite beers of 2017 and will definitely get brewed again.
  • Overall
    • 9.5/10
Posted in Dunkel, lager, Munich dunkel, tastings | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Big Batch Update: Saison, Amber Ale, Pilsner

There’s lots to report with kegging and fermentation for a few recent batches. So, here’s what’s new:

  • Thumbspike Saison 2.0

    • This might have had the quickest turn-around on any kegged beer I’ve ever done! I brewed the beer on 12 May 2017, starting with an 80° fermentation temperature. On 16 May, I raised the temperature to 85°. Everything really churned along, from start to finish (as you might expect with fermentation at those temperatures)! I kegged the beer on 20 May 2017, with a final gravity of 1.004. That works out to 6.7% abv. I’ve had it on tap for about a week, and it’s a pretty interesting and enjoyable beer. All of the ingredients melded together quite nicely, and I am pleased with the results. It’s a very refreshing brew for a warm afternoon on the patio.
    • My first impressions are that it has a very lightly fruity aroma, with a slight tartness on the flavor. Head retention seems pretty miserable at this point, but I don’t know if that’s a real feature of the beer or because I didn’t wash my glass from a previous beer before pouring this one.
  • Hell Creek Amber Ale 1.1
    • I brewed this beer on 14 April 2017, with a starting gravity of 1.060. I kegged the beer on 7 May 2017. Final gravity was 1.016, which equates to 5.8% abv.
  • Czech-ed Out Pilsner
    • This batch has the honor of being my first dumper, ever. I’ve weathered warm fermentations, low gravities, and incomplete fermentations, and have always soldiered through in the end. Alas, this particular batch just wasn’t any good. The culprit wasn’t infection, bad fermentation, or anything like that. It was bad hops! As noted in my original post, the late hop addition smelled really grassy. I should have known better than to add them to the kettle, but wasn’t quite that smart. So, I kegged the beer, carbonated it, and pulled my first sample…to a whiff of pilsner that smelled pretty much like freshly mown lawn, and not in a good way. It was almost reminiscent of jalapenos, but in any case was not reminiscent of what a good European pilsner should taste or smell like. Lesson learned!
    • In terms of fermentation history, I started fermentation at 50° on 9 April. I raised the beer to 65° on 21 April, and then dropped it to 33° on 30 April 2017. I kegged the beer on 14 May, at which point it had a final gravity of 1.011. This equates to 5.6% abv.
Posted in amber ale, experimental recipe, kegging, lager, pilsner, saison | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Palaeotis Pils 1.1

Time for another batch…this time, a retool of my German pils. Compared to the last round, I have changed just about everything, although the overall base malt is basically the same. To speed my brew day along, I’m not doing a decoction. Instead, I’m rounding out the malt bill with a little bit of melanoidin malt.

Palaeotis Pils

  • 8.5 lbs. floor-malted Bohemian pilsner malt (Weyermann)
  • 5 oz. melanoidin malt (Weyermann)
  • 3 oz. acidulated malt (BestMalz)
  • 0.3 oz. Warrior hop pellets (15.0% alpha), 60 minute boil
  • 0.5 oz. Liberty hop pellets (4.9% alpha), 30 minute boil
  • 0.5 oz. Tettnang hop pellets (3.5% alpha), 30 minute boil
  • 0.5 oz. Liberty hop pellets (4.9% alpha), 5 minute boil
  • 0.5 oz. Tettnang hop pellets (3.5% alpha), 5 minute boil
  • 1 tsp. Fermax yeast nutrient, 10 minute boil
  • 1 Whirlfloc tablet, 10 minute boil
  • 2 packages lager yeast (Fermentis W34/70)

Target Parameters

  • Infusion mash to hit target of 150°. Batch sparge.
  • Water built from R.O., to hit 59.1 ppm Ca, 8.2 ppm Mg, 89 ppm SO4, and 62.9 ppm Cl.
  • 1.048 o.g., 1.010 f.g., 4.9% abv, 34 IBU, 4 SRM, 5 gallons into fermenter


  • For this recipe, I built my water to match the “Pilsner Water” profile on Braukaiser. For the 3.1 gallons of mash water, I added 1.2 g of gypsum, 1.2 g of epsom salt, and 1.5 g of calcium chloride. For the 5.5 gallons of sparge water, I added 2.1 g of gypsum, 1.7 g of epsom salt, and 2.7 g of calcium chloride.
  • I mashed in with 3.1 gallons of water at 160° to hit 150°, and let it rest for 60 minutes. After 35 minutes, the mash temperature had fallen to 148°.
  • After a 60 minute mash, I added 1.75 gallons of water at 200° to raise the mash temperature to to 160°. I let it sit for 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected the first runnings.
  • Next, I added 3.75 gallons of water at 185°, let sit for 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected the remainder of the runnings.
  • In total, I had 7.1 gallons of mash runnings at a gravity of 1.039, for 82% efficiency.
  • I brought the kettle to a boil, and added the hops and other ingredients per the schedule.
  • After 90 minutes, I chilled the wort down to 75°, transferred the wort while aerating, put the fermenter into the fermentation chamber, and let it cool down to 50° before pitching the yeast.
  • Starting gravity was 1.048, nearly precisely on target. I started fermentation at 50°, and raised it to 54° after four days. I brewed the beer on 20 May 2017.
Posted in German pils, lager, pilsner | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment