Pale Ale 2019

Completely uncreative name. I needed a pale ale, this was the first one I brewed in 2019, this is what I got. This batch was a bit of a mutt, with pilsner malt as most of the grist, American hops, and Nottingham yeast. I basically wanted to play around with ingredients, and see what a pale ale outside of the norm might be like.

Pale Ale 2019

  • 5 lb. 14 oz. Barke pilsner malt (Weyermann)
  • 2 lb. 15 oz. Vienna malt (Great Western)
  • 1 lb. 12 oz. 2-row malt (Rahr)
  • 8 oz. Crystal 40 (Great Western)
  • 2 oz. Cascade whole hops (5.5% alpha est.), 60 minute boil
  • 2 oz. Cascade whole hops (5.5% alpha est.), 1 minute boil
  • 1 Whirlfloc tablet, 10 minute boil
  • 1 pkg. Nottingham yeast (Lallemand)
  • 2 oz. Simcoe hop pellets (13.6% alpha), dry hop in keg
  • 1 oz. Centennial hop pellets (9.3% alpha), dry hop in keg

Target Parameters

  • 60 minute infusion mash, 152°, no sparge
  • 1.049 o.g., 1.011 f.g., 4.9% abv, 39 IBU, 6 SRM
  • Claremont tap water, augmented with 5 g of epsom salt and 2 g of calcium chloride.

Procedure

  • I mashed in with 7.5 gallons of water at 165°, to hit a mash temperature of 158°. It was too hot, so I dropped in a frozen water bottle.
  • The mash was down to 153.6° after 40 minutes. I elected to do a 45 minute mash with this batch.
  • I collected 6.5 gallons of runnings with a gravity of 1.043, for 69% mash efficiency. This is slightly lower than if I had done a batch sparge, so no surprises here.
  • I brought the runnings to a boil, adding hops and other ingredients per the recipe.
  • After 60 minutes, I chilled to 70°, transferred with aeration, and pitched the yeast. Starting gravity was 1.050.
  • I brewed this beer on 5 January 2019, and fermented at 67°.
  • I kegged the beer on 24 January 2019. Final gravity was 1.015, down from 1.050, for 4.6% abv.

Tasting

  • Appearance
    • Clear, gold beer, with a persistent white head that continues as an even blanket over the surface of the beer.
  • Aroma
    • Hop-forward aroma, with citrus and piney notes.
  • Flavor
    • Moderately bitter, with a flavor tipped towards the hoppy side. The tropical and citrus aspects of the hops come through, although there isn’t much in the way of malt flavor.
  • Mouthfeel
    • Mouthfeel is a bit on the thin side for my preference. Carbonation is appropriate for the style, and the finish is nicely rounded.
  • Would I brew this again?
    • Probably not, at least in its current form. Pilsner malt just doesn’t make for a pale ale in my flavor wheelhouse, so I might swap that for 2-row. The hop profile is dead-on perfect, especially for a good springtime pale ale. This beer has improved greatly as it matured–I didn’t care for it at all when first kegged, and now it is a pretty drinkable brew.
  • Overall:
    • 6.5/10
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GBP70 – Bohemian Pilsner Recipe & Tasting

In honor of my dad’s 70th birthday (he introduced me to homebrewing, after all!), I brewed a Bohemian-style pilsner. It was pretty tasty, and sadly didn’t last long enough even for me to do a formal tasting. I made the mistake of serving it at a party, and the keg was finished before I could blink!

GBP70 (Greg’s Birthday Pilsner 70)

  • 10.5 lbs. Barke pilsner malt (Weyermann)
  • 2.3 oz. melanoidin malt (Weyermann)
  • 0.3 oz. Carafa Special III malt (Weyermann)
  • 2 oz. Saaz hop pellets (3.0% alpha), 60 minute boil
  • 0.75 oz. Saaz hop pellets (3.5% alpha), 60 minute boil
  • 1 Whirlfloc tablet, 10 minute boil
  • 1 tsp. Fermax yeast nutrient, 10 minute boil
  • 2.25 oz. Saaz hop pellets (3.5% alpha), 5 minute boil
  • 2 pkg. W34/70 Saflager Lager Yeast (Fermentis)

Target Parameters

  • 60 minute infusion mash, 150°, no sparge
  • 1.049 o.g., 1.010 f.g., 5.2% abv, 38 IBU, 5 SRM
  • Water built from RO to hit targets of 7 ppm Ca, 2 ppm Mg, 2 ppm Na, 5 ppm SO4, 5 ppm Cl, 15 ppm HCO3

Procedure

  • To 7.75 gallons of RO water, I added 0.6 g baking soda, 0.4 g CaCl, and 0.3 g gypsum.
  • I heated the mash water to ~160°, added to the mash tun, allowed to cool to 155.4°, and then added the grains along with 10 mL of 88% lactic acid.
  • I hit 150.7° on the mash temperature–not too bad! It was down to 148.7° after 45 minutes.
  • After 60 minutes, I collected 6.5 gallons of wort with a gravity of 1.041. This works out to 67% efficiency. That’s a fair bit lower than my typical efficiency (73 to 75%), but not unexpected given the no-sparge methods. I added 0.25 gallons of RO water to bring up the volume in the kettle.
  • I boiled for 60 minutes, adding hops and other ingredients per the schedule.
  • I chilled the wort to 75° in the kettle, and chilled the rest of the way down to 49° after transferring to the fermenter. I oxygenated for 60 minutes at this point, and then pitched the dry yeast directly into the wort.
  • Starting gravity was 1.046 on 12 January 2019.
  • I raised the brew temperature to 64° on 26 February 2019, and cold crashed on 28 February 2019. I kegged the beer (using a closed-transfer technique, directly into the CO2-purged keg) on 9 March 2019.
  • Final gravity was 1.010, down from 1.046. This equates to 4.9% abv.

IMG_20190327_202833General Tasting Impressions

I didn’t get to do a formal tasting for this one, and it was finished before it really hit its ultimate peak, but overall I’m pretty happy with it. The malt flavor was spot-on, and I think I’ve finally iterated into a good balance of melanoidin malt within my no-decoction Bohemian pilsner recipes. The beer was pretty clear, but would have cleared to brilliant with another week or two in the keg. The head and head retention were fairly good also, but not the best I’ve ever had. Not sure why that was. I’m still chasing a perfect Saaz hop aroma in my Bohemian pilsners; it’s just a matter of finding the right hops with the right freshness. The ones I used in this batch weren’t awful, but they weren’t awfully exceptional, either. Overall, I would give this recipe 8/10, with targeted improvements to mainly chase the best possible hop flavor.

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Schoepshead Pale Schöps

For our April style competition, my homebrew club decided to try a Breslau-Style Pale Schöps. I had never heard of this until my club president brought this up as an option, and a bit of searching online finds virtually nothing. This is a historical style, native to the area of Breslau (now Wrocław, Poland). The Brewer’s Association added it to their style guide for the GABF a few years back, which I can only imagine must have been a special favor for someone, because there just ain’t any commercial examples out there now.

In any case, I only found a handful of recipes online, and many (all?) of these were by people asking, “So, I made up this recipe and does it look plausible…” This meant I decided to just use what I’ve learned over the years, and try and put my own recipe together.

From what I read about the style, it should be mostly wheat malt in the grist (up to 80%), with a bready flavor and aroma aspect and a full body. Although this is a wheat ale, it wasn’t supposed to have German wheat ale yeast–instead, a fruity character was described, without phenols. Hops are in the background on this, too.

With all of this information, I put together a grain bill that was mostly wheat malt (~70%), backed up by equal parts pilsner and biscuit malt. I elected to go with a German ale yeast, the classic WLP029. For my grains, I wanted to go with European malts, choosing those from Viking because at least some are sourced from Poland. This seemed appropriate for the brew! I had no idea if I would like this batch or not, so I aimed for 3 gallons instead of the full 5.

The name is a German-ish (highly inauthentic and untranslatable) pun on “Sheep’s Head,” just because I thought it sounded funny and vaguely like the word “Schöps.”

Schoepshead Pale Schöps

  • 6 lb. wheat malt (Viking)
  • 1 lb. biscuit malt (Dingemans)
  • 1 lb. pilsner malt (Viking)
  • 1 lb. rice hulls
  • 2 oz. Hallertauer Mittelfrueh hop pellets (2.7% alpha), 35 minute boil
  • 1 Whirlfloc tablet, 10 minute boil
  • 1 tsp. Fremax yeast nutrient, 10 minute boil
  • 1 pkg. German Ale/Kolsch yeast (White Labs, WLP029)

Target Parameters

  • 60 minute infusion mash, 153°, batch sparge
  • 1.065 o.g., 1.016 f.g., 6.6% abv, 24 IBU, 8 SRM
  • Claremont tap water

Procedure

  • 48 hours in advance, I made a 0.65L starter with the yeast, and cold crashed for 24 hours.
  • I mashed in with 3.25 gallons of water at 165°, to hit a 154° mash temperature. I let this sit for 60 minutes, and it was down to 151° by the end. I added 0.3 gallons of water at 185°, let sit for 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected first runnings.
  • Then, I added 2.25 gallons of water at 185°, let sit for 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected the second runnings.
  • In total, I collected 4.3 gallons of runnings at a gravity of 1.047. This was only 67% efficiency; it put me well below my target (1.053), but it’s not a surprise given the large amount of wheat in the bill.
  • I boiled for 60 minutes, adding hops and yeast nutrient per the schedule. After 60 minutes, I chilled the wort and transferred to the fermenter.
  • I brewed this beer on March 30, with a starting gravity of 1.060. I fermented the beer a 68°, and gravity was down to 1.014 by 2 April. On 9 April, gravity was 1.010. I kegged the beer at this point; it had reached 6.6% abv.

Tasting

  • Aroma
    • Very bready, with a slight fruitiness behind that. No hop aroma.
  • Appearance
    • Persistent white and very fine head. Beer itself is copper color, with a decent amount of haze.
  • Flavor
    • Lightly fruity on the front, with a nice rounded bready, malty flavor behind that. Hop bitterness is medium-low, with a nice smooth finish.
  • Mouthfeel
    • Great body on this, with moderately high carbonation. The finish is nice and extended, pleasantly balancing the malt and hops.
  • Would I brew this again?
    • This is a really nice beer! I could see myself brewing this recipe again….I wasn’t sure how I’d like this, and it has turned into a pretty enjoyable brew. The flavor is really nice, and it’s a highly drinkable style for its level of alcohol. It’s a great bridge between the beers of winter and the beers of summer. I can’t say there’s anything I’d really change, either to keep it more to style or to make it more to my palate.
  • Overall
    • 10/10

And…the beer won first place in our club competition!

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Farke’s ESB

With a 55 lb. sack of Maris Otter malt on hand, I’ve been exploring the world of English beers. The latest stop along this journey was with a best bitter (known commercially sometimes as ESB, or Extra Special Bitter). In order to make this a quick-and-easy brew day, I opted to do a full-volume, no-sparge mash. Even with that shortcut, this one was a winner!

Farke’s ESB

  • 8.5 lb. Maris Otter malt (Bairds)
  • 0.5 lb. caramel 80° malt (Briess)
  • 0.25 lb. 90°L 6-row caramel malt (Briess)
  • 0.25 lb. 20°L caramel malt (Briess)
  • 1 oz. East Kent Goldings hop pellets (6.0% alpha), 60 minute boil
  • 1 Whirlfloc tablet, 10 minute boil
  • 1 oz. East Kent Goldings hop pellets (6.0% alpha), 5 minute boil
  • 1 pkg. London ESB English Style Ale Yeast (Lallemand)

Target Parameters

  • 60 minute full volume infusion mash, 152°
  • 1.042 o.g., 1.012 f.g., 4.0% abv, 28 IBU, 10 SRM
  • Claremont tap water

Procedure

  • I mashed in with 7.5 gallons of water at 156.5°, to hit 151.8° mash temperature. After 60 minutes, I vorlaufed and collected the full volume for the boil.
  • In total, I collected ~6.25 gallons of wort with a gravity of 1.039, for 69.2% mash efficiency.
  • I boiled for 60 minutes, adding hops and finings per the schedule. Then, I chilled and trasnferred to the fermenter.
  • Starting gravity was 1.044, when I brewed this on 3 February 2019. I fermented at 66°.
  • I kegged the beer on 25 February 2019, at a final gravity of 1.015. This works out to 3.8% abv.
  • The beer started out pretty hazy in the keg, but dropped really clear after two or three weeks.

Tasting

  • The Basics
    • O.G. = 1.044; f.g. = 1.015; 3.8% abv; 10 SRM; 28 estimated IBU
  • Appearance
    • Clear, medium amber color, with a fine white head that is pretty persistent. This beer has clarified nicely over the past few weeks.
  • Aroma
    • Light caramel, slightly bready aroma, with a faint fruitiness; incredibly delicious overall!
  • Flavor
    • This is a malt forward beer with a pleasant bitterness on the finish. It’s highly drinkable, with none of the character being overwhelming. The hop character is moderate and balanced well against the malt.
  • Mouthfeel
    • Moderate carbonation appropriate for the style, with a really nicely balanced finish and mouthfeel.
  • Would I brew this again?
    • Yes! It’s a dead simple beer, but one that’s just enjoyable. Pretty much everything is on target here. It’s not one of those “blow your taste buds out of the water” styles, but instead is a solid, enjoyable brew. I might up the fermentation temperature a bit or consider a different yeast, to get more prominent yeast notes, but that’s a fairly minor thing. For being “only” 3.8% abv, this beer doesn’t taste like it!
  • Overall
    • 8.5/10
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Dunkel-Osteus 2019

I really enjoyed the Munich Dunkel I brewed two years ago, and recently decided to give the recipe another go. This round was nearly identical in terms of ingredients, with the only real change being a lower mash temperature to dry out the beer a bit and reduce residual sweetness. This version is nearly perfect, and has matured nicely while on tap!

Dunkel-Osteus 2019

  • 9 lbs. Munich Dark malt (BESTMALZ)
  • 6 oz. Carafa Special II malt (Weyermann), added at vorlauf
  • 5 oz. melanoidin malt (Weyermann)
  • 1.5 oz. Hallertauer Mittelfrueh hops (4.0% alpha), 60 minute boil
  • 1 tsp. Fermax yeast nutrient, 10 minute boil
  • 1 Whirlfloc tablet, 10 minute boil
  • 2 pkg. Saflager Lager yeast (Fermentis W34/70)

Target Parameters

  • 60 minute infusion mash, 150°
  • 1.050 o.g., 1.010 f.g., 5.2% abv, 22 IBU, 23 SRM
  • Water adjusted to hit 82 ppm Ca, 7 ppm Mg, 15 ppm Na, 31 ppm SO4, 94 ppm Cl, 131 ppm HCO3, 44 ppm RA

Procedure

  • I used 5.13 gallons of Claremont tap water with 3 gallons of RO water and 5 g of calcium chloride overall, to hit my water targets.
  • I mashed in with 3.25 gallons of tap water (with Campden tablet to remove chloramines) at 161.5°, to hit a mash temperature of 150.5°.
  • For the sparge water, I mixed 2 gallons of tap water with 3 gallons of RO water and 5 g of calcium chloride.
  • After 60 minutes, I added 1.25 gallons of tap water at 185°, let the mash sit for 10 more minutes, vorlaufed, and collected the first runnings.
  • Next, I added 3.3 gallons of sparge water, let sit 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected the second runnings.
  • I collected 6.6 gallons of wort with a gravity of 1.040, for 73% mash efficiency.
  • I started the boil, and added the hops, Whirlfloc, and yeast nutrient per the schedule. After 60 minutes, I turned off the flame and chilled the wort down to 70°.
  • I transferred the chilled wort to my fermenter, reduced temperature to 54° in my fermentation chamber, and pitched the yeast at this point.
  • Starting gravity was 1.046, on 26 February 2019.
  • I fermented the beer at 54° for the first week, and raised the temperature to 64° on March 9, 68° on March 12, and cold crashed on March 14. I kegged the beer on 23 March.
  • Final gravity was 1.010, down from 1.046, for 4.7% abv.

Tasting

  • The Basics
    • O.G. = 1.046; f.g. = 1.010; 4.7% abv; 20 SRM; 22 estimated IBU
  •  Aroma
    • Mild chocolate aroma, with no apparent hop aroma.
  • Appearance
    • Beautifully clear, darkest amber/reddish brown color, with an off-tan persistent head
  • Flavor
    • Malty beer, with a residual breadiness on the finish; fairly moderate bitterness
  • Mouthfeel
    • Medium body, with the finish being only very slightly dry. Moderate carbonation, appropriate for style.
  • Would I brew this again?
    • Absolutely! I think I nailed the style pretty well this time around, particularly in that this version is slightly less sweet than the first one I did. I attribute this to a slightly lower mash temperature (150° vs 154°). Finishing gravity was definitely lower (1.010 vs 1.016), too. I wouldn’t mind a touch more chocolate character on this version (which the last version had), but that could be fixed by a bit more Carafa Special II. I also think I liked the Weyermann Dark Munich a bit better than the BEST version of this malt, which also might explain some of the loss in malt character character. I recall Weyermann’s Dark Munich being just a touch richer in character, so I might switch things up next time. Otherwise, this is another great recipe!
  • Overall
    • 9/10
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