Beer Tasting: First Amendment Blonde Ale

20170320_170026After a month conditioning in the keg, my latest blonde ale seems to be at its peak!

  • The Basics
    • O.g. = 1.051; f.g. = 1.011; 5.2% abv; 5 SRM; 24 estimated IBU
  • Aroma
    • Malty sweet aroma, with a very slight fruitiness behind that.
  • Appearance
    • Light gold and clear, with a low and persistent white head.
  •  Flavor
    • The flavor on this one really highlights the malt, which has a rounded maltiness. The hop level is moderate, maybe a touch stronger than I care for, with a slightly earthy and woody finish.
  • Mouthfeel
    • The beer has a moderately light body, moderate carbonation, and off-dry finish.
  • Would I brew this again?
    • Overall, this is a tasty and easy-drinking blonde ale. I think my moderate water adjustments helped a lot in this recipe versus some previous ones, in that the hop character avoids the flabbiness that I’ve had in some previous batches without adjustments. I could probably dial the overall hops back a tiny bit for my taste, but in general I’m pretty happy with this recipe!
  • Overall
    • 8/10

Holy Helles & First Amendment Blonde Ale Kegged

I did a whole mess of kegging tonight, to clear out fermenter space and move along some projects.

First up was my Holy Helles (a Munich Helles), which I split into two 2.5 gallon kegs. The reason behind this was that I plan to enter it in the National Homebrew Competition, and also to serve it at Easter. I didn’t want to dose the Easter beer with gelatin (in case some of our guests don’t do gelatin), but don’t much care for the NHC one.

A few notes on the helles fermentation…on 21 January 2017, the gravity was down to 1.014. At this point, I raised the temperature from 50° to 68° for a diacetyl rest. I left it at this temperature for about a week, and then dropped it down to 34° until kegging.

Final gravity was 1.012, a touch higher than predicted (1.010). With a starting gravity of 1.047, this equals 4.6% abv. That should make a nice, drinkable beer!

Next, I kegged the First Amendment Blonde Ale. Final gravity was 1.011, down from a starting gravity 1.051, for 5.2% abv. I hit my numbers perfectly on this batch–wow, what a nice treat!

I’m storing these beers at 34°, and force carbonating the blonde ale right away.

First Amendment Blonde Ale

This batch is a slight rework of my favorite blonde ale recipe. I upped the base malt a slight bit, and have switched to just Warrior as a bittering addition. I recently bought a pound of the stuff–my intention is to use it for the bulk of my bittering additions in various recipes going forward. Warrior’s bittering properties are supposed to be fairly gentle (attributed to its low cohumulone values), so I figured I would try it out as an alternative to some other hopping strategies I have used in the past.

The name honors the Women’s Marches that took place across the country on the day I brewed this (I was there with my family at the Los Angeles one)–and of course, it honors all who peacefully and proudly exert their constitutional rights, regardless of where they fall on the political spectrum.

Overall, I was quite pleased with how the brew session went. Other than a high-than-expected efficiency (which is not the worst thing on the planet), I hit my temperatures and brew numbers quite effectively.

First Amendment Blonde Ale

  • 9.5 lbs. 2-row brewer’s malt (California Select, Great Western Malting Co.)
  • 0.5 lb. 20° caramel malt (Briess)
  • 0.4 oz. Warrior hop pellets (15.8% alpha), 60 minute boil
  • 1 Whirlfloc table, 10 minute boil
  • 1 tsp. Fermax yeast nutrient, 10 minute boil
  • 1 pkg. California Ale yeast (WLP001, White Labs)

Target Parameters

  • 152° mash, 60 minutes
  • 1.051 o.g., 1.011 f.g., 5.2% abv, 24 IBU, 5 SRM, 5.5 gallons into the fermenter


  • Three days in advance, I made a 1.5L starter. It ran on the stir plate for two days, before I split it up and cold-crashed it. I set aside 0.64L for another batch, and the remainder will be used in this batch.
  • I built up my water from RO for this batch, adding all of the minerals to the strike water (3.375 gallons). I used 4.9g gypsum, 0.9g epsom salts, and 4.6g calcium chloride. I also added 2 tsp. of phosphoric acid (10% concentration), to acidify the mash. The final target brewing water profile will be 75 ppm Ca, 100 ppm S04, and 75 ppm Cl. This profile, based on one in the Palmer and Kaminski water book, will hopefully avoid the “flabby” taste I have been getting in my blonde ales brewed with local tap water.
  • I warmed up my mash tun with 3.375 gallons of water at 170°. Once it hit 164°, I added the grains, to hit my target mash temperature of 152° on the dot.
  • I mashed for 60 minutes. I checked the pH, and it was around 5.4.
  • After 60 minutes, I added 1.3 gallons of water at 185°, let it sit for 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected the first runnings.
  • Next, I added 3.5 gallons of water at 185°, let it sit for 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected the second runnings.
  • I total, I collected 6.8 gallons of wort with a gravity of 1.044–82% efficiency! I’ll aim for a lower boil in order to ensure I don’t overshoot my target gravity.
  • Once I brought the brew to a boil, I added the hop pellets in a bag and boiled for 60 minutes, adding the Whirlfloc and Fermax with 10 minutes to go.
  • After 60 minutes of boiling, I chilled the wort to 70°, transferred to the fermenter while aerating, pitched the yeast, and sealed it up.
  • I brewed this beer on 21 January 2017. Starting gravity was 1.051, precisely on target. I plan to ferment this batch at 66°.