Today I kegged my Honey Fuggle Ale, after 11 days in the primary fermenter. This will definitely be a unique beer, in all of the best ways (I hope). The lightly fruity esters from the yeast and the sweet notes from the honey malt have melded in a way that’s not really common in an American blonde ale. I would bet it’s going to be on the edge of that style, but it’s a blonde ale in my mind still! What’s homebrewing without pushing boundaries?
Time and conditioning will tell how this shapes up. The final gravity was 1.012, down from 1.047, for 4.6% abv.
I recently ran across a fun-looking recipe in BYO (December 2015 issue), for a clone of Firestone Walker’s 805. I was in the mood to make a blonde ale, and particularly in the mood to make a new recipe of blonde ale. With a few minor modifications (US Fuggles instead of Willamette for the hops, and a touch less wheat malt, to use up my stash without having to buy more), I had everything in order.
The original recipe suggested building up from RO water; given the highly mineralized nature of our tap water, that seemed like a good idea. I’ve noticed that many of my lighter-flavored beers come across as a bit “flabby”, and suspect that the water is behind it. So, I bought a bunch of distilled water and some more brewing minerals. For the 3.75 gallons of mash water, I added 7 g of calcium chloride and just under 1/4 tsp. of 10% phosphoric acid. The 4.9 gallons of sparge water were treated with just 1/4 tsp. of 10% phosphoric acid.
I have to say that I really enjoy the honey malt addition in this one–it adds a deliciously sweet and distinct character to the wort. Although it certainly isn’t a malt for all occasions, it’s a nice ingredient to keep in the back of my mind for other batches. I’m intrigued to see how the honey malt plays out in a blonde ale like this one.
I had planned to use my culture of Conan (Yeast Bay’s “East Coast Ale” yeast), but when growing up the culture I noticed the aroma was a bit “off” from the first few generations. It wasn’t awful–just not quite right. So, I made a decision to toss it and go with dry yeast instead. The yeast didn’t really owe me anything–I got three good batches out of it, so that seemed to be plenty fine. I’m not sure if it was a contamination issue, or if the yeast had just drifted genetically.
Grains ready for the mash tun.
Honey Fuggle Ale
- 8.25 lbs. 2-row malt (Great Western Malting Co.)
- 0.75 lbs. honey malt
- 0.5 lb. white wheat malt
- 1 oz. US Fuggle hops pellets (4.5% alpha, 3.1% beta), 60 minute boil
- 1 oz. US Fuggle hops pellets (4.5% alpha, 3.1% beta), 5 minute steep after boil
- 1 tsp. Irish moss (10 minute boil)
- 1/4 tsp. yeast nutrient (10 minute boil)
- 1 pkg. Nottingham dry yeast (Danstar)
- Brewing water prepared as follows:
- 3.75 gallons of mash water, with 7 g. calcium chloride and 1/4 tsp. 10% phosphoric acid
- 4.9 gallons of sparge water, with 1/4 tsp. 10% phosphoric acid
- Mash temperature = 156°
- Original gravity = 1.045 (actual = 1.048)
- Color = 5 SRM
- IBU = 19
- I mashed in with 3.75 gallons of water at 167.9°, to hit a mash temperature of 157°. The mash was down to 152° after 60 minutes.
- I collected the first runnings, and then added 4.9 gallons of water at 185°, to bring the mash bed up to right at 170°. I let it sit for 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected the rest of the wort.
- I collected 7.2 gallons of wort at a gravity of 1.039, for 81% efficiency! Wow! I am not sure if this was the result of my water treatment, or something else, but it was certainly unexpectedly high.
- I brought the wort to a boil, and added the various ingredients per the schedule in the recipe.
- After 60 minutes, I added the final dose of hops and chilled the wort down to 80°. After transferring it into my carboy, I let it cool in the fermentation chamber for an hour or two, down to 68°, and then sprinkled the yeast on the wort.
- The starting gravity was 1.048, and I am fermenting the beer at 68°. This beer was brewed on Saturday, 21 May 2016.