Beam Me Up Pale Ale

Beer can commemorate life events and the passage of time…meeting new friends and saying farewell to old. A dear friend and neighbor is off to new opportunities with their family, and it’s definitely a beer-worthy event. He loves Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (SNPA), and we’ve shared a few in his driveway (as well as a few homebrews) over the years. So, I decided to brew something SNPA-inspired…and by coincidence, this year’s “Big Brew Day” recipe is right in that wheelhouse.

Beam Me Up Pale Ale, all on its own

The original recipe was in the March/April 2023 issue of Zymurgy, under the name of “Nearly Nirvana Pale Ale.” It’s pretty similar to the Miss’ippi #BIGCASCADE recipe from the September 2013 BYO issue, too! My recipe is a good match for “Nearly Nirvana,” except I lowered the gravity a touch (1.056 vs. 1.060), to more closely match SNPA. This batch is also special in that I used only whole cone Cascade hops from the Farke family farm in South Dakota, all representing the 2022 crop year. I made some minor adjustments in the grist — the original called for Simpsons Crystal Light malt, and I substituted in Briess’s Caramel 40L.

I elected for a quick mash on this one, with just 30 minutes for the main rest of 156°. The goal was to shave a few minutes off of the brew day!

I did something a little different for the tasting, in doing a head-to-head with Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. Although my beer isn’t precisely a clone, I thought it would be good to make a comparison nonetheless. The intent was to help me more clearly evaluate my own version, and think about what the ingredients delivered.

Beam Me Up Pale Ale

  • 12 lb. 2-row pale malt (Rahr)
  • 0.5 lb. caramel malt – 40L (Briess)
  • 1.5 oz. Cascade whole hops (5.5% estimated alpha acid), 60 minute boil
  • 1.0 oz. Cascade whole hops (5.5% estimated alpha acid), 15 minute boil
  • 0.5 tsp. BrewTanB, 10 minute boil
  • 1 Whirlfloc tablet, 5 minute boil
  • 1.5 oz. Cascade whole hops (5.5% estimated alpha acid), 5 minute boil
  • 2 pkg. BRY-97 (Lallemand)

Target Parameters

  • 1.056 s.g., 1.015 f.g., 5.4% abv, 44 IBU, 6 SRM
  • Full volume mash, 156° for 30 minutes, 168° mash-out for 10 minutes
  • Claremont tap water adjusted with lactic acid and mineral additions, to achieve calculated water profile of 142 Ca, 6 Mg, 84 Na, 83 SO4, 120 Cl, 156 HCO3, RA=23 ppm.


  • I mashed in with 7.75 gallons of water at 163°, to hit a target rest of 156°. I added 5.5 mL of 88% lactic acid to adjust the pH.
  • I recirculated during the mash, raising it to 168° for a 10 minute mash-out.
  • After the mash, I removed the grains. In total, the mash yielded 7 gallons of runnings with a gravity of 1.046, for 70% mash efficiency.
  • On the way to the boil, I added 2.5 g of gypsum to accentuate the bitterness a bit more.
  • Once the runnings were boiling, I added hops and kettle finings per the recipe. After 60 minutes, I turned off the heat and chilled to 68° and transferred the wort to the fermenter. I pitched the yeast, and held the fermenter at 67° for the primary fermentation.
  • I brewed the beer on 18 March 2023. Starting gravity was 1.053.
  • I kegged the beer using a closed transfer, on 15 April 2023. Final gravity was 1.013, for 5.3% abv.
Down the glass, with Sierra Nevada Pale Ale at left, and Beam Me Up Pale Ale at right.


Just for fun, I tasted the beer on its own and also did a side-by-side with a can of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.

  • Appearance
    • The beer is very clear, gold in color, and pours with a white and moderately persistent head.
      • Versus Sierra Nevada: Mine is slightly lighter in color, with less head and less head retention. The latter might be a result of a pour from draft versus the can? I’m not sure. The SNPA is slightly clearer, but also has what looks like some minor hop particulates at the bottom.
      • Winner: SNPA, by just a small margin, due to the better head and head retention.
  • Aroma
    • Sweet malt aroma and light caramel, with a light and citrusy hop aroma. The hops definitely have a mandarin quality.
      • Versus Sierra Nevada: SNPA lacks the light caramel aroma, and doesn’t have as much hop character (at least in the can I poured).
      • Winner: It’s a draw! I don’t have a preference either way.
  • Flavor
    • Medium level of citrusy mandarin orange and grapefruit, with a light resin quality in the hops. Light caramel in the malt character, medium bitterness, and clean yeast character.
      • Versus Sierra Nevada: SNPA is slightly more bitter, with more resin/pith character to the hop flavor. It’s definitely hop-dominated, with the malt to the back end, unlike mine.
      • Winner: Draw! I like aspects of each. They’re just different beers.
  • Mouthfeel
    • Medium carbonation, medium-light body, off-dry and smooth finish.
      • Versus Sierra Nevada: SNPA has a medium body profile and is slightly dryer on the finish.
      • Winner: I like SNPA slightly better, for having just a touch more body.
  • Would I brew this again?
    • Yes! “Beam Me Up Pale Ale” is by no means a clone (nor is it intended to be), but it’s a tasty and very drinkable beer! The mandarin quality on the hops in my version is super enjoyable. My main adjustments would be to up the bitterness slightly, and perhaps bitter with Chinook or another more resiny hop, using the Cascade for later additions. Or maybe I would leave it the same! It’s not a clone, after all.
  • Overall
    • 8/10
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (left) and Beam Me Up Pale Ale (right), head to head

Beer Tasting: Lab Bench Pale Ale

My Lab Bench Pale Ale has turned into a pretty nice brew; I did a formal tasting at the end of April (as well as a run-through with my homebrew club). Results are below.

  • The Basics
    • Starting gravity = 1.047; final gravity = 1.010; abv = 4.8%. Estimated IBU = 38
  • Aroma
    • Crisp and hoppy, as expected for a dry-hopped beer. A touch citrusy.
  • Appearance
    • Clear, rich golden hue; off-white head with fine bubbles and excellent persistance.
  • Flavor
    • Hop-forward, only a hint of maltiness. Smooth bitterness on the finish.
  • Mouthfeel
    • A touch thin (but not overly so); excellent carbonation for the style
  • Would I brew this again?
    • I think so, but with a little modification. My mash temperature seems to have been about right, but perhaps a little carapils would help with body. I am pretty pleased with how the first wort hopping seems to have created a smooth bitterness for the beer. The aroma is also just about perfect!
  • Overall rating
    • 7.5/10

Lab Bench Pale Ale Kegged

Tonight I kegged my Lab Bench Pale Ale, after 13 days in the primary fermenter. The yeast had dropped out pretty nicely, leaving a golden beer with a smooth bitterness and a crisp, slightly malty aroma. The gravity was 1.010, down from 1.047, which equals 4.8% abv and ~78% apparent attenuation.

I got around 4.75 gallons of beer. Before sealing up the keg, I added 2 oz. of Cascade hops in pellet form (7.5% alpha, 5.5% beta). In about 5 days, I’ll start carbonating (leaving the hops in place); the goal is to have this ready to go on Easter!


Lab Bench Pale Ale

Another weekend, another brewing session. Because the IPA on tap just ran out, I figured it was a good time to rev up another IPA or pale ale. A recipe I saw in the September 2013 issue of BYO was intriguing. Miss’ippi #BIGCASCADE Pale Ale was originally brewed in honor of the legalization of homebrewing in Mississippi, back on July 1, 2013. Beyond its historic interest, this recipe also interested me because it incorporated hops in the mash as well as first wort hopping. I had heard of both techniques, but never used them, so this seemed like a great opportunity to expand my brewing horizons. I made a few other (minor) adjustments to the recipe for my equipment, and thus Lab Bench Pale Ale was born.

As another note, I added a small amount of gypsum to the boil. My hope is that the sulfate from this will help add some “zing” to the hops character. Additionally, I prepared the yeast starter 4 days in advance, and cold crashed it in the refrigerator after 3 days. After approximately 36 hours, and just prior to pitching the yeast, I decanted most of the spent wort, and pitched just a yeast slurry of approximately 0.5 L volume.

Finally, I have been doing some adjustments to my equipment profile in BeerSmith, to try and get my mash temperatures a little closer. For this time around, I assumed a mash tun temperature of 164°. Finally, that seemed to do the trick, and I hit my mash temperature pretty much square on.

Lab Bench Pale Ale

  • 8.6 lbs. 2-row malt (Great Western Malting Co.)
  • 6 oz. 40° L crystal malt
  • 0.5 oz. whole Cascade hops (added to mash; approximately 85 minutes steeping total)
  • 0.5 oz. whole Cascade hops (first wort; steeped in wort for approximately 45 minutes and boiled for 60 minutes)
  • 1 oz. whole Cascade hops, 20 minute boil
  • 0.75 oz. Cascade hops pellets (7.5% alpha, 5.5% beta), 10 minute boil
  • 1.25 oz. Cascade hops pellets (7.5% alpha, 5.5% beta), added at flame-out and steeped for ~30 minutes during chilling of wort
  • 2 oz. Cascade hops pellets (7.5% alpha, 5.5% beta), dry hop for 10 days
  • 1 tbs. 5.2 pH stabilizer (added to mash)
  • 8 g. powdered gypsum (added to boil)
  • 1 tsp. Irish moss  (10 minute boil)
  • California Ale Yeast (White Labs WLP001), prepared 4 days in advance with 1.5 L starter
Anticipated statistics
  • 1.047 o.g., 1.010 f.g., 4.8% abv
  • 37.8 IBU
  • 5.0 SRM
  • I mashed in with 4 gallons of water at 164°. The grains, 0.5 oz. of whole hops, and 5.2 pH stabilizer were all included in this mix. The temperature had stabilized at 152° within 10 minutes, and was down to 150° after 30 minutes.
  • After a 60 minute mash, I added 1.35 gallons of 190° water, let it sit for 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected approximately 3.25 gallons of wort.
  • I added 3.14 gallons of water at 180°, which brought the mash up to 168°. I let this rest for 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected the remainder of the wort.
  • All together, I collected ~6.65 gallons of wort, with a gravity of 1.038 at 60°. This translates to 76.8% mash efficiency, within a percentage point or so of where I predicted.
  • I added the gypsum and brought the wort to a boil, adding hops at the designated intervals. Thus, hops were added at 40 minutes, 50 minutes (along with Irish moss), and 60 minutes (at flame-out). I noted a larger than normal amount of hot break; I’m not sure why this was.
  • I chilled the wort down to 72°, transferred it to a carboy, and pitched the yeast. I plan to start fermentation (the first 12-24 hours) at 67°, and will do the remainder of fermentation at 65°.
  • I plan to transfer to the keg and dry-hop in 7 to 10 days.
  • Starting gravity was 1.047, exactly as calculated by BeerSmith. This has been a really good brew session, in terms of nailing efficiency, temperatures, volumes, and gravities.