A quick note: I am in the process of trying to really dial in a handful of recipes. I enjoy giving beers funky names, and I think that’s why I brew so many different recipes instead of trying to fine-tune them. So for the time being, you’ll be seeing beers with unimaginative names like “Pale Ale v1” until I either decide to name it or get the recipe just right and call it finished.
While I haven’t been blogging about it, I have been brewing albeit less than I would like. I went to Homebrew Con in Providence, RI last weekend and it did a lot to reinvigorate my love for brewing. So here I am today – on July 4th – in the sweltering-ass heat, brewing a pale ale.
The recipe is based on the Firestone Walker Easy Jack recipe from Session Beers by Jennifer Talley. I honestly haven’t read Session Beers cover-to-cover yet, but I was looking around for a nice, easy-drinking pale ale recipe and pulled the book off my shelf. I modified it to add some dry hops that I got for free at Homebrew Con; Idaho Gem and Citra (cyro).
This was also my first time using BrewTan B. I went to a talk by Dr. Joe Formanek at Homebrew Con regarding the use of tannic acids to improve shelf stability, improve clarity, or (in the case of Tannel B) maintain haze. He offered some advice on dosage (1/2 tsp per 5 gal in strike/sparge, and 1/2 tsp per 5 gal rehydrated in 1/4 cup of water in the boil at 15 minutes; make sure to add BTB before any fining agents).
Things got off to a rocky start. I accidentally misread my water adjustments and added 4.9g of CaCl2 to the strike water. That 4.9g was the gypsum addition for the sparge. I added the BrewTan B after my water adjustments and noticed that the water immediately became hazy and had a slight tan hue. Both faded by the time the water got up to strike temperature…
… or should I say, 10*F past strike temperature, because I was busy making my notes and let the water heat up to 165*F. Note to self: buy wireless thermometer with an alarm. I stirred the water a bit and transferred to the cold (well as cold as anything can be on an 85*F day with no freaking wind) mash tun. Since I use a converted keg as a mash tun, it absorbed a good deal of the heat… which is kind of great in hindsight because dispersing that heat probably helps to maintain mash temperature. But the reason I moved the water was in the hopes that doing so would lower the temp. It did, down to 160*F. So from there I just stirred and waited until the temperature dropped to 154*F, a degree over my target, and mashed in.
I mashed in at 146*F (1*F higher than my target). I stirred the mash at 15 minutes in and checked the temperature; 145*F right on target. At 30 minutes, I raised the mash temperature to 154*F. According to the recipe, I only need 10 minutes at 154*F. That seemed low to me and I’m clearly smarter than someone who actually wrote a goddamn book, so I mashed for 30 minutes at 154*F, stirring at 15-minute intervals.
I mashed out at 168*F and batch sparged with 170*F water. The whole mash out and sparging process was a minor calamity in its own right, more about which in a sec.
I was looking for a target pre-boil gravity of 1.042 at 13 gallons. I ended up with about 12.75 gallons at around 1.046. I’m not used to getting that kind of mash efficiency and I don’t know if it’s because BeerSmith doesn’t account for the step mash or because I mashed extra long at 154*F. Sparging also took a long time as I was worried about volume and decided to stir and re-vorlauf the first runnings before starting my sparge. Maybe I got some extra extraction when the temps dipped back below 168*F?
More questions than answers that this point, but with less volume than expected into the brew kettle I decided to cut the boil from 75 minutes to 60. I also miscalculated my timing and my 10 minute hop addition became a 5 minute hop addition.
Did I mention it was very hot out?
So after whirlpool and chill (not to be confused with Netflix and chill), I ended up with right around 10 gallons into the conical, at 1.054 (target: 1.050). I used the glycol chiller to finish getting the beer down to temp – ground water was running in the high 60s – and pitched my starter at ~62*F. I set the temp controller for 63*F, purged the headspace, and left 5psi of CO2 on top of the beer.
It felt like I hadn’t brewed since March but I actually brewed two batches in May. I dumped both. 22 gallons into the sewer. That was a real gut punch because the beers that I made in January were good; in fact my Obie’s Oatmeal Stout was probably the best beer I’ve ever brewed, snagging an average score of 41 in a competition. Brewing has felt like “one step forward, two steps back” for a little while. I missed out on some peak brewing time working on our homebrew club’s festival, travelling to Europe, and going to Homebrew Con. Not things I’m complaining about, but stressors that also took me away from brewing. So I haven’t had that ability to brew consistently and maintain that “muscle memory” that keeps these brew days from looking like a circus of second-degree burns.
Homebrew Con helped remind me why I like brewing, and got me excited to get back on the horse. I think part of my brewing process might be screwed up though, because I don’t hear about anyone else using a horse in their process…
Anyway, I’m cautiously optimistic about this batch. It was murkier than I had wanted or anticipated throughout the whole process, but you really can’t tell what it’s gonna be like until it’s carbed and in your glass. I’m away for the weekend, so I won’t get a chance to baby the fermentation until Sunday, but the mental obsession has already begun.
For 11 gallon batch
- 15.5 lb US 2-Row (1 SRM)
- 2 lb Munich Light (6 SRM)
- 1 lb Dextrine/CaraPils (2 SRM)
- 1 lb Crystal 10L (10 SRM)
- 1 lb White Wheat (2.4 SRM)
- 1 lb Flaked Oats (1 SRM)
- 1 oz Midnight Wheat (550 SRM) – for color, end of mash
- 10 mL of 61.1% AA HopShot – First Wort – 43.5 IBU
- 2 oz Cascade (pellets) – 10 min. [Actual: 5 min] – 7.3 IBU
- 2 oz Cascade (pellets) – Whirlpool, 30 min, 190*F – 0.1 IBU
- 2 oz Simcoe (pellets) – Whirlpool, 30 min, 190*F – 0.3 IBU
- 3 oz Idaho Gem (pellets) – Dry Hop – 4 Days
- 2 oz Citra (cyro) – Dry Hop – 4 Days
- 2 pkg Wyeast London Ale #1028 – 1.5L starter, shaken
- Ca: 50 [Actual: 98]
- Mg: 0
- Na: 38
- Sulfate: 113
- Chloride: 35 [Actual: 119]
- Lactic Acid (88%): 3mL, 1.6 mL
- Bicarbonate: -5
- Mash at 145*F for 30 min, increase to 154*F for 10 min [actual: 30 min]
- Mash out at 168*F, vorlauf, sparge, you know the drill
- Boil for 75 minutes [Actual: 60 minutes]
- Ferment at 63*F for 3 days, increase to 66*F until final gravity
- Bump temp to 70*F for diacetyl rest
- Dry hop for 4 days
- Add CO2 and lower temp to 50*F
- Add gelatin for fining
- Cold crash to 34*F for 3 days
- Package and get hammered
See post for additional instructions.
- OG Target: 1.050 [Actual: 1.054]
- FG Target: 1.007 [Actual: 1.009]
- IBU: 51.1
- SRM: 6 [Actual: 6]