Tag Archives: steeping grains

House Pale Ale #1

Somewhere I read a line that really stuck with me. It described brewing a lot of different types of beers as a “series of one night stands.” It was meant to convey that the results might be satisfying, but you were only skimming the surface of your possible skill set because there was no baseline from which to grow.

Okay, it was a metaphor that was meant to shock a little bit and I am sure the writer was not trying for a bit social commentary. The idea, however, is solid. To get the most out of your talents as a brewer and to make the best beer possible you need to focus on creating a single so-called house recipe.

With my keezer finished and pouring pint after pint, as well as the occasional growler, it seemed like a perfect time to start devising a house recipe of my own.

My goal is to create a beer similar to my new favorite—Toppling Goliath’s pseudoSue. I wanted to produce something that had a lot of Citra hop notes and was light enough to drink more than one:

House Pale Ale No 1

The recipe was a fairly simple extract brew with no steeping grains and a low level of hops. It went as follows:

  • 3 lbs. Munton’s Extra Light DME, 60 minutes
  • 1 oz. Citra pellet hops, 30 minutes
  • 3 lbs. Munton’s Extra Light DME, 20 minutes
  • Whirlfloc tablet, 5 minutes
  • Safale K-97 yeast
  • 1 oz. Citra pellet hops, dry hopped after one week of primary fermentation.

Primary fermentation was for 2 weeks, with the dry hopping one week in, and the beer was keg conditioned for 2 weeks prior to hooking it up to the keezer.

I put this beer into the keezer under pressure and waited a few days to serve. The first few glasses were…um…disappointing. The dry hopped Citra notes were overpowering and there was not enough body in the beer to hold up the flavors. iBrewMaster calculated the batch to have 4.6% ABV and 36 IBU.

A few days later the pints went down better, as if the beer had mellowed somewhat in the keezer. Subsequent pours in the following weeks have confirmed that this was a beer that needed some additional time to have the flavor profile blend and mellow somewhat. Oh well, my desire to drink my homebrew got the best of me.

Overall, a minor failure for my firs go at a house pale ale recipe.

One Mug Homebrew

The biggest change I am going to make in recipes going forward is to reincorporate some specialty grains steeped prior to the boil. I believe that this will add some needed complexity and body to the base of the beer so that it can handle bolder hop profiles. We shall see.

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First Pour from the Keezer

Here is the first pour from the keezer:

First Pour

Okay, that’s a lie.  It’s actually the second or third pour because I had to purge the liquid lines of any residual sanitizing solution.  Looks pretty good, eh?

iBrewMaster puts the vitals at 4.45% ABV and 48.85 IBU.  The alcohol sounds right given how the beer drinks, but the bitterness seems low because a lot of hop flavor lingers in the back of your throat.  Not in a bad way, per se, but more than I would have thought from a beer that was not dry hopped.

I am working on developing a “house” pale ale and this was my first attempt.  The recipe that I began with was modified from a very common extract recipe for American pale ale.  It’s pretty simple:

  • 1 lbs Briess 2-Row Caramel 20L steeped for 20 minutes prior to boil
  • 3.3 lbs Munton’s Light LME boiled for 60 minutes
  • 2 ounces Cascade pellet hops boiled for 60 minutes
  • 3.3 lbs Munton’s Light LME boiled for 20 minutes
  • 1 ounce Citra pellet hops boiled for 5 minutes
  • Safale K-97 dry yeast pitched after wort cooled
  • Primary fermentation for ~2 weeks
  • Keg conditioning for ~2 weeks, assuming that my ability to seal a keg was up to par

My plan was to produce a base pale ale recipe that was easily replicable and that could serve as a platform on which to experiment with dry hopping, different varieties of hops, etc.  I do not think that this is the base recipe from which I am going to work for a number of reasons.

First, the two ounces of Cascade hops boiled for 60 minutes gave the beer an overwhelming wallop of both bitterness and aroma.  Normally, this is a good thing but it totally overpowered the subsequent addition of Citra at the end of the boil.  I am a big fan of Citra hops and was disappointed to taste little of that variety in this recipe.

Second, the steeping grains definitely added body but little else to the beer.  No complexity or depth of flavor, so it really begs the question about the necessity of the addition.

Last, canned liquid malt extract (LME) just does not do it for me because I feel the product is generally not as fresh as it could be.  One of the primary reasons that I brew my own beer is to make sure that I have fresh product oozing forth from my faucets.  Starting with a product that is old makes for a beer that is preternaturally old.

If this sounds like a loser of a beer I am sorry because the beer is a very drinkable pale ale and a good first effort to come out of my kegs.  It’s just not what I was going for:

One Mug Homebrew