Home-Grown Cascade Hoppy Pale Ale

20161009_192831

Well.  Let’s hope it’s hoppy, anyway…

The taste I took when transferring to the fermenter was quite assertively bitter, in fact probably a bit more bitter than I really intended…

Here’s the recipe for starters:

home-grown-cascade-pale-ale

You’ll notice that I used two 50g bags of home grown cascade…and right about the twenty-minutes-left-to-go point was where things began to unravel a bit…

In hindsight, I probably should have done another centennial addition here instead of using the home-grown cascades (I bought the centennial from Rob at the Malt Miller, and I know that they were 11.2% AA, whereas I had no idea at all what the cascades were…)

Twenty minutes of boiling is plenty of time to extract additional unexpected bitterness, especially when you’re using hops with a completely unknown alpha acid content…and maybe 25g was quite a lot when you’re not sure what they will contribute.

I’ve felt for a while now that some of my beers were good in the aroma department but tended to lack a little in the taste…so that twenty-minute addition was meant to address that.

Mind you, the hops smelt good and resinous from the freezer, so who knows: a ferment, a couple of weeks conditioning and a potential 6.5% ABV may get it to come right…assuming the yeast can wrestle it down to 1010 or so…

All in all it was one of my best brew days; no mess and a quick clean-up meant that I had a solid 1060 OG wort into the carboy, all oxygenated and yeast pitched; everything cleaned and dried, and me drinking a cup of tea by 10.30pm.

I used S04, because I heard somewhere (probably via Mike Tonsmiere on his Mad Fermentationist blog) that some English-style yeasts help to accentuate hop character.

If all else fails and it’s not quite where I want after a week or so, I can dry hop with more centennials or add some grapefruit zest, or maybe even add both…mmm, a grapefruit IPA…

Summer Summit Pale Ale – Tasting Notes

I have an on-off/love-hate relationship with some of the beers that I brew.

Some I taste when I’m kegging or bottling and I know that that particular beer is going to be great.  Others take a while to warm to…and that can be for a number of reasons…

Sometimes the beer just needs time to condition and show it’s best, other times it just needs to damn-well clear; believe me, once you’ve tasted an un-cleared, still yeast-bitten beer, or one that’s just too young, your memory can be haunted by it for that entire keg-full.

With this beer (https://yeastismybitch.com/2015/07/23/summer-summit-pale-ale/), a number of things happened: I wanted some body in the beer so added a nice bit of wheat malt to thicken it up a bit; then I wanted it to be clear before visitors came for the weekend, so I fined it with some gelatine.

Fining with gelatine is simplicity itself, I used the Doctor Oetker powdered variety and dissolved a teaspoon worth in 200ml of warmish water and then gently heated that up to a little below boiling for a couple of minutes.

As I kegged the beer I poured the lot in.  No shaking, no buggering about, I just poured it in when transferring from the carboy into the keg.

I didn’t cold-crash it as I don’t have refrigeration (yet) but let it sit at about 18C for a day or so.  After this the beer was pouring relatively clear and smelt and looked good.

Then our guests cancelled out and I was left with a keg of beer all to myself (shame)

This pale ale poured a lovely polished brass yellow and had a great retentive sticky head.  The aroma was malty, straightforward and nicely hoppy for a pale ale.

In the taste I got sweet malts, a clean yeast profile (due to US-05) and a faintly perceptible candyish edge from the Thai palm sugar.

The hops were there; crisply tasty, and provided a light and refreshing bitterness that prompts much elbow-bending and supping.

All was good.  It’s not an spectacular beer; but it’s good, drinkable and just what I was after.

Then things got weird.  About an hour after drinking this beer, I noticed that there was a distinctly fatty, slick feeling in my mouth – like I’d had a really rich and meaty meal…something like a rib-eye steak.

I can only assume that this as a result of the gelatine being in suspension still and also maybe due to the additional wheat malt in the grist.

I ended up dumping about a litre of this beer – just to get rid of that weird slickness in the taste.  It’s fine now (and has independently been proved so) but I still can’t get the taste “memory” out of my head…

Next time if I fine with gelatine, I’ll be crash-cooling the keg straight afterwards and dumping at least the first pint!

(Yes, alright…I forgot to take a picture.  I’ll put one up when I remember…)

Menage a Trois (100% Brett/Sacch. Trois) Pale Ale – Tasting Notes

20150715_191948Well, here’s a new one on me: a tasting in two halves:

Part One: Two weeks in the bottle

Slightly hazy orange-amber, with a lovely running bead and a great snow-white head that lasts to the bottom of the glass.

Gorgeously sweetly tropical, not resinous or dank, just good solid juicy tropical – which was precisely what I was after.  Thanks, Enigma hops!

(Juicy tropical is very much a la mode in pales and IPAs at the moment.  Christ, I’m sooooo “now“)

The mouth-feel is good and solid, and the taste is complex fruit and malt-sweetness – all accentuated by the spot-on carbonation.  The bitterness is exceptionally smooth, thanks to a lot of the bittering coming from the late hop additions.   At the end there’s a slightly dry note before the fruits and tropical notes come stampeding back in again.

Not as extreme and fruity as other beers that I’ve had but very good nonetheless.  I really couldn’t say how much fruitiness the Brett/Sacch Trois delivered, I’d challenge anyone to pick it out in a line-up based on the yeast alone.

All in all, I’m happy.  It’s a jolly drop and goes down just a bit too easily.

Part Two: Four weeks or so in the bottle

Well, it’s gin-clear now and still that lovely orange-amber colour with that same fantastic head.  The carbonation seems that touch stronger – but it’s well within style for a pale.

BUT.  Where’s all the fruit gone?  Has all that tropical fruitiness really disappeared in a couple of weeks?  There’s still remnants of it there, but it’s a shadow of it’s former self.  A lot of the sweetness has gone too, and we’re into a much drier sort of beast.

Don’t get me wrong it’s still a great beer, but it’s nothing like it was two weeks ago.  It’s more like a very gluggable Saison now…

Good job I’ve got a lot of bottles left…I think there’ll be plenty of updates as this beer ages.

Two take-aways:

1) I need to test Enigma hops again – I’ve yet to be convinced of their flavour and aroma durability/stability in a beer.

2) Brett/Sacch Trois definitely ain’t a Brett (see recipe post) but it’s also definitely not your run of the mill Sacch either.  This could be a yeast variety to specialize in…I’m sure it’s capable of great things…

Summer Summit Pale Ale

20150721_104209After an exciting birthday haul of brewing bits and pieces* my latest brew gave me the ideal opportunity to give them all a bit of a try-out

(*PH Strips, iodine, lactic acid and wort aeration bits and bobs, if you must know…)

I thought I deserved a pale ale style with a ton of exciting hops – and why not have those exciting hops delivered by way of an entire 100g pack of Summit pellets…for use as late additions only.?

Mmmm, it’s going to be hop-tastic.

Here’s the recipe, which you might notice looks a bit light in the way of pale malt, and that’s because I’m a bloody idiot and didn’t weigh it out properly – ending up with 2.5Kg of Maris Otter in the grist, when I should actually have had 3.5Kg.

Summer Summit Pale Ale

But I did have a spare pack of Thai palm sugar, and 400g of that brought the gravity back into line…and as a bonus, it should dry the body out a little to make the finished beer even more hop-forward.

The mash was a typical Braumeister sort of affair: 38C dough-in, 66C maltose rest and a 76C mash-out: for 0 Mins, 80 Mins and 10 Mins respectively.

But remember: for this brew I had toys, so here’s some additional fun information:

  • Filtered mash and sparge water: circa 6.2 PH
  • The mash at 0 Mins (Dough-in): circa 6.1 PH with an iodine test that turned blue – indicating unconverted starch in the mash…unsurprisingly.
  • The mash at 10 Mins: (Start of maltose rest) 5.9-6.0 PH with an iodine test that still showed blue
  • The mash at 45 Mins: 5.4/5.5 ph and a clear light-brownish iodine test – showing starch conversion was complete, but the refractometer only showed a gravity of 1038, which is the point where I did the maths and realised that I’d cocked up my weighing out of the grain…and that’s when I started weighing out the palm sugar.

But all the starch converted within 45 minutes?  Really?  There was still a solid 35 minutes left of the 66C mash rest.  I double-checked and it really had all converted.

In theory I could have bailed out of the 66C mash rest there and then – and gone straight to mash out at 76C, but the wort was still cloudy, so I just left it to re-circulate and do it’s thing.

Maybe next time, if the wort is clear and all the starch is converted, I’ll bail out early and save myself over half-an-hour and a good old chunk of electricity.

The PH testing also goes to show that I can make pale beers without any additional water treatment: if a piddly bit of Munich malt and some wheat malt are sufficient to drop the mash PH to anywhere between 5.8 and 5.4, I’m a happy man.

The rest of the brew went off OK.  I added the dissolved palm sugar during the boil and got a gravity reading of 1048 – which is good enough for me, with a bit of luck we’ll be looking at a finished ABV of 4.5 – 4.8%

Just before pitching the US-05 yeast, I aerated the wort for a minute at what looked like a slow simmer.

The beer is busily tanking away in a carboy in the shower-room that’s stood in a bucket of water to keep it to around 20C

…a bucket of water that leaked last night all over the spare bedroom carpet , which was enormously welcome when we were all trying to get out of the door this morning…this beer had better be good.

PS: It’ll be getting a dose of 30g of Summit pellets for dry-hop on Monday (at 6 days), and I might even keg-hop it with some whole-leaf summit in a hop sock as I need that sort of hoppiness in my life.!