Sep 11, 2013

Brewday: Pale Ale & Blonde Ale

Another two beers brewed on Sunday. I'm trying to make up for lost time.

My first ever craft beer, July 2004
First up is an American Pale Ale. For my money, American Pales are one of the harder styles to perfect. Not because they require such a high level of technical skill but because just about everyone brews one. They're common. Boring. Too often they taste as if the brewer's paying their bills rather than sharing something they believe is genuinely worthy of being shared.

So even though I'm just brewing for myself and friends, I'm in search of a Pale Ale that isn't just another Pale. As I go, I'm slowly building a list of preferences and ideas to divine the shape of the platonic Pale Ale. The big thing is that I like it to be fairly dry. It needs to be light enough to be drinkable and to my taste, crystal malt is often the enemy of the drinkable Pale. It shouldn't taste sweet. It shouldn't smell like caramel. I like to shoot for a FG of 1.010. That contributes to the perception of a firm bitterness. With aroma, I want the hops to be both generous and cohesive. It's easy for a brewer to get excited and add multiple aroma hops but the result can often be competing rather than complimentary aromas.

The gold standard
So with that in mind, I brewed the first version of the recipe below earlier this year. It received very positive comments from everyone but at 6.4% abv and 45-50 IBUs it was pushing the style limits. That isn't really a problem for me but I'm planning on brewing this beer for a mate's wedding reception so I thought I'd try a version that was a little more accessible. Last time I used CaraAmber as the specialty malt but this time I've got some biscuit malt from a guy in Launceston who's begun malting and roasting barley. This is my first go with his malt and I'm looking forward to the results. When I weighed out the biscuit malt I had a little taste and it reminded me of Sao crackers. I don't know if they still exist but it took me back to being a kid and having a couple after school with vegemite or cheese. I love how aromas and flavours can do that. I've gone for Cascade hops because they're still amazing after all these years and I wanted to dial in the base recipe before I turn my attentions to trying to combine 2 or 3 hops into one delicious package.

Two Wrongs Pale Ale 2.0 (19L batch)
OG: 1.053 (measured)
FG: 1.010
IBU: ~36 (the 0 min addition probably makes it at least 40)
ABV: 5.5%
EBC: 10

95% Golden Promise Malt
5% Bill's Biscuit Malt

10g Cascade @ 90 min
25g Cascade @ 30 min
15g Cascade @ 20 min
15g Cascade @ 15 min
15g Cascade @ 10 min
15g Cascade @ 5 min
40g Cascade @ 0 min
100g Cascade @ dry hop

US-05 yeast

I raised the calcium, magnesium and sulphate levels to enhance perceptions of the hops.

Mashed with my standard schedule for making a highly fermentable wort: 62C/68C/72C/78C for 30min/30min/15min/10min.

I also brewed a Blonde Ale on Sunday but I can't type much more now so I'll add that info to another post.

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