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The Journal of a Brewer

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    Connecticut Pale Ale

    Last year I came across several ounces of Cascades grown locally in Connecticut.  I had enough to do a full brew, so I wanted to take advantage of the situation.   After talking with the grower and a few other brewers from the area, I concluded that varieties grown in this part of the Northeast have a tendency to run a touch lower in alpha acids than what we typically see.  I tasted a few flowers by popping them in my mouth, and decided they we’re likely between 5.5 and 6.0% alpha, a safe middle ground figuring Cascade’s typical values are 5.0-7.5%.  So when formulating the recipe I shot for a pale ale with a few more IBUs than I might actually need, figuring if the alpha content was lower I’d still be in a safe range, but if they were higher than anticipated I’d have something a little more IPA like.  Either way would work for me. 

    I wanted to keep the recipe simple to allow the local flavors to really shine through on this one.  I decided to go with just two malts: Gambrinus ESB malt as a base and Amber malt.  The ESB malt has a very pleasantly sweet, malty taste with a touch of nuttiness, so I figured I would have to give it a first run.  The amber malt is in there to provide a bit of color and touch of toasty, bready malt flavor.  I also wanted to keep yeast presence to a minimum, and wanted to go with something distinctly East Coast, so I chose WLP008 East Coast Ale (Sam Adam’s Strain).  To get the most out of these hops, I decided to keep the bulk of the additions towards the end of the boil, and to reserve an ounce for the dry hop.  I only had 6oz’s to work with, and I figured the best way to get what I wanted was to skimp a touch on the knock out addition in favor of the dry hop to get that big fresh aroma.  So here it is.

    Batch Size: 5 gallons  ~ Approach: All-Grain (extract version also included!) ~ Style: Pale Ale

    Target OG: 1.050 - 1.055

    IBUs: I shot for 40, expected 30, and probably landed right around 32-35.

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    Grain Bill:

    97% - 9lbs 8oz Gambrinus ESB malt

    3% - 4oz  Thomas Fawcett Amber Malt

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    Hops & Kettle Additions

    60 minutes - 1oz CT Cascades

    20 minutes - 2oz CT Cascades

    15 minutes - Whirlfloc Tab

    KO - 2oz CT Cascades

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    Procedure:

    This is an easy one.  Mash in between 152-153F with approximately 3.75gallons (1.5qts/lb) of hot liquor.  I want the hops to shine, but as a pale ale I still want to preserve some body and malt character.  Mash for one hour and sparge with water at 167F.  Collect 6 gallons of wort, boil one hour, and follow the hop schedule above, manipulating it however you see fit to accommodate the hops you have at hand. 

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    Now I don’t want to leave the extract brewers out of the fun, so here’s a simple Extract Version of the same recipe.

    3lbs Light DME

    3.3lbs Extra Light LME (late kettle addition)

    6oz Amber malt

    Bring 2.5 gallons of water up to 150F and steep the amber malt for 20 minutes in a grain bag.  Remove the grain (no squeezing!) and add DME as the wort heats up.  Bring to a boil, and follow the same hop procedure as above.  One thing to note about this procedure, is we’re going to wait until 15 minutes to the end of the boil to add our LME.  This does a few things for us.  First, a lower gravity boil will allow us to get better hop utilization, so we can get the bitterness we need from a relatively small 60 minute hop addition.  Waiting to add the LME also results in less kettle caramelization, which gives us better control over color and sweetness.  We also preserve some of the flavor and aroma of the liquid extracts by boiling for less time.

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    After the boil, chill down and ferment in the mid 60s, and if you’re doing extract, make up the rest of the wort volume with cool water up to 5 gallons.  A cooler ferment will lend itself to a cleaner profile and keep ester formation in check.  Fortunately, WLP008 produces a very pleasant red apple/pear ester which does a great job at accentuating hop flavors.

    Once the beer has attenuated, rack to secondary and let sit on an ounce (or three!) of whatever local gems you have at your disposal.  Seven to ten days on dry hops should suffice.  Bottle or keg, and enjoy! 

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