Pale(s) In Comparison

The attention to detail will be hyper focused on the task at hand. Which is to brew two batches of my American Pale Ale recipe that placed 2nd in First Round of National Homebrew Competition in Category 10 'American Ale'. This means it was the 2nd best 'American Style' ale out of the 76 entries in that particular category. There are three sub category's in category 10, they are as follows: 10a Pale ale, 10b Amber ale, 10c Brown ale (further reading, BJCP style guidelines). So, all of the 76 entries of 'American style' beer were judged against each other on which was the, 'most true to style'. The winners of category 10 were an Amber ale(10b) that received 1st and a Brown ale(10c) receiving 3rd. Meaning of all Pale ales(10a) entered into Northeast region that, on the day of judging, mine was 'best' pale ale entered by getting 2nd. After burning my candle on both ends for quite some time this is a nice 'pat on the back' for all my hard work. I really enjoy crafting delicious brews whether using strange grains, herbs & spices, and wood aged beers, but to place with an American style pale ale means more than my other beers I entered into previously mentioned experimental categories. The fact the judges recognized on that day the 'quaffability' of my take on what has become a flagship style in the bedrock of this New American Craft Brewing Renaissance is an honor.

Since I don't have anymore of that batch of pale ale around I'll be brewing more to send to nationals. The batch I sent in was brewed at the end of January and was mostly a prop batch for what was an upcoming Imperial Coffee Stout. I didn't even blog about it in between a Schwarzbier and a Rye'd Pale ale. I did try new hopping technique which is a combination of hop additions that I've found work well. Basically I 'first wort' hopped during run off. Which is the practice of adding hops to your wort which weaves together a unmatched hop flavor (first wort technical reading). I then added just enough bittering hops to balance and didn't add another hop addition the rest of boil. With my theory being, "if I'm going to dry hop the beer, why not just move late kettle additions to dry hops as well." So I added the ounce of what would have been my zero minute hop addition and added them on day 2 of fermentation. After fermentation I racked to 2nd and dry hopped a second time the way I do normally. It was then bottled in the middle of February and two months later at the end of April a couple of BJCP judges enjoyed it. My friends and I couldn't wait that long, we enjoyed the whole batch much sooner.

Now that I'm brewing up a couple batches that will be in bottle a little over two weeks instead of two months before they are judged I'm wondering if I should try and reverse engineer the hop levels to what they may have been after two months in bottles. As many hop heads know, hops are best fresh, and that hop flavor fades and fades fast. I'm probably over thinking it, but I'm going to brew one batch exactly the same and the other with a 10-15% decrease to the overall hop bill and then decide later which to send to nationals.

Rye'd Pale Ale(s)

Brewing a ten gallon batch of a an American Pale Ale with just over 15% Rye malt. I'll be doing a little bit of a hop experiment on this one. I've got quite a bit of whole leaf hops that need to be used up (In freezer for 6 months). I am confident they are still 'fresh' enough' to use but I would like to use them up quickly at this point. So I'm going to be adding over half a pound of whole leaf Palisade, Simcoe, and Amarillo hops all combined at end of boil. Still leaving me with part of a brick of Simcoe to use up. I've heard/read about this hop technique being used by Deschutes for their Hop Trip. Brewed with very little, if any bittering hops and a truck load of whole leaf hop flowers at the end of boil. So I'll be first wort hopping with some Chinook hops, which provides some bitterness, then not adding another hop until end of boil. Today's brew is based off my Rye'd Pale Ale recipe I brewed in January 2010.

Grist Bill: Briess two row, Rye malt, Munich malt, Crystal malt, and Amber malt. Hopped with Chinook, Palisade, Amarillo, and Simcoe. Fermented with Chico yeast.

Sahti Altbier

The end of last April 2009 I brewed a Juniper Rye Ale that I wasn't thrilled with. Some changes to today's recipe will be moving the crushed juniper berry addition back to later in the boil. I experimented with adding juniper berries to the mash and middle of boil. Not much juniper berry flavor remained. What little was left was tannins and the oily bitter flavors of the berry on the tongue after each sip. The first time I brewed a beer based on this traditional beer style called Sahti was in January 2007. For that brew I added some juniper berries at end of boil, and at bottling I made a juniper berry tea which I added to bottling bucket with the priming sugar. The flavors from the tea and late boil additions were much more enjoyable. Aroma was floral,spicy gin with a finishing pine character. An addition to the grist bill will be a traditional Rauch(smoked) malt. Only 3% smoked malt in the grist will add authenticity to this traditional style without overpowering the palette.

Grist Bill: Baird Pale malt, Briess two row, Rye malt, Crystal Rye malt, Smoked malt, and a couple ounces Roasted Barley for color. First wort hopped with Hallertau Hersbrucker. Crushed Juniper Berries added at End of Boil. Fermented with Wyeast 1007 German Ale yeast.


Brewed a Quadruple with Pinot Noir juice/concentrate last November 09', and today's batch is an evolution of the recipe. Changing some specialty malts to create more toffee/raisin flavors in the malt backbone. Also going to be collecting the first gallon of first runnings and reduce by half to caramelize the delicious wort. The first batch, at 11% and even after six months still tastes young. The oak and red wine notes are the aroma. Happy with the batch but can always be better. The Briess Extra Special Roast in the first batch produced roast malt character that is out of place in what I want this beer to taste like (great specialty malt for Brown ales though).

Grist Bill: Pale two row, Munich malt, CaraMunich 40, Crystal 65, Biscuit malt, and CaraPils. Hopped to balance with Vanguard. 25% of extract from Pinot Noir grape/concentrate. Fermented with 2nd generation Wyeast 3711. Although not a true Trappist yeast strain, this yeast provides high attenuation and Trappist yeast type flavors. Origins of yeast, Brasserie Thiriez located in francophone Flanders.

Lemon Pepper HefeWeizen(s)

A traditional style German Hefeweizen, brewed with Lemongrass, Bay Leaves, Black Peppercorns, and Lemon peel. Based off two similar beer I did last year. One in March 09, and other in July 09' (which I just realized I didn't blog about last summer). I enjoyed how the banana/clove flavors from the yeast played off the earthy lemongrass, green tea flavor of bay leaves and subtle pepper spice undertones. I'm adding fresh lemon peel to bounce off the earthiness of lemongrass with the acidity of fresh lemons. Also added 1/2 cup lemon juice at end of boil for some dry, tart, sour background to the overall brew. Brewing two batches of the same recipe so I can blend together in newly made 10 gallon bottling bucket.

Grist: Wheat malt, Pale two row, English pale malt, Flaked Wheat, and Flaked Oats. Hopped with Hallertau Hersbrucker. Spiced with Lemongrass, Bay leaves, Black Peppercorns, and Lemon Peel.