Sunday, 28 September 2014

Brew Day: Plain Old Pale Ale (plus Sour Reds)

Racking and Brewing
As is probably the case for a lot of home brewers, many of the first batches I brewed were American pale ales and IPAs, made in a effort to emulate the beers I was enjoying when I first started brewing.  But as time went on I found myself brewing these style much less frequently---looking back over my brew log, its been over a year since I made an American pale ale, and significantly longer since I made an IPA!  The excuse I usually give is that there are plenty of affordable and tasty pale ales and IPAs on the shelf round here, all of which are probably better than anything I could make with my current setup---whereas its pretty hard to find an ordinary bitter, and sours are often prohibitively expensive.  But the truth is, whenever I buy commercial beer these days, it tends to be single bottles of sour and wild stuff, and as a result we rarely have hoppy American beers in the house.

Well, I've been promising J I'd rectify that for a while now, and as our friends get back into town for the new school year (and the football season gets underway), this seemed like a good weekend to brew a simple pale ale.  I received a new load of grain from a CHBG group buy last week, and rather than formulate a recipe I just used a combination of the base malts that wouldn't fit in my storage buckets (2-row, pilsner, golden promise), along with a small amount of carapils.  For hops, I went with Cascade all the way through, keeping it simple, and for yeast I used an old packet of US-05.  I strained out the dregs in the kettle, and I'll be using them this week to grow up a pitch of Wyeast 1028 for my next series of English beers.

One nice thing about brewing something fairly straight-forward is that it gives me a chance to play around with my water chemistry a little more, and see if I like the results.  For this batch, I took Bru'n Water's bitter pale ale profile as my base line, adding slightly more chloride to see how it rounds things out.  The finished profile was the following:
Calcium: 92.4     Magnesium: 11.8     Sodium: 8.4     Sulfate 111.9     Chloride 58.9
Bicarbonate -23.2     Total Hardness: 280     Alkalinity: -19    Residual Alkalinity -92
 The mash pH seemed to settle at around 5.4 after 15 minutes, right where the software predicted.  I forgot to take a measurement during the boil, but the pH at knockout seemed a little high, also settling at around 5.4.  I'll take a measurement from the final beer to compare with others I've brewed recently.  I've noticed that my meter takes a long time to settle on a stable reading, often drifting slowly upwards over time---I may just be using it incorrectly, but I hope this isn't a fault.

Cherries and Raspberries
During the boil I also racked a Flanders Red that was getting close to its first birthday onto a blend of two varieties of tart cherries and a small portion of raspberries.  It probably ended up being about 4lbs of fruit in a 3 gallon Better Bottle.  I then used the last 1-2L of this beer, along with a small portion of the yeast cake, to inoculate the English Sour Red I brewed a few weeks ago.  That beer was still tasting very green, with a fair bit of acetaldehyde, but that should be cleaned up fairly quickly by the remaining saccharomyces. It also had a fairly high gravity, as I hoped, at around 1.018.  There wasn't quite as much dark fruits in the flavour as I wanted, but I think this will come out more as it ages and the gravity continues to drop.  I'll bottle the fruited version in a couple of months, and I placed the English sour red at the back of the closet where it will sit undisturbed until some time next year.


Measured O.G: 1.049
Measured F.G:

Mash: 153.5°F:


97%  Base Malt Blend (2-row, Pilsner, Golden Promise)
3% Carapils


Cascade         FWH          18.4 IBUs     (15g@5.6%)
Cascade         60               27.9 IBUs     (25g@5.6%)
Cascade         10               3.3   IBUs     (15g@5.6%)
Cascade         0                 0      IBUs     (15g@5.6%)


Safale US-05

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