Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Recipe Formulation for a Pale Ale

Every now and then I decide to make a batch based purely on the ingredients I have on hand.

In this case, I'm wanting to formulate a batch based on the following criteria:
1. It has to use Wyeast 1056 (American Ale) because I have a yeast cake of it left over from the IPA I brewed.  Note on this: I know it's bad form to use a yeast cake because you over-pitch your yeast.  However, I don't care.  I've done this a number of times, and it always turned out well.
2. It needs to use 4oz of one of the new hops I picked up on Black Friday from Farmhouse brewing supply, because I really want to get a better feel for the flavor some of these hops impart.
3. It needs to use Pilsner, Caramel 60, and Carapils malt, as that's what I have on hand.

With these limitations in mind, I started thinking about the beers I currently have available and came to the conclusion that I wanted a nice light pale ale.  I wanted to make something a bit more 'sessionable' than the IPA I just finished and that would have a bit of a wider appeal for my BMC friends.  (BMC = Bud/Miller/Coors).

Knowing this, I started with a base recipe of:
8 pounds pilsen malt
1 pound Carapils malt
1 pound Caramel 60 malt

This grain bill should give me a beer that finishes slightly sweeter than the IPA I just finished, and clock in between 4-5% alcohol by volume (ABV).  I'm basing this on the results I saw from that very IPA - using 12 pounds of Pilsen and 1 pound Caramel 60, I got 7.1% ABV from 13 pounds of grain.  Cutting it down to 10 pounds should drop it down under 6% for sure, and swapping 1 pound of Pilsen for Carapils will also drop the alcohol percentage about another half percent.  This is because Carapils is malted in such a way that it's full of dextrins, which are unfermentable by yeast.  This results in a slightly sweeter, but mostly more full-bodied beer.

Now - the hops.  In my opinion, the most important part of a pale ale.  I narrowed down the hops I wanted to use to three potential varieties:  Zythos, Calypso, or Rakau.

Zythos is a new hop blend released this year.  It's a blend of traditional northwest style American hops, and so it would provide the floral, citrus styles of a northwest IPA.  I thought this was too similar to my current IPA I have on draft, so I ruled this one out.

Calypso was very tempting.  It's also a relatively new hop, and it's supposed to provide apple/pear/grassy notes.  I spent a while reading reviews other homebrewers had on the use of this hop, and the general consensus seemed to be that while it smelled great and was excellent for bitterness, the aroma/flavor contribution from this hop would be very limited.  Since I needed a hop that could 'really hold the beer together', I ruled this one out as well.

This left me with Rakau hops.  This is again a fairly new to the market hop, and it's from New Zealand.  I couldn't find much record of people using it here in the states, but the people in New Zealand and Australia who were using it raved about how awesome it was.  Supposedly it will impart a lot of orange and peach flavors and aroma, and I thought that would be nice with a light beer like this one.

The hop schedule winds up being:
.5oz @ 90 minutes
1oz @ 15 minutes
1oz @ 5 minutes
1.5oz Dry Hop (7-14 days)

Goal from these additions is to provide a very light amount of bitterness, but a ton of the peachy/citrusy flavor and aroma.

So, there we go - a Precocious Pale Ale, with Rakau hops.  Looking forward to having the chance to brew this one.

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