Thursday, January 1, 2015

Experimental Amber Ale

As I work on a keezer build(!) over the winter break, I'm also developing beers with which to populate said keezer during its launch. Eagle Face Oatmeal Stout will be the inaugural tap, but I'm also hoping to build two more beers for this three-keg system. For my second tap, I thought an amber ale would be a nice balance--it also was a chance to use up some of the hops packages that were cluttering my freezer. Thus, the Experimental Amber Ale was born!

I will note that the recipe in the end was a bit of a mistake; I had intended to throw in a pound of crystal 60, but forgot to write it down when I went to the brew store. The resulting malt bill was thus a little simpler than I intended. This also meant that I miscalculated my mash steps (I didn't remove the crystal malt from BeerSmith's recipe calculations), and the mash was a bit thinner than it should have been, at least by a little. But...I am hopeful that the strong mix of Maris Otter malt will balance out the flavor, and I do not think the mash was thin to the point of inhibiting enzymatic reactions (I achieved 85% efficiency!).

Experimental Amber Ale
  • 4.5 lbs. American 2 row malt
  • 4 lbs. Maris Otter pale malt
  • 0.25 lbs. chocolate malt
  • 1 oz. Cascade whole hops (5.5% alpha acid; boil 60 minutes).
  • 1 oz. Willamette hops pellets (5.3% alpha acid, 3.7% beta acid; boil 10 minutes)
  • 1 oz. Liberty hops pellets (4.5% alpha acid, 3.5% beta acid; whirlpool ~30 minutes)
  • 1 tsp. Irish moss
  • 1 tbs. 5.2 pH stabilizer
  • 1 pkg. Safale US-05 dry yeast (rehydrated in 1 cup water)
  • I mashed in with 3.1 gallons of water at ~172°, which stabilized to 156° within 10 minutes (and was still at that temperature after 20 minutes). 
  • After 60 minutes of mash, I added 1.2 gallons of water at 185°, which bumped the mash temperature up to ~160°. I let this sit for 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and then collected ~3.3 gallons of wort.
  • I then added 3.15 gallons of water at 185°, let it sit for 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected the rest of the wort, for a total of ~6.7 gallons. This had a gravity of 1.041, which works out to 85% efficiency! This high efficiency, I suspect, is due to the fact that I sparged more than I would have normally (due to assuming the extra pound of crystal malt in the calculations, which wasn't physically in the recipe).
  • I brought the wort to a boil, and added the Cascade hops.
  • After 45 minutes of boiling, I added the Irish moss.
  • After 50 minutes of boiling, I added the Willamette hops.
  • After 60 minutes, I turned off the flame, added the Liberty hops, and started chilling. The volume in the brew kettle at this point was around 5.8 gallons.
  • I rehydrated the yeast in 1 cup of water, and pitched it.
  • The starting volume was ~5.5 gallons and had a gravity of 1.047 at 60°.
  • I set the temperature for the fermentation chamber at 65°. The beer was brewed on 1 January 2014.
Despite my mistake in my calculations, I think this will (inadvertently) be an OK brew. I'll be curious to see how it ends up with no crystal malt, and how the combination of 2-row and Maris Otter play together. It probably won't be true to the American amber ale style, but it should still be drinkable!

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