Working on developing a ‘house’ pale ale


Image by uberculture via Flickr

Yesterday, I went to MoreBeer‘s showroom in Concord, CA to pick up supplies plus ingredients for my next beer. I want to give a shout out to the good people there. Every experience I have had there has been positive and completely enjoyable and I must have gone there dozen of times now.

One of the cool things that MoreBeer does is offer feedback on homebrews (all of the homebrew stores I patronize do too). Most of the staff (maybe all the staff for all I know) are avid homebrewers and are passionate about beer.

So, I brought in Brew Disasters the “Oh Well, What the Hell” pale ale for an evaluation. The consensus, of the three fellow brewers who were in the showroom at the time, was that the flaws (if there were any) had been nicely masked by the honey. They would have liked a bigger hop presence, a little less carbonation (good thing I didn’t try for the top of the carbonation range–always a bit of a crap shoot when bottle conditioning and not force-carbonating in a keg), a little less alcohol “heat.” They agreed it needed to age a little longer to mellow it some more. All in all, they felt it was a serviceable pale ale.

My next beer project will be a pale ale, though since it will be brewed with Wyeast 2007, Pilsner Yeast, maybe it should be called a pale lager (let’s not get too hung up on designations, okay?). I bought 11 pounds of 2-row barley malt, 8 ounces of 60L crystal, and 2 oz of Amarillo hops and 2 oz of Cascade hops. I’m hoping to come up with a “house” pale ale with loads of flavor and aroma and not too bitter. I want a “Session” beer. To get that high flavor, low bitterness and keep the IBUs within Beer Judge Certification Program‘s (BJCP) Style Guidelines, the first hop addition will be 1 oz of Amarillo at 20 minutes rather than the standard 60 minutes before the end of the boil. The next hop additions will be 1 oz of Amarillo at 10 minutes, 1 oz of Cascade at 5 minutes, and lastly 1 oz of Cascade at 1 minute before the end of the boil. According to the BeerAlchemy software I use, this hop addition schedule should give the beer about 40 IBUs.

Keep your fingers crossed, this pale ale, erm pale lager, will be brewed this coming Saturday.


Status Check

A while ago I posted about my homebrewing challenges, specifically brewing my Citra IPA (an India Pale Ale flavored solely with Citra hops).  I said time would tell ( or something equally non-committal). So, how did my beer turn out? Pretty darn well.

I took a couple bottles with me to More Beer on the day Gordon Strong (three-time winner of American Homebrewing Association’s National Homebrew Competition Ninkasi Award [1]) would be signing copies of Brewing Better Beer. Gordon ranks at or near the top of BJCP judges, so he knows his stuff. He took a sip, smiled and said “Mmmm.” He then called Nathan Smith (BJCP beer judge, Brewing Network brewcaster, and self-described “Homebrew fanatic”) over to taste it. Nathan liked it also. Other people in the store sampled it as well. One brewer said ‘if this is how Citra tastes, I’m buying some.’

Gordon Strong savoring my Citrazilla IPA

There is no higher praise than to have people who know good brew enjoy the beer you brewed.

I think I’m getting the hang of this brewing thing. That’s not to say that there’s not more to learn; there is a lifetime of stuff to learn. And let me tell you, it’s fun to learn.

BTW: Gordon signed my copy of Brewing Better Beer, “To Norm, I’d drink your IPA anytime. Sure you need this book?” – Gordon Strong.



[1] Ninkasi Award: Named for the Sumerian Goddess of Beer, this award is given to the brewer having the most wins in the Final Round of the National Homebrew Competition. Brewers earn points toward the award by placing in the 23 beer categories, the 3 mead categories, and the 2 cider categories during the Final Round.

Popcorn Blonde Ale

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Brewed a “Popcorn Blonde” Ale today. A friend of mine likes popcorn and because of jaw problems has been told to stop eating it. So, it seemed fitting to make him a liquid version of popcorn. Below is the recipe I used. I subbed flaked maize for popped corn as some folks use. I chose Irish Ale yeast to try to get a little diacetyl (for that buttery flavor). I’ll let you know how it goes.

Beer Judging Competition Type: 6B-Light Hybrid Beer-Blonde Ale

Recipe Overview
Target Wort Volume Before Boil: 9.00 US gals Actual Wort Volume Before Boil: 9.00 US gals
Target Wort Volume After Boil: 7.50 US gals Actual Wort Volume After Boil: 7.75 US gals
Target Volume Transferred: 5.25 US gals Actual Volume Transferred: 5.25 US gals
Target Volume At Pitching: 5.25 US gals Actual Volume At Pitching: 5.25 US gals
Target Volume Of Finished Beer: 5.00 US gals
Target Pre-Boil Gravity: 1.032 SG Actual Pre-Boil Gravity: 1.033 SG
Target OG: 1.047 SG Actual OG: 1.046
Target FG: 1.013 SG
Target Apparent Attenuation:: 71.4 %
Target ABV: 4.4 %
Target ABW: 3.5 %
Target IBU (using Tinseth): 24.9 IBU
Target Color (using Morey): 3.3 SRM
Target Mash Efficiency: 70.0 %
Target Fermentation Temp: 64 degF
Ingredient Amount % MCU When
US 2-Row Malt 7lb 14oz 78.7 % 2.6 In Mash/Steeped
US Flaked Corn/Maize 2lb 0oz 20.0 % 0.3 In Mash/Steeped
US Caramel 15L 2.00 oz 1.3 % 0.3 In Mash/Steeped
Variety Alpha Amount IBU Form When
US Glacier 5.6 % 1.00 oz 22.1 Bagged Pellet Hops First Wort Hopped
US Warrior 17.2 % 1.00 oz 2.7 Bagged Pellet Hops 1 Min From End
US Simcoe 12.5 % 2.00 oz 0.0 Bagged Pellet Hops Dry-Hopped
Other Ingredients
Ingredient Amount When
Yeast Nutrient 1.00 oz In Boil
Whirlfloc Tablet 1.00 oz In Boil
Yeast: White Labs WLP004 Irish Ale
Mash Type: Full Mash
Schedule Name: Single Step Infusion (65C/149F)
Step Type Temperature Duration
Rest at 149 degF 60