Saturday, April 5, 2008

Stonebridge Pale Ale

Today was my first ale of the year.

It was a royal pain in the ass.

That said, it was good to get back in the saddle. I also made some adjustments that did make a few things easier. As I recently said, I'm trying to do some simple recipes this spring and summer. Here was today's:

8 lbs. Pale Malt (2 row)
2 lbs. Crystal Malt (60L)

1 oz Sterling 7.0 60 min.
.5 oz. Kent Goldings (US) 4.2 15 min.
.5 oz. Kent Goldings (US) 4.2 5 min.

White labs- East Coast Ale- I secretly picked a White Labs yeast, because if you send in your used flasks, they'll send you a t-shirt or something. I figure I could used the t-shirt to keep light off the carboy when I'm racking.

Ted recently posted some stuff about how to hit your mash temps properly. I impudently said I hadn't had any issues to date by adding water to the grain, as opposed to the other way around. That sealed my fate. An analogy: the mash was supposed to be kind of like how a person at McDonalds would pour your drink for you. All ice, a little bit of pop. Mine was like they handed me the cup and I poured my Dr. Pepper myself, a little ice, and mostly pop. Which is to say, I missed my mash temp, corrected (which is to say, over-corrected), corrected again, and ended up with a pretty thin mash instead of a thick one. As I said, a royal pain in the ass. I'm sure the farting around cost me big when it came to my gravity. If I was a jerk, I'd say I planned it that way, and was shooting for a more dextrinous wort. Instead, I should be writing the follow up to Brew Like a Monk. Only mine would be Brew Like a Polack.

The rest of the day went great. I installed a bazooka screen in my kettle, and draining versus pouring not only kept a lot of my beer off my back porch, but was ridiculously easy. Also, no boil overs, and thanks to my starter, I had about a two hour lag time. I love that shit.

I certainly have some areas I need to improve on. My efficiency was atrocious. I'm not going to post it, because it's embarrassing. Needless to say, I think my mash temperature problems meant that I brewed something closer to a bitter than a pale ale. I'll drink it, but it was a little irritating. I think that, by and large, I need to be a bit more scientific as to how I'm doing things (hitting temp and gravity targets, and calibrating all my vessels so I've got a much clearer picture of what the numbers actually mean). Up until now, especially when it comes to hitting my targets, it's been kind of a shoot for volume and wait and see what happens. That's alright on my first couple of all grain brews, as I was just trying to get some of the mechanics figured out, but I should be beyond that. I guess it's just sort of a desire to brew the beer I envisioned in the first place. This is something I'll be ruminating on the the coming days. I'm going to brew this one again at least two more times this summer. It will be interesting to see what I can come up with.

Side note: lunch today consisted of beans and franks. Somehow, I feel like if you're brewing and you do not dine upon encased meats, that is an opportunity missed.


Ted Danyluk said...

Correcting mash temperature with infusions, but thinning the grain/water ratio. Arrge! That is precisely what I wanted to avoid. I didn't talk about that in my posts, but it is also what I mean by added variables and inconsistency.

Give the "grain into water" method a try, and let me know if it works and how you like it. It definitely takes the stress away.

To brew like a monk, you must be stress free in a meditative state of being... Right?

Ted Danyluk said...

Just tried this beer last night. Good work. My overall descriptor is "clean." Not too sweet, not too bitter, with a nice hint of hop flavor. Very little aroma coming out, but that fits with its overall clean taste. A mellow and easy drinking pale ale.

Another beer I tasted it with was a bottle of my Ordinary Bitter. It had more malt aromatics and flavor with a bigger bitterness. I'm surprised it had that much going on in a 3.2% beer. Maybe it was the Marris Otter British 2-row, and ESB yeast.

The Brew & Grow just got in some British Faucett Crystal malts. Using Marris Otter, and these Crystals might give a very authentic British feel to our Kent Goldings pale ales. I'm itching to try it.

Kevin LaVoy said...


Thanks for the encouragement.

That beer did seem to age well. It wasn't so hot at first, so I decided to drink it quick to get the bottles empty. All of a sudden, it was good! Patience, I guess. That is probably a reason to brew a lot. So you've always got something you could really age for a while if you think it just needs time.

I'm not suprised there wasn't much hoppiness to it. Given the shortage, I've been pretty light on my hop usage, trying to build my taste/aromas around the grains.

I also got some of those Faucett grains last weekend for my next brew. That is a great idea for the Kent Golding Pale Ales. That might be a good beer for our similar recipe brew-off.