Monday, November 19, 2012

Aromatic Cream Ale Recipe

I’ve brewed a couple “International Session Alesover the years. These low-gravity, easy-drinking beers don't match any established style, and the inspiration for their flavors doesn't draw from a single nation's brewing tradition. They combine malts, yeast, and hops that are not traditionally brewed with in combination. The concept for this batch was inspired by a hoppy cream ale that Jacob (Modern Times' glorious leader) tasted at a homebrew club meeting a couple years ago. He and I kicked the recipe back-and-forth for about two months, as an option for a beer that we could turn around quickly, doesn’t involve an chic hops (e.g., Citra, Simcoe, Amarillo, Mosaic etc.), and that we’d still be excited to drink!

HopRocket, post-infusionThe malt bill isn’t too far from a modern/standard cream ale. It has an American pale malt base, with flaked corn for crispness and corny sweetness, and flaked barley and CaraPils for body and head retention. The hopping is mostly Cascade (fantastically-aromatic 8.3% AA 2012 harvest from Freshops) and Crystal, with a bit of Summit to intensify the dankness.

Fermentation was with WLP007 (Dry English Ale - Whitbread). I really like WLP002 (English Ale – Fuller’s strain), but it doesn't attenuate well enough to produce the crisp beer we are aiming for. WLP007 is a similarly flocculent, relatively neutral, English strain that should give us fermented and clear beer just as quickly, and it's also considerably more attenuative. The only problem with these English strains is that they tend to strip out more hop character from the wort than their less-flocculent American cousins. As a result I may have to adjust the bitterness upward on subsequent iterations.

When it comes to making profitable commercial beers the focus is on speed more than ingredient cost (although clearly that plays a part as well). Having a beer that takes 14 days from brewing to packaging seems pretty rapid, but if you can get that down to 10 days then it is possible to do 36 batches a year compared to 26 in a tank. At 30 bbls per batch, that is an extra 300 barrels (~75,000 16 oz cans) of production each year from one tank. That is without paying higher rent for a larger brewery, investing capital for additional tanks, etc. just more ingredients and cans.

The question is, will we be able to reduce production time while still brewing a beer that meets our standards? We don’t want a beer that is “Impressive given the constraints,” only “Great!” regardless of how long it took or what hops were used. This recipe is unlike anything I’d brewed before, so it will probably take a couple batches to dial in on something we’re completely happy with. For the first batch I didn't want to push the beer into the keg too quickly, we'll save that for the re-brew.

Aromatic Cream Ale

Recipe Specifics
Batch Size (Gal): 5.50
Total Grain (Lbs): 9.50
Anticipated OG: 1.048
Anticipated SRM: 3.1
Anticipated IBU: 37.7
Brewhouse Efficiency: 77 %
Wort Boil Time: 90 Minutes

78.9% - 7.50 lbs. American Pale Malt (2-row)
10.5% - 1.00 lbs. Flaked Corn
5.3% - 0.50 lbs. CaraPils
5.3% - 0.50 lbs. Flaked Barley

0.75 oz. Cascade (Whole, 8.25% AA) @ 20 min.
0.75 oz. Crystal (Whole, 6.15% AA) @ 15 min.
0.75 oz. Cascade (Whole, 8.25% AA) @ 10 min.
0.75 oz. Crystal (Whole, 6.15% AA) @ 5 min.
2.00 oz. Summit (Pellet, 15.6% AA) @ 0 min.
1.50 oz. Cascade (Whole, 8.25% AA) @ Hop-Back
1.50 oz. Crystal (Whole, 6.15% AA) @ Hop-Back
1.50 oz. Cascade (Whole, 8.25% AA) @ Dry Hop
1.50 oz. Crystal (Whole, 6.15% AA) @ Dry Hop
1.00 oz. Summit (Pellet, 15.6% AA) @ Dry Hop

0.50 Whirlfloc @ 15 min.
0.50 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 15 min.

White Labs WLP007 Dry English Ale

Water Profile
Profile: Pale, Medium Hop

Mash Schedule
Sacch Rest - 70 min @ 153 F

11/3/12 Made a ~.6 L starter on my stir-plate.

Brewed 11/4/12 by myself.

DC Tap cut 50% with distilled. 6 g each CaCl and gypsum split between the mash and sparge.

Batch sparged. Collected 7 gallons of 1.038 runnings.

Chilled to 65 F, 45 seconds of pure O2, and pitched the starter. Left at 65 F to ferment.

Small amount of activity after 12 hours, strong after 24.

11/8/12 Gravity only down to 1.025, still appears that strong fermentation is on-going.

11/15/12 Added half of the dry hops to the primary fermentor loose, as fermentation appears finished.

11/18/12 Racked the seeminly clear beer to a flushed keg, added the second half of the dry hops, bagged and weighted. Hooked up to CO2.

12/15/12 Tasting notes of this beer, both on tap and in bottles.


FelipBorncois said...

interesting idea! does the 007 have a similar "juicy fruit" ester character that 002 does? i really love the characteristics of that strain, but like you said it has issues attenuating. would love to find a flavor profile of 002 with attenuation of 001 lol

A said...

Per your twitter -- it can thus be known as either "Double Agent" or "Raconteur."

Adam Mc said...

I just took the first pull from the keg of a similar beer from a style perspective...1.035 second runnings from a weizenbock, hopped with cascade and sterling, and fermented with whitbread. It's a surprisingly good beer.

Unknown said...

I also appreciate the WLP007 commentary as I just used it for a breakfast stout (Founder's clone/mod.) that I will be bottling this weekend.

RB said...

Mike, you could try the WLP90 SD yeast. It's a very floculent English origin strain that's a high attenuators & oddly enough doesn't leave behind diacetyl and is very neutral. It can replace 01.

Eric Branchaud said...

I'm looking forward to see how this one turns out. I'm a huge hophead, and I've been playing around with hopping up some different styles. I had some great results with my "Hoptoberfest" this fall, so I've been toying with the idea of a hoppy Helles for the spring. I might have to steal your hop schedule - leaning towards Centennial/Motueka/Mosaic.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I don't get juicy fruit from 002, it's mellower than that. This is my first time using 007, but they are supposed to be very similar.

Thanks for the yeast suggestion RB, will check it out if 007 doesn't cut it.

Sounds delicious Eric, let me know how it turns out! I still need to get some Mosaic too.

Jimmy said...

I've always liked the idea of brewing my own beer, but I've got no clue where to start. Is there anywhere on this website you could direct me please? A page for complete beginners,like what kind of apparatus I'd need, what kind of conditions/environment, etc. Thanks.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I've written a couple of basic-ish posts. For example this one on my brewing setup and one with tips for new brewers. However, there are so many great books out there I haven't devoted much time to the basics. John Palmer's How to Brew is hard to beat, and an older version is available for free online. If you can, it's also really helpful to find someone local you can watch brew. Best of luck!

Anonymous said...

Did you leave out your bittering addition?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

The hop bill is posted as it was brewed. For this recipe the late boil hop additions were substantial enough to provide all the bitterness such a light beer needed. This “hop-bursting” technique adds aromatics along with a smooth bitterness that often tastes a bit lower than the calculation suggests. Just another move from my bag of hopping tricks.

Unknown said...

I'd like to make this but do not have a hop back. What would be another technique to try to get the hop flavor and aroma?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

You can do what I did before I had a hop back. Add the hop stand addition, let them steep, and then add the hop back hops to the kettle right when you start the chiller. Chill as rapidly as you can to preserve those more volatile aromatics.

Unknown said...

Thanks! I'm really excited to try this out. If it turns out well, I plan on making it for my baby shower! Seems like a perfect easy drinking springtime beer

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Let me know how it turns out (the beer, not the kid)! Haha.