I’ve brewed a couple “International Session Ales” over 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!
The 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
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
Profile: Pale, Medium Hop
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.