Saturday, March 17, 2012

Brewing It Again (Honing Your Best Recipes): Porter & American Amber Ale

For those of us who entertain the idea of ever really owning a brewery or even of having a great home pub with a few regular beers on tap, having perfected those four or five "regular beers" is an important task. And it makes for a fun and educational way to brew - always looking at your beers objectively, trying to determine how to better the recipe or the process to get it "just right." Another consideration is ingredient selection - using under-appreciated and less costly hops as well as domestic grains can help keep costs down; nice savings in everyday brewing, but especially important in a production brewery.

The very first beer that I tried to replicate was the porter I brewed in the fall of 2008 (during my partial mash days), that I dubbed "Grey Skies" after the trademark Portland weather I was experiencing at the time. I dare say that was the finest extract beer I ever made. Not only did I have to convert it to all-grain, but I soon learned that one of the key ingredients (Franco-Belge Kiln-Coffee Malt) was very difficult to obtain (kudos to F. H. Steinbart for carrying it). So I have remade the recipe several times, always with "perfection" in mind.

I also worked on perfecting American Amber Ale, Kölsch, Düsseldorf Altbier, English "Best" Bitter, and American Brown Ale styles - deducing that maintaining a single-yeast brewery for the regular lineup, and that the most logical strain would be the brewpub standard-bearer and workhorse WLP001/Wyeast 1056, also called "Chico" due to its famed use at Sierra Nevada.

But I would get bored always using WLP001 for my homebrew, so I often try out different yeasts, and since I have no immediate plans to "go pro," I don't bother myself with the fact that some of the flavors and aromas wouldn't necessarily be the same.

Grey Skies Porter

The last time I brewed this beer, I found it a little lifeless. I think this is because the combination of the clean (low-ester) American yeast and the relatively low level of hop flavor, combined with the low roast-bitterness from my judicious use of Carafa Special II (a dehusked Chocolate Malt from Germany) instead of the more classic UK or US Chocolate Malt or Black Patent Malt led to the beer being a bit too "tame" and smooth. Additionally, the Belgian Special B malt added a fruity aspect that seemed out-of-place, particularly since it replaced the toffee-molasses candy flavor that I get from British Extra Dark Crystal.

So this time around, while still using an American ale yeast (this time WLP090 San Diego Super Yeast, I decided to go with a lot of British Medium (65L) Crystal malt in place of any Extra Dark crystal or Special B, and I used British Chocolate Malt in place of the Carafa Special II I have been using for some time (since the original recipe's Belgian Kiln-Coffee Malt is hard to find in the bay area). I also decided to make this a bit of a hoppier beer by swapping the English or Noble-type flavor/aroma hop addition in favor of Centennial, a classic American "C Hop" with a more punchy floral character than the English-style hops I usually use.

Here's the recipe:

Recipe: Grey Skies Porter v5
Style: 12B-Porter-Robust Porter

Recipe Overview

Wort Volume Before Boil: 14.50 US gals
Wort Volume After Boil: 12.00 US gals
Volume Transferred: 11.50 US gals
Water Added: 0.00 US gals
Volume At Pitching: 11.50 US gals
Final Batch Volume: 10.50 US gals
Expected Pre-Boil Gravity: 1.050 SG
Expected OG: 1.060 SG
Expected FG: 1.014 SG
Expected ABV: 6.1 %
Expected ABW: 4.8 %
Expected IBU (using Tinseth): 41.9
Expected Color: 32.8 SRM
Apparent Attenuation: 75.2 %
Mash Efficiency: 80.0 %
Boil Duration: 90.0 mins
Fermentation Temperature: 64 degF

US 2-Row Malt 14lb 4oz (57.0 %) In Mash/Steeped
Canadian Vienna Malt 3lb 12oz (15.0 %) In Mash/Steeped
UK Medium Crystal (120EBC) 3lb 0oz (12.0 %) In Mash/Steeped
UK Pale Chocolate Malt 2lb 0oz (8.0 %) In Mash/Steeped
Belgian Aromatic Malt 1lb 0oz (4.0 %) In Mash/Steeped
UK Chocolate Malt 1lb 0oz (4.0 %) In Mash/Steeped

US Nugget (11.6 % alpha) 65 g Bagged Pellet Hops used 60 Min From End
US Centennial (6.5 % alpha) 30 g Bagged Pellet Hops used 10 Min From End

Yeast: White Labs WLP090-San Diego Super Ale

Mash at 154 degF for 60 mins

Wanderlust Red (American Amber Ale)

I settles on the ideal basic malt bill for an American Amber Ale last year when I brewed the Undead Red Ale last year. Since then, all my American amber ales have been pale ale malt or plain 2-row, a little Munich Malt, a good dose of British Medium Crystal, and a touch of Carafa Special II for color. My last attempt won my club's style of the quarter competition and took third inState. So this time, I went with a very similar recipe, just tweaking the hopping a little bit to make it a bit more aromatic than before, and reducing the size of the beer a bit to make it more sessionable. Also, I used a different yeast, Wyeast 1450 Denny's Favorite, just because I had it around, and have found it a nice yeast for amber ales in the past. Since I am planning to enter this beer into nationals, as well as the World Cup of Beer, I really wanted to get this one right in the middle of the style guidelines to really hammer it in with the judges that I know how to make a great American Amber Ale. Also, this is a smallish beer, so I figure I can build up all this yeast to put into a big stout in the near future.

Recipe: Wanderlust Red
Style: 10B-American Ale-American Amber Ale

Wort Volume Before Boil: 8.50 US gals
Wort Volume After Boil: 6.20 US gals
Volume Transferred: 5.50 US gals
Water Added: 0.00 US gals
Volume At Pitching: 5.50 US gals
Final Batch Volume: 5.02 US gals
Expected Pre-Boil Gravity: 1.037 SG
Expected OG: 1.051 SG
Expected FG: 1.012 SG
Expected ABV: 5.1 %
Expected ABW: 4.0 %
Expected IBU (using Tinseth): 38.4
Expected Color: 12.0 SRM
Apparent Attenuation: 74.9 %
Mash Efficiency: 78.0 %
Boil Duration: 90.0 mins
Fermentation Temperature: 66 degF

US 2-Row Malt 7lb 7oz (67.6 %) In Mash/Steeped
Canadian Munich Malt 2lb 8oz (22.7 %) In Mash/Steeped
UK Medium Crystal (120EBC) 1lb 0oz (9.1 %) In Mash/Steeped
German Carafa Special II 1.00 oz (0.6 %) In Mash/Steeped

US Nugget (11.6 % alpha) 15 g Bagged Pellet Hops used 60 Min From End
US Centennial (6.5 % alpha) 35 g Bagged Pellet Hops used 30 Min From End
US Amarillo (10.9 % alpha) 60 g Bagged Whole Hops used At turn off

Yeast: Wyeast 1450-Denny's Favorite 50

Mash at 152 degF for 60 mins

No comments:

Post a Comment