Monday, January 7, 2013

Brewing Great Beer Part 1: Designing a Great Recipe

The very first step in designing any great beer is determining what kind of beer you want it to be on a very basic level. Rich? Easy-drinking? Simple? Hearty? Robust? Then you decide from there which (if any) of the beer styles best fit what you want to drink.

A while back, my brew-buddy Pat and I decided we wanted something somewhat hoppy and pale to brew next. We knew we wanted something easy and approachable and that we wanted it to be out-of-style slightly. Additionally, Pat wanted to do something with rye malt. What would be hoppy, pale, approachable, and feature rye malt? An extra-hoppy Rye Blonde Ale? A Rye ESB? A Rye Pale Ale? We decided to brew a Rye American Pale Ale. It suited our tastes, and it was the perfect beer to use up my hefty supply of 2011 Cascade hops.

So what is a Rye Pale Ale? There are a few interpretations - you can add some flaked rye or you can feature a rye crystal malt, but the most common way to brew a "Rye" version of a classic style features Rye Malt to augment the flavor and mouthfeel of the base malt. Basically, my take on Rye Pale Ale is an American Pale Ale with some portion of the base malt replaced with rye malt.

Now, this means the base malt will not be 100% pale ale malt, but some portion rye malt, as well. Given my experience brewing different homebrew recipes, like Denny's Conn's famous Wrye Smile IPA, I decided to go for total grist to be about 15% rye malt (meaning rye will be about 20% of the base malt, with an additional 10% specialty grains). That makes the base 5 parts pale ale malt and 1 part rye malt. Trust me, I am good at math.

Now, a little trick to brewing a happy rye beer is using some rice hulls as a portion of the grain bill. Rice hulls will "thin out" the grain bill, helping "sticky" malts like rye and wheat from gumming up the lautering and keeping the wort from running off easily.

The Malt Bill

American pale ales typically have some portion of crystal malt in the gist, contributing a fullness of flavor, a balancing sweetness with some caramel quality, and a richer viscosity (mouthfeel). While this usually means some carapils, a dose of light/medium crystal, and the rest pale ale malt or basic 2-row; I decided to ditch the carapils (a malt that contributes chiefly body with little to no color or sweetness) since the large portion of rye malt will be contributing a great deal of body as is. So the malt bill I settled on was just pale ale malt, a generous dose of carahell (a light German crystal malt), rye malt, and some rice hulls to ease the lautering.

The Hops

The star of most American Pale Ales is the cascade hop. But this is a rye pale ale, so balance is of the utmost importance if I want to make sure the rye malt's flavor still comes through. So instead of stacking bold hops on bold hops, I am combining a generous dose of cascade with the more neutral crystal hops, providing a balanced "hoppy" quality that won't be overly dank or fruity, but will be bold enough to balance the malt. I decided to bitter with a the original super alpha variety (columbus) for its consistency and sharp bittering quality, as well as its citrusy-spicy aromatic qualities.

This is the recipe I came up with:

Recipe: CRye Baby Pale Ale
Style: 10A-American Ale-American Pale Ale

Recipe Overview

Wort Volume Before Boil: 60.00 l
Wort Volume After Boil: 50.00 l
Volume Transferred: 46.00 l
Water Added: 0.00 l
Volume At Pitching: 46.00 l
Final Batch Volume: 44.00 l
Expected Pre-Boil Gravity: 1.045 SG
Expected OG: 1.053 SG
Expected FG: 1.010 SG
Expected ABV: 5.8 %
Expected ABW: 4.5 %
Expected IBU (using Tinseth): 39.7
Expected Color: 7.1 SRM
Apparent Attenuation: 80.5 %
Mash Efficiency: 75.0 %
Boil Duration: 90.0 mins
Fermentation Temperature: 64 degF

US Pale Ale Malt 20lb 0oz (74.1 %) In Mash/Steeped
US Rye Malt 4lb 0oz (14.8 %) In Mash/Steeped
German CaraHell 2lb 0oz (7.4 %) In Mash/Steeped
US Rice Hulls 1lb 0oz (3.7 %) In Mash/Steeped

US Cascade (5.0 % alpha) 120 g Bagged Whole Hops used First Wort Hopped
US Columbus(Tomahawk) (12.0 % alpha) 30 g Bagged Pellet Hops used 60 Min From End
US Crystal (2.9 % alpha) 120 g Bagged Whole Hops used 10 Min From End
US Cascade (5.0 % alpha) 60 g Bagged Whole Hops used At turn off
US Columbus(Tomahawk) (12.0 % alpha) 28 g Bagged Pellet Hops used At turn off
US Chinook (10.5 % alpha) 28 g Bagged Pellet Hops used At turn off
US Cascade (5.0 % alpha) 30 g Loose Whole Hops used Dry-Hopped
US Columbus(Tomahawk) (12.0 % alpha) 30 g Loose Pellet Hops used Dry-Hopped

Yeast: White Labs WLP001-California Ale or similar

Mash at 150 degF for 60 mins

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