PM#14 – Monkey Feet Pale Ale

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If I had to pick one favourite style of beer it would be the classic American Pale Ale. Hands down. It’s generally a mid-gravity beer, allowing the brewer to showcase a wide variety of citrussy American hops against a nice malty backbone. I’ve brewed several APAs at this stage and I’ve enjoyed all of them, though my recipe still has plenty of room for improvement. They always seem just a little too bitter or too dry for my liking. It’s generally thought that a dry APA is better as it accentuates the hop flavour, but I disagree. I like my APAs to have a little more caramel flavour and mouthfeel. I think this stands up better to the level of hopping I like in a pale ale.

My recipes for APA are improving all the time though, I think. I think the challenge, especially if you like really hoppy pale ales as I do, is to keep the bitterness restrained. But it’s sometimes hard to use a lot of high-alpha hops for flavour and aroma and not draw significant IBUs from late additions. On my session pale ale, I experimented with hop-bursting. This technique dispenses with the 60-minute bittering addition altogether and you get all your bitterness from the late (15 minutes or less) additions. I was a bit nervous of doing this the first time, but there was no need to worry. The resulting beer was plenty bitter.

My last attempt was a “leftovers” I brewed last Christmas, which turned out to be the best pale ale yet. It had a little extra maltiness from Munich malt and some CaraPils for body and head retention. The hoppinh was a bit of a mish-mash, as befits a leftovers beer. This recipe will use a classic hop pairing of Simcoe and Amarillo, a combination recommended by Stone Brewing’s Mitch Steele in a recent interview with James Spencer of Basic Brewing. Despite using Simcoe a few times before (mainly in my kit days) and using bucketloads of expensive Amarillo over the last couple of years, it’s a pairing I’ve not used before. I can see why the comination of the two would work though – Amarillo is very fruity and citrussy. Simcoe has lots of grapefruit going on, but it’s also a bit dank and piney. Nice.

I’m keeping the recipe simple by using equal percentages of light crystal, medium crystal, Munich, wheat and CaraPils. 400g of crystal malt is the most I’ve ever put in a 1.050 pale ale, but I think it will get me closer to my idea of a perfect pale ale.

Recipe

Boil Size: 13.00 l
Post Boil Volume: 11.00 l
Batch Size (fermenter): 19.00 l
Bottling Volume: 19.00 l
Estimated OG: 1.051 SG
Estimated Color: 9.0 SRM
Estimated IBU: 36.3 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 55.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 55.0 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Ingredients

2.000 kg Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.0 SRM),46.5 %
0.200 kg Cara-Pils/Dextrine (2.0 SRM), 4.7 %
0.200 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt – 15L (15.0 SRM), 4.7 %
0.200 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt – 40L (40.0 SRM), 4.7 %
0.200 kg Munich Malt (9.0 SRM), 4.7 %
0.200 kg Wheat, Torrified (1.7 SRM), 4.7 %
0.100 kg Biscuit Malt (23.0 SRM),2.3 %
3 g Columbus [13.30 %] – Boil 60.0 min, 6.2 IBUs
1.200 kg Light Dry Extract [Boil for 20 min](8.0 SRM), 27.9 %
0.50 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 15.0 mins)
15 g Amarillo [11.20 %] – Boil 10.0 min, 4.7 IBUs
15 g Simcoe [13.20 %] – Boil 10.0 min, 5.6 IBUs
15 g Amarillo [11.20 %] – Boil 5.0 min, 3.9 IBUs
15 g Simcoe [13.20 %] – Boil 5.0 min, 4.6 IBUs
15 g Amarillo [11.20 %] – Boil 1.0 min, 3.9 IBUs
15 g Simcoe [13.20 %] – Boil 1.0 min, 4.6 IBUs
1.0 pkg Safale American (DCL/Fermentis #US-05)
15 g Amarillo [11.20 %] – Dry Hop 5.0 Days, 0.0 IBUs
15 g Simcoe [13.20 %] – Dry Hop 5.0 Days, 0.0 IBUs

Brew Day 26/05/2013 – My gravity was absolutely spot-on, despite a huge amount of hop material. My hop timings were a little off though, because I wasn’t paying enough attention. My 10-minute addition went in a couple of minutes late, so I set the clock back to 10 minutes. This will theoretically alter the amount of IBUs I got from my 60-minute addition. But I also put my 1-minute addition in a little late, so maybe it will all balance out. I did some sieving this time to remove those pesky hop seeds which plagued my siphoning of my American brown ale a few weeks ago.

03/06/2013 – Dry-hopped with 15g of Simcoe and 15g of Amarillo using a muslin bag weighed down with about 30g of glass marbles.

09/06/2013 – Bottled with 130g of glucose. Got 33 x 500ml bottles out of the batch. No problems.

26/06/2013 – This is definitely due for it’s first sampling. I might open a bottle at the weekend. At room temperature, it is absolutely sparkling in the bottle.

28/06/2013 – First taste and it’s pretty rubbish. There’s a sharpness there I’m not happy with. There’s also a slightly Belgian quality that I’m tasting. Could it be an infection or just an immature beer? I bottled the “Pie-O-My” last night which was fermented with the yeast slurry from this beer and that I suspected that had a rather sharp flavour to it, not to mention visual evidence of an infection. There was a few flecks of white film on top, but I’m not sure whether this was just from yeast or dry hops. Rather worrying.

29/06/2013 – Curiosity got the better of me on this and I cracked open another one, just to check if it was my tastebuds that were off yesterday. Happily, it seems that my tastebuds were off after having a big glass of Double IPA. This beer isn’t half bad after all, and I can’t pick up any trace of infection. At least in the bottle I opened today. It’s not got the mouthfeel I was was hoping for, even though it’s not bad. Maybe I need more crystal? The torrified wheat doesn’t seem to have done much in terms of the head retention; I’m not sure if I’ll be using this grain again as it was pretty ineffectual in the last beer I used it in too. There’s a great fruity, citrus flavour to it and a nice aroma. It should taste better after aging for another week or two.

02/07/2013 – Had a nicely chilled bottle of this. It’s nearly a month in the bottle but it’s got a slight off flavour which reminds me of immature beer. But it could also be an off flavour due to high fermentation temperature. A little estery possibly.

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