Archive for June, 2013

PM#15 – “Pie-O-My” Amber Ale


There’s always a new recipe to try. A new hop or yeast strain to experiment with. For that reason, I don’t do a lot of “re-brews” – tweaking recipes of previously brewed batches. It’s definitely something I want to address because I think tweaking recipes will really improve my skills as a home brewer.

I have a big glut of American hops at the moment so I was thinking of a strong, heavily-hopped American IPA or pale ale. But I’ve had really good results with my pale ales lately and there’s one style of beer which I still haven’t managed to reproduce – the American amber. I’ve done two example in the past, “The Hopinator” and “Pie-O-My“. Both beers were lacking the smooth mouthfeel and luscious caramel flavours that are prevalent in my favourite examples of the style. They were also too bitter, so I’m going to be watching my IBUs very carefully this time.

I’ll be re-brewing the “Pie-O-My” recipe, but using elements of the first amber recipe I did, such as the Munich and wheat malts. I also want to get some elements of the “Big Dawg Imperial Amber” like the satisfying mouthfeel, but without the high ABV. I’ll be increasing the crystal malts by a considerable amount to get that caramel flavour and residual sweetness. For hopping, I’ll be scaling back the hops to 35 IBU and starting the chiller at flameout instead of leaving the flameout additions to stand for 15 mins before chilling. I suspect that I was getting a lot of extra bitterness from this technique and it’s too unreliable for a moderate gravity/bitterness beer. For flavour and aroma, I’ll use the same amount of Amarillo, but I might sub the Centennial for Simcoe, as I have plenty of Simcoe and I want to use it while it’s fresh. Simcoe and Amarillo are supposed to be an excellent combination.

I’ll be rolling over the US-05 yeast cake from the Monkey Feet Pale Ale so a quick and clean fermentation will be assured. Then, I’ll probably re-use the yeast from this beer to re-brew the medal-winning Big Dawg Imperial Amber.


Boil Size: 16.00 l
Post Boil Volume: 14.11 l
Batch Size (fermenter): 19.00 l
Bottling Volume: 19.00 l
Estimated OG: 1.051 SG
Estimated Color: 15.2 SRM
Estimated IBU: 35.3 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 65.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 65.0 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes


1.300 kg Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.0 SRM), 32.5 %
0.500 kg Munich Malt (9.0 SRM), 12.5 %
0.400 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt – 40L (40.0 SRM), 10.0 %
0.400 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt – 75L (75.0 SRM), 10.0 %
0.200 kg Biscuit Malt (23.0 SRM), 5.0 %
0.200 kg Wheat Malt, Bel (2.0 SRM), 5.0 %
6 g Simcoe [13.20 %] – Boil 30.0 min, 6.1 IBUs
1.000 kg Light Dry Extract [Boil for 20 min](8.0  Dry Extract), 25.0 %
0.50 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 15.0 mins)
25 g Simcoe [13.20 %] – Boil 15.0 min, 13.2 IBUs
20 g Amarillo [11.20 %] – Boil 10.0 min, 6.7 IBUs
25 g Simcoe [13.20 %] – Boil 5.0 min, 8.2 IBUs
25 g Cascade [7.50 %] – Boil 0.0 min, 0.0 IBUs
1.0 pkg Safale American  (DCL/Fermentis #US-05)
30 g Simcoe [13.20 %] – Dry Hop 7.0 Days, 0.0 IBUs

Mash & Brew Day 15/06/2013 – Target OG was spot-on at 1.051. I was a bit worried about my efficiency with all that specialty malt. Would it affect my normal 65% efficiency? Sample from the trial jar is already telling me that the colour is lighter than expected. I also don’t get the dark crystal quality I was after. I might have to replace the C75 with C100, or at least a portion of it. There’s a lot of sweetness in the sample obviously and a worry lack of bitterness, but I’m sure most of the sweetness will ferment out as always and leave the bitterness more obvious.

17/06/2013 – Looks like I’ve had a really fast fermentation! Most of the kreusen has already dropped. Will leave to settle for at least another week and I’ll get it in the bottle.

21/06/2013 – Dry-hopped with 30g of freshly-opened Simcoe. Will bottle in the next 5-7 days.

27/06/2013 – Bottled with 125g of glucose and got 32 bottles from the batch. I got a bit of a shock when I saw something unusual floating on top of my fermented beer. It looked different from yeast, almost waxy or flaky. I had to stop and consider what to do when I took a sample for tasting – I got a pretty sharp flavour and I immediately thought ‘acetobacter’. It has been pretty warm for the last couple of weeks so I wasn’t that surprised. There was no vinegar smell, just a great smell of fruity hops. After leaving the sample to stand for a while I went back and had two separate tastes and didn’t get the ‘off’ flavour. Funnily enough, I got a slight vinegar flavour from initial samples of the last American amber I did also. I think I’m now reasonably confident that there’s no infection there, but I’ll give it a month in the bottles before checking. I was planning on saving the yeast slurry but didn’t think it was worth the risk, so I chucked it. I can tell already that the flavour is not where I want it – I think I’ll need more darker crystal malt in there.

26/08/2013 – I’ve had quite a few bottles of this now, and it’s not bad. I’m pleased to report that there doesn’t seem to be an infection there. Though at times, I wonder if I do pick up a slight astringency. The body is too light – it needs lots more residual sweetness and dark crystal malt malt character. My next attempt at this is going to have nearly 25% crystal malt! The hop character is good – very, very fruity. So fruity in fact, that sometimes I wonder if there isn’t a little Belgian yeast character in there. Hop fruit flavours, or a hot fermentation? In any case, I’ve decided that the combination of Amarillo and Simcoe is not doing it for me. I’m going to give these hops a wide berth for the next couple of brews and see if I have better luck.

30/08/2013 – I got some really overwhelmingly positive comments on this at a meet last night. When I suggested a few ways in which I intended to improve the beer (more crystal, more hops), I was told “don’t change a thing”. Nice comments to get, but I’m not happy with either the grain bill or the hop bill. Next time I’m thinking 450g C15, 450g C40 and 200g C100. I’m unsure about the C100 addition, whether 200g might be too much, but I’ll research it in the meantime. The hop bill needs something more pungent in there, to balance all that fruit from the Simcoe and Amarillo. I’m thinking of big charges of Columbus, Amarillo and Nelson Sauvin in the kettle and then chuck the kitchen sink at it in terms of dry hops.

TC#2 – Turbo Cider


09/06/2013 – This is my second attempt at a turbo cider made from Lidl apple juice. Used Lalvin EC-118 Champagne yeast.

10/08/2013 – Alas, I had to chuck this. It was pretty stupid (and lazy) of me to leave this so long in the fermenter, sitting on not only all that yeast, but the raisins aswell. And especially during one of the hottest summers in recent years. It wasted pretty yeast-bitten and I didn’t want to waste time bottling or tie up and of my bottles aging this for an extended period. Lesson learned.

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