AG#5 – “Pie-O-My” Amber Ale

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This is my fourth attempt at my American amber ale, “Pie-O-My”. I don’t think I’ve done any beer style before that has always fallen so far of the mark. My previous attempts have always tasted closer to a pale ale at the amber end of the spectrum, rather than a fully-fledged, caramelly amber ale. Though I’m not really one for doing clone recipes, I suppose what I’ve been shooting for is something like Brewdog’s “5am Saint”. It was one of the first American-style ales I tasted and more than any other beer is probably the one that got me started with craft beer and home brewing.

This recipe attempt has some dark caramel malts (just 125g of crystal 100) in addition to the last grain bill I used. I’ve also used some more wheat malt this time. Plus, this attempt will be fully all-grain.

I’ll be hopping things up fairly aggressively – using a lot of Amarillo, Columbus & Nelson Sauvin. They’re expensive hop varieties, but I want to emulate that 5am Saint taste. I’ll also be doing two separate dry-hops, using Cascade, Centennial, Nelson Sauvin and Simcoe.

Recipe

Boil Size: 25.88 l
Post Boil Volume: 22.88 l
Batch Size (fermenter): 19.00 l
Bottling Volume: 17.00 l
Estimated OG: 1.057 SG
Estimated Color: 15.3 SRM
Estimated IBU: 33.5 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 60.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 69.5 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Ingredients

3.950 kg Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.0 SRM), 68.4 %
0.500 kg Munich Malt (9.0 SRM), 8.7 %
0.400 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt – 40L (40.0 SRM), 6.9 %
0.400 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt – 75L (75.0 SRM), 6.9 %
0.250 kg Wheat Malt, Bel (2.0 SRM), 4.3 %
0.150 kg Biscuit Malt (23.0 SRM), 2.6 %
0.125 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt -100L (100.0 SRM),  2.2 %
0.50 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 15.0 mins)
20 g Amarillo [7.80 %] – Boil 10.0 min, 4.7 IBUs
20 g Nelson Sauvin [12.30 %] – Boil 10.0 min, 6.7 IBUs
10 g Columbus [15.90 %] – Boil 10.0 min, 4.8 IBUs
20 g Amarillo [7.80 %] – Boil 5.0 min, 3.9 IBUs
20 g Columbus [15.90 %] – Boil 5.0 min, 7.9 IBUs
20 g Nelson Sauvin [12.30 %] – Boil 5.0 min, 5.6 IBUs
20 g Amarillo [7.80 %] – Boil 0.0 min, 0.0 IBUs
20 g Amarillo [7.80 %] – Boil 0.0 min, 0.0 IBUs
20 g Columbus [15.90 %] – Boil 0.0 min, 0.0 IBUs
20 g Columbus [15.90 %] – Boil 0.0 min, 0.0 IBUs
20 g Nelson Sauvin [12.30 %] – Boil 0.0 min, 0.0 IBUs
20 g Nelson Sauvin [12.30 %] – Boil 0.0 min, 0.0 IBUs
1.0 pkg Safale US-05 (400ml of slurry from November Irish Red Ale)
20 g Cascade [6.90 %] – Dry Hop 7.0 Days, 0.0 IBUs
20 g Centennial [10.00 %] – Dry Hop 7.0 Days, 0.0 IBUs
25 g Nelson Sauvin [12.30 %] – Dry Hop 5.0 Days, 0.0 IBUs
50 g Simcoe [13.20 %] – Dry Hop 5.0 Days, 0.0 IBUs

Mash Schedule: Bubbles’ Single Infusion, Full Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 5.775 kg
Mash In           Add 16.17 l of water at 74.6 C          68.0 C        60 min

Sparge: Batch sparge with 2 steps (Drain mash tun, , 15.99l) of 77.0 C water

16/12/2013 Brew Day – Largely uneventful brew day but I came in 3 points under-gravity again. I think the boil-off volume is not as high as was configured in my BeerSmith, so I’ll have to reduce that slightly and see if it makes a difference. The mash water was 78.7°C after transfer to mash tun so I had to cool that down by lifting jugs of the water out of the MT and pouring it back in. Took a few minutes, but I settled on a strike temperature of 74.5°C. After doughing in, the mash temperature was at 67°C, a degree lower than I was shooting for. I screwed up my sparge water temperature yet again! The water measured 92°C in the boiler and I put the lid on a left a few mins while I got my first runnings. When I transferred the water for batch sparging, the temperature of the grain bed was only at 73.5°C, not the 77°C I wanted.

The Nelson Sauvin hops smelled amazing and are very reminiscent of BrewDog beers. It was great fun weighing out those huge hop additions. I allowed 60g of the three hop varieties to stand for nearly 10 minutes before starting the chiller and then added another 60g once the temperature of the cooling wort had hit 80°C. My new dial thermometer, which had been in the boil all along, came in really handy for this.

I had some serious difficulties draining the boiler with all that hop pellet material. The wort was barely trickling out and had completely blocked up the bazooka screen when it got to the 10 litre mark. I was forced to scrape the bazooka screen with a paddle to keep the wort flowing out of the boiler. In the end I got 19l of horrible murky wort with far too much break material in it. I hope it won’t have an effect on the flavour. It was a good job I’d decided to run the wort off into a sieve as it was full of crud.

I brought the bucket straight to the fermentation room as it’s colder in there and I want the American ale yeast to be very clean on this beer. Big fermentation going on this morning when I checked. The smell from the fermenter is great. Will leave two weeks before dry-hopping. I might even do a transfer to secondary this time so that I can re-use the yeast in an IPA.

22/12/2013 – Kreusen has dropped completely though there’s still a bit of bubbling going. Dry-hopped with 20g of Cascade and 20g of Centennial. The hops didn’t smell particularly aromatic but I used them anyway. I’ll dry-hop for about 5 days before removing the hop bag and replacing with a fresh dry-hop.

27/12/2013 – I need the yeast from this batch for a pale ale/IPA that I’m planning on doing in a couple days. I racked to a secondary fermenter (it’s been ages, years, since I employed a secondary) and I did a fresh dry hop of 25g Nelson Sauvin and and 50g of Simcoe. That brings this batch of beer up to 345g of hops! I hope it’s worth it. I’ll leave the beer for another 5 days before bottling.

28/12/2013 – I had a taste yesterday from the trial jar. While it was very promising, it had a very sharp, harsh, resiny bitterness that had me worried for a moment. I’ve figured it’s just the dry-hop and those flavours will settle out as the beer conditions.

01/01/2014 – Bottled with 125g of dextrose (17l at 2.7 vol). Even at this early stage, the taste of the beer is absolutely amazing. Huge fruity hops. The colour and malt profile are absolutely spot-on. Very like 5am Saint. It’s a bit resiny, but you’d expect that after just pulling a huge sack of hops out of it. Got 10 x 750ml bottles and 17 x 500ml bottles (gold cap).

18/01/2014 – Not very long in the bottle, but I fancied something hoppy and couldn’t resist opening a bottle. Really good. Certainly as close to 5am as I’ve ever been. From memory, the grain character is spot-on and the hops even more so. Though I think the original is fruitier and mine is more dank. This is probably down the Columbus hops I used, which 5am does not have. The grassiness will age out though, and this should taste amazing in a few weeks time. Might row back just slightly on the C100 next time. Very promising. The dry-hop character is absolutely perfect.

22/02/2014 – Not too sure how close it is. I’ve got a cold at the moment, and my smellers and tasters are a little out of whack. That didn’t stop me trying to do a side-by-side tasting with 5am Saint. The first thing that strikes you is how clear the 5am is compared to the homebrewed version. The aroma in the 5am is not as dank as my version either. The same goes for the flavour, more fruitiness in the 5am Saint, and a lot less of that grassy character. Don’t get me wrong the home brew is still pretty damn good, but it still doesn’t compare to the homebrewed version. One thing that struck me about the commercial beer was the clean, grainy flavour in it. I’ve tasted this grain character in Galway Hooker before, and that uses an English C60 malt. I think I’ll replace the C75 with the C60 (not a huge difference in colour, I know, but it’s likely to be from a different maltster). I’ll also have to omit the Columbus hops this time, as they are surely contributing to the dank, grassy character in the “Pie-O-My”.

07/03/2014 – Colour-wise, there’s not much in it, with the homebrew half a shade darker. The 5am is a little bit more red in colour and unlike the homebrew which is a good deal murkier. Great head formation in both. With the Pie O My there’s a bit of dankness, cattiness even, creeping through on the aroma. The flavour whos huge differences between the beers, with the 5am being fruitier. The Pie has a lot more body and sweetness, but you’d expect that as there’s 0.8% more alcohol in the home brew. More fruit flavours in the 5am. It’s funny, I have fond memories of the way 5am Saint used to be and if you gave me both beers in a blind tasting, I might even say that the home brew was in fact, 5am Saint. In my memory, 5am is more caramelly and hoppy than it currently is. I do think the recipe has changed considerably over the last few years.

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