AG#22 – Little Dawg Amber Ale

American amber ale has always been one of my favourite styles of beer, with Brewdog’s 5am Saint, one of the first hoppy craft beers I tried and my favourite for a long time. I tried to make several clones of this beer and had a reasonable level of success with my “Pie-O-My” ale. I also made a very decent version using a kit hack. As good as the attempts were, they were never quite good enough. So for this amber ale, I’m changing my approach and doing a scaled down version of my Big Dawg recipe, one of the best beers I’ve ever done. It has plenty of crystal malt for body and flavour, an insane amount of Cascade and Summit hops, and just a touch of dark crystal and chocolate malts to enhance the colour and the flavour of the beer. I know the balance of malts is excellent and provides a great malty base to layer hop flavours on.

Recipe Specifications

Boil Size: 25.38 l
Post Boil Volume: 22.88 l
Batch Size (fermenter): 19.00 l
Bottling Volume: 17.00 l
Estimated OG: 1.052 SG
Estimated Color: 25.8 EBC
Estimated IBU: 39.7 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 60.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 69.5 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Ingredients

4.300 kg Pale Malt, Maris Otter (5.9 EBC), 81.1 %
0.400 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt – 40L (78.8 EBC), 7.5 %
0.200 kg Biscuit Malt (45.3 EBC), 3.8 %
0.150 kg Cara-Pils/Dextrine (3.9 EBC), 2.8 %
0.150 kg Wheat Malt, Ger (3.9 EBC), 2.8 %
0.050 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt -120L (236.4 EBC), 0.9 %
0.050 kg Chocolate Malt (886.5 EBC), 0.9 %
7 g Summit [17.00 %] – Boil 60.0 min, 17.8 IBUs
0.50 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 10.0 mins)
50 g Cascade [6.80 %] – Boil 10.0 min, 9.2 IBUs
25 g Summit [17.00 %] – Boil 10.0 min, 12.7 IBUs
50 g Cascade [6.80 %] – Boil 0.0 min, 0.0 IBUs
50 g Citra [15.00 %] – Boil 0.0 min, 0.0 IBUs
30 g Summit [17.00 %] – Boil 0.0 min, 0.0 IBUs
1.0 pkg Safale American  (DCL/Fermentis #US-05)
40g Citra [15.00 %] – Dry Hop 5.0 Days

Mash Schedule: Bubbles’ Single Infusion, Full Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 5.300 kg
Mash In           Add 14.84 l of water at 74.6 C          68.0 C        60 min

Sparge: Batch sparge with 2 steps (Drain mash tun , 16.35l) of 77.0 C water

Brew Day 16/11/2014 – An uneventful brew day, but started a lot later in the day than usual. I do prefer kicking these things off as early in the day as possible. The wort was a lovely colour, sort of copper/mahogany. Wort was very clear also. The only problem was the huge amount of hop material in the boiler. I had bought new hop bags which have a really fine mesh, thinking they were going to hold all of the hop pellet material. I was using all pellet hops today. But they didn’t hold much more than the regular muslin bags! I did notice that when I opened the Citra hops that they went to mush straight away. But I’ve frozen pellet hops before and they remained intact when thawed. Naturally, I got a shitload of hop and break material in the fermenter. I also got a lower volume, which seems to be happening more and more. I think its because I’m boiling with two elements more often now and getting more evaporation, but I’m getting reasonably accurate OG readings. My post-boil volume is a little less than it should be. This all points to problems with my efficiency and a need to increase my evaporation rate in BeerSmith. Pitched yeast about 7pm.

17/11/2014 – Early signs of fermentation in the bucket, despite the cold temperature in the room. Wort smells amazingly hoppy.

24/11/2014 – Fermentation almost finished, but will leave another week until the yeast fully drops before racking and dry-hopping with some Cascade.

30/11/2014 – Racked to secondary fermenter and dry-hopped with 40g of Citra pellets. I’d planned on using Cascade, more in line with the original Big Dawg recipe, but I had the open bag of Citra, and I thought it would be nice to ring the changes, given that I’ll be doing a batch of Big Dawg before the end of the week anyway. The beer was really clear for such a heavy hopping rate. I did something slightly different with the hop bag this time given that I was alarmed by how fine the hop particles in the Citra when i used them in the boiler. I boiled the hop bag as normal, then sanitised in star san and weighted the bag with marbles. I then secured the bag with a sanitised bag clip. I saved two flasks of yeast slurry, but it looked pretty grim, with lots of green hop material.

05/12/2014 – Bottled 3 x 500ml bottles and kegged the rest. There was only about 16 litres of beer in total, because I got slightly less than volume than usual. Great aroma and colour. Can’t wait to get this carbed and ready for drinking, hopefully just in time for Christmas. I haven’t done a really hoppy beer in months.

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