AG#23 – Thirsty Dog Blonde Ale


A blonde ale has been on the to-do list for a long, long time. I really wanted to do this before the summer and have it as a “lawnmower beer”, but I want something different for the lager drinkers at Christmas time. I also need to grow up yeast for my Yo-leven brew in a few weeks time, so something neutral like a blonde ale seemed like a good choice.

For this brew, I’m going to use a portion of pilsner malt to augment the English pale malt. As this will not be a hoppy beer, or have significant flavour contributions from dark malts, I need to pack as much flavour into it as possibly by using some toasted malts. I’ve settled on Vienna and Biscuit malts for this purpose. I’m not including any crystal malts, in order to make the beer as crisp and lager-like as possible. I’ll also include some head grains (a 50:50 mix of wheat and CaraPils, which has worked for me in the past). I’ll probably keg this beer and lager it in the cold shed for a few weeks. I’ll also use plenty of carbonation to get that lager-like character. I’m tempted to include some citrussy American hops, as I just love those flavours, but as I’m trying to stick within BJCP guidelines, I’ll leave these out and just go with some noble varieties: Hersbrucker, Saaz and East Kent Goldings.

Recipe Specifications

Boil Size: 27.90 l
Post Boil Volume: 23.40 l
Batch Size (fermenter): 19.00 l
Bottling Volume: 17.00 l
Estimated OG: 1.050 SG
Estimated Color: 9.1 EBC
Estimated IBU: 20.8 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 60.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 71.1 %
Boil Time: 90 Minutes


2.700 kg Pale Malt, Maris Otter (5.9 EBC), 52.9 %
1.500 kg Pilsner (2 Row) UK (2.0 EBC), 29.4 %
0.400 kg Vienna Malt (6.9 EBC), 7.8 %
0.200 kg Cara-Pils/Dextrine (3.9 EBC), 3.9 %
0.200 kg Wheat Malt, Ger (3.9 EBC), 3.9 %
0.100 kg, Biscuit Malt (45.3 EBC), 2.0 %
35 g Hallertauer Hersbrucker [3.80 %], Boil 60.0 min, 19.4 IBUs
0.50 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 10.0 mins)
15 g Saaz [2.30 %] – Boil 15.0 min, 1.3 IBUs
15 g East Kent Goldings [6.50 %] – Boil 0.0 m, 0.0 IBUs
1.0 pkg Safale American  (DCL/Fermentis #US-05)

Mash Schedule: Bubbles’ Single Infusion, Full Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 5.100 kg
Mash In           Add 14.28 l of water at 74.6 C          68.0 C        60 min

Sparge: Batch sparge with 2 steps (Drain mash tun , 19.23l) of 77.0 C water

Brew Day 10/11/2014 – Beautifully clear wort. The small hop bill also meant that I got a great run off from the boiler and very little break material into the fermenter.

11/12/2014 – Primed with 150g glucose. Got 12 x 750ml and 13 x 500ml bottles from the batch. I fermented this pretty cool, so I’m expecting (hoping!) for something very lager-like. I’m a bit concerned though – I didn’t calculate the priming sugar amount, just guessed really. And I’ve got slightly less volume than usual coupled with the fact that the beer would have been quite cold when bottled, hence would have had a bit of dissolved CO2. It’ll probably be fine, but I might end up with carbonation that is a bit livelier than intended. The beer smelled fantastic, really toasty and biscuity. Exactly what I wanted in the aroma profile. Lovely flavour too, so looking forward to seeing what some cold conditioning for a month does for the beer.

01/01/2015 – First taste and I’m pretty happy with it. Nice biscuity, bready flavours. Honey like flavour and aroma. Satisfying noble hop flavour, though nicely subtle. Next time I think I will reduce the gravity by a few points to make it more refreshing and lighter bodied. Lovely mousse-like head which lasts all down the glass. Should improve even more with extended cold conditioning.

02/01/2015 – This is turning out to be one of those beers that I open too early, realise it tastes great, and hammer them down before they’ve really had a chance to age properly. You can definitely taste the alcohol, and it’s more full-bodied than I was expecting. I think I could easily reduce the gravity and still keep lots of flavour in the beer.

11/01/2015 – Because I gave most of this batch away, I just drank the last bottle of it this evening. Great recipe, I’ll definitely do it again. I might also try it with a lager yeast. I was also thinking that it would make a great starting point for an Irish Red – it’s got more biscuit and toast going on than the malty Buckshot Flag recipe.

26/02/2015 – For my next attempt at this beer, I’d like to simply the grain bill in an effort to see if the intense toasty flavours I got were from the Vienna malt, or the small percentage of biscuit malt. I’m also going to reduce the gravity by a few points as I’d like this to be more sessionable, my stock “lawnmower” beer. Maybe even a little bit of Amarillo or Ahtanum in the hopping to get a hint of citrus flavour in there. I think this recipe would form the basis of a very nice American Pale Ale if I just increased the hopping.

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