AG#50 – Gale Force Cream Ale

This is my first cream ale. The name is slightly confusing – it’s actually the ale equivalent of an American adjunct lager. Crisp, pale and highly carbonated like a light lager, but a slight fruitiness contributed by the ale yeast. The secret to a good cream ale is a cool fermentation temperature which suppresses the ester formation of the ale yeast and contributes to the lager-like character. A common approach to fermentation is to use a clean Californian ale yeast, but there are also some multi-strain yeast products such as WLP080 which ferment at ale temperatures but give lager like characteristics.

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: 7.1 EBC
Estimated IBU: 19.1 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 59.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 71.1 %
Boil Time: 90 Minutes

Ingredients

4.000 kg Pilsner (2 Row) Bel (3.9 EBC) Grain 1 78.4 %
0.450 kg Maize, Flaked (Thomas Fawcett) (3.9 EBC) Grain 2 8.8 %
0.300 kg Wheat Malt, Bel (3.9 EBC) Grain 3 5.9 %
0.100 kg Cara-Pils/Dextrine (3.9 EBC) Grain 4 2.0 %
0.250 kg Corn Sugar (Dextrose) (0.0 EBC) Sugar 5 4.9 %
19 g East Kent Goldings [6.50 %] – Boil 60.0 Hop 6 18.0 IBUs
0.50 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 10.0 mins) Fining 7 –
15 g Saaz [3.00 %] – Boil 1.0 min Hop 8 1.1 IBUs
1.0 pkg California Ale (White Labs #WLP001) [35. Yeast 9 –
Mash Schedule: Bubbles’ Single Infusion, Light Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 5.100 kg
Mash In Add 13.58 l of water at 71.2 C 65.0 C 60 min

Sparge: Batch sparge with 2 steps (Drain mash tun , 19.68l) of 77.0 C water

29/11/2015 – I hit my intended gravity which was a relief. This wort is definitely the palest wort I’ve ever produced. I couldn’t believe how pale it was in the trial jar. If I can get a good clean fermentation, this could be very good.

30/11/2015 – Keeping the fermenter pretty cold in the hope of reducing the amount of esters that the yeast creates. I want to keep the fermentation as clean as possible.

04/12/2015 – Moved the fermentation into the kitchen as there was very lottle activity going on.

08/12/2015 – It looked the fermentation had reached maximum activity, with the kreusen dropping by 50%, but now it’s kicked up a gear, with the kreusen hitting its previous high mark again. This WLP001 is a weird yeast strain.

24/12/2015 – Racked to secondary and saved the yeast. I probably could have waited for a few days to bottle and harvested the yeast then, but I wanted to encourage the maximum amount of yeast to drop out. The pale colour of the beer is amazing. Flavour is extremely promising also.

28/12/2015 – Primed with 125g of corn sugar (17 litres at 2.7 vol). Got 8 x 750ml and 22 x 500ml bottles from the batch.

17/01/2016 – I had a bottle of this last week and wasn’t too pleased with the flavour. I thought it tasted bitter and astringent, probably a little yeasty. But it seems to be getting better. It’s amazing how the simple grain allows the pilsner malt character to shine. It’s a wonderful biscuity, malty sweet flavour that reminds me of a full-flavoured lager. The head formation is a little disappointing though, which surprises me given the addition of both wheat malt and CaraPils. It’s also quite hazy, which I wasn’t expecting. Myabe it just needs more conditioning time.

22/01/2016 – Absolutely crap head retention, but I can’t figure out why!

25/01/2016 – Head was slightly better on this bottle. Flavour is very nice. Bags of pilsner malt character and lager characteristics. Plenty of body, perhaps too much? Clarity is pretty good. Would brew this again.

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