Sunday, February 19, 2012

Batch #8 - American Pale Ale (REVISITED), (Extract, Full-Boil, Non-kit)

Custom caps from
For batch #8 I'm going to quit "playing the field" so-to-speak and really try to perfect my extract American Pale Ale recipe before moving on.  While the original APA batch (#6) was probably the best so far it's still not what I would consider stellar.  I've learned a lot from the previous 7 batches but I think the best way to really pinpoint was it working (or not) is to keep the variables to a minimum and really laser focus on one recipe.

My American Pale Ale should be a pretty easy recipe to pull off as it is fairly basic and the alcohol levels should not overwhelm the yeast before it does its job.  Following are some lessons I learned the first time I tried this recipe that I will incorporate into this batch:
  • Start with a pre-boil water level of 5.7 gallons (not 5.5 as before) as prescribed by BeerSmith.  Side note: Full-boils make a big difference in taste.
  • STRAIN this batch!  I didn't do this with the last batch and the amount of trub bothered me.
  • Consider using a blow-off tube so the airlock doesn't go dry.
  • Use the hydrometer and keep your results for reference.
  • Aerate well.  See HERE for instructions.  Going to employ a wort aeration system for this batch.
  • Pay close attention to fermentation temperatures - keep them constant.  Shoot for 67-68 degrees.
  • This style probably does not require a yeast starter as the specifications on the Wyeast site indicate it can handle a full batch based on my style stats.  Follow these instructions carefully IF you do not use a yeast starter.
  • Don't be so anxious to transfer to secondary.  Let the yeast do it's job.  Use a hydrometer to assess when/if it is time to go to secondary.
  • 6 lbs. Light Dry Malt Extract (DME) - Munton's Light
  • .5 lbs. 2-Row
  • .5 lbs. Munich
  • .25 lbs. Pale Malt 20L
  • .25 lbs. Pale Malt 40L
  • .5 lbs. Carapils
  • 1 oz. Centennial Hops for bittering (60 mins.)
  • .5 oz. Cascade Hops for bittering (40 mins.)
  • .5 oz. Cascade Hops for flavor (30 mins.)
  • .5 oz Cascade Hops for aroma (20 mins.)
  • 1.5 oz. Cascade Hops for aroma (dry hop)
  • 1 Whirlfloc tablet (an Irish Moss product) during last 15 minutes of boil.
  • Yeast - American Ale from Wyeast #1056
  • 5 oz. Corn Sugar (Dextrose) for priming (bottle conditioning)
  • 6 gallons of drinking water
  • 20 lb. bag of ice for chilling the wort
  1. Bring 5.7 gallons of water up to a temperature of approximately 158 degrees.
  2. Pour all of the crushed grain into a grain sock and submerge in water for 20 minutes to steep. Maintain a temperature between 150-165 degrees for steeping.  Be careful not to let temperature rise to 170 or above to prevent off flavors from being introduced.
  3. Remove grain sock and allow excess water to drip back into pot.  (Do not squeeze.)
  4. Bring wort to a gentle rolling boil, remove from heat and add all of the Light Dry Malt Extract and stir vigorously to dissolve.  Return to heat and resume boil.
  5. Add hops according to boil schedule above.
  6. Add 1 Whirlfloc tablet (an Irish Moss product) during last 15 minutes of boil.
  7. Chill wort to 70 degrees or less and transfer to primary fermentation (strain).
  8. Take OG reading with hydrometer - target is 1.056.
  9. Optional - add clean (boiled) water to get OG to target range.
  10. Pitch yeast.  Follow these instructions:
    1. To Activate, locate and move inner packet to a corner. Place this area in palm of one hand and firmly smack the package with the other hand to break the inner nutrient packet. Confirm the inner packet is broken.
    2. Shake the package well to release the nutrients.
    3. Allow the package to incubate and swell for 3 hours or more (it is not necessary for this package to fully swell before use) at 70-75°F (21-24°C).   
    4. Use sanitizing solution to sanitize the package before opening.
    5. Shake well, open and pour the Activator™ into 5 gallons of well aerated or oxygenated wort up to 1.060 OG at 65-72°F (18-22°C). Maintain temperature until fermentation is evident by CO2 bubble formation, bubbling airlock or foaming on top of wort. For high gravity or low temperature fermentations additional yeast may be required.
    6. Adjust to desired fermentation temperature.
  11. Ferment in primary for 4-7 days or LONGER.  Use your hydrometer to determine when it is ready to move.  Don't rely on airlock activity.
  12. Take second specific gravity reading.
  13. Move to secondary fermentation when ready for an additional 10 days or more.
  14. Take final specific gravity reading to ensure fermentation has ceased.
  15. Prepare priming sugar by boiling 2 cups of water and adding 5 oz. of priming sugar.   Be careful not to scorch.  Boil for 3-5 minutes and add to bottling bucket.  Stir for 1 minute.
  16. Transfer wort to bottling bucket and bottle.
  17. Bottle condition for approximately 30 days.
Notes, Results and Lessons Learned:
  • Brew Day - March 25, 2012
  • Transfer to secondary fermentation - April 15, 2012 (dry hopped) - 3 weeks in Primary.
  • Bottling Day - April 25, 2012 - 10 days in Secondary.
  • Fermentation temperature (range) - Remained constant at 66 degrees.
  • Estimated Original Gravity after boil - 1.057
    • Actual Original Gravity - 1.080
  • Estimated Final Gravity - 1.012
    • Actual Final Gravity - 1.020
  • Estimated ABV - 5.9%
    • Actual ABV - 7.9%
  • What was done differently for this batch compared to the last one of the same style?
    • Employed a wort aeration system to try and ensure a full fermentation.
    • Hops schedule changed.
    • Deleted amber malt and used a 2 lb. grain bill suggested by my local home brew supply store.
    • OG was much higher than planned.  Forgot to add additional water.  I think there was more boil-off than I anticipated.
    • Tasted the wort when it was transferred to Secondary and it was surprisingly good.
The Verdict:
I cracked open a bottle on May 9th which meant 14 days in the bottle.  Carbonation was fine.  As for taste, like many of the previous batches, it was certainly not bad but still not where I want it to be.  It has a sweetness to it that I attribute to an incomplete fermentation.  The final gravity was much higher that it was supposed to be.  I will go through this batch and enjoy it for what it is but I am on a quest to produce that batch of homebrew that makes me say, "Finally, this is IT!".
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