Thursday, May 10, 2012

American Special Bitter

Brew day 3/31/12

Kelly and I headed up to my Pop's for the weekend to see my brother who was visiting with his girlfriend Emily. I love it when he comes home. I brought my brewing equipment 'cuz I figured it would be nice way to spend our mellow Saturday morning.

For the brew day, I had a recipe planned that I was going to do as a split batch of APA and BPA (same beer with White Labs London Ale yeast for one half and Belgian Ale for the other). It was  great idea, and the recipe probably would have worked out beautifully for both iterations. But I ended up packing different hops than I thought, and decided that having 2 x 2.5 gal batches was going to be too much of a pain in the ass to deal with on the limited equipment that I brought, so I switched the hopping schedule and just went with the London Ale yeast.

It ended up being a super smooth brew day, and the resulting beer is so good I'm really stoked that I opted for a full 5 gal of it.

American Special Bitter-(Best Bitter/ APA)- So what is it? A Special/ Best Bitter? A Bitter? An American Pale Ale? I think if I entered it in a comp I'd go with Special Bitter, but the hops are so bold and american I'm not sure if it would qualify. I went with a pretty sessionable 1.048OG (I was shooting for 4.8%ABV, but I guess I mashed too low and got slightly better than expected attenuation. Next time I'll probably do this with the Fuller's strain). For malt character I went for a super simple bill of Base, Crystal 60, and some toasted Victory malt for nice depth and breadyness. The London yeast was meant to be pretty full flavored to flesh out the simple malt bill and low gravity, while still being clean and dry. For hops, I set out to use a combo of Willamette, Palisade, and Cascade for a nice blend of earthy, floral, apricot, and mildly spicy notes that I still think would go perfectly with both London and Belgian yeasts (next time, I guess). But, the bag I grabbed didn't have any of my Palisade or Cascade packets in it, so I changed directions and used equal parts Chinook and Simcoe on brew day with Centennial for dry hopping. I couldn't wait to use this combo in my next IPA, so I figured I'd just go for it. I really love the combo of pine, wood, citrus, and harsh bitterness that Chinook and Simcoe bring to Ranger, but thought that I could improve on it a bit by adding a "fresher" dimension with Centennial and making all of the hop additions 15min or less (to minimize the harsh bittering properties of the Chinook hops). I was right, they came out as a great combo of orange juice and fresh pine trees. Mellow, crisp, bready, and refreshing.

The Recipe (for 5 gal):

9 lbs 2-Row Pale Malt- 82%
1 lb Victory Malt- 9%
1 lb Crystal 40- 9%

1oz each Chinook and Simcoe for 15min boil
1 oz each Chinook and Simcoe at F/O
2oz Centennial DH12 days.

2 viles WLP013 "London Ale" yeast
1 Tbsp gypsum to strike water

Single infusion @ 152F for 1 hr *I didn't use a mash out, and left the sweet wort to sit for 4 hours before boiling it because of a lunch date with my Mom. I think this may have added to the ferment ability of the work. I'll  def. go for 155F next time I do an all barley malt beer this low gravity for some extra body.*
OG: 1.048 = 63% efficiency
FG: 1.008 = 5.3%ABV *would have been happier with 1.011*
IBU: 55 *feels lower to me*

4/4- Vigorous fermentation has died down.

4/5- Added 2 oz Centennial DH

4/17- Bottled @ 1.008 with corn sugar for calculated CO2 vol of 2.2.

Crisp, mellow, smooth.-->> Placed 2nd in Class at the Alameda County Fair.

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