Brew Day: Rye Pale Ale

It’s Football season (finally) and what does Football season call for? Session beers. Nothing beats getting our sloth on and vegging out for 7 hours with friends and some beers while watching the games. We’ve been wanting to keg for a while and this just gave us the shot in the arm to do it. This will be our first kegged beer, and it will be tapped at our friends backyard BBQ in the next month or so. While we are excited, we also need to make sure we make a nice sessionable beer that won’t intimidate our non-craft drinking friends.

We decided on a Rye Pale Ale with Denali and Mosaic hops (mostly late additions and dry hops). Denali is a hop I’ve heard a lot about but never used, so why not give it a shot?

Goal: Sessionable drinker that is high on flavor and mild in ABV. Citrus with a shot of tropical fruit on the nose and taste, creamy body, and dry enough to keep you wanting more.

Grist:
8#           2-Row
2#           Rye Malt
.5#          C-20

Hops:
.5 oz       Mosaic                  First Wort
.5 oz       Mosaic                  30 Minute
1 oz        Denali, Mosaic    10 minute
2 oz        Denali                   Flameout/Hopstand (20 minutes @ 180F)
Dry Hop                               2 oz Denali, 1 oz Mosaic

Yeast:
Safale US-05

Extra:
None

Expected OG:                    Expected FG:                     Expected ABV:
1.048– 1.052                       1.010 – 1.008                      4.97% – 5.7%

Actual OG:
1.050

Mash Temp:                       Boil:
154F       60 minutes          60 minutes

One thing to note: We mashed this one a little on the high side. I wanted to try something, we have been getting unreal attenuation our past 3 batches and I’m not sure why. Our NEIPA (which is tasting phenomenal at the moment) got all the way down to 1.008 from 1.064, which not what we expected. We figured it would’ve been 1.012 or 1.010 tops, but it got lower. The beer itself didn’t suffer though, I expected it to be thin and dry, but it actually has a nice body (probably from all the oats) and the flavor is huge. I figured why not experiment with a relatively cheap batch?

Without going into it too much I do believe our fermentation fridge is having issues as well. Maybe not the fridge itself but our temperature controllers’ thermometer may be a bit wonky. Seems the bottom keeps too cold, even though the probe is attached the middle-bottom part of the carboy. I think I solved this issue in the simplest way possible: I put a tray that raises 3 inches under the carboy. It sits higher now and the temp is consistent throughout. Occam’s razor, sometimes the simplest solution is the correct one.

Moving on, the actual brew day was insanely smooth. We started our boil late this time at around 9am. The weather was perfect for brewing, overcast with a high of 77F. Putting a TV in our brewing area (re:garage) was the best decision I think we’ve made. We got to brew and watch football as well as enjoy homebrews. One would call that the trinity.

We got our boiling rolling at about 11:20AM and started adding our hops. The hop additions followed as stated above (60, 30, 10, hop stand). We collected 5.1 gallons of wort with an OG of 1.050, right on par with what we expected. The one thing we did forget to do was add the half pound of flaked oats. Oops. It may have increased the gravity by .02, if at all, so it isn’t the end of the world.

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First hop addition, Mosaic.

We chilled the wort down to about 78F after one pass and threw it in the fridge for a couple of hours to bring it down to pitching temp. We let it get to 66F and pitched our yeast and tucked it away in fermentation cooler where it is currently bubbling away.

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Hop stand after the boil.

Brown Eye Woke 3.0 has finished fermenting and is currently sitting on about 6oz of coffee beans from Mostra. I had a cup of the coffee today and it is incredible, it will definitely play nicely with the base of the beer. There is another homebrew competition we are entering. It is actually in the town that we grew up in and the brewery that our friend owns is throwing it (Ohana Brewing). I’m looking forward to getting back with him and submitting our beers.

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SMaSH Series Volume II: 2-Row & African Queen

One of my worst kept secrets is that I love drinking and in turn making (or trying to make) overly complex beers. When we first started this brew-venture I decided to run full speed before learning the basics. It was a humbling experience that I have definitely strayed away from since then. I’ve come to appreciate simplicity in grain bills and making easy drinkers is pretty satisfying, this is especially true when it is nearly 100F outside on a consistent basis.

Volume II of our SMaSH series was brewed on 7/1. It was made with African Queen hops, that we bought without having to support ABinBev and 2-Row malt. I think the overall goal of this is to have a dry crushable pale ale with some fruity notes. African Queen hops are pretty complex in their own right—citrus, apricot, cherry, and maybe a little bit of spice. We used them in a Dark Saison from a few months ago, but I’m pretty curious to see how they impact a simple pale ale.

One thing I’d like to point out is that we upped the amount of hops in this batch from 4oz to 5oz, because as good as the SMaSH I was, it fell off relatively quickly. Hopefully adding more hops to the recipe aides in that.

Grain Bill:
10 lbs                     2-Row

Hops:
5 oz                        African Queen

Hop Schedule:
.5 oz                       First Wort
.5 oz                       30 minutes
1 oz                        15 minutes
1 oz                        Flameout
2 oz                        Dry Hop (4 days)

Yeast:
1 packet               US-05

Mash:
152F                       60 minutes

Boil:
60 Minutes

Expected OG: 1.050—1.053
Expected FG: 1.012—1.014
Expected ABV: 4.9%—5.1%
Actual OG: 1.052

This was another pretty standard brew day, all things considered. We started early, hit our numbers on point, and finished quickly. We first started heating the strike water to 161F (to account for temperature loss when transferring) and added the grain and water treatment to the water. Since we built the gravity table our efficiency has went up a consistent 5%, which is absolutely welcomed. We collected about 6.9-7 gallons of wort and began our boil.

If you recall we were mulling over the idea of building a hop spider because of our recent issues with the plate chiller clogging. We decided to just build it, because why not? This was our first brew day with it in action. My only issue at the moment is the fact that we used PVC pipe to build the base. It’s the higher quality of PVC that has a higher heat threshold, but it still kind of sketches me out. I think we are going to use a sink drain in the future because stainless steel is an infinitely better option.

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First hop addition – 1/2 ounce @ 60 minutes

We added the hops in as we normally would while utilizing our shiny new hop spider. The hop additions were added as listed in the recipe information. One thing about the African Queen hops; when they are being boiled they smell almost exactly like apricots. Probably one of the better smelling hops I’ve had the pleasure of using.

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Rolling boil with our new hop spider!

We chilled the wort from 210F to about 77F in 5 minutes, and put the carboy full of wort in the fermentation fridge set at 38F for an hour until it hit the pitch temperature of 66F. After it cooled down to pitching temp we took a gravity reading: 1.052, right in line with where we wanted it to be. Next we pitched the packet of Safale US-05 and within 24 hours fermentation was under way.

All in all, successful and smooth brew day. No clugs, no hiccups, nothing except good times and an overall fun day. We bottled the dark Saison we brewed back in May so we should be able to sample those pretty soon. The black IPA is done conditioning as well, we will crack open one of those this weekend on our next brew day.

Next up is the Hoppy Pilsner! This should be fun to mesh a traditional German beer with the classic West Coast Dank. Exciting!

Oh, one more thing. We entered another competition for August. We were going to brew Brown Eye Woke again to submit that but getting word of the competition so late in the registration process we may just send over the Saison or the Black IPA, the taste test this weekend will determine which brew we send. Cheers.

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