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salt of the earth APA

November 3, 2012

*Updated 11/28

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It seems like almost every other beer I brew these days is an APA, and that’s probably pretty accurate.  This is probably my favorite style, although I don’t find many commercial examples that provide both the hoppy goodness and session-ability that I look for.

I guess I’m somewhat on a mission to perfect my APA formula – testing various ingredients, mash temperatures, techniques and other factors to find my ideal combination.  I can then repurpose that base formula, subbing out hop varieties and malts to make a variety of american ales that are my ideal.

The other agenda I have in mind, is that once I determine what works best for me, I can apply the same formula to IPAs, DIPAs, etc for a more predictable result.

More after the jump…

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Drinking a Founder’s Harvest Ale whilst brewing

This time around, I’m testing a few new things:

  • For the first time, a hopshot (from Northern Brewer).  This comes as a needle-less syringe filled with a CO2-extracted hop resin.  The variety used in its manufacture is, as far as I know, non-descript.  It is claimed that the hopshot can be used anytime you would normally use hops, however I only intend to ever use it for a bittering addition.  I like to know and have control over what’s going into my late additions.  The calculation for a bittering addition is that 1 mL @ 60 minutes in a 1.050 batch should yield 10 ibu of bitterness.  In this particular case, I’m using 2 mL at 45 min in a 1.052 batch, so I expect to achieve 12-15 ibu’s from this addition.
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  • No 60 minute bittering addition.  The 60 minute addition seems to be pretty standard, but I’m beginning to realize that for my palate, it’s a very harsh bitterness that for a lot of beer drinkers is off-putting.
  • Bitterness and flavor from late hop additions.  The balance of my bitterness will come from additions at 30 and 20 minutes.  The thinking here is twofold.  First, in my experience, the bitterness derived from late additions is less harsh, smoother and gently coats the palate.  It also dissipates more rapidly.  Second, such additions don’t only provide bitterness, but delicious hop flavor as well.  I typically haven’t gone this route in the past, but I’m interested to see how it comes out.
  • I also modified my water for this batch, which is somewhat new to me.  I won’t get too into it, because I still have a somewhat limited understanding of water chemistry.  That said, I will tell you that my water is pretty moderate across the board, but slightly more alkaline than the average.  I adjusted the water to lower the pH slightly, and also sought to increase Chloride and Sulfate concentrations.  In the past I had used a 5.2 pH buffer on nearly every batch, but I was becoming increasingly sensitive to a mineral quality that I attributed to it.

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So.. there’s the background.  Here’s the recipe:

Session Ale # 18 – Salt of the Earth APA
10-A American Pale Ale
Brewed: 10/30/12

Size: 5.5 gal
Efficiency: 83% (measured)
Attenuation: 72.0% (estimated)
Original Gravity: 1.052 (measured)
Terminal Gravity: 1.015 (estimated)

Color: 8.36
Alcohol: 5.08%
IBU: 61.6

Ingredients:

  • 9.5 lb Canada Malting 2-Row Malt
  • 0.75 lb Caramel 40°L
  • 2 mL HopShot – Boiled 45 min
  • 1 oz Columbus (16.1% AA) – boiled 20 minutes
  • 1 oz Simcoe (13.0% AA) – boiled 10 minutes
  • 0.5 oz Columbus (16.1% AA) – ‘whirlpool’
  • 1 oz Simcoe (13.0% AA) – ‘whirlpool’
  • 0.5 oz Chinook (13.0% AA) – ‘whirlpool’
  • 0.5 oz Centennial (10.0% AA) – ‘whirlpool’
  • 0.5 oz Columbus (16.1% AA) – dry hop
  • 1 oz Simcoe (13.0% AA) – dry hop
  • 0.5 oz Chinook (13.0% AA) – dry hop
  • 0.5 oz Centennial (10.0% AA) – dry hop
  • 1.0 ea Safale S-05 yeast

Schedule:

  • Mash-in: 3.5 gal; Strike: 169.36 °F; Target: 154.0 °F
  • Batch Sparge: 4.0 gal sparge @ 180.0 °F, 0.0 m; Total Runoff: 6.75 gal

Listening:

  • Wilco – Sky Blue Sky
  • Shuffle

Notes:

  • Brewed on a Tuesday night, by myself
  • Collected more wort than I expected, about 7.1 gallons.  Extended boil to reduce volume and concentrate to my expected gravity.  I had intended for this to be a 1.054 batch, but wound up with 1.052.  Acceptable for now.
  • Also set aside about 2 quarts of late runoff wort (about 1.020) and boiled it down to  a quart or so of 1.040.  Chilled and added this to some commercial yeast that I’ve harvested and have been propogating.
  • Wound up with about 5.75 gallons of 1.052 wort.  Was kind of glad that I overshot the volume collected, as I lost a fair amount of volume to hops.  After dry hopping, I’ll probably be right around 5 gallons.
  • Chilled to 68F.  Left at 63F ambient for 3 hours and pitched rehydrated US-05.  Fermentation off and running by lunchtime Wednesday.
  • 11/2 – Ambient up to 65F, fermentation wrapping up.
  • Kegged, force carbed.
  • Tasting notes.  Hell yes.  Pours a really interesting, deep almost luminescent pale orange.  A finger and a half of white head that sticks around for a bit, but leaves a really, really sticky lacing on the glass.  Aroma is mostly citrus with a bit of pine in the background.  Taste is almost all hops – totally juicy citrus and mango with just a hint of pine coming in from the background.  Maybe a little pineapple?  Bitterness is appropriate.  A little bit of toastiness from the malt, but not much.  Overall, my favorite Pale that I’ve made.  It really hits on all of the things I love.  I think with a few tweaks (a little more bitter, a little more toastiness), this is my perfect Pale.  To be rebrewed fairly soon.
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