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American Oat ESB

March 9, 2013

My last several brews have been big, bold beers that will be (or are) bottled and cellared.  I’ve always had a fair sized cellar of homebrews, but I spent most of the last year focusing on hoppy and sessionable beers (which don’t age well), and the cellar has become depleted.  The timing and opportunities were right to make these beers, so I rolled with it.

With this in mind, I wanted to get another beer ready for kegging.  This should be tapped right as spring settles into WNY (probably late March), so I wanted something to go well with the warming weather.  Increasingly, I find that exercising restraint and striving for simplicity can yield wonderful results.  This is primarily in respect to recipe formulation.  My brewing technique is constantly evolving as I learn and develop an identity.  More after the jump…

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While focusing on all of these big beers, I started falling behind on my keg rotation.  I always have two kegs pouring so that I can share with guests and have something to take to social events.  I’ve become pretty good at timing my kegged beers so that hoppy beers are consumed at peak freshness and non-hoppy beers have an appropriate amount of conditioning time.  Despite having a lot of (usually good) beer around at all times, I seldom drink during the week and rarely more than two pours in any sitting.

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First runnings, starting to heat up

The idea of this beer is, like the recipe, fairly simple and somewhat classic.  I wanted a true session beer – something flavorful and drinkable, but with a light body that would be refreshing after an evening jog with the pooch.  I wanted it to have sweetness, smoothness but a fairly bold hop expression.

I settled on doing kind of an Americanized ESB, with a strong English malt presence.  I also added a bit of oat to provide that smoothness.  This one was more or less reverse engineered, based on what I want it to taste like.

True to keeping it simple, I also stepped back from the intense new breed and high alpha hops that have marked my last several pales/ipas/dipas and went with the tried and true, but seemingly forgotten Cascade hops.  I hadn’t used cascades in quite a while, but their pine and grapefruit notes are fantastic.

I decided to make this a single-hop beer, using only cascades.  One of the things I’m kind of experimenting with on this one is bittering with low alpha hops.  I have a theory that there’s a different, unique and perhaps better character to be derived from this technique.  If the results are what I expect them to be, I plan to utilize low alpha bittering in some future brews.

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Delicious cascades

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One of a couple of small water adjustments made.  Calcium Chloride.

I expect this beer to have a strong biscuity malt presence, a fairly dry but smooth body and light notes of grapefruit and pine in both the nose and taste.  Finally, I hope the bitterness to have a certain “cruchiness” to it.  Here’s the recipe:

American Oat ESB
8-C English Pale Ale
Brewed 3/5/13

Size: 4.9 gal
Efficiency: 82% (measured)
Attenuation: 75% (estimated)
Original Gravity: 1.051 (measured)
Terminal Gravity: 1.013 (estimated)

Color:   11.13 SRM
Alcohol: 5.01%
IBU: 44.8

Water (all in ppm):

Ca: 58  Mg: 14  Na: 14  SO₄: 79  Cl: 39  HCO₃: 49

Ingredients:

  • 7.5 lb English 2-row Pale Malt (6# Pearl, 1.5# Maris Otter)
  • 1 lb oats
  • 4 oz English C-80
  • 2 oz English C-120
  • 1.75 oz Cascade Hops (6.7%) – boiled 60 minutes
  • 1.25 oz Cascade Hops (6.7%) – whirlpool
  • White Labs WLP007 – Dry English Ale yeast
  • 2.00 oz Cascade Hops (6.7%) – Dry hop

Schedule:

  • Mash @ 152 (1.30 qt/lb ratio)
  • Mash out @ 170
  • Batch sparge (water alkalinity adjusted)
  • Ferment at 64

Notes:

  • 3/5: Brewed on a Tuesday night, by myself.  Raced home from work to get my strike water started heating, so that I wouldn’t be up all night.  Typically I don’t do weeknight brews, as I don’t finish cleaning up until after 11 pm.
  • Hit mash temp and pH dead on (152, 5.3 at room temp).  Opted to do my boil on the stove – my new 10 gal kettle is big enough to fit across two (gas) burners and maintain a solid boil.
  • Finished with a slightly lower volume (4.9 gal v. 5.0 gal) and higher efficiency (82% v. 79%) than planned.  This resulted in the beer tentatively being 5.0% instead of the 4.8% I’d planned for.  Not to worry, this should be fine.
  • 3/8: Fermentation has been holding steady at 64 degrees and moving along well.  I’ve never used WLP007, but have read a lot about it.  It is fast, attenuative and flocculant.  I expect this to finish up and drop out by mid-week.  Planning on washing and maintaining this as a house ale strain.  Next project will be take 2 of Dunn Homestead DIPA.
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