Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Brew Day 9/21/08 - Cream Ales

I suppose every homebrewer reaches a point where friends and relatives begin to come up and say: "So I'm having this party/birthday/wedding/graduation/etc.." and soon you find yourself brewing for a crowd. This presents problems. For example, you've got a stockpile of your 'crowd pleasers' but what if all your best beers are big Belgians or an Imperial-insert-style-here? In any large gathering there are plenty of those with, shall we say, less adventurous tastes.

"Uncle Ralph needs to drink his Bud-lite or he gets in one of his moods..."

Naturally, not wanting to embarrass yourself and your host, nor to witness the full extent of one of Uncle Ralph's 'moods', you look for solutions.

One I've heard presented came from Greg Koch, CEO of Stone Brewing. At the 2006 National Homebrew Convention he told about a party he'd been asked to supply early in the company's history. Naturally he brought kegs of aggressive beers, IPAs, etc. The host, however, was worried about Uncle Ralph and supplied a keg of Miller-Lite (or somesuch beer). As Greg began to pour for the guests, he'd say "What can I get you?" Someone would reply "x-Lite" and Greg would point to someone else, "What can I get you?". "An IPA!" they'd reply, and he'd pour one. He point back to Mr. Lite, "What can I get you?" "X-lite, please." Point to someone else, "IPA!", and so on until Mr. Lite answers "Um, an IPA?" "Here ya go!", and Greg would hand him one. Nine times out of ten Mr. Lite would come back for more, remarking on how good it was. This no-mercy approach seems a bit harsh, but what do you expect from a brewery whose flagship is Arrogant Bastard? A beer with this on the bottle:

This is an aggressive beer. You probably won't like it. It is quite doubtful that you have the taste or sophistication to appreciate an ale of this quality and depth.

I tend to opt for the more diplomatic solution. I won't brew lagers for parties, first because we live in Florida and brewing lagers is difficult (especially during hurricane season!) and second, it just takes too long. The solution? A Cream Ale. Nice, light, low alcohol yet with more flavor and character than a Classic American Pilsner. I'll brew another more challenging beer for those with the taste or sophistication to appreciate an ale of its quality and depth, but for Uncle Ralph, a Cream Ale should do nicely.

The problem is that I haven't brewed one in about 4 years. So naturally, it's time to do a test batch. The grain bill was simple enough to work out, Cream Ales aren't particularly complex, but the problem is hops. Due to the hop shortage I've made it a point to use the hops I have, rather than pay $$$ for varieties I don't. I decided the best way to work around this was to split a 10 gallon batch and use two different hop schedules. One would be a Traditional Cream Ale ala Genesee and another would be a Northwest inspired version ala Hales Cream Ale. Also, part of the fun of this brew was that it required a cereal mash, which is something I rarely ever have to do. I wanted to see how well a cereal mash worked as a sort of infusion-decoction to raise the mash from a protein rest to its saccarification rest. The answer: very well indeed.

The Recipe:

Cream Ale 1 and 2
Cream Ale

Type: All Grain

Date: 9/17/2008

Batch Size: 10.50 gal

Brewer: Russell Everett
Boil Size: 13.12 gal Asst Brewer:
Boil Time: 60 min Equipment: Brew Pot (15 Gal) and Igloo/Gott Cooler (10 Gal)

Brewhouse Efficiency: 75.00


Amount Item Type % or IBU
7 lbs Pale Malt (Weyermann) (3.3 SRM) Grain 40.00 %
7 lbs Pilsner (2 Row) Bel (2.0 SRM) Grain 40.00 %
2 lbs Corn - Yellow, Flaked (Briess) (1.3 SRM) Grain 11.43 %
1 lbs Wheat, Flaked (1.6 SRM) Grain 5.71 %
8.0 oz Honey Malt (25.0 SRM) Grain 2.86 %
2 Pkgs American Ale (Wyeast Labs #1056) Yeast-Ale

Beer Profile

Est Original Gravity: 1.047 SG

Measured Original Gravity: 1.045 SG
Est Final Gravity: 1.011 SG Measured Final Gravity: 1.012 SG
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 4.60 % Actual Alcohol by Vol: 4.30 %
Bitterness: 0.0 IBU Calories: 199 cal/pint
Est Color: 4.6 SRM Color:

Mash Profile

Mash Name: Double Infusion, Light Body Total Grain Weight: 17.50 lb
Sparge Water: 8.19 gal Grain Temperature: 72.0 F
Sparge Temperature: 168.0 F TunTemperature: 72.0 F
Adjust Temp for Equipment: TRUE Mash PH: 5.4 PH

Step Time Name Description Step Temp

30 min Protein Rest Add 3.00 gal of water at 138.2 F 122.0 F

60 min Saccrification Add 2.00 gal of water at 203.7 F 149.0 F

10 min Mash Out Add 2.83 gal of water at 209.1 F 168.0 F

Mash Notes: Double step infusion - for light body beers requiring a protein rest. Used primarily in beers high in unmodified grains or adjuncts.


Split batch. Two 6.5 gallon, 60 minute boils.

One half gets
0.75 oz Sterling at 60,
0.5 oz at 15, and
0.25 oz at 1.
This should be about 18 IBUs.

Other half gets:
0.5 oz Chinook at 60
0.5 oz Centennial at 15
0.5 oz Centennial at 1
This should be about 30 IBUs.

Note that it says 2 lbs Flaked corn. I actually did 1 lb flaked corn, and 1 lb Quaker Corn Grits. Cereal mash the grits with a half pound of the crushed malts in a couple quarts of water at 155 for 20 minutes or so, then increase the heat and bring to a boil for an hour. I added water to bring the volume to 2 gallons and used this as the infusion for the saccarification rest. You could skip the cereal mash and just use flaked corn if you prefer.

Also note that there's a pound of flaked wheat. Originally I was going to use Cara-pils dextrin malt but it turned out I was out of it. So a last minute substitution of wheat should help the body and head retention, though it's getting into Belgian Wit territory... I also had insanely high efficiency for some reason. The corn, I suspect. So my little 4.5% beers will be closer to 5%.

It's been in the fridge for three days, going strong. Plan is to rack to secondary this weekend, keg the week after that. A week later, invite the groom over for a tasting session and we'll figure out which will be brewed for the wedding rehearsal. Now I've got figure out how I'm going to juggle carboys, because all five are currently occupied. Probably will keg the Ale to the Chief Barleywine this weekend, in preparation for the Election Day party.

Also, this is my first attempt to integrate BeerSmith's html export code into Blogspot. As you can see, it still needs some tweaking.


Post a Comment