Sunday, July 12, 2009

sixth brew (goldenflower ale), part 1

My starter recipe for this simple summertime pale ale was Peter Berger's Goldenflower Ale. His description:
This is an extremely estery beer...heavy on the pear and raspberry. If you want to understand the difference between ale and lager, brew this one. It is the epitome of "fruity." The slight hop aroma and very mild bitterness, tied with the lightness of the beer, really allow the esters to shine through; I suspect the honey aided them strongly.
  • 3.5 pounds Laaglander dry extra light malt
  • 1 pound fragrant clover honey
  • 8 grams Galena hops (8% alpha) (boil)
  • 1/2 ounce Fuggles hops (dry hop)
  • Wyeast American Ale yeast
The choice of American Ale yeast for something that's "extremely estery" and the "epitome of fruity" seems odd, since Wyeast's description is "Low fruitiness and mild ester production".

This is the first time I've brewed with honey.

The Laaglander malt is no longer available, as far as I can tell. It seems to have had a questionable reputation. I decided to give Brewmasters Warehouse a try for ingredients for this and my next brew. They carry Munton's extra light DME, $3.99/pound, so that's what I got.

The Galena plug hops were 14.2% AA. According to Palmer, Galena is a U.S.-grown strong, clean, bittering hop with a citrusy aroma and AA range of 12 - 14%. That makes me wonder whether the 8 grams or 8% in the recipe isn't a typo: 0.028 ounces, for 2.2 alpha acid units? (And what's with mixing metric and standard units?) I decided to use half an ounce; I don't mind if it's hoppy.

I wanted a light color, so decided to boil just a pound of the DME for the full hour and add the remainder and the honey for the final 10 minutes. Per my earlier research, having some sugars and enzymes helps with hop utilization, so you don't want to boil the hops in only water. DME yields about 44 points per pound per gallon, so the initial boil gravity was 1.015. According to this utilization calculator, that's about 33 IBUs per the Tinseth method. Adding the rest of the DME and the honey (38 PPG) brings the gravity up to 1.064, so 10 minutes of boiling at the higher gravity might reduce the IBUs by about 5. I doubt it works quite that simply, though.

The Wyeast 1056 American Ale smack pack did not inflate per my expectations. It took a cross-country trip with cold packs that had completely melted by arrival, so I wonder whether it isn't in poor health. It puffed slightly, but nothing like it usually does after four hours. This is the yeast I just used for the light ale so I am making a recent comparison.

Pitched the yeast at 76 degrees. Once again I couldn't cool the wort as quickly as I wanted. I keep forgetting how long those cold packs take to freeze. They really need to go into the freezer the day before, at the latest. I ended up using a gallon of cold water to aid in cooling from 90 degrees, and may have aerated more than desirable at that temperature. I need to turn that copper coil Joe gave me into a chiller some time soon.

There was some conversation at the last homebrew club meeting about whether hot-side aeration isn't actually a somewhat mythical effect, though. People seem to have plenty of personal experience with aerating hot wort and not experiencing any off flavors due to oxidation. Someone described an experiment in which the wort was split, with the test portion being aerated likely crazy while hot. There was apparently no difference when compared to the control. Unconvincing in a single experiment, but perhaps it's not an effect that's as likely to occur as we've been led to believe.

Original gravity is about 1.043, adjusted for temperature. The wort has is moderately bitter, quite sweet, and the honey is evident. Not much maltiness, as one would expect.

Update: Visible fermentation was a little slow to start, but by the morning of the 14th it was bubbling pretty vigorously. By evening it was continuous. Temperature was 67 degrees. I have the fermenter downstairs, where the temperature should be consistent within a couple of degrees.

Update: Still bubbling every 5 seconds the evening of the 16th.

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