Monthly Archives: July 2011

Black [Pale] Ale


Most of us have heard of the Black IPA, or Cascadian Dark Ale, American Dark Ale, or whatever you want to call it. It’s an IPA with dark roasted grains added to the grist, giving it a black color and some roasty character.

Well, if you’ve been playing along, you know that I’ve been making a valiant effort to keep my beers under 1.050 (or 5% ABV) this year, and though I love this style, it is, unfortunately, a strong beer. That’s why when I was planning to make an American Pale Ale, I decided to change things up a little.

The most recent addition to my bookshelf was Gordon Strong’s Brewing Better Beer. Gordon put forth the proposition that if you were to wait to add your dark roasted grains (roast barley, black malt, chocolate malt) until the sparge, you can avoid a lot of the astringency and bitterness that comes from these grains. Now while in many beers, I think these flavor components can be a plus, if not critical, in the Black IPA style, I think it’s up in the air.

Thus was born, the Black Pale Ale.

OK, so lets be honest for a minute. The Black IPA is the excuse to drink a beer that’s as hoppy as an IPA, but it’s black and has some roast. It doesn’t matter how roasty or smokey or toasty it is, it’s an IPA and it’s black. That’s where the novelty ends. Some are actually pretty roasty, which begs the question — aren’t you just a hoppy stout? So, I thought this was the perfect place to see what I could do with color and avoid the astringent, ashtray, roastiness.

I used 5oz Roast Barley and 1oz Chocolae Malt in a Pale Ale, and it came out pretty well. It’s not quite black, it’s somewhere between a red ale and a porter, but it’s still not black. But the interesting part is that it’s not really roasty! It really pretty much tastes like a pale ale – I mean sure, there’s a little roastiness, but not like if you’d put all that in the mash – it’s a very different process than if it had all been in the mash.

Recipe Overview

Wort Volume Before Boil: 6.08 US gals
Wort Volume After Boil: 5.28 US gals
Volume At Pitching: 5.28 US gals
Final Batch Volume: 5.02 US gals
Expected OG: 1.054 SG
Expected FG: 1.014 SG
Expected ABV: 5.3 %
Expected IBU (using Tinseth): 33.6
Expected Color: 23.0 SRM
Mash Efficiency: 75.0 %

UK Pale Ale Malt 8lb 0oz (70.3 %) In Mash/Steeped
German Munich Malt 1lb 0oz (8.8 %) In Mash/Steeped
US Victory Malt 1lb 0oz (8.8 %) In Mash/Steeped
US Rice Hulls 1lb 0oz (8.8 %) In Mash/Steeped
UK Roasted Barley 5.00 oz (2.7 %) In Mash/Steeped
UK Chocolate Malt 1.00 oz (0.5 %) In Mash/Steeped

US Centennial (8.5 % alpha) 1.00 oz Loose Pellet Hops used First Wort Hopped
US Centennial (8.5 % alpha) 1.00 oz Loose Pellet Hops used At turn off
US Cascade (4.5 % alpha) 1.00 oz Loose Pellet Hops used At turn off

Yeast: Wyeast 1318-London Ale III