Tag Archives: beer

Tasting: Old Ale


Last December I brewed the first beer I’ve ever intended for really long-term aging, an Old Ale. This recipe is based on the recipe that was built on HomeBrewTalk for their 11-11-11 swap beer. The idea is to have lots of people brew the same recipe, and to swap it in a year with other people to see how similar or different they are. As I modified the recipe, I didn’t enter in the bottle swap.

Appearance – Crystal clear, burnt gold color, with a bright white head that subsides fairly quickly.

Smell – Wow, this is when you know it’s not your average beer in hand. Loads of oak and vanilla in the nose, along with sweet caramel notes, and a bit of aged aroma (mustiness?).

Taste – More oak and vanilla, some fruitiness – raisins and dates, as well as sweet caramel. The brett comes through a little more, though the oak is really dominating at it’s current age. It’ll be interesting to see how this changes with time. Alcohol hits at the finish, but it’s very, very smooth for 12% ABV, but you can tell this one’s got a kick.

Mouthfeel – Low carbonation, which works well for the booze. The low finishing gravity keep the caramel notes from getting too sweet, which makes this one a really nice sipper.

Drinkability & Notes – Really pleased with the results of this batch. The oak is a little much right now, it’s hard to get past


American Pale Ale (All Grain)

apaWell, it had to come to it. After a year’s worth of style exploration, barleywines and imperial stouts, it was time to take a crack at the baseline of American craft beer: the American Pale Ale. This style has been one that I’ve put off for a while, not because I don’t like it, but like most homebrewers, I was enjoying the chase of the unusual and the exotic (and the high-gravity).

Having reached a point where it was time to start nailing down some regulars, and being summer (albeit in Maine), it was time for a more sessionable beer. I have to admit, after all the procrastination, I was a little bit anxious about this beer. After all the practice, I can’t screw up on a pale ale, right?

Well, I consulted all my favorite books before starting the recipe build, and decided to take the non-crystal malt approach. I wanted a dryer, crisper beer, one that would be refreshing and not too sweet. I also wanted to focus on hop flavor, so I left the grain bill rather mild to leave room for some dry-hops to shine.

Recipe Overview

UK Pale Ale Malt 11.32 lb (79.0 %) In Mash/Steeped
German CaraRed 1.00 lb (7.0 %) In Mash/Steeped
UK Munich Malt 1.00 lb (7.0 %) In Mash/Steeped
UK Wheat Malt 1.00 lb (7.0 %) In Mash/Steeped

US Centennial (8.5 % alpha) 1.24 oz Loose Pellet Hops used First Wort Hopped
US Cascade (5.9 % alpha) 0.99 oz Loose Pellet Hops used 10 Min From End

Yeast: Wyeast 1318-London Ale III

After cool fermenting the beer (I wanted to minimize ester production by the english yeast), I let it lager for a couple weeks while I waited for keg space to open up. In this time, I decided to go for another first: dry-hopping in the keg. My buddy has been doing this recently with a massive tea ball he got for a gift, and I was hopeful that I could pull off the same approach by using a muslin bag for grain steeping. I sanitized the bag by soaking it in Star-San for a few minutes, then filled it with about 3oz of Cascade and Centennial hop pellets, then twisted it closed, doubled over the bag, twisted closed, then tripled it over. I took this sock-full of hops, and shoved it (gently) under the dip tube of my Corny keg.

After two days, I tried a sample. Wow. That fresh hop taste coming from the keg is awesome, and without the added transfers and delays of a secondary. I’ll definitely be doing this again. Oh, and the recipe. Well, it turned out more like an amber. Good, but a little sweeter than I had hoped for. I’ll be cutting the CaraRed in half next time.

Using a yeast cake

Edit: I do not advocate this method anymore. I do advocate re-using your yeast, but you should wash it first.

If you brew regularly, and especially if you like to use liquid yeast strains, you might want to consider reusing your yeast. As with everything in homebrewing, there is a long list of do’s and do-not’s, but in general, it’s pretty easy to decide if repitching on yeast will work for you.

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Hopped-Up Amber Ale


This past weekend’s brew was an enjoyable one and a learning experience. Once again, I modified my recipe based on available ingredients. I wonder if there’s a niche for that?

I had intended a brown, but the lack of crystal malt made me rethink my plans, and I ended up doing some kind of IPA/Amber hybrid ale. Who really knows what it is.

This time, I also tried the technique of dumping some un-mashed grains on the top of the mash before batch sparging. As of yet, I haven’t tasted the fermented wort, but my initial experience was that it added a significant amount of aroma of the malt that was unmashed (which happened to be CaraRed).

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