Critique My Pale Ale Please

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by sjverla, Apr 6, 2013.

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  1. sjverla

    sjverla Devotee (490) Dec 1, 2008 Massachusetts

    This is my 2nd brew ever. Its a recipe that I formulated with some help from a couple books, Hopville and my imagination. I'm shooting for a hoppy (but not crazy hoppy) pale ale doing extract/steeping grains. Aiming for an ample pine/grapefruit aroma. Thanks!

    12 oz 10L Crystal
    4 oz 40L Crystal
    1 lb Gold LME
    1.5 lb Briess Golden DME
    5 lb Gold LME (at 30 min)

    .5 oz Cascade (60 min)
    .25 oz Chinook (60 min)
    .25 oz Cascade (40 min)
    .25 oz Simcoe (25 min)
    .5 oz Chinook (0 min)
    1 oz Cascade dry hop (7 days before bottling)
  2. pweis909

    pweis909 Poo-Bah (1,586) Aug 13, 2005 Wisconsin
    Supporter Subscriber

    Batch size? At 5 gallons, looks a little high gravity wise; at 6 gallons, looks a little low bitterness wise. Neither of these are bad outcomes if that's the way you want the beer.
  3. sjverla

    sjverla Devotee (490) Dec 1, 2008 Massachusetts

    It's for 5 gallons. According to Hopville it comes out to 1.059 OG. I was shooting for something towards the higher end, but not quite an IPA.
  4. pweis909

    pweis909 Poo-Bah (1,586) Aug 13, 2005 Wisconsin
    Supporter Subscriber

    OK. I got 1.063 on beersmith. It's just numbers. The ingredients look right. The proportions look right. The yeast is...? I'll assume US05/1056/001 unless you say otherwise, but any number of yeasts might do well here.
  5. OddNotion

    OddNotion Devotee (478) Nov 1, 2009 New Jersey
    Beer Trader

    Id cut the crystal a little bit but thats just preference there, you are certainly within style with your amounts. I would push the 45 and 25 min additions to 10 or so. If you have the ability I am much more of a fan of DME over LME (even though I hate how DME sticks to everything!!! /rant) and would recommend using DME instead.
  6. sjverla

    sjverla Devotee (490) Dec 1, 2008 Massachusetts

    Yeah, I'm hoping for between 5.8 - 6.2ish ABV. The yeast at the moment will be Wyeast 1272, but I'm open to other suggestions. The slap pack treated me well on round 1 though.
    pweis909 likes this.
  7. Jettanbass9

    Jettanbass9 Initiate (0) Sep 27, 2006 Pennsylvania

    if you are looking for more hop flavor move some of your late additions to 20 or 15 minutes to flameout. i would do something like this...

    .5oz Chinook @ 60 min
    .75oz Cascade @ 15 min
    .25oz Simcoe @ 15 min
    1oz Cascade and .25oz Chinook Dry Hop 7-10 days
    dougfur likes this.
  8. sjverla

    sjverla Devotee (490) Dec 1, 2008 Massachusetts

    In your opinion what would be the benefit of cutting the Crystal? A thinner body might be more to style?

    Same question on the hops - I know Simcoe and Chinook are high AA. Would 25 minutes really make it that bitter?

    I'm not doing a full boil. For this batch I'm thinking either 3.5 or 4 gallons and a top-off of adequate amount.
  9. OddNotion

    OddNotion Devotee (478) Nov 1, 2009 New Jersey
    Beer Trader

    I prefer my pales to have a lighter body and be more hop focused. As I had noted regarding the crystal, it is all personal preference there, I also believe that DME (not sure about the LME) contains carapils in it as well.

    Its not so much the bitterness that I am worried about there but moreso the fact that you really wont get much flavor especially from the 45 min addition. As I was saying before, I prefer my balance to move towards hop flavor in my pales which you will get much more flavor out of later additions than you will out of the early additions.

    Are you not doing a full boil due to boil pot size or another restriction? If possible, it is optimal to do a full wort boil but I definitely understand it isnt always possible.
  10. sjverla

    sjverla Devotee (490) Dec 1, 2008 Massachusetts

    Thanks. I get that it's largely personal preference, but learning where in the boil these preferences are impacted is really helpful.

    My pot's just too small to do a full five gallons. And seeing as I'm just starting out I wasn't willing to pay for a larger pot or burner just yet. If it keeps going well though, those are a couple upgrades that'll probably happen by the end of the year.
  11. AlCaponeJunior

    AlCaponeJunior Initiate (0) May 21, 2010 Texas

    I personally slightly prefer pale ales like Stone Pale Ale or Dale's, a bit thicker (and presumably with more crystal malt). But it's close. I usually use about a pound of crystal in some form or another in many of my beers.

    A turkey fryer will get you the burner and pot you need to do full boils for 5 gallon batches. I got mine on sale at home depot for $50. I typically get 5-6 beers out of a tank of propane, so that's not a huge expense.
  12. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Meyvn (1,012) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado
    Beer Trader

    I usually use two pounds of crystal in my APA's, but I also bring some munich to the party to get a little more malt flavor. I still use extract and prefer to use lme. I get better results with fresh lme and it's cheaper than dme at the lhbs. If you have the ability to do a mini mash I would try onr. Steeping with extract is okay, but you get more out of your grains with a mini mash.

    Now that's out of the way, I like to see a good bittering hop at the beginning of the boil, and save your aromas for later. Using the cascade so early seems like a waste of cascade with the other hops you've got going on there. maybe bring the cascade up to the later additions and add a little more chinook at 60, or better yet pick up some magnum or warrior and save the chinook. For later additions as well. But that's just one man's opinion.
  13. AlCaponeJunior

    AlCaponeJunior Initiate (0) May 21, 2010 Texas

    TWO pounds? I'll have to try that. I love munich malt too! Actually my first mini mash/extract blonde ale had 1.5 lbs crystal and it came out great. Sometimes I think this forum tends to fear the crystal too much.

    On the whole magnum/warrior verses "other" bittering hops thing, if they're close to the same price, what's the difference which you use for bittering? I realize there could be some additional flavor contributions beyond the "clean" bittering of magnum/warrior, but is it really very much? I can't see that it would be any kind of waste to use chinook instead of magnum if they're close to the same price. Is there another reason I'm not considering here?

    I do understand it would be sort of a "waste" to use citra or amarillo for bittering, due to their rarity and higher cost, and extreme late flavor/dry hopping potential.
  14. JebediahScooter

    JebediahScooter Initiate (0) Sep 5, 2010 Vermont

    Can't make West Coast DIPA Whales with crystal, brah!
    barfdiggs likes this.
  15. ghebb

    ghebb Initiate (0) Sep 26, 2008 Connecticut

    Personally I don't like that much crystal in an APA, I usually go for about .5lb for a 5 gallon batch, but YMMV.

    Also, I would bitter with the half oz. of chinook, then add the rest of the hops @ 10 mins or less.
  16. barfdiggs

    barfdiggs Initiate (0) Mar 22, 2011 California

  17. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Meyvn (1,012) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado
    Beer Trader

    Al, by using cascade, a lower AA hop than say magnum, you would have to use more to bitter the same. Cascade is a delicate little hop compared to the chinook or simcoe, so I would imagine throwing the cascade in early would just be a waste. Even if some flavors make it I would think the bigger hops would just cover it up at that point.
    Now if we were talking centenial instead of cascade it would be a whole other story.
    PortLargo likes this.
  18. sjverla

    sjverla Devotee (490) Dec 1, 2008 Massachusetts

    Yeah, Dale's is kind of my vision for this. Obviously it's a bit stronger, but I'm hoping for what's kind of a beefy pale ale - a little chewy, hop forward, could be an IPA but not quite.
  19. AlCaponeJunior

    AlCaponeJunior Initiate (0) May 21, 2010 Texas

    I've tasted plenty of IPAs that are less IPA-y than Dale's. Definitely some overlap there.
  20. sjverla

    sjverla Devotee (490) Dec 1, 2008 Massachusetts

    Just wrapped up. And my FG was way low...hit 1.050 as opposed to the 1.063ish that was calculated...Everything seemed to go to plan. I boiled 4 gallons, topped off with 1.33 (up to the 5 gal. mark on my carboy). The taste of the sample I drew off actually seems promising nonetheless, but I'm baffled.

    I steeped at 170 for 25 minutes. Keep it at a rolling boil after that. Any idea as to what the huge miss could be attributed to would be very appreciated. I can post a picture of my process checklist tomorrow if that would help.
  21. AlCaponeJunior

    AlCaponeJunior Initiate (0) May 21, 2010 Texas

    That's not a huge miss. You might get damn good beer out of it. When I went all grain I was consistently off by about ten points till I figured out how to adjust beersmith's numbers to more accurately reflect my process. You're topping off here, so it's unlikely you're going to be spot on your numbers, and it sounds like you had at least reasonable results. 1.050 should be fine. Leave it for at least two weeks, minimum.
  22. utahbeerdude

    utahbeerdude Disciple (372) May 2, 2006 Utah

    If you did not mix the wort and top-off water well before measuring your gravity, your measurement will likely have been inaccurate, erring on the low side of reality.
  23. dougfur

    dougfur Initiate (0) Jan 24, 2011 New York

    I think you need more hops(even though you don't want an IPA). That, or lose some of the extract. I think it will taste unbalanced as is.
  24. sjverla

    sjverla Devotee (490) Dec 1, 2008 Massachusetts

    Thanks guys. I'm glad you were all able to figure out I meant OG. I think there still is potential for a solid beer to come out of this, but a 10 point miss was bigger than expected. Eh, live and learn.
  25. VikeMan

    VikeMan Meyvn (1,393) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    Even assuming 0 extraction for the crystal malt (and of course it wasn't) , you would have hit around 1.052 just with the DME and LME. I would have expected an OG around 1.056/1.057 with this recipe. When a mostly extract batch is measured as having a low OG, here are the possibilities, singly and in combination...

    1) You didn't get all the extract into the kettle (LME stuck in the jug?)
    2) You topped off with water to more than 5 gallons
    3) You didn't mix the top-off water with the wort thoroughly before measuring the OG
    4) You measured the OG while the wort (and top off water) was still hot, and didn't adjust the reading for temperature.
    5) Some wort was left behind in the bottom of the kettle, so more water was use to top off the 5 gallons
    6) Your hydrometer is inaccurate (try checking it with plain water)
    7) Operator error on the gravity reading.
  26. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Meyvn (1,012) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado
    Beer Trader

    To avoid that miss again take a gravity reading before you start topping off. I would rather hit my target og then target batch size.
  27. sjverla

    sjverla Devotee (490) Dec 1, 2008 Massachusetts

    I think these are the most likely culprits.

    And this will be the practice henceforth.
  28. sjverla

    sjverla Devotee (490) Dec 1, 2008 Massachusetts

    So after a little over a month, this APA is drinking alright. It's good (my wife likes it), but the best part is I can identify areas to improve.

    #1) You nay-sayers were right. That was a bit too much crystal. I'll cut both amounts by 1/3 and see how that goes.
    #2) 72 is too warm for US-05/1056/001. Some of you might be saying 'duh'. But it wasn't a failure. I wanted to get some esters and I got them! It's nicely fruity. But I also got some fusels. The latter has mostly faded, but they reappear with warming. I'll assemble a swamp cooler and shoot for 60-62 next time.
    #3) I under-hopped. Need more late additions and maybe another .25 ounce for bittering wouldn't hurt.
    #4) I don't need to fear Brewtoad's IBU's scale. I'm sure the calculations are fairly accurate, but that sliding scale I can pay less attention to.
    #7) 10 lbs of ice isn't enough for ice-bath cooling 4 gallons of hot wort in 45 minutes.
    #5) If the paint strainer bag gets stuck in the carboy after racking, don't try to muscle it out. I have a splatter-streak across my kitchen ceiling.
    #6) Every aspect of home brewing takes longer than you think it will.

    Thanks to all for the help!
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