Mar 01 2008

American Pale Ale – Batch 1

Published by at 10:43 am under American Ale,Homebrew

Here is an attempt at not only a homebrewing standard, but a staple of American Micro Brews. The American Pale Ale, perhaps of the hoppier West Coast verity. It is a little funny to think that I have rarely (if ever) taken a stab at this style of beer, taking into consideration how much I enjoy drinking it. Will employ my homemade “hop-back” in an attempt to capture as much hop aroma as possible. Perhaps dry hop as well, but undecided at the formulation stage.

Follows is our recipe for 10 gallons of finished beer:

16.00 lb. American Two-row Pale Malt
1.50 lb. American Victory Malt
1.00 lb. American Crystal 40L Malt
0.25 lb. CaraPils Malt
(SRM ~ 7, target gravity 1.052)

0.50 oz. Cascade 6.3% AA, 60 min.
1.00 oz. Amarillo 8.2 % AA, 15 min.
1.00 oz. Cascade 6.3% AA, 15 min.
1.00 oz. Amarillo 8.2 % AA, 5 min.
1.00 oz. Cascade 6.3% AA, 5 min.
2.00 oz. Amarillo (whole/leaf) 8.4 % AA, Hop-back
(IBU ~ 29)

2 vile WLP001 California ale yeast, 1800 ml. starter two days on the stir plate

Straight forward single infusion mash:

alpha rest, target 153° F / recorded 153° F, 70 min.

Shooting for a somewhat lower temp. to promote fermentability, and hopefully a drier finish. Batch sparged, collecting about 12 gallons of sweet wort of 1.045 specific gravity. The mash started to stick a little on the last (third) draw. Starting to consider adding a small percentage of rice hulls to every mash from now on. Better safe then sorry I think.

The new improved hop-back:

The boil went pretty much as planned. Allowed about 10 minutes of rolling boil before starting the hop additions, for a total boil time of around 70 minutes. I don’t believe we had a boil over this session. Does that even count as a proper brew session then? Or, maybe we are starting to get a little better?


Anyway, here you can see the improved hop-back in action. A hop-back is a vessel that allows hot wort to come in contact with hops right before cold crashing, imparting mostly the aroma of hops. My previous design was more or less what you see in the picture, but the top was simply the original top of the mason jar, with the plumbing sort of glued in place. This was a compromise, for at the time of original construction was unable to locate a sheet of copper and rubber to fabricate a better lid and gasket. By chance, ran across a plumbing supply house in the city, and found every thing I needed. With the in and out pipes sweated in place this is a much more stable, sanitary, and air tight set up. It is so air tight in fact I think now I’ll need to add some kind of bleeder valve. For as you can see in the picture the wort never completely fills the jar, but only rises to the level of the output.


Had a little bit of an equipment failure (the kettle manifold fell off) so employed a bit less then perfectly sanitary procedure to collect the final gallon or so of wort (Orig. Specific Gravity 1.052). Also, pitched at what seems a rather low temperature, ~64° F. Though, good activity was observed after about a six or eight hour lag time. The temperature naturally rose and peaked at ~68° F. Racked to secondary after 1 week. Activity still seemed solid, and did not want the beer to dry out completely. Specific Gravity at 1.011. A little taste, seems more bitter then I expected and the “biscuity” flavor of the Victory malt too strong. The beer has some ways to go, but already thinking about adjustments for batch 2.

Orig. Specific Gravity 1.052
Final Specific Gravity 1.011
Alcohol by Volume ~5.3 %

2 responses so far

2 Responses to “American Pale Ale – Batch 1”

  1. Marcelon 16 Oct 2009 at 1:56 pm

    do you have a parts list for your Hopback build? I wanted to build one using the same setup, but all guides I have seen are for a weldless setup. Do you have any more pix? Please let me know. Thanks!

  2. darrenon 23 Oct 2009 at 9:54 am

    Marcel, thanks so much for the interest. I have unfortunately been way to slack with this blog, and really should make some more recent posts. I don’t have any build photos of the hopback, for it went through a couple iterations. However, I’ll take some more detailed shots, and make a post out of it.
    The basic design premise was taken from something like this: which you have undoubtedly come across. However I used 1/4″ copper pipe, and extended the out further down into the mason jar. Trying to keep a good seal between the mason jar lid and in/out pipes proved problematic over time. The mason jar top is way too flimsy. I eventually found a small amount of sheet copper (and sheet rubber) at a pluming supply shop in the city. It was pretty easy to fashion a new lid (and gasket) from these, as well as sweat some couplers and the in/out pipes to the lid. This as proven very durable.

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