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Batch 37 : Hoppy Red Ale

One of my favorite sites for finding recipes is Northern Brewer.  They have a wide assortment of all-grain kits to purchase, but they’ll also let you download the recipe for each of the kits they sell.  I’ve had great success with recipes from the site, so I check it out on occasion.

I wanted to make a Stout this Winter, and the Chocolate Milk Stout from NB was something I really wanted to brew.  It was one of the rare batches where buying the pre-measured kit was quite a bit cheaper than buying all of the ingredients myself.  To fill out the order, I added their kit for the Lakefront Red Ale Clone, which I ended up brewing before the Stout.

I’m a big fan of Lakefront’s beers, and the Red was one that used a variety of hops, which ultimately proved to be cheaper ordering the kit vs. buying extra from my LHBS.

Ingredients: Red Ale

All-Grain Recipe

  • 11.25 lbs. – American 2-row
  • 1.25 lbs. – Caramel 60L
  • .5 lbs. – Belgian Special B
  • 1 Tablet – Whirfloc – added to during boil, boiled 10 min

Hop Additions

  • .5 oz. – Columbus (13.9%) – added during boil, boiled 60 min
  • .5 oz. – Chinook (11.2%) – added during boil, boiled 20 min
  • .5 oz – Cascade (6.4%) – added during boil, boiled 5 min
  • .75 oz – Centennial (9.0%) – added to secondary
  • .75 oz – Chinook (11.2%) – added to secondary

Yeast

  • WYeast 1056 American Ale – Reused from IPA, and Nut Brown

Additional Details / Notes

  • SG 1.065 / FG 1.012
  • 6.94% ABV | Color: 19.11 °SRM | 40.2 IBU’s
  • Brewed 11/26/11, Secondary 12/11/2011, Bottled 12/28/2011
  • Temps: ~153° Mash, ~63° in Primary, ~70° Secondary

Brewing the Red Ale

This brew day went okay.  I had a couple of issues, but hit my marks for the most part.  I mashed in with water at 153° and let it go for an hour.  After that I drained off a gallon and poured it gently back over the top, then a second gallon.  (the vorlauf).  After that I drained off my usual 6.5 gallons.

As this was only the second batch with my new brew pot and burner, I didn’t yet know the power of the heat source I was using.  I wasn’t watching my pot very closely and I boiled over, a LOT.  I ended up pulling a little more from my mash tun and adding it to the pot so I wouldn’t end up too low.

I wanted to try something new for this batch after the boil.  I’d read a few places where people use a whirlpool effect to get the hops to the center of their boil pot before siphoning their wort to the fermenter.  I generally pour through a strainer, but I was curious if I could get a clearer final product if I left behind more of the hops and hot/cold break.  Well, the whirlpool didn’t work for sh*t, but I ended up letting it sit and settle for a while instead.  I siphoned off the clear wort and left a lot more of the sediment than usual.

I didn’t brew the Red the same day as I racked over my Brown Ale, so I had saved a couple of jars of the yeast to wash for this Red.  I should have probably used a yeast starter for this Red to get the yeast back up to fighting weight, but I didn’t.  The fermentation was slow to start, I ended up adding the yeast from my second jar to get things going better.  Removing the hot/cold break wouldn’t have done me any favors for yeast nutrients, either.

I racked this over to the secondary after a couple of weeks, adding a hop bag after the first week.  I wasn’t overly excited about the flavor before dry hopping, but I liked it a little less afterward.

Drinking the “Hoppy” Red Ale

After bottling and waiting about a week, it was time to drink.  And… another damn contaminated batch.  Awesome….  There’s something in my process that’s not being done right, but I’ll be damned if I can track it down.  I’ve got it pretty well narrowed down to Bottling, but I haven’t had consistent success or failure enough to narrow it down yet.  I will…

Basically, the contamination I’m stuggling with is a mild one.  It basically dries out the beer, and adds an extra level of carbonation.  Bottles don’t explode, but the pour is very fizzy.  The sweetness of the malt is basically gone, and the beer comes across as overly hoppy — probably because that’s the dominant flavor that’s left.  There’s a smell I can associate with it, but it’s hard to describe.  It’s almost a light metallic smell.

As I know this batch was doomed, I hate it.  Ironically, a lot of people have really enjoyed it.  Some people even love it.  Go figure.

I like the concept of this beer, so I’ll likely give it a shot again at some point.  I don’t know that I’ll dry hop, but the rest will be similar.  The citrusy hops are awesome in a Red, I just missed the mark too far for them to work correctly.

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Brewer’s Best Red Ale : Extract Kit

For my third batch I’d decided to go with a Red Ale.  As this is one of my favorite types of beer, I was pretty excited for this one. After my last couple of batches, I’m starting to get the process a little bit more organized.  My planning and execution are making for a better working environment, and I’m FAR less afraid that my batches may not turn out. I used a kit from Brewer’s Best for the Red Ale.  The kit contained the usual stuff.  I’ve pictured the kit label and most of the major ingredients below.  I missed the grains that were steeped – the label on that one said “Crushed crystal 60L 12oz. and black patent 1 oz. malt”

Steeping, Cooking, and Hops

For this batch, you start by steeping the supplied grains for 20 minutes.  This step is by far my favorite.  It smells amazing, and turns the water a great color.   For the steeping step, I added “Crushed crystal 60L 12oz. and black patent 1 oz. malt” as included in my kit.  I took a few pictures of the grains steeping in the grain bag. Next you add the syrup and dry malt.  Bring that to a boil and add the first bit of hops.  At this point, it just rolls.  Let it boil and stir it occasionally.  For this batch I decided to boil at a lower temperature.  The water is boiling, but not as aggressively as I’ve done for my other 2 brews.  For the last ten minutes of the boil, the bittering hops are added.   Now it’s time to cool. red-ale-brewing05

Cooling the Wort

I learned on my second batch that my sink is a perfect size for my brew pot.  If I fill the sink with ice, I can place the pot in the sink and give it an ice bath.  I spray the outside of my hot pot with cold water.  I also spin the pot so that the contact surface with the ice water is always changing.  In about 15 minutes, the wort is cool enough to be poured into the fermenting bucket ( which already has 3 gallons of clean water in it ).  I may be wrong, but I don’t worry much about getting the wort all the way down to 70 degrees.  I feel like having cool water in the bucket will take warm water and cool it that last bit so that the yeast will be happy. red-ale-brewing03

Fermentation

Once the wort and water mixture is in the bucket, I started getting the yeast ready to add.  My kit insructions don’t say to activate the yeast, but my yeast packet does.  I’ve actually done this both ways, and both worked fine.  To activate the yeast, I just pour it in a small cup of water, let it sit 10 minutes, then slowly add a little of the wort/water mixture in.  I think of it a lot like introducing new fish to an aquarium.  Slowly acclimate the yeast to it’s new watery home. I let this batch of beer sit in the fermenter for 10 days.  I felt like 7 was too short for my two previous batches.  I also kept it in a dark closet that stays a little warmer than the rest of my house ( it’s still Winter ).  The sitting temp was about 71 – 73 degrees.  Seems solid to me. red-ale-brewing01

Bottling the Beer

Bottling went pretty straightforward.  I used a mixture of long neck bottles, grolsch style bottles, and a couple of “growlers” from my local microbreweries.   I love using a couple of growlers.  They let you speed up the process, and they’re great for hauling to a party!  I’m 5 for 5 now, but I’ve been warned that growlers make EXTRA big bottle bombs.  You’ve been warned! I cracked open my first bottle of Red after 7 days.  NOT time yet.  Still far too sweet at this point.  I cracked my second bottle open at 14 days.  NOT time yet, either.  Better than the first one, but still too sweet.  Week three was the money week.  Finally the beer was decent to drink.  This is easily the best beer of the three I’ve made.  I think that my process is getting better, and it’s resulting in much better beer.

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Beer Update:

Week 3 was just the start of this beer being great.  It honestly gets better with each passing week.  After 8 weeks, it’s a GREAT beer.

Next Batch: Mexican Cerveza
Previous Batch: Wheat Beer

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