Thursday, May 28, 2015

The elusive cream ale...

I find that delicate flavored beers like lite lagers, chek pils, heles, cream ales and even american standard lagers are tough to get right.   I have huge appreciation for brewers who have a delicate hand and can get the subtle nuances of these beers correct.  If you have never tried a Genessee Cream Ale,  or a Spotted Cow go get one.   Ill wait here. 

Taking a break from brew cycle, your next brew cycle recipe is for next weekend anyway... so lets talk about good ol basic beer...  Any one can brew an over top american pale ale... but can you make basic beer that tastes good?

Some how the flavor is the exact representation of what a good basic beer should be.  It's just beer.  Your MBC friends will like it, and you will drink it noticing the full flavor and body that are neither over powering or too heavy, and somehow the dang thing is still crisp and dry.  It is really amazing stuff when done well. The fullness of flavor, and "creaminess" come from the balance achieved by, and the restraint shown by the brewer.

I have been brewing beer off and on for a long time.   And that whole time I have never found an extract cream ale recipe that I though was awesome.  I think this is because you loose something when you are not using real pilsner malt.  I'm no biological chemist, I wont claim to know exactly what that something is.  But I have brewed this style more times than any other so I have some experience.  And I believe I am the single reason why Genessee is distributed here in Kansas City.   I'm never with out it. And although I've never found a near perfect extract recipe, I do however think that there are some partial mash recipes that are amazing.   Northern Brewer has one.  And I think I have a pretty darn good one too.  It's called Cool Gales Cream Ale.  It is loosely based on Biermuncher's (HBT handle) Cream of 3 crops.  But I replaced the rice and corn, with corn syrup and rice syrup.  It always comes out clean and full, and crisp and it almost doesnt matter what bittering hop you choose.  This is not a hop bomb.  DO NOT OVER HOP THIS BEER, not everthing is a pale ale.  Ok I'm off my soap box now.

This is the perfect beer to perfect your brewing process with.  If you get it right you'll know.  If you screw up, you'll know.  It is also the perfect beer for learning about hop styles.   You can try different styles for aroma, and bittering, or just use one hop and really learn the taste of that hop.  But stick to american and german noble hops.  Ill give you recipes for trying pale ale hops, and ESB hops on another post, ok? deal?  good.  Now the recipe.

5 gallon batch
3.75 lbs of Pilsner (yes you'll have to boil a little longer)
2.00 lbs of DME Light or Extra Light (don't substitute Dark or Amber and think your innovating, you're not)
1.00 lbs of Rice Syrup Solids
1.00 lbs of Corn Sugar (added at High Krausen)  from the grocery store light corn syrup not dark
.8 oz of Cluster Hops at 60 of a 75 minute boil
.5 oz of Liberty Hops at 0-5 minutes of the boil (you'll have to tune in the hops to get them perfect)
Safale US05
Irish Moss
Yeast Nutrient

  • Mash the grains in 3 gallons of water at 150 F for 1 hour.
  • Rinse the grains with 2 gallons of 168 F water
    • Im going to admit that I vorlauf, because I can...(I have a valve on my ebiab set up) and because its what I have always done. 
      • So after I Rinse the grains I try to recirculate the entire volume of wort.   My beers are very clear when I do this.
      • Important Note: my BIAB friends swear you don't have to, and they make some clear brite beers. 
        • Another important note: your brew in a BAG, bag matters.   Get a good bag from BrewBag, or Wilser.
  • Add 2 gallons of near boiling Water
    • This should give you 6.5 gallons of wort
  • Add the Rice Syrup Solids
  • Start your 75 minute boil
  • please please please skim off the hot break
    • And please don't waste my time telling me that commercial breweries don't skim the break. commercial breweries have .003 micron filters for their beer. 
  • at 60 minutes to go add the Cluster Hops 
    • This is where you'll learn to customize to fit your tastes.  I put my cluster hops in at 55 M
      • Brew this multiple times and move the hops around, keep notes. eventually youll open a beer that is perfect for you.  if you kept records... you'll be able to repeat this beer. 
  • at 10 minutes the yeast nutrient
  • at 5 minutes the Irish Moss and your wort chiller
  • at 0 minutes the Liberty Hops
  • Chill it to pitching temps (70 or under)
    • rehydrate your yeast during the chilling. 
    • if you're chilling outside cover your pot
  • Aereate your wort by pouring into the bucket, O2, shaking, whatever.  
    • Aeration is highly over rated.  
  • Pitch
  • Ferment at around 65 (not 75, not 80)  65 you can do this with a swamp cooler (laundry tub water and wet t shirt) if you have to.  
  • Let it ferment for 14 days
  • Transfer to 2ndary for 7-10 days.
    • Leave behind the yeast cake youre trying to make a clean clear beer
    • Fine the beer with Brewers Gelatin, BioFine, or Super Kleer Kc (the last two work fine at room temperatures)
  • Bottle condition for 10-14 days or keg,
    • 2 volumes of Co2
Ill be posting this as a brew day really soon here, and on Brew Toad, so keep following up on this post.  I just posted a less than satisfying all grain Cream Ale recipe brew day.  My wort was a chunky monkey.   So now I'm jonesing to brew it again the way I know it will come out awesome.

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