Saturday, May 15, 2010

Brew Day April 30th, 2010 - Amber Ale

As part of my attempt to brew beers that everyone will enjoy, I kept with an easier drinking style and decided to brew an Amber Ale.

Amber ale is a comparatively recently coined term (as are many other commonly used terms describing beer "styles") used in North America for some pale ales; the colour generally ranging from light copper to light brown.[1] A small amount of crystal[2] or other coloured malt[3] may be added to the basic pale ale base to produce a slightly darker colour, as in some Irish and British pale ales.[4] In France the term used is ambrée, and the hop bitterness is modest, as in PelforthAmbrée and Fischer Amber.[5] In North America, American-variety hops are used in varying degrees of bitterness, though few examples are particularly hoppy.

Two popular Amber ales that I know a lot of people enjoy are Keith's Red and Rickard's Red. With this recipe I am not trying to copy those styles at all. I tried to find a recipe that had a modest hop bitterness that would be easy drinking. I found a recipe that called for a hop variety that is not available at my usual supplier, so I found a place in Whitby called Home Brewers Retail. He had the centennial hops that I was looking for, which is essentially a "super charged" variety of Cascade. Brian was very helpful and also had some amber extract that I thought I would try for this one. The problem is that amber extracts, as well as any extract other than Pale could have any combination of malts in it. The cost for these specialty extracts are much higher than just buying Pale, so if this recipe is a success, I will try it with a Pale malt base next time and try to get my color and flavors from steeping.

The Recipe:
I found a recipe on Home Brew Talk which I modified slightly. Cats Pajamas Amber Ale

3kg - Amber Extract
6oz - Caramel Malt
2oz - Chocolate Malt
0.5 lbs - Pale Malt
0.5oz - Cascade Hops (60m)
0.5oz - Centennial Hops (10m)
0.5 oz - Cascade Hops (10m)
0.5oz - Centennial (0m)
0.3oz - Cascade (0m)
6g - Irish Moss
10g - Mauri Ale Yeast

Brew Day:
I did not do much different than my previous brews except for try a late boil extract addition and a sort of dry hop at the end of the boil. Late extract addition keeps the extract from caramelizing and darkening the beer, it also increases hop utilization. I used 1kg of extract at the beginning of the boil and added the remaining 2kg with 20minutes left in the boil. When I added it, the timer was stopped and then started it again when the boiling resumed. This brew is also the first time I dry hopped. Dry hopping is when you don't boil the hops at all, this only brings out hop aroma, no bitterness is extracted from the hops. Dry hop should be done when the wort has cooled, however tossing them in at the end of the boil, such as I did is also acceptable. I assume I would have pulled out some flavor by tossing them in hot wort.

Here are some pictures from brew day:
Ingredients - the Centennial Hops smelled amazing

Blended Grains

Steeping grains

Sparging Grains

Gravity reading - 1038@95F = 1043

Color Check - looks rusty

The brew was racked to the secondary on May 8th and the final gravity was 1013 putting the Amber Ale at around 4.1% - I still don't trust these gravity readings. the beer will be bottled today May 15th.

Next Brew will be a Caramel Vanilla Cream Ale.

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