Last weekend I brewed a simple pale ale recipe with the help of my brother in law (Brad) and trusty partner (Libby). Although I like an occasional IPA, I’m not a huge fan of bitter, and certainly not the bitterness of a double or triple IPA (although Beth really likes the 90 minute and imperial IPAs). I do like the more subtle bitterness of the traditional pale ale, because it gives just enough hop bite, balanced with malt character, that keeps you wanting more. To me, this beer is a lot more “sessionable”, in that you can have several without burning your taste buds or your reputation (due to the high alcohol content of highly hopped beers).
The grain bill on this one was pretty simple and should lend to a lighter beer (pale malt, vienna, and some caramel malt). I was originally going to hop using just Cascade, but had some Willamette hops so made two late editions. IBUs on this one are at 38, which is right in the middle of the American Pale Ale style.
Whenever I brew, I keep my brew sheet handy so that I can take notes and write down measurements. That helps me to replicate the beer if I really like it, or tweak the recipe later if I don’t. When brewing all grain, I’ve started using a refractometer to measure gravity, which helps me know when I’m getting close to being done with the boil. The refractometer measures the amount of light passing through a solution, which can then be converted to gravity (quickly using my BeerSmith laptop or iPad software). The benefits to using a refractometer instead of a hydrometer during the brew is that it is quick, you can take multiple measurements with drops of beer instead of a substantial amount more with a hydrometer, and you don’t have to wait for the beer to cool as quickly as you do with a hydrometer. The downside is that a hydrometer is more accurate, but that really matters before and after when your trying to hit your original and final gravity.
So – the ale has been fermenting for a week, and should already be at final gravity, but I will give it another week before kegging and carbonating. If it’s any good I’ll post the recipe here.
If you’re looking to try a good non-traditional American Pale Ale, I recommend Yards Brewing’s Philadelphia Pale Ale. It’s made with Pilsner malt (hence non-traditional), but has a good citrus hop taste to it!