Posts Tagged ‘amber ale’

rye amber ale three ways, blonde tasting

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

last weekend I decided to rehash my all-brett amber ale with a couple of variations.

  • first, I decided to spice up the mash with the addition of 20% malted rye.  I also went with some spicy/earthy hop additions late in the boil to impart those aromatics into the finished product (12 gal, 80% efficiency):
    • 14 lbs Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM) Grain 1 58.1 %
      5 lbs Rye Malt (4.7 SRM) Grain 2 20.7 %
      2 lbs Caramel/Crystal Malt – 80L (80.0 SRM) Grain 3 8.3 %
      2 lbs Munich Malt – 10L (10.0 SRM) Grain 4 8.3 %
      1 lbs Caramel/Crystal Malt – 40L (40.0 SRM) Grain 5 4.1 %
      1.6 oz Chocolate Malt (350.0 SRM) Grain 6 0.4 %
      2.00 oz Palisade [8.00 %] – Boil 60.0 min Hop 7 22.2 IBUs
      2.00 oz Palisade [7.50 %] – Boil 15.0 min Hop 8 10.3 IBUs
      4.00 oz Williamette [5.00 %] – Boil 0.0 min Hop 9 0.0 IBUs
      2.00 oz Tradition [6.00 %] – Boil 0.0 min Hop 10 0.0 IBUs
  • I mashed in at 154F and had a post-boil OG of 13 brix (1.053 – I blame my extensive use of rice hulls for the loss of a couple of gravity points).  Once the wort was chilled to 71F, I oxygenated by shaking the fermentors (my oxygenation stone is all gummed up at the moment) and fermented the wort three ways – 5 gals with a stepped up vial of WLP566, another 5 with a stepped up vial of WLP650, and another 2 with a blend of both yeasts (I transferred some wort from each fermentor once they both reached high krausen).  although both yeast vials had been sitting in my fridge for quite some time, they took off without any hesitation on the stirplate and had the wort going within ten hours.

during the mash I used some down time to taste the three all-brett versions of the blonde I bottled a week ago.

  • I’ll save an in-depth review for a couple more weeks to let each of the beers fully develop, but after just one week I was excited to find that the WLP644 trois strain had carbed up nicely and left a dense white head in the glass upon pouring.  its overripe, earthy guava aroma and flavor really impressed me, especially for a brett beer just under a month old.  I’m really happy with this strain and am looking forward to using it a lot more in the future (maybe in a citrus-hopped pale or IPA?).



brett secondary and all-brett amber tasting

Friday, October 5th, 2012

although a round of weddings kept me from firing up the brew kettle these past few weeks, I got around to tapping both my belgian/brett and all-brett versions of my amber ale for a little side-by-side review.

  • to recap, I brewed one base beer (an amber ale) and fermented it three ways – five gallons with only WLP575 belgian blend, five gallons with WLP575 and WLP650 brett brux in secondary, and two gallons with only WLP650.  I dry-hopped all three with an ounce of fuggles for a week before kegging.  below are my reviews for the belgian/brett and all-brett versions.


    • belgian/brett amber (brett b in secondary)
    • appearance: dark copper color, effervescent with lasting head that drops but does not disappear
    • aroma: light estery belgian notes with a slight malt presence
    • taste: malt-forward with an estery belgian finish
    • overall: very drinkable but somewhat ordinary, could use more spicy/herbal hops earlier in the boil*


    • brett brux amber
    • appearance: dark copper, slightly turbid (from fresh carbed keg with hop residue), great creamy, fluffy head that sticks around
    • aroma: spicy/earthy hops with an earthy brett funk in the back
    • taste: creamy mouthfeel with a dry, slightly funky finish
    • overall: refreshing and easy to drink, but could use a little more kick – maybe sub in 10-20% rye and up the boil hops*?


  • *it should be noted that I believe the lack of substantial bitterness was the result of my use of an old steeping bag with mesh clogged with proteins and oils from enduring dozens of boils.  the use of a new bag should overcome this issue.
  • I was pleasantly surprised by the significant differences between the all-brett fermentation and the other two versions.  based on my results, I plan of further developing my all-brett amber with a small rye addition and better hop utilization (and maybe adding more earthy/spicy hops such as saaz, willamette, and cluster at 15 mins and flameout).

belgian brett amber

Sunday, June 10th, 2012

after pondering secondary brett additions last week, I put some ideas into production by brewing 12 gallons of an amber variant of the pales I had tasted:

  • 16 lbs 8.0 oz Pilsner (2 Row) Bel (2.0 SRM) Grain 1 73.0 %
    2 lbs Caramel/Crystal Malt – 80L (80.0 SRM) Grain 2 8.8 %
    2 lbs Munich Malt – 10L (10.0 SRM) Grain 3 8.8 %
    1 lbs Caramel/Crystal Malt – 40L (40.0 SRM) Grain 4 4.4 %
    1.6 oz Chocolate Malt (350.0 SRM) Grain 5 0.4 %
    1 lbs Cane (Beet) Sugar (0.0 SRM) Sugar 6 4.4 %
    4.00 oz Hallertauer Mittelfrueh [4.70 %] – Boil 60.0 min Hop 7 26.1 IBUs
    1.50 oz Fuggles [4.50 %] – Boil 20.0 min Hop 8 5.7 IBUs
    1.50 oz Fuggles [4.50 %] – Boil 5.0 min Hop 9 1.9 IBUs
  • the recipe was inspired by my previous amber ale batch, which was a great drinker but lacked a little yeast complexity and could have used some dry hopping.  MS stopped by and took some great shots of yours truly in action.  coincidentally, he also brought along a 750 of commons brewery’s flemish kiss, another pale with brett in the secondary, from up in portland.  thanks again!
  • I decided on three separate fermentation schedules for different portions of the batch: five gallons were fermented out with WLP575 belgian blend and will be dry hopped with an ounce of fuggles; five were fermented out with WLP575 and will be racked off the yeast cake into secondary, where WLP650 will be added with some bottle dregs and left to percolate for six months or so; and two gallons will be fermented entirely with WLP650.
  • After twelve hours or so, the 575 had gone to town, blowing out both airlocks and streaming down the sides of the carboys.  The 650 took a bit longer, but after three days a pellicle had formed and after a week a healthy krausen has taken over.  The straight belgian will hit the keg in a few weeks, but the waiting game begins for the other two…


amber ale tasting notes, belgian date barleywine

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

this week I set aside some time to reflect upon a couple of current draft selections that are on different sides of the spectrum.

style: amber ale

appearance: great amber color, creamy head with nice lacing, fine carbonation

aroma: slightly alcoholic, sweet, and fruity

taste: malt-forward, coating mouthfeel, caramel and fruit notes, very sessionable

comments: a solid performer, but I personally don’t like the yeast strain (S-04), so I would use a different strain (cal ale or belgian) and maybe dry hop a keg with an earthy variety.




style: belgian date barleywine (2009)

appearance: great carbonation and lacing, slightly cloudy/opaque even after being chilled for months

aroma: intense boozy fruit, layered alcohol notes (spirit-like)

taste: smooth boozy sweetness, alcohol bite but no heat, sweet malt with a fruity finish, viscous and caramelly

comments: I brewed this one on 07/11/09 and tapped it over a year ago – it has been jumping in and out of the lineup ever since.  this is definitely a sipper and took well over a year to mellow out.  this was my first foray into specialty sugars – I added 2 pounds of date sugar to the 5 gal batch.  although this batch is currently pretty tasty, it drinks so slowly I’m not sure I’ll brew it again.  see below for the recipe I dug up from the partial mash vault.


12.00 lb Pale Liquid Extract (8.0 SRM) Extract 72.73 %
1.00 lb Vienna Malt (3.5 SRM) Grain 6.06 %
1.00 lb White Wheat Malt (2.4 SRM) Grain 6.06 %
0.50 lb Caramunich Malt (56.0 SRM) Grain 3.03 %
2.00 oz Northern Brewer [8.50 %] (60 min) Hops 36.4 IBU
2.00 oz Amarillo Gold [8.50 %] (60 min) Hops 36.4 IBU
1.00 oz Goldings, East Kent [5.00 %] (45 min) Hops 9.8 IBU
2.00 oz Cascade [5.50 %] (8 min) Hops 7.1 IBU
2.00 oz Northern Brewer [8.50 %] (1 min) Hops 1.6 IBU
2.00 lb Date Sugar, Dark (50.0 SRM) Sugar 12.12 %
1 Pkgs Belgian Abbey II (Wyeast Labs #1762) Yeast-Ale

amber kegging, brewing with basil

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

this last week’s brewing activities included some of the old and a little of the new.

  • last weekend I managed to keg and bottle AP’s amber ale.  the beer finished at 1.014 for an approximate abv of 5.4%.  I stashed some of the s-04 slurry in one of  a bunch of autoclavable bottles I scored through homebrewfinds, one of my new favorite blogs.  these inexpensive bottles are easy to clean and are perfect for yeast storage.
  • while I was kegging the amber, I ran through some ideas for an upcoming local “homegrown” saison.  I already had local hops and yeast, but needed something to distinguish my saison and give it a truly unique character.
  • inspiration came while deadheading my basil to keep it from going to seed.  when I smelled the fistful of blooms in my hand, their pungent spiciness let me to immediately vacuum seal them for future use.  after a little research, I confirmed that not only are the blooms used in everyday cooking, but basil has been experimented with in various homebrews with great success.
  • as a result, the ingredient lineup for my homegrown saison now includes homegrown heirloom basil blooms and some orange zest from our backyard tree (and maybe some local honey), all of which will likely be added at flame-out.  now I just need to fit in a brew day…