Mad Alchemist Americana Pale

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Mad Alchemist Americana Pale

Postby Luckbad on Tue Feb 25, 2014 2:02 pm

I've refined this recipe over the course of ~5 batches through the years and thought I'd share it. I brewed this on Saturday. Had a few mash issues, but it still ought to turn out tasty as hell (just dryer and more bitter than normal). Hopefully I can bring in some bottles to the April meeting.

This is for a 5 gallon batch on my setup, but percentages and weights can be adjusted to reach the targets listed at the bottom.

This usually ends up as a combination malty and hoppy beer. Somewhat bready for a pale but with a great American hop nose and flavor to complement (I'd say "juxtapose" but I'm no English major) the mostly-German grain bill. The water profile is very balanced and has enough sodium the round out the overall flavor, mitigating some of the sharpness you'd otherwise get from the hops. I've made this with a bigger hop bill as well and some people prefer something in the range of 45 IBUs--if you want that, just add more Magnum.

Grain Bill
80% (8 lbs) Weyermann Pale
5% (8 oz) Weyermann Carahell
5% (8 oz) Weyermann Caramunich I
5% (8 oz) Weyermann Munich I
5% (8 oz) Briess Victory

Hops
Magnum @ 60 min (adjust to target ~35 IBU)
0.5 oz Cascade @ 20 min
0.5 oz Centennial @ 20 min
0.5 oz Cascade @ 0 min
0.5 oz Centennial @ 0 min

Yeast & Fermentation
California Ale (WLP001) @ 68°F

After it is done fermenting, I reduce the temperature by ~5°F a day until I hit ~34°F, and leave it there for at least 24 more hours. Sometimes I'll also raise the temp by ~5°F for a day before crashing to encourage the yeast to clean everything up, but that is not strictly necessary. Fermenting at 65°F can also yield a slightly cleaner beer, but I've taken to increasing the temp by a few in the last couple batches.

I make a 1 liter starter with DME about a day ahead of time and use a stir plate.

Mash
I prefer to mash this in the 150-152 range for a mix of malty and dry. I usually mash for 60 minutes, and I tend to mash out for all recipes, including this one, at 168.

Water
I build from RO or distilled water using the following salts (scale up if this is for larger than a 5 gallon batch). Note that these are added to the mash strike water.

2.55 g Calcium Chloride
2.25 g Epsom Salt (Magnesium Sulfate)
2.20 g Baking Soda (Sodium Bicarbonate)
2.00 g Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate)
1.50 g Salt (Sodium Chloride)

From my current RO water (which is darn near distilled), this results in a 5.18 pH in the mash. I did have to adjust my sparge water with lactic acid to bring it down between 5-6 pH, but that has nothing to do with this recipe.

Targets
OG: 12.87 Plato/1.052 SG
IBU: 35
Color: 9 SRM
ABC: 5.4%
Carb Level: 2.5 vols (I generally use corn sugar because I bottle)

Also available here in less detail:
http://www.madalchemist.com/archives/re ... -pale-ale/
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Re: Mad Alchemist Americana Pale

Postby lexuschris on Tue Feb 25, 2014 10:54 pm

Nice looking brew! I always love Cascade & Centennial's in an APA!

Never tried Victory Malt in this kind of beer .. sounds like its worth a try!

I was curious if you batch or continuous sparge? If you batch, what was your strike volume for those salts? I was surprised at how little you had to put in there, but I'm usually starting from Irvine tap (pH 8.1) so I have further to go..

Also wondering if you have found that Sodium (baking soda) is easy to over-do.. It can go from 'rounding' the palette, to being kinda sour/metallic .. at least I overdid a brown ale once with baking soda and that is how I remember the flavor..

Anyways, thanks for sharing! I hope to sample some at the homebrew meeting!
--LexusChris
"A woman drove me to drink, and I hadn't even the courtesy to thank her." – W.C. Fields
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Re: Mad Alchemist Americana Pale

Postby Luckbad on Wed Feb 26, 2014 10:29 am

I believe my strike water for that recipe is 12.5 quarts. I batch sparge (and usually mash out). As far as having farther to go with Irvine water, I'd argue you have a lot less room to work (I build from RO/distilled, so anything I add is all that's in there). If you don't care to read a bunch of random crap about salts, skip to the last bit about adjusting your pH with lactic acid and pickling lime.

There is definitely a line with sodium. If you want it to effectively round out flavor, you usually want something like 100ppm of sodium. If you go above ~175ppm, you can really start to taste it.

I have a modified-over-time water spreadsheet that I got from John Palmer that has a bunch of info in it (e.g. 100+ppm for impact, soft cap of X, hard cap of Y). If I can dig that up I can send it your way if interested.

I also use Bru'n Water, the Brewer's Friend calculator (improved by Kai Troester)

There are sometimes interactions between multiple types of salts that can create off flavors, but again only in larger quantities.

Taking a quick gander at the Irvine Water Quality Report, I'd be afraid to brew with it myself. It's actually a little better overall than El Toro, but its range of detections is all over the place, so it would be difficult to predict what's in your water on a given day.

Your sulfate is betwee 3.7 and 160. If you add Gypsum without knowing how much is in there on a given day, you could either end up with a super harsh bite or not enough hop flavor. Your sodium range is 20-120, which means one day it could have no impact if you put 1g of baking soda in, and another day it could push it high enough that you taste salt in your beer.

I don't mean to scare you (yes I do), but I really do highly recommend focusing a lot on water in a brew. How much of beer is water vs everything else, and how much do we focus on it as homebrewers? It's always seemed out of proportion to me.

I think I mentioned that I just picked up a reverse osmosis system so I could avoid buying distilled water by the gallon. It worked like a dream and has made my day-to-day drinking water taste way better. It filters ~95% of all the crap in the water, so I can reliably build a water profile from there.

If I've built a water profile I like and need to adjust pH during the mash, I usually use lactic acid (88%) to lower it, and pickling lime (Mrs. Wages) to raise it. This allows you to adjust it with minimal additions and no perceivable flavor changes. It allows me to avoid throwing off the balance I've created.
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Re: Mad Alchemist Americana Pale

Postby lexuschris on Wed Feb 26, 2014 3:42 pm

I certainly agree with you on the importance of water. Actually, I sent off a sample of my water to Ward Labs for testing a few years ago, so I know exactly how much was in that sample. Of course, municipal water sources tend to vary during the year, and year to year, etc. Ultimately, someday, I may move to RO water like you and some of our other members have done.

I use some of Palmer's & Kai's spreadsheets, and it has helped dial in some water adjustments for me. After Palmer's club talk last summer, I finally bought a pH meter, but have not tried it out yet. That will have to be next.. so I can actually see where my pH is at during the brewday.
:happybeer:
--LexusChris
"A woman drove me to drink, and I hadn't even the courtesy to thank her." – W.C. Fields
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Re: Mad Alchemist Americana Pale

Postby DrDually on Wed Feb 26, 2014 4:51 pm

Having a pH meter is an essential piece of brew day gear
If you decide on buying one, look for the non-glass ISFET type
No need to store in solution, just clean and dry is all that is needed
Chris aka Dr Dually
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Life is tough. It is even tougher when you are stupid. John Wayne

Bottled and enjoying: Nada, zip
Kegged: English Brown, American Amber, Double Barrel Ale
Next up: Kolsch
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Re: Mad Alchemist Americana Pale

Postby dhempy on Wed Feb 26, 2014 8:39 pm

So do you have one to recommend?

Dan

DrDually wrote:Having a pH meter is an essential piece of brew day gear
If you decide on buying one, look for the non-glass ISFET type
No need to store in solution, just clean and dry is all that is needed
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Re: Mad Alchemist Americana Pale

Postby DrDually on Thu Feb 27, 2014 8:59 am

Chris aka Dr Dually
drdually@att.net

Life is tough. It is even tougher when you are stupid. John Wayne

Bottled and enjoying: Nada, zip
Kegged: English Brown, American Amber, Double Barrel Ale
Next up: Kolsch
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Re: Mad Alchemist Americana Pale

Postby Luckbad on Sun Mar 09, 2014 9:39 pm

Bottled this one last night and it's coming along nicely. Lower gravity than I wanted due to the mash complications I was having, but still very tasty and more sessionable.
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