By: Jesse Reynolds
A common thread when serving home-brewed beer to friends and family is drinkability.
“Is it very bitter?”
“Is it dark?”
“Is it fruity?”
“I don’t like hoppy beers.”
This inevitable barrage of questions and dislikes is expected when serving up some of the more unique styles to inexperienced beer drinkers.
Catering to our audience is all well-and-good, but we can’t very well spend our lives brewing only blonde ales and light lagers. In the interest of encouraging newbies to branch out, there are a number of styles which encourage drinkability without sacrificing flavour.
The American Pale Ale is a classic craft beer which has taken a bit of a back seat to the American IPA in recent years, as hop-heads continue to pile IBUs into their beer at seemingly impossible rates.
Whether you’re brewing for the people in your life who need an introduction to the hoppy styles without being overwhelmed, or you’re looking for an easy-drinking but challenging beer to drink yourself, the APA is an easy-to-brew style with a lot of potential flair.
“It’s the perfect combination of complexity and drinkability,” says Jordan Mills, brewer and co-owner of Rouge River Brewing Company. His Beneath the Planet of the APAs took home the Gold Medal at the Canadian Brewing Awards this year. “It’s like a canvas for hops.”
Indeed, the goal of this beer is to showcase American varieties of hops without creating something too overwhelming or too alcoholic. It should be relatively balanced with sweet, bready malt character and one or more hop varieties. Yeast takes a back seat in this style, and a clean fermentation is preferred.
Water can play a strong role in this beer, by adding perceived body (chlorides) and accentuating the hops (sulphates).
Mills was able to provide us with a scaled-down clone recipe for his gold medal winner.
Brew this recipe again and again, but tinker with the hop varieties and you’ll never drink the same beer twice!
Beneath the Planet of the APAs Clone (American Pale Ale, BJCP Category 18B)
(all-grain, 5 gallons)
8 Gallons Tap Water (treated w/Campden Tablets) or Spring Water
Add 1-¼ tsp Gypsum, ¼ tsp Calcium Chloride and 1 tsp Epsom Salt to the mash
For more advanced water treaters, we are seeking 110 ppm Calcium, 267 ppm Sulphate, 60 ppm Chloride. Magnesium and Sodium below 20ppm and Bicarbonate below 60 ppm are also ideal.
7lbs Canadian 2-Row
1lb Dextrine Malt (Carapils)
1lb Spelt Malt
1lb Flaked Oats
0.33oz or 18IBU Simcoe (60 min)
1oz or 17IBU Amarillo (add at flameout, 15 minute whirlpool or hop stand)
3.67oz Simcoe (dry-hop)
WLP090 (San Diego Super Yeast) or Escarpment Labs Anchorman Ale
Brew Day Instructions
Mash-in grains with 5 gallons of water to reach 151F (66C) and hold for 60 minutes. Infuse with boiling water or use direct heat to raise temperature to 169F (76C) and sparge with 169F water until you have 6.25 gallons of wort.
Bring the wort to a boil for 60 minutes, adding hops as directed. At flameout, perform and 15 minute whirlpool or hop stand and then rapidly chill wort to pitching temperature, oxygenate wort and pitch yeast.
Ferment at 65F (18C) until FG nears, then rise to 68F (20C) and dry hop. After 5 days, transfer to keg or bottle.
This recipe will be cloudy — if you’re looking for an exact style fit, use biofine or gelatin and let sit 24-48 hours before packaging.
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