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General Category => General Homebrew Discussion => Topic started by: stuworx on November 12, 2014, 06:41:14 AM

Title: Back to basics - the perfect blonde
Post by: stuworx on November 12, 2014, 06:41:14 AM
Hi guys,

I think this is my first post on here, but I've been reading the forum for a while. So hello from the UK.

In the NY I plan to create the perfect blonde ale for my gf. But as usual I'll make sure I benefit from it too.

I want to go back to basics and learn what each variable brings to the party, malt, hops, yeast, water and so on...

My first round of testing will be 3-4 smash brews to identify her preferred hops. I'm thinking noble type hops, saaz is in there but what others do you guys recommend?

The 2nd round will be speciality malts, again no more than 4 brews. E.g. 5-10% Munich, Vienna etc with her chosen hops, but keeping the ebc <10 (4-5 srm). Again, recommendations?

3rd round will be yeast. I think I'll do more than 4 brews here as I could split a brew into 2 fv and pitch different yeasts.

From here I plan to test water, hop timing and any other technique based variable.

The end goal is create her perfect blonde and a beer I could use as a base, e.g. Add different aroma hops.

Specs will be:
4% ish
<10 ebc
No more than 3 malts
Single hopped

Any other recommendations?

Cheers, Stuart.
Title: Re: Back to basics - the perfect blonde
Post by: klickitat jim on November 12, 2014, 06:54:43 AM
We tend to speak BJCP here! so Blonde would be kind of like an American kolsch. Clean yeast character, moderately hopped usually with citrusy hops but I like your nobel idea. Saaz would be great or hallertau,  mittelfruh, etc. I like the idea of a UK spin on it. Maybe Golden Promise with about 8-10% vienna, about 20-30 IBUs of EKG, and a scottsih yeast fermented fairly cool. Mash low so it finishes fairly dry. Dang, now I want one.
Title: Re: Back to basics - the perfect blonde
Post by: theoman on November 12, 2014, 08:06:41 AM
Funny, Belgian is what came to my mind, though the 4% might be low. I'm with Jim. But if you want to go the more Belgiany route with some estery yeast and some fuggles and/or goldings hops, I'm sure that would be delicious as well.
Title: Re: Back to basics - the perfect blonde
Post by: klickitat jim on November 12, 2014, 08:39:02 AM
Funny, Belgian is what came to my mind, though the 4% might be low. I'm with Jim. But if you want to go the more Belgiany route with some estery yeast and some fuggles and/or goldings hops, I'm sure that would be delicious as well.

That little e makes all the difference huh?
Title: Re: Back to basics - the perfect blonde
Post by: narvin on November 12, 2014, 01:08:08 PM
Funny, Belgian is what came to my mind, though the 4% might be low. I'm with Jim. But if you want to go the more Belgiany route with some estery yeast and some fuggles and/or goldings hops, I'm sure that would be delicious as well.

That little e makes all the difference huh?

Yeah, the difference between French and Flemish :)
Title: Re: Back to basics - the perfect blonde
Post by: dmtaylor on November 12, 2014, 01:19:53 PM
Fellas, American blonde ale is a BJCP style, and it is a style that I love.  But of course you can turn it into something German, English, Belgian, whatever if you want to.  Here's a few ingredient ideas that I've used in my American style versions:

amber malt (you can toast your own if you can't find commercially)
Munich
Maris Otter
rye malt
wheat malt
smoked malt (for very very slight effect, keep it under 8% of the grist)
flaked corn
Gambrinus honey malt (<5%)
wildflower honey
Wyeast 2565 or WLP029 Kolsch yeast
WLP400 or 3944 witbier yeast
Nottingham ale yeast
US-05 / WLP001 / 3056

Sky is the limit on hops and yeast, really.  I usually use my homegrown Hallertau and Cascade hops for these, or Tettnanger, or odds and ends.  I don't like a huge hop flavor in most of my blonde ales although I did really like the Cascade single-hop one.  So anyway, listed above is the somewhat more unusual ingredients that have made many of the best blonde ales that I have tasted.
Title: Re: Back to basics - the perfect blonde
Post by: Jimmy K on November 12, 2014, 05:40:11 PM
I always thought a perfect blonde was more an ultimate goal than 'basics'
Title: Re: Back to basics - the perfect blonde
Post by: morticaixavier on November 12, 2014, 07:59:49 PM
The only thing I'll add is that you might want to switch your steps. figure out the malt first as it's a malt forward style more than a hop forward one and because the malt bill will affect the hop perception more than the other way around in my opinion.

Title: Re: Back to basics - the perfect blonde
Post by: stuworx on November 12, 2014, 08:22:50 PM
The only thing I'll add is that you might want to switch your steps. figure out the malt first as it's a malt forward style more than a hop forward one and because the malt bill will affect the hop perception more than the other way around in my opinion.

Very good point, I did think of doing it that way but I thought starting again with 3-4 smash beers would be more useful to me and to help the hops shine. But yeah you're right, the malt is primary in this.

Now which hop to start with or is the hop round really required?

I could just pick one to stick with or experiment after the yeast round.
Title: Re: Back to basics - the perfect blonde
Post by: morticaixavier on November 12, 2014, 08:25:51 PM
The only thing I'll add is that you might want to switch your steps. figure out the malt first as it's a malt forward style more than a hop forward one and because the malt bill will affect the hop perception more than the other way around in my opinion.

Very good point, I did think of doing it that way but I thought starting again with 3-4 smash beers would be more useful to me and to help the hops shine. But yeah you're right, the malt is primary in this.

Now which hop to start with or is the hop round really required?

I could just pick one to stick with or experiment after the yeast round.

I don't know, does your girlfriend like hops? what kinds? I think noble hops are nice in malty beers because they just support the malt like herbs in stew. But american and new zealand hops can really be great and interesting with fruity and pungent flavors and aromas.
Title: Re: Back to basics - the perfect blonde
Post by: S. cerevisiae on November 12, 2014, 09:06:18 PM
The grist that I use for my blonde is 90% German pils, 5% carapils, and 5% torrified wheat.  I bitter and flavor with Liberty (a triploid derived from Hallertau) for a total of 25 IBUs.  It is a beer that goes over very well with craft and non-craft beer drinkers.
Title: Re: Back to basics - the perfect blonde
Post by: stuworx on November 12, 2014, 09:06:38 PM
I'd say she's not a big hop fan. That was the reason of going Nobel, I'm thinking saaz as I know its used in a beer she likes.

As said, I kinda want a go to beer but then have a base to tweek and experiment. Going US or NZ might be too hoppy for a base beer.
Title: Re: Back to basics - the perfect blonde
Post by: HobsonDrake on November 12, 2014, 09:11:01 PM
Does your gf have a commercial beer that she likes? This would give you something as a starting point and then change it up from there.
Not that brewing lots of beers to get to what you want wouldn't be the best life ever too.
 
Title: Re: Back to basics - the perfect blonde
Post by: morticaixavier on November 12, 2014, 09:11:11 PM
The grist that I use for my blonde is 90% German pils, 5% carapils, and 5% torrified wheat.  I bitter and flavor with Liberty (a triploid derived from Hallertau) for a total of 25 IBUs.  It is a beer that goes over very well with craft and non-craft beer drinkers.

this is a good place to start. simple, easy drinking, and fairly neutral. but with the german pils there will be some nice sweet pils malt flavor and aroma that will make it not too plain.
Title: Re: Back to basics - the perfect blonde
Post by: stuworx on November 12, 2014, 09:34:22 PM
I've got 5 initial brews:-

Malt 1 - lager malt
Malt 2 - wheat malt
Malt 3 - Munich, Vienna, pale rye, carmalt (same carapils i think) and amber malt

The % of Malt 1 & 3 will vary obviously and the wheat will stay at 5%.

I want to keep the ebc under 10 so the % of malt is restricted depending on its colour. I've used 10% rye, which brings the ebc to 5 but would that be too much or too little?

I've never used rye so don't know which way to go. But hey that's partly why Im doing this.

I'm just using saaz at 60m and flameout. And s-04.

Thanks for your time so far guys.
Title: Re: Back to basics - the perfect blonde
Post by: morticaixavier on November 12, 2014, 09:51:40 PM
I've got 5 initial brews:-

Malt 1 - lager malt
Malt 2 - wheat malt
Malt 3 - Munich, Vienna, pale rye, carmalt (same carapils i think) and amber malt

The % of Malt 1 & 3 will vary obviously and the wheat will stay at 5%.

I want to keep the ebc under 10 so the % of malt is restricted depending on its colour. I've used 10% rye, which brings the ebc to 5 but would that be too much or too little?

I've never used rye so don't know which way to go. But hey that's partly why Im doing this.

I'm just using saaz at 60m and flameout. And s-04.

Thanks for your time so far guys.

rye malt at 10% will be very subtle but that might be just right. Same with munich and vienna. crystal/cara malts (at least the kilned ones) will provide more flavor oomph at low percentages. whether that is desirable or not it up to you.
Title: Re: Back to basics - the perfect blonde
Post by: dmtaylor on November 12, 2014, 09:58:55 PM
You won't be able to taste rye at just 10% of the grist.  However, it will have a huge effect on creaminess, body, and head retention at 10%.  If you want to be able to taste it then use more like 20%.
Title: Re: Back to basics - the perfect blonde
Post by: Joe Sr. on November 12, 2014, 10:43:46 PM
I always thought a perfect blonde was more an ultimate goal than 'basics'

I've yet to brew a blonde that I'm truly happy with.  Still trying.
Title: Re: Back to basics - the perfect blonde
Post by: stuworx on November 12, 2014, 11:37:29 PM
I'll up the rye. I was under the impression it was powerful, in terms of flavour.

The Vienna and Munich are around 20% already.
Title: Re: Back to basics - the perfect blonde
Post by: dmtaylor on November 13, 2014, 02:20:12 AM
I'll up the rye. I was under the impression it was powerful, in terms of flavour.

Not at all powerful.  It is very mild and bready.  I would guess that ~75% of people who claim "it's spicy" have never really tasted it.  If it's "spicy", I would say no, it's more like a dry, crisp finish, but I wouldn't say spicy.  And this is a bit of a conundrum as well because while the finish is somewhat dry, while the beer is in your mouth it feels very thick, viscous, slick, heavy.  But then you swallow and this is gone.
Title: Re: Back to basics - the perfect blonde
Post by: erockrph on November 13, 2014, 02:30:25 AM
I'll up the rye. I was under the impression it was powerful, in terms of flavour.

Not at all powerful.  It is very mild and bready.  I would guess that ~75% of people who claim "it's spicy" have never really tasted it.  If it's "spicy", I would say no, it's more like a dry, crisp finish, but I wouldn't say spicy.  And this is a bit of a conundrum as well because while the finish is somewhat dry, while the beer is in your mouth it feels very thick, viscous, slick, heavy.  But then you swallow and this is gone.

+1

Spicy is just one of those terms that doesn't mean much, but it has crept into the lexicon since people are afraid to say that "it tastes like rye" even though that's actually a much better descriptor. Unseeded rye bread is a lot like what rye tastes like in beer.
Title: Re: Back to basics - the perfect blonde
Post by: ajk on November 19, 2014, 03:25:27 AM
I like the term "bran-like" to describe rye's primary flavor contribution.
Title: Re: Back to basics - the perfect blonde
Post by: ynotbrusum on November 19, 2014, 11:52:31 AM
I have typically used rye at the 15-20% level and I get a distinct spiciness then, but it may be that it is from the rye bringing out the spiciness of the hops.  A rye crisp used for hors douevres gives me a spiciness in the bread that is unique to rye. Not hot spice, but not just breads either.  I made a rye pale from "Craft Beer for the Homebrewer" that was very light, yet flavorful and what I would call mildly spicy.  It was authored by a brewery in Appleton Wisconsin and named "Wiley's Rye Ale".  A good one.
Title: Re: Back to basics - the perfect blonde
Post by: bigchicken on November 24, 2014, 05:14:16 AM
I love experimenting too much to keep me from switching recipes. To date, the only recipe I rebrew is a simple blonde with 1 hop type. I change up the hop to get ideas of how the hop tastes on its own, but I keep the IBUs the same and the malt bill stays the same.
5 gallon batch
7lb 2-row (Great Western)
1 lb caramel 10
1 lb Pilsner malt
20 IBUs
Safeale US-05
154 degree mash for an hour.
So far, favorite hop with this is Palisades. I've overdone it with Magnum making a beer more pale ale like. Using some of the new citrus flavor hops is next on my list.