Author Topic: my latest pale ale is pretty dry and meh.  (Read 12773 times)

Offline deepsouth

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my latest pale ale is pretty dry and meh.
« on: July 11, 2012, 06:27:30 AM »
lately, it seems as if i have been brewing for other people/festivals and whatnot and not very much for myself. 

i decided to brew a partial boil pale ale inside on the stove on the 4th of july.  i used only ingredients i had on hand and wanted to make it as easy as possible as the missus was working and i was watching the kids. 

i only boiled about 2.6 gallons of water and used only extra light dry dme, 5.5 lbs.  my hop profile was amarillo, simcoe, and columbus and on beersmith, came out to about 45 ibu. 

i ended up adding 3 gallons of cold water to the wort after the boil.  the temp was still about 80 degrees, so i slapped an airlock on it and put it aside until the morning.  by then, the wort was 72 degrees and i pitched on package of safale us-05.  that was thursday morning.

last night i took a gravity reading and a sample.  1.010 and just not very flavorful.  expected with only extra light dme, but i didn't even get the hoppy kick from it that i usually get in green hoppy beers.

so....i threw in an ounce of amarillo and an ounce of simcoe in the fermenter and i plan on bottling sunday.

worst case scenario, i have a poundable summer session beer, which, as i named it "slacker summer pale" (due to the fact that i feel like partial boils and top-offs when i could be doing full boils is somewhat slacker), i guess i can't really complain much.
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Offline mabrungard

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Re: my latest pale ale is pretty dry and meh.
« Reply #1 on: July 11, 2012, 08:08:01 AM »
You don't mention if you accounted for the partial boil in your IBU calc's, but I'll assume you did.  You don't mention what your water is like.  Adequate sulfate is important in bringing out the hop and bittering expression.  I prefer about 300 ppm sulfate in my pale ales. 

In addition, if the pH of the wort into the kettle was lower than about 5.2, you start loosing hop expression.  If you used RO or distilled water, then its possible to have the pH drop lower than desirable.  Its not likely though.
 
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Offline deepsouth

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Re: my latest pale ale is pretty dry and meh.
« Reply #2 on: July 11, 2012, 08:37:46 AM »
You don't mention if you accounted for the partial boil in your IBU calc's, but I'll assume you did.  You don't mention what your water is like.  Adequate sulfate is important in bringing out the hop and bittering expression.  I prefer about 300 ppm sulfate in my pale ales. 

In addition, if the pH of the wort into the kettle was lower than about 5.2, you start loosing hop expression.  If you used RO or distilled water, then its possible to have the pH drop lower than desirable.  Its not likely though.
 

i did take into account the fact that it was a partial boil on the ibu calculation.  i brewed with store bought spring water, so i have no clue how it is.  i recently found out a fellow homebrewer down here, on the same water as me, brews with "city water", but adds a couple things.  i need to get with him on that for sure.
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Offline diybrewing

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Re: my latest pale ale is pretty dry and meh.
« Reply #3 on: July 11, 2012, 11:28:28 AM »
How long was the boil? Did you throw the DME in at the beginning or the end of the boil?
If I was going to do this I would just do a 15 minute boil and hopburst the crap out of it at the end to get my ibu's.
Something like this
Columbus 1 oz 15 minutes
amarillo 1 oz 10 minutes
simcoe 1 oz 5 minutes
all three at flameout 1 oz.
For your water if you are buying store bought generic water you might as well use your tap water. It is probably the same since the gvmt has very low labeling laws so tap water can basically be called spring water and filtered usually means just run a charcoal filter.

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Offline deepsouth

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Re: my latest pale ale is pretty dry and meh.
« Reply #4 on: July 11, 2012, 12:03:49 PM »
How long was the boil? Did you throw the DME in at the beginning or the end of the boil?
If I was going to do this I would just do a 15 minute boil and hopburst the crap out of it at the end to get my ibu's.
Something like this
Columbus 1 oz 15 minutes
amarillo 1 oz 10 minutes
simcoe 1 oz 5 minutes
all three at flameout 1 oz.
For your water if you are buying store bought generic water you might as well use your tap water. It is probably the same since the gvmt has very low labeling laws so tap water can basically be called spring water and filtered usually means just run a charcoal filter.



i did a full 60 minute boil and boiled the dme the whole time.
Hoppy Homebrewers of South Mississippi (est. 2009)

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bottled:     white house honey ale

Offline erockrph

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Re: my latest pale ale is pretty dry and meh.
« Reply #5 on: July 11, 2012, 08:43:55 PM »
This is pretty much my spur-of-the-moment extract-only brew. I do 3 pounds of light DME in 3 gallons with about 45 IBU's. I've gone through a few revisions and finally got it to where I'm really happy with it. The first time I made it with WLP001, and it came out thin and dry. The dry part I like, but not the thin part. My most recent revision had 4oz of maltodextrin (for a 3 gal batch) and I used a less attenuative yeast (WLP051). This ended up filling out the body while keeping the dryness.

A beer like this is really about the hops, so I really load up there. I do about 20 IBU's at 60 min with Chinook or Columbus, about 25 IBU's at 15 minutes, 1/2 ounce at flameout then dry hop with an ounce or so for 7-10 days. I also add 1g of gypsum which, paired with the Chinook/Columbus, gives a nice hoppy bite.

If you like crystal malt, you could steep some when you start heating your water and pull the bag at 165 or so to get some extra body and crystal character without adding any time to the brewday. Personally, I'm not a big fan of crystal in my hoppy PA's, so I'm going to use 1lb of Munich LME + 2lb light DME next time I brew. I'm also going to try WLP002. The WLP051 was pretty good, but I'm looking for something a bit more flocculant.

Moral of the story - with dry hops you will end up with a tasty brew. If you want to make this your stock "slacker" brew, keep some maltodextrin on hand, use some gypsum, and do a big flameout hop addition. This is actually a really simple way to make a damn good beer. This recipe alone is going to keep me making extract batches even though I'm making the jump to all-grain next week.
Eric B.

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Offline erockrph

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Re: my latest pale ale is pretty dry and meh.
« Reply #6 on: July 11, 2012, 08:55:03 PM »
You don't mention if you accounted for the partial boil in your IBU calc's, but I'll assume you did.  You don't mention what your water is like.  Adequate sulfate is important in bringing out the hop and bittering expression.  I prefer about 300 ppm sulfate in my pale ales. 

In addition, if the pH of the wort into the kettle was lower than about 5.2, you start loosing hop expression.  If you used RO or distilled water, then its possible to have the pH drop lower than desirable.  Its not likely though.

What exactly about "hop expression" is diminished by lower pH? Is it IBU's/utilization? Or is it flavor/aroma?

I ask this because I've been toying with the idea of adding some acid to my extract PA recipe. It's getting close to where I want it, but it's missing something to my palate, and I'm thinking that a touch of acidity is what's missing. Ballast Point Sculpin is one of my all-time favorite IPA's, and it has this juicy character that really makes the hops flavor jump out, so that's what is pushing me in that direction.
Eric B.

Finally got around to starting a homebrewing blog: The Hop Whisperer

Offline mabrungard

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Re: my latest pale ale is pretty dry and meh.
« Reply #7 on: July 12, 2012, 05:54:59 AM »

What exactly about "hop expression" is diminished by lower pH? Is it IBU's/utilization? Or is it flavor/aroma?


This comes from a revelation from Colin Kaminski who is a professional brewer with hundreds of hoppy beers under his belt and co-author of the upcoming book on brewing water.  He termed that 'hop experssion' term without much explanation during our presentation at the Seattle national homebrewers conference.  But, I had previously observed similar effects in beers that I had over acidified.  So I agree with his findings.   

I find that it effects bittering, flavor, and aroma to a small degree.  This makes sense since pH affects the extraction of a number of compounds in the mash and boil.  We know about the negative effect of too high mash pH on tannin extraction.  But there is plenty of evidence for keeping mash and kettle pH in the 5.2 to 5.6 range is beneficial to flavor and color extraction from roasted grain, and probably flavor and aroma extraction from hops. 
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Offline kylekohlmorgen

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Re: my latest pale ale is pretty dry and meh.
« Reply #8 on: July 12, 2012, 07:03:24 AM »
If it were my beer, I'd dryhop the hell out of it before bottling. 4-5 oz of high-oil hops for a few days should do the trick.

Whenever I add water at the end of the brew, it ends up being pretty lifeless.
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Offline deepsouth

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Re: my latest pale ale is pretty dry and meh.
« Reply #9 on: July 12, 2012, 07:22:17 AM »
thanks for all the replies.  excellent information!
Hoppy Homebrewers of South Mississippi (est. 2009)

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bottled:     white house honey ale

Offline mabrungard

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Re: my latest pale ale is pretty dry and meh.
« Reply #10 on: July 12, 2012, 08:30:56 AM »
Oh, by the way.  If the beer is meh and the cause is due to low sulfates, its easy to test out higher sulfate content in the beer.  Just mix up a solution of gypsum and water and get it to dissolve.  Just a small glass should do.

I suggest creating a super-saturated solution by adding excess gypsum to the water.  That excess gypsum will just sit at the bottom of the glass, but at least you are assured the maximum concentration of calcium and sulfate are dissolved in the water. 

Add a dose of that water to a glass of beer and mix it a bit.  See if it improves or degrades the taste.  Try differing amounts to see if there is a sweet spot with respect to your taste preference.  If you are kegging the beer, scale up the volume of the gypsum water and add directly to the keg.
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Offline deepsouth

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Re: my latest pale ale is pretty dry and meh.
« Reply #11 on: July 12, 2012, 05:35:30 PM »
checked it out after work and i'm getting more little bubbles since i dropped the hops in.   not really unexpected, but i'm not sure what it will do to the taste of the already dry, already meh beer.

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bottled:     white house honey ale

Offline erockrph

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Re: Re: my latest pale ale is pretty dry and meh.
« Reply #12 on: July 12, 2012, 05:48:26 PM »
checked it out after work and i'm getting more little bubbles since i dropped the hops in.   not really unexpected, but i'm not sure what it will do to the taste of the already dry, already meh beer.

That's probably just CO2 coming out of solution. Adding dry hops shouldn't really do anything to kick off any additional fermentation if it was already done.
Eric B.

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Offline deepsouth

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Re: my latest pale ale is pretty dry and meh.
« Reply #13 on: July 12, 2012, 05:51:46 PM »
thank you.  great info.   
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bottled:     white house honey ale

Offline deepsouth

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Re: my latest pale ale is pretty dry and meh.
« Reply #14 on: July 14, 2012, 10:46:29 AM »
i just pulled off a sample.  looks like those two ounces of hops likely saved it.  it was much better. 
Hoppy Homebrewers of South Mississippi (est. 2009)

AHA# 196703

bottled:     white house honey ale