Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Pale Ale Quest… Part II

As my second edition of pale ale quest, I would like to describe the method to my madness… at least for this batch.  After my last pale ale recipe, I found that I didn’t get the original gravity (OG) I was looking for due to the amount of water I added between mashing and sparging.  So this time I decided to measure the amount of water I add to the mash.  I also didn’t think that the Munich malt of my last recipe, Custer Pale Ale v1, gave me the malty character I was looking for.  So, this time I wanted to change it up a bit.  I asked my wife to look online at some recipes for pale ale and tell me what she found.  She wound up finding a recipe that used pale malt, caramel 20L, wheat malt and corn flakes.  Yes, I said corn flakes; not brewers corn flakes, but the cereal corn flakes with Tony the tiger on the box… cause they’re grrrrreat. 
Kellogg's Corn Flakes Box
At first I was a little hesitant as to whether or not the recipe would fit into the pale ale category or not just because of the adjuncts, but I did some research on the style and on corn flakes in general.  I found that adjuncts and specialty grains can be used in a pale ale recipe as long as they make up a small portion of the “grist.”  As far as the corn flakes go, I found that people who used them indicated that the toasted corn and added sugar give the beer a slightly toasty flavor while keeping the alcohol content up, color down and add a mild malty flavor.  I thought that the wheat malt would give the beer a nice balance with the toastiness by supplying a larger helping of mild malt flavor.  I thought that these two adjuncts fit right in with what I was shooting for.  That is, a malty flavor with high alcohol content light color and a hoppy goodness. 

Of course I couldn’t just take a recipe and use it as is... so I changed the original recipe up a little bit and added some additional pale malt, crystal malt and wheat malt.  The recipe I came up with had the following grain bill:

16 lbs of 2-row Pale Malt
3 lbs of Crystal 20L
2 lbs of Wheat Malt
18 oz of Corn Flakes (1 box)

Since I was using cereal corn flakes, I didn’t have to do a cereal mash because the process of making cereal has already pre gelatinized them for me.

Start of Mash

Because the grain bill for this recipe was 23lbs and I was expecting to get a high OG, I decided to not waste the extra sugars on my grain and do a second running to make 10 gallons of beer total.  This was a first for me since I usually only make 5 gallons of beer.  I boiled both batches separately and used one of the two 1oz Cascade hop bags, which I originally wanted to dry hop the single 5 gallon batch with, for the boil of the second running.  Half of the 1oz bag was added to the lower gravity batch at the beginning of the boil and the second half was added in the last 15 minutes of the boil.

Hot Break (Start of Boil)

As for the rest of the hops and for the yeast, I decided to formulate my own hopping schedule for the high OG batch based on my experience from the last batch of pale ale I made and also use the same yeast, Pacific Ale Yeast WPL 041, for both 5 gallon batches.  Since my ultimate goal is to use freshly grown non kiln dried hops, I chose to use the same type of hops I am growing, which are Cascade leaf hops; however, the ones I am using for this recipe have been kiln dried and packaged.  I also attended a homebrew meeting last Wednesday at Make Wine Make Beer where one of the fellow home brewers said any of us that go to the meetings can have some of his home grown hops for their batches since he often gets more than enough from his plants.  His varieties were Hallertau and Tettnang, so I chose to use Hallertau as a finishing hop. 

The quantity of hops I used was 1oz per boil phase, which are: bittering phase, flavor phase and aroma or finishing phase.  Then I decided to dry hop with the same amount as I used in my last pale ale recipe to give the beer a bit more flavor and aroma.  Since my last pale ale batch had the aroma and a low flavor profile, I simply decided to double the hop usage during the boil hoping for more of a bitter floral flavor.  My hop schedule was as follows:

1.0  oz Cascade (15 min.)
1.0  oz Cascade (30 min.)
1.0  oz Hallertau mixed with 1tbsp Irish Moss (45 min.)
1.0 oz Cascade (dry hop)
As I discussed with another fellow home brewer before the homebrew meeting, I often put the hops for each phase in a separate zip lock bag and label them for the time they should be put into the boil.  This practice tends to cause less human error when conducting the boil; however, this time the hops were all in the same 1oz bags that I bought them in and I just labeled the original packaging for the time.
Three of Five Ounces of Hops
Three of Five Ounces of Hops

When the 60 minute boil time was reached, I cooled the wort with my copper emersion wort chiller.  To try and save a little bit of time, I used the water from the wort chiller to rinse and scrub the residue from my mash tun and eventually the second boil kettle I used.  I then transferred the wort to my fermenter when 70 degrees was reached.  To aerate, I splashed from one of the sanitized fermenters to the other until it built up a good head and then I pitched the yeast.

The calculated OG for the first running came in at 1.113 according to the Brewzor app on my smart phone.  My OG of the first running wound up being 1.080, not due to lack of efficiency, but because when I took my reading of the OG after lautering I was shocked to see such a high gravity in the 1.1 range and didn’t think to compare my notes on what the OG was supposed to be.  I had already added the water to the mash tun for the second running and was beginning to bring the wort of the first running up to boiling temperature when I realized that I didn’t account for evaporation during the boil.  So at this point stupidity set in and I added extra wort from the mash tun to the boil kettle to bring the volume up.  If I had counted for evaporation when I lautered in the first place, then I would have added just enough water to bring my volume up and wouldn’t have watered my wort down.

My OG Reading
Since I still had some hot liquor to add to the mash tun for the second running, I added the same volume as I just took out and waited another hour for the mash to convert any remaining starches to sugar.  After boiling and cooling the second running, I wound up getting a 1.040 OG reading.  I anticipate that even with the lower gravity in my first running that I will get a 9.2% ABV.  That is assuming a 1.010 final gravity (FG).  The second running should get about a 4.0% ABV if I assume the same FG.
My Mash and Boil Setup
Draining the Wort

Well that concludes this edition of Pale Ale Quest.  To see the recipes for this batch, click on the recipes tab and browse to Custer Pale Ale v2.  Hopefully if you follow the recipe you will get the 1.113 OG for the first running and possibly a higher OG for the second.


  1. lol Tony the Tiger = Frosted Flakes, not Corn Flakes.

    How did it turn out?

  2. I'm not sure how the beer tastes yet. I just checked on them yesterday and the second running is about ready for bottling. The first running still had a yeast cake sitting on the top and the airlock was bubbling still. I'm gonna wait probably another one or two weeks before I think about bottling the first running.