Today, I brewed an American Pale Ale with one third of the grist consisting of rye malt. Half the grist was pale malt and the rest was made up Belgian Munich Malt. I find that Belgian Munich is a little sweeter and less bready than other Munich malts. I’ve never used CaraMunich, which is a Crystal malt at a similar color to Munich, but I can’t imagine they’d be too much different. Maybe that is even further on the sweet end.
The rye is obviously the big focal point of this grain bill. This is only my second time using it, Table Cat being the first. In that beer, I don’t think it had too big of an impact, despite being half the grist, because the beer was super low gravity and had an even lower terminal gravity from the saison yeast, which took over most of the flavor profile. Hopefully the spicy/oily rye flavor/texture comes through more here.
This is APA, though, so it will still have a lot of competition, this time from the hops. I’m using up that leftover half ounce of Cascade from Elkland Amber Lager for bittering. It may seem like a small bittering charge for this beer, but I’m loading up the last ten minutes with four ounce of hops, which should add up to a healthy 40ish IBU’s.
Those late hops are combination of Nugget (the first two additions, ten and five minutes from the end of the boil) and two ounces of Simcoe (at flameout). I have used Nugget for bittering several times, but haven’t experimented much with it as a flavor or aroma hop.
There is a lot of conflicting information about it online and in brewing literature. A lot of people claim it is too harsh to use as a flavor hop, while others sing the praises of its spicy and woody characteristics. I can’t help but bring up Tröegs’ Nugget Nectar yet again. Tröegs uses Nugget in a few of their hoppy beers and I always love their results. I’ve read that it can be good to balance all of the fruity, citrusy and floral notes most of the other hops used in APAs, IPAs and DIPAs. This, I think is what lends a lot of the complexity to Tröegs’ Nugget Nectar, Perpetual IPA (which also features Mount Hood) and Hopback Amber Ale. In this case, I’m hoping the Nugget hops and the rye will work together to make a very spicy beer.
The Simcoe hops will bring the balance, in the other direction, with citrus and pine notes. Simcoe is sometimes described as spicy, as well, but is a very unique hop with flavor and aroma all over the map, the citrus and resinous piny aromas win out, though in my experience.
Enough about the recipe. I had a good brew day, and got a lot of other homebrew related stuff done while waiting for the ninety minute mash to run it’s course, but I’ll write about that in the batch update later this week. I mentioned that I was experimenting with longer mash times starting with Elkland Amber Lager, and I continued that here. I normally do a sixty minute mash and then a sixty plus minute sparge/lauter with only a trickle of wort coming out of the mash tun. My efficiency with this method has been fairly low and recently, a little unpredictable.
The long sparge was already an experiment to help with efficiency, but it wasn’t changing much for me. My next attempt to help the situation was upgrading my thermometer to make sure I was actually hitting the temperatures I thought I was and to make opening the cooler lid a less frequent occurrence. The new smoker thermometer didn’t improve my efficiency, but it let me know that hitting my temperatures wasn’t the issue.
So, my next move was to extend my mash. It worked out on Elkland Amber, so I did it again on this beer, and to keep the experiment going, I actually sped up my sparge a little bit. My efficiency was about the same this time as it was with Elkland Amber, so while I added thirty minutes to my mash, I subtracted fifteen from my sparge and my brew day has only been extended by a quarter of an hour. My efficiency is about ten percent better than it was before making this change, so I’ll take it.
With this experimentation, making my grain recipes has been more guesswork than I’d like lately, but the difference in gravity is not too great. I ended up well within the window I was planning on today.
Aside from that experimentation, this was a very pleasant brew day for one big, important reason. The weather is beautiful and it was my first fully outdoor brew of the season. I am greatly anticipating more of these days in the coming months. I always boil outside, but in the colder months, I lug heated water in and out of the kitchen, which has a door into the backyard, to keep my mash tun inside and sometimes heat my sparge water on the stove. I got to play in the dirt doing some garden (both vegetable and hops) preparation between messing with the wort. Grim, whose pretty chartreuse retina’s are the inspiration for the name of this beer even joined me for part of the brew session.
The wort is visibly oily. It looked a little strange when I ended the boil, but hopefully this means there will be a lot of rye character in the finished beer. The only issue I had was a slightly stuck sparge, close to the end of collecting the wort. It was late enough that it was not much trouble to just rouse it around a bit with my mash paddle. Adding some rice hulls when using this much rye may be a good idea to keep in mind in the future. Okay, luckily, I’ve already written out the recipe, so now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go clean up my kettle so I can get out for a run and enjoy what’s left of this beautiful day.
Green Eye Rye PA
Style: 10A American Pale Ale
Estimated FG: 1.011
Approximate ABV: 4.3%
50% American Pale Malt (2 row)
33% Rye Malt
17% Belgian Munich Malt
60 min .5 oz Cascade to 13 IBU
10 min 1 oz Nugget to 17 IBU
5 min 1 oz Nugget to 9 IBU
0 min 2 oz Simcoe for aroma
1 packet rehydrated Nottingham dry ale yeast
15 quarts of water @ 164º to achieve 152º mash temp, hold for 90 minutes
8 quarts of boiling water to raise 170º mash out temp, hold for 10 minutes
Sparge with 170º water until six gallons of wort is collected over 45 minutes
Boil for one hour with hop additions at 60, 10 and 5 minutes from the end, then at flame out
Chill quickly and pitch rehydrated yeast
Ferment at room temperature until visible activity stops, about one week, then rack to secondary
Bottle after two weeks in secondary, or when clear