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American Amber 3.0

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West-Coast Amber Ale is one of my favorite styles of beer. They’re big, malty, hoppy, but most importantly, drinkable; what’s not to like? Since I have a pitch of Chico-like yeast ready to pitch, it seemed like a great time to brew another batch of my Amber Ale. I’m brewing nearly the same recipe as last time, only making a color adjustment, and a few hop tweaks. I’m swapping out Centennial/Amarillo for Falconer’s Flight at the 10 minute addition (just to use up some 2011 FF). I did want to play with the dry hop schedule a bit, so I employed the dry hopping test method we talked about here. I used Sierra Nevada Pale Ale instead of Bud Light, which worked fabulously well. I dosed four bottles, each with it’s own dry hop ratio.

– 50% Citra / 50% CTZ
– 66% Citra / 33% CTZ
– 66% Citra / 33% Mosaic
– 50% Citra / 50% Nelson Sauvin

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Despite the fact that each bottle was 50% or more Citra, each beer was pretty distinct. The first was just a little too dank. I liked it, but it wasn’t quite what I was going for. The second was perfect. Fruity, citrusy, a little dank, but not overwhelming. The third smelled and tasted great, but it came across a little too sweet. It would work well in a dry IPA, but not an Amber with a lot of caramel malt. The last sample was also very nice. Nelson has some grape notes to it, which worked well with the Citra. In the end I felt the punch from the Citra/CTZ combo was what I was looking for in my Amber.

 

I can’t even describe how excited I am about this. To be able to take four proposed dry hop schedules, and actually get to taste them 3 days later is pretty eye-opening for me. This will really cut down on the level of tweaking needed for my hoppy beers before I’m happy with a recipe.

 

Anyway, enough about that. Nice and easy Saturday evening brew day. My replacement SSR and Element arrived, so my HERMs setup is working correctly again. 60 minute mash, then a 60 minute boil. I let the flameout hops whirlpool hot for 15 minutes before quickly chilling to 60F. 60 seconds of O2, then I pitched 125ml of yeast that was harvested from my recent Scottish 60/-. The yeast took off really fast, even at 17C. By day two, I raised the temp to 18.5C, then 20C on day three. Fermentation was done by day 4; I was very impressed.

Brewed: 03-09-13
Dry Hopped: 03-16-13
Kegged: 03-20-13
OG: 1.061
FG: 1.014
ABV: 6.1%
IBU: ~50
6 Gallons


10lbs 2-row
1.5lb Munich
14oz English Crystal
7oz Crystal 120
2.5oz Chocolate Malt
Mash @ 154*
.8oz Apollo @ 60
1oz Falconer’s Flight @ 10
1oz ea Centennial/Amarillo @ 0
WLP090 – Super San Diego Yeast
Dry Hop – 1oz Citra & .5oz CTZ

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After a week sitting on the yeast, I racked the beer into a keg. I’m playing around with one of those Dry Hoppers from Stainless Brewing, and they work really well. It’s a well-made stainless mesh tube that’s almost as tall as a corny keg. It has a solid stainless cap for a lid, and a stainless clamp to hold the cap in place. This thing is super convenient for beers with a single stage dry hop, as I can throw it in for a few days, then fish it back out. I don’t then have to rack the beer a second time. For this batch, I dropped the dry-hopper in for four days, removed it, and crashed the keg in the kegerator. Lastly, I fined with gelatin, and carbed it up.

 

It’s been in the keg now for close to two weeks, and I’m thrilled with how it turned out. The color is a beautiful blood red, with some chill haze that’s slowly faded. The aroma is mostly tropical fruit, with some big oily hop notes as well. I definitely like how the Citra-CTZ combo worked. You also pick out some caramel in the nose, but not much. As for the flavor, malt sweetness hits you first, then citrusy hops, and finally a firm bitterness that helps pull it off the palate.

 

This is the Amber Ale I’ve been trying to make a for a few years now; big, clean flavors that blend together beautifully. Hopefully I can find the time to brew this beer a few times a year, as I absolutely love it.

31 thoughts on “American Amber 3.0”
  1. JupiterJesus 04.03.2013 on 4:23 AM Reply

    I'm of two minds about ambers/reds. Some good ones, but too many bad ones. After making the west coast blaster recipe from Brewing Classic Styles and being extremely disappointed, I've sworn off excessively malty IPAs. Don't get me started on Hop Head Red – those SoCal guys make hoppy beers that taste like pure sugar. I guess it doesn't help that I live in Santa Rosa, home of Russian River and supremely dry IPAs. Still, I want to like this style again. Perhaps with something that has a nice malt character without the thick sweetness (if I wanted a barleywine, I'd have bought a barleywine). Got any advice about recipes or commercial examples that might make me give ambers/reds a chance again?

  2. Guilherme 04.03.2013 on 1:18 PM Reply

    Great post!
    Do you think this Amber would work well with US05?

  3. Scott 04.03.2013 on 9:41 PM Reply

    You wouldn't care for this one then; there's too much crystal malt for what you'd like. Consider a similar recipe, but drop most of the crystal malt, and make up the color difference with chocolate malt. Possibly increase the Munich as well. You'd have a drier, less sweet Amber ale that is still plenty malty.

  4. Scott 04.03.2013 on 9:42 PM Reply

    I've brew it with US05 before, and it's excellent.

  5. Jim Randell 04.04.2013 on 3:49 PM Reply

    I'm curious about why you limit the dry hopper to single stage dry hopping? Could one not just add more hope after, say, 4 days, being sure to flush with CO2? Also, when using pellet hops how much residue leaks into the beer?

  6. Ryan Caldwell 04.06.2013 on 8:03 PM Reply

    I've tried your dry hop experiment twice now and its an amazing find! question though,my bottles all gush when i open them? and how is your beer not full of hops?

  7. Captain2Harted 04.07.2013 on 2:20 AM Reply

    Great post, the beer sounds fantastic as this is also one of my favoriete styles when done right. Which English Crystal did you use? medium?

  8. Scott 04.07.2013 on 3:12 AM Reply

    You totally could, and I did use it for a multiple stage dry-hop on my recent Younger clone. I'm just lazy, so it's very convenient for single stage dry hops.

    Very little (if any) of the hops make it into the beer, other than the hop oil. It's a pretty fine mesh.

  9. Scott 04.07.2013 on 3:13 AM Reply

    After putting the bottles in the fridge overnight, all the hops drop to the bottom for me. They don't seem to gush.

    I did try to open one of the bud light bottles when it wasn't fully chilled, and ya, it gushed like crazy. Are you chilling them down before opening?

  10. Scott 04.07.2013 on 3:14 AM Reply

    Medium (50-60L). I'm really hooked on that malt. I use it in place of American C60 in everything.

  11. Shawn 04.07.2013 on 10:08 PM Reply

    Sounds great. Have you been reading Mike Tonsmeire's tweaking with the Amber recipe for Modern Times Brewery? What they were looking for reminds me of your goal as well – a citrusy and dank aroma/flavor. I believe what they finally decided on was Simcoe, Mosaic, and Nelson Sauvin.

  12. pdtnc 04.09.2013 on 6:23 AM Reply

    How is the mesh to sanitise, I use a Tea-Infuser-Ball as a Syphon-Racking attachement and I boil it for 20mins prior to putting it near my beer, I heard mesh can be bad for having places for bugs to live.

  13. Scott 04.15.2013 on 12:38 AM Reply

    Ya, I've been following his posts. It's a pretty similar beer. The big difference is that his doesn't have any crystal malt. That makes it more of a 'red' IPA. This recipe has lots of crystal malt. Similar hop bills though.

  14. Scott 04.15.2013 on 12:39 AM Reply

    Thus far, it hasn't proved hard to sanitize. I've only used it for three beers, but no problems yet.

  15. Reaver 04.19.2013 on 12:20 AM Reply

    Thank you for sharing this recipe. It was exactly what I was looking for in an Amber Recipe. I had started creating a recipe (my first from scratch) when I came across your 3.0, and it described exactly what I was looking for. I'm brewing it this weekend 4/20 with some friends.

  16. Scott 04.22.2013 on 6:26 PM Reply

    Nice! Let me know how it turns out.

  17. Adam Brown 04.25.2013 on 3:26 AM Reply

    sorry if this posts twice. I'm looking to do my first all grain brew, and this looks like a great recipe. I think I am going to give it a try, but do you think it might be a little ambitious for a first time all grainer? Great blog.

  18. Scott 04.29.2013 on 5:43 PM Reply

    It shouldn't be too difficult for a first AG batch. It's a single infusion mash, and you have some leeway with the mash temp on this beer. If you hit anything between 152 and 155, it should turn out well.

    If you want to simplify things, you could always leave out the dry hop, but personally I like it there.

  19. Daniel Bartholomaeus 05.16.2013 on 12:04 PM Reply

    Loving your blogs and have decided this is my next brew. I cannot source Apollo or FF from my LHBS and was thinking of subbing Centennial for the Apollo and Citra for the FF. A different beer I know but would like your thoughts thanks.

  20. Scott 05.16.2013 on 9:27 PM Reply

    You could sub nearly anything for Apollo and get a similar effect. My Apollo was 18%, so that's 14.4AAU. Whichever hop you use, divide it's AA% into 14.4 to figure out how much to use. (e.g. 1.44oz of a 10% hop).

    When I previously brewed this beer I used .5oz ea Centennial & Amarillo for that 10 minute addition. I only used Falconer's Flight because I had some I needed to use up. Feel free to sub Centennial or Amarillo at that addition. It won't make much difference in the final beer.

  21. Joe M 05.29.2013 on 2:39 PM Reply

    Hi Scott. I love the blog. The hopping experiment with the Bud LIghts is awesome! I have a question regarding you recipe.

    What Lovibond is the English crystal (is that 60L) and the chocolate malt? Is the chocolate malt the pale at 200L or the darker one at 350L?

    Thanks!
    Joe

  22. Scott 06.11.2013 on 2:33 AM Reply

    It's English Medium Crystal, which is 50-60L. I call it 55 for good measure. The chocolate is the darker 350L one.

  23. Nate 07.22.2013 on 7:37 PM Reply

    I made this recipe a few weeks back and I've been drinking it for a few days now. It's absolutely delicious. I'm usually not an amber fan but I'd been wanting to give the style another shot and this sounded like it would be up my alley. Definitely glad I tried it – if you're thinking about brewing this beer, don't hesitate. Thanks for posting Scott. Cheers.

  24. Scott 07.24.2013 on 5:42 AM Reply

    That's awesome! It's definitely one of my favs. Glad it turned out well for you!

  25. Tony Ashdown 08.05.2013 on 8:19 PM Reply

    Hey Scott, thanks for the recipe and for the awesome blog. I just brewed this yesterday and I have a couple of questions. I mistakenly put in Simcoe for the Falconers Flight, I don't think this will be a problem, but I was wondering how much you think this will change the flavor? Next, I was thinking of using the Citra and Nelson for the dry hop stage. One do you think this will work or would you just stay with the Citra and CTZ? And two, if I do go with the Citra/Nelson option, should I put in one ounce of both or 1/2 an ounce? Thanks for any feedback and thanks again for an awesome blog!

    P.S. I also have the dry hopper from Stainless Brewing and I like it but I don't like the whole clamp thing, when I do two stages it just gets in the way. Have you seen the dry hopper from Arbor Fab? It has a screw on top. It is a little bit more expensive and it is definitely smaller, but the convenience of the screw top is awesome. I bought one of those also and I am going to try it out in my Amber batch even though it only has a single dry hop. I will let you know what I think of it.

  26. Scott 08.05.2013 on 10:09 PM Reply

    You're fine the Simcoe. You can totally play around with the dry hop on this beer. Citra and Nelson will go together well. I like this beer fairly hoppy, so 1.5oz to 2oz is probably good for the dry hop.

    As for the dry hopper, ya, the clamp thing is a little cumbersome for multiple dry hops. I've been putting on a pair of rubber gloves that I dip in sanitizer to get around that.

  27. Jason Thompson 09.17.2013 on 5:56 PM Reply

    I just used this dry hopper for the first time. Did a double dry hop in the keg for 2 days, each then fined with gelatin. So far the first 5 pours all have had tons of hop material in them. It's starting to clear but I wouldn't be surprised if it takes a total of 12 pours to be brilliant. Thats 25% of a keg.

  28. Scott 09.19.2013 on 2:55 PM Reply

    Yikes, Mine seemed to clear up much faster. Unless there's been some changes to how fine the mesh is on the dry hopper, I'm not sure?

    Maybe some differences in the hop pellets themselves? I dunno. Check on Homebrewtalk. There's a pretty good-sized thread there where a number of people are using it.

  29. Jerad Traudt 03.25.2014 on 11:15 PM Reply

    So I brewed this just how it's written up. At two weeks in the keg I was happy, now at three weeks I'm blown away. I wasn't expecting this to be one of my favorite beers, but it really is. Great hoppy amber!

    Thanks for the work you did to get it there. I wouldn't change a thing!

  30. Scott 05.06.2014 on 12:50 AM Reply

    That's awesome man. I'm right there with you. It isn't the sexist beer on paper, but I sure do love it in my glass.

  31. […] all the beers I made last year, one of my absolute favorites was my American Amber Ale. It wasn’t the biggest, it wasn’t the hoppiest, and it might not have been the most […]

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