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
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.
Dry Hopped: 03-16-13
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
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.