In keeping with my current trend of brewing a low-gravity session beer every few batches, I’m brewing this to kick off a set of beers with WLP090. I wanted to do something a little different this time, so I’m going to brew a very low gravity American Pale Ale. It’ll be something similar to Lagunitas Daytime IPA, or even Firestone’s Mission St. Pale ale, only smaller yet.The goal is to keep the OG at or around 1.035, but hop this beer as I would a 1.055 Pale Ale.
This will be the first of three beers that I’m brewing in a hurry. My little sister is graduating from ASU on May 10th. That weekend also happens to be my birthday, so we’re throwing a Graduation/Birthday party to celebrate. Unfortunately, I have less than a month to get three kegs ready to serve, aside from the keg I need to have ready the weekend prior for an event at my gym. It’s time to get crackin’.
For the grist, I borrowed the recipe from Firestone Walker. This is almost the exact grain bill for Mission St. Pale ale, only less 2-row. I’m mashing pretty high in hopes of keeping this beer from finishing too dry. As for the hops, I played around for a little while before I settled in on this schedule. I wanted something pretty fruity, hence the Amarillo and Falconer’s. From doing some Dry Hop testing with SNPA, I settled in on Nelson and Amarillo with a splash of CTZ and Citra in the dry hop. Hopefully it turns out nice.
Brew day was rather uneventful. 60 minute mash, 60 minute boil, 20 minute whirlpool, and a quick chill. I hit the beer with 90sec O2 before pitching the yeast. Straight out of the vial, I find WLP090 takes about 18hrs to get moving, but once it does, it ferments pretty fast, even at 64*. After 2.5-3 days I ramped the temp up to 68 to let it finish up.
Dry Hopped: 04-21-13
Mash @ 156
7g Apollo @ 60
1oz Falconer’s Flight @ 15
1.5oz Amarillo + .5oz Falconer’s @ 0
WLP090 – Super San Diego
Dry Hop: .75oz ea Nelson Sauvin/Amarillo + .25oz ea Citra/CTZ
I find my lower gravity beers are less susceptible to oxidation, so I just dry hopped this in a better bottle after a week in the primary. The beer sat on the hops for 8 days before I had a keg open up to rack it to. Finally, into the kegerator it went to carb up.
After almost two weeks, it’s good, but not great. I had high hopes for this beer, but it didn’t turn out as well as I hoped. It’s a beautiful beer to look at. Very clear pale yellow with a sticky white head. The aroma is really nice too. Very fruity hoppy notes; I get apricot and grape. It’s downhill from there though. The hops dominate the flavor. The bitterness is punchy, but there’s no alcohol or malt to back it up. Little to no malt character to speak of, and the beer has a crispness that’s just not appealing. All in all, it’s a little rough around the edges.
Truthfully, it’s not a bad a beer, but I tend to be my worst critic, especially when the beer is on tap for an event. It’s a decent recipe that isn’t too far from being great. So if I had a chance to do this beer again? I’d leave the hop schedule alone, as that was fine. I’d bump the carapils up to 1lb, and add an additional 10-16oz of a light crystal malt. C15 or C20. Even with that, I’d increase the mash temp to 157-158 in effort to keep the beer from tasting so dry.
I think the lesson to be learned here is that while lower gravity beers aren’t quite as exciting as the big boys, they’re much harder to brew well. I can slap together a good IPA recipe blindfolded, but this little 3.5% recipe proved much more difficult. I love a good session beer, so I’ll definitely be re-brewing this at some point in the next few months. Hopefully it doesn’t take too much to dial in.