Friday, January 16, 2009

My First All Grain: Esseola 181 Pale Ale

We were finally able to get John's new mash tun and boiling kettle up and running (okay, so really, John did his own work on both of these things). He ordered a Roggenbier kit from Northern Brewer, also All Grain, and I made up a pale ale recipe, loosely based on Three Floyd's Alpha King, but also just on the American Pale Ale style I had seen somewhere else, as well as an early recipe I had made up based on what I thought was the hop profile of Shoreline's SumNug IPA. Top that all off with a song by Jolene called "Esseola 181" which reminded me of Asheville, North Carolina with the chorus, "This town in Blue Ridge..." and there you have the basics.

So after fucking up a few recipes, I've sort of learned some things (I would say for the most part, the beers we've made have been good, but there have been shortfalls: I don't know what happened with the Tongue Splitter kit. I think the yeast didn't have enough healthy food. The first Witbier had like a quarter pound of cloves in it, and was definitely overwhelming on that front, and the Pilsner, which actually was pretty excellent, came out about 0.010 lower in the original gravity than I wanted due to me shoving about 5 pounds of grain into one bag instead of 4, for better utilization of the sugars...pretty much everything else except the Jinx clone which turned out not to be a Jinx clone has been very good), including dry-hopping, using yeast starters, oxygenating the beer with a tank of oxygen, etc.

I have also been screwing around with Promash, which is a software for homebrewing. I think it can be set up for businesses, but then those guys know way more than me, so I'm not sure how they do it. I finally bought the whole version instead of messing around with the sample, and life is good. I totally recommend it.

I was also able to use an 1.25 oz of Zeus hops that I grew in my back yard for this. I opted to use these primarily as the boiling hop, but next time might use the Nugget instead, and use the Zeus for flavoring hops. I put 1 oz in at 60 minutes, and used the remainder of Nugget and Zeus in the secondary. I also got an ounce of Amarillo hops for the end of the boil, because I really like Amarillo hops.

So we made the beer, and after about a week in the bottle, John and his family were over for Christmas Eve dinner and he says, "That beer should be ready by now." I'm skeptical. I always like it to be bottled/kegged for at least 3 weeks, and then wait another week for good measure. I'm patient that way. Plus, I was giving my dad a case at first, for Christmas, but then I ended up only giving him 12 plus 6 Tad, 2 Ciders, and 4 beers he can't get in Missouri.

So we try the beer, and there's definitely not enough head on it for me, but it smells good, tastes good, and it's carbonated. Of course, I figured I would wait and see what happened, and sure enough, on January 11, I tried it, and it's awesome. The hop profile is great, plus, there's this underlying caramel taste that I haven't picked up in a pale ale before. It's very nice.

Esseola 181
5 gallon batch - All Grain

11.0 lbs U.S. 2-row Pale Malt
1.0 lb Crystal Malt 60*L
0.5 lb Caramunich
Steep at 155*F for 45 minutes
1.0 oz Zeus @ 60 min.
0.25 oz Nugget @ 30 min.
1.0 oz Amarillo @ 5 min.
0.75 oz Nugget - Dry Hop
0.25 oz Zeus - Dry Hop
Wyeast American Ale II Yeast

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