Jeff Longland

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Archive for June 2013

West Coast Amber Ale

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West Coast Amber AleGenerally, I don’t brew much in the summer.  That’s largely because I have no fermentation temperature control and while it isn’t particularly hot in the summer in Vancouver, a few 24C days will create a lot more esters than I like.  So it’s weird that I wanted to brew in early July (2012).  But the weather was great and I was out of homebrew.  A few weeks earlier, I attended the National Homebrewers Conference and sampled some awesome amber ales (not to mention, every other style).  Having never brewed an amber, I figured a good place to start would be the West Coast Blaster in Brewing Classic Styles.  To keep fermentation temperatures in some semblance of control, I used a swamp cooler for the first time.  It worked relatively well and didn’t require much effort, so I may give it a try this summer.  Though, I recently re-purposed my ‘keezer’ as a fermentation chamber and I think I could be convinced to invest in a mini-fridge for fermentation.  The alternate plan is to brew Saisons until cooler weather returns.

The brew day didn’t go particularly well – efficiency was terrible!  It was the first batch where I used my Monster Mill to crush the grains.  I didn’t crush the grains enough and efficiency suffered.  I decided to boil for an extended time, acknowledging that I would undershoot my target volume.  The only problem was that I made the decision after adding the 60 min hops – so they were more like 120 min hops, which made this beer quite bitter.  But it was a gorgeous sunny day, so I didn’t really care at the time.

Fermentation went well.  The swamp cooler kept temperatures around 18 C.   But getting it to carbonate (in bottles) took a long, long time.  There was some carbonation after a month, but it was 3-4 months before it was carbonated to style.  Which worked out in the end, because this beer was far too bitter until it was at least 6 months old.  Age also rounded out a tartness that I noticed in this beer.  Some tasters noticed it, but others didn’t.  I found a message board thread discussing tartness when using Wyeast 1322, but I know that Will from The Perfect Pint uses this yeast regularly and I’ve never seen him mention tartness in his tasting notes.  Personally, I wasn’t a fan of the tartness.  It will be a while before I try this yeast again.

Appearance – Nice and clear, can see through it and read newsprint.  One of the clearest bottle-conditioned beers that I’ve made.  Colour is a nice amber.

Aroma – Light malt aroma, some sweetness and a slight tart smell.

Taste  Toasted malt at start. Tartness, presumably from the yeast, blending into a strong bitterness from the Magnum hops. Light malt sweetness on finish with dryness from the bitter.

Mouthfeel  Kind of thin.  Carbonation has always been a little lacking, it never carbonated quite right.

Drinkability/Notes  I wasn’t fond of this beer until it began to carbonate around 3-4 months.  Even then, I wasn’t a big fan.  But at 8 months, the last bottle of this beer was rather tasty. I felt dumb for having wasted so many bottles in the first 3-4 months.  I’ll definitely brew this beer again, but I think I’ll use a different yeast.

West Coast Amber Ale Recipe

Wort Volume Before Boil: 7.00 US gals
Wort Volume After Boil: 6.10 US gals
Volume Transferred: 6.00 US gals
Volume At Pitching: 6.00 US gals
Final Batch Volume: 5.00 US gals
Expected Pre-Boil Gravity: 1.057 SG
Actual Pre-Boil Gravity: 1.042 SG
Expected OG: 1.066 SG
Actual OG: 1.052 SG
Expected FG: 1.020 SG
Actual FG: 1.014 SG
Expected Efficiency: 70.0%
Actual Efficiency: 51.9%
Expected ABV: 6.2 %
Actual ABV: 5.0 %
Expected IBU: 49.2
Expected Color: 12.2 SRM
Boil Duration: 60.0 mins (but boiled much longer to offset poor mash efficiency)

Maris Otter 12.75 lb – 83.1%
Munich 1.00 l.00 lb – 6.5%
Carastan 1.00 lb – 6.5%
Victory 0.50 lb – 3.3%
Chocolate 0.10 lb – 0.7%

Magnum (14.2% alpha) 28 g – 60 mins
Cascade (6.5% alpha) 28 g – 10 mins
Simcoe (14.1% alpha) 21 g – 10 mins
Cascade (6.5% alpha) 28 g – 0 mins
Simcoe (14.1% alpha) 21 g – 0 mins

Other Ingredients
Yeast: Wyeast 1322 Northwest Ale
Mashed at 152F


Written by jlongland

June 8, 2013 at 2:28 pm

Posted in Homebrew

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