Graduation Pale Ale (all-grain)

Pale ale recipe

My little bro is graduating from UMD this May, so, you guessed it, I’m making him a beer as a gift and also serve it at the graduation party! Usually he likes IPAs, Hefeweizens, Belgians, etc., but if we’re talkin’ about general crowd-pleasing beers, those styles probably aren’t the best thing to make. I wanna make something that everyone can casually sip and enjoy; something low/moderate alcohol, well-balanced and refreshing.

It’s probably never a good idea to try something new when making a batch for an event, in the off chance that disaster strikes. But, brewing wouldn’t be brewing without the element of suspense and surprise, so let’s go for it. My previous few all-grain batches came out well and I’m definitely ready to iterate on them and make adjustments…  buuuut, for some reason a nice, crisp, subtly-hopped pale ale just sounds damn good. So, a standard American Pale Ale it is!

  • 8 lb pale US 2-row
  • 1 lb Crystal 60
  • 0.5 Crystal 20
  • 0.25 oz Simcoe hops (60 min)
  • 0.25 oz Amarillo hops (60 min)
  • 0.125 oz Simcoe hops (15 min)
  • 0.125 oz Amarillo hops (15 min)
  • 0.5 oz Simcoe hops (2 min)
  • 0.5 oz Amarillo hops (2 min)
  • 0.5 oz Simcoe hops (dry hop)
  • 0.5 oz Amarillo hops (dry hop)
  • 1 tsp irish moss (15 min)
  • 1 tsp gypsum (prior to boil)
  • WYeast American Ale 1056

Simcoe & Amarillo hops

I wanted this beer to have some body to it. One thing that turns me off with pale ales is when they’re overly bitter without a hearty, malty backbone to support it.  I decided to mash a little higher than normal (154 degrees), so hopefully this should provide just what I’m looking for. I also did a “mash out”; basically raising the temperature of the mash during the last 10 minutes to stop all starch to sugar conversion – once again hopefully preserving some body in the final beer.  After a 90 minute boil, gravity was reading 1.05, which should make about a 5% ABV beer.  The recipe comes from, a place where I’ve been digging up some pretty good recipes recently. I modified it with some extra 2-row and added crystal 60 for some more body and malty character.

For the past couple batches, I’ve been using the trial version of a program called Beer Smith. So far, I like it. It’s been pretty accurate in terms of hitting temperatures. It lets you plan out the beer ahead of time in terms of color, bitterness, alcohol, etc., which is super helpful for making adjustments and seeing the effects on the spot.  It also tells you how your beer fits into the style-guidelines for whatever style your making, so you can dial into that, too (that is, if you care about “fitting in”).

Big ol’ starter

Made a yeast starter two days prior to brewing, and it definitely helped.  It was showing signs of fermentation in the airlock not even an hour after pitching! Pretty sweet.  After 4 days in the primary the airlock was idle, so I racked it over and measured the gravity at 1.01.  A little lower than I wanted, but the beer tastes great.

After dry-hopping in the secondary for 5 days, I gave it a taste and kegged. Man, does it have a great nose to it.  Amarillo is an amazing hop variety which pretty much dominates the smell, but it’s great.  The level of bitterness is just what I wanted, but it could honestly use a liiittle more body and malty-ness.  Beer Smith said it should finish around 1.012-1.014, but the yeast were just too happy, I guess.  Next time I’ll add some other specialty malts (probably either Biscuit or toasted malts) to bring out the malt flavor, and maybe even mash 2 degrees higher. Heck, I might even get wild and dryhop with a whole ounce each of simcoe and amarillo to give it an extra blast of aroma.  I highly recommend this recipe for beginners to all-grain brewing, as it’s pretty straightforward and definitely my best one yet!


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Filed under Pale Ale

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