Summer Blonde Ale (all-grain)

I’ve been dreaming up a recipe for refreshing and light summer ale for a while now, but couldn’t really settle on what I was looking for. The qualities I’m after are 1) very light in color, and 2) light in flavor, but with enough sweetness and hops to form a good flavorful balance, without seeming too thin and puny.  I juggled around the idea of a mix of pils, wheat, and vienna, and maybe some aromatic malt for some malty bread flavors, but after a few iterations of making the recipe I wound up stripping everything down to just pils with a touch of honey malt to round out the flavor.  You could definitely say that I’m on a minimalistic kick of recipe design lately. This should come out to be 3L color, 18 IBU, 1.048 OG @ 72% eff. 10 gallons.

  • 17 lb Briess Pils malt (1L)
  • 0.5 lb Gambrinus honey malt (18L)
  • 0.7 oz Magnum 18.5% aa (60 min)
  • 1 oz Cluster 8.1% aa (0 min)
  • Wyeast 1010 American Wheat

Second Runnings

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First Runnings

// Mash-in 1.5 qt/lb, rest at 146-148 for 45 minutes, 158 for 10 minutes, mash out at 168. Sparge to collect 13 gallons of 1.035 wort. Boil 90 minutes (was interrupted by thunderstorm 60 min into the boil, had to resume the next day and boiled an additional 60 minutes). Chill to 70. Collect 10 gal 1.046 //

// Water adjusted to  75.7 ppm Calcium, 79.6 ppm Sulfate, 59.9 ppm Chloride, RA -54, SO4/Cl2 = 1.3.  3.5 g gypsum, 3 g calcium chloride in mash (6.5 gal total), 4.9 g gypsum, 4.1 CaCl2 in sparge water (9 gallons). //

The yeast starter tasted interesting – very crisp, dry, and a little tangyness/tartness which was neat. Originally I had planned to do some mid-boil Cluster hop additions in this recipe to add some crisp bitterness and a little hop flavor, but I moved them all to the end of the boil after tasting the starter, to showcase the yeast along with the lightly breaded malts. This starter did give off a good amount of sulphur, so the finishing hops should help cover that up if they linger longer than expected.

UPDATE (7/16/14): Fermentation was very active at first, then slowed and never quite wanted to finish off – kept bubbling once every 15 seconds and never quite slowed down. Gravity read 1.014 and waited til it got to 1.012 before crashing down to 32F for 2 days.  One of the carboys was significantly clearer with less haze than the other, but the flavor was fairly similar.  Very light bread flavor and aroma with little to no hop presence – just a touch of sweetness from the honey malt, which is actually noticeable! It is just little on the sweet side – i could use a little more hop flavor and crispness for a beer this light to balance everything. Also added 0.5 oz Cluster into one of the carboys.

UPDATE (8/4/15): Racked the second carboy into a keg after having been in the ferm chamber at 32F (in the primary) for about three weeks – i just didn’t have space in the kegerator to put it on yet. Started to pick up some yeast flavors, which is crazy considering i just tasted it a few days prior and it tasted fine! Must have hit some crossover point. But, that should fade out in the keg. The amount of hop flavor and character from the Cluster dry hops is excellent – just a hint of floral.

THE VERDICT

This came out to be a delicious summer beer that hit the spot, in my opinion. Clean, light, refreshing.  The American Wheat yeast did give the beer a slight tartness in the extended-primary beer, but other quick-turnaround-beer tasted fairly clean and neutral. I think this “style” of beer goes best with a clean yeast, so any other such strain would do just fine. The beer sacrificed some clarity from the low-floc yeast, which was undesirable but tasted fine.  My quest to get any effect whatsoever out of flameout hop additions is still ongoing.. I got seriously zero  hop aroma from the Cluster flameout hops. Maybe I’m just not letting them sit for long enough before chilling? My last recommendation would be to definitely add a small amount of dry-hopping if you prefer some hop flavor in a beer like this – anything citrusy would work great…just 1/2 oz or so, though. I really thought the 1/2 oz of Cluster completed this beer and put it into balance.  I did try squeezing a tiny bit of lemon into the non-dry hopped beer, and it was great – so that would be a good twist for next time as well.

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Filed under All-grain, Balanced, Summer

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