Hoppy American Amber

I keep coming back to the American Amber style as something that I really want to master. The first version I did came out great, but ever since then I keep changing variables and nothing seems to come close to the first version. It’s tough to find the right balance of hops and malt to make a toasty yet modestly hoppy beer. This is another attempt at finding that balance.
IMG_1002

  • 15 lb Briess 2-row brewers malt
  • 4 lb Dark Munich (Weyermann)
  • 2 lb Victory Malt
  • 0.5 lb Crystal 150 (Muntons)
  • 2 oz Centennial first wort
  • 2 oz Centennial 10 min
  • 1 packet Safale US-05
  • WYeast London Ale II

// Mash-in 1.4 qt/lb (7.5 gal) 154 F for 50 minutes, raise to 168F for 1 min. Sparge w/ 8.5 gal 168F water to collect around 13 gallons of 1042 wort. Boil 60 minutes. Collected around 11 gallons of crystal clear amber 1046 wort. Oxygenated wort for 60 seconds pure O2. Rehydrated the dry yeast in about 1 cup of 95F water in a sanitized plastic cup. Sprinkled in top, gently stirred every 5 minutes for about 15 minutes total until it was basically a slurry again with just a few clumps.  Pitched a decanted 1L starter of the WYeast. Brewed 6/14/15. Fermented at 63F. //

// Water: 1.5 tsp gypsum, 0.5 tsp CaCl2 in mash, same additions to sparge. //

6/23/15  Both US-05 and London Ale II still bubbling once every 20s or so. US tastes pretty good so far – a solid breaded malt flavor with a little hoppy freshness. Gravity at 1016.  London tastes awkwardly malty. Not much english character that i can detect, but the malt flavors are way to big and taste kinda phony. Gravity at 1015. Both still very cloudy. Moved them both upstairs to the living room at 75F to hopefully let them finish out.

6/29/15  The US-05 tastes pretty good but definitely needs some dry hopping, so I added 1 oz of Amarillo in a mesh bag to the keg. The London still hasn’t improved and I’m not feeling cask conditioning it, so I racked it to a secondary and added a vial of Brett Lambicus by White Labs.

IMG_05447/5/15  The kegged US-05 is getting there. The Amarillo is an interesting twist. Hard to describe the flavor of this hop – sorta fruity, but also earthy. I feel like this beer needs more of a classic citrus direction, so I took the Amarillo out and replaced it with 1 oz of Cascade whole leaf. The Brett carboy developed a thin layer of foam, with some small pellicles. Added the dregs of a Hansens Artisinaal Oude Gueuze to the carboy.

11/22/15  Pelicles have come and gone, and now there’s a weird layer of molding spots growing on top. Took a sample and it tastes pretty nice. Moderately acidic with some nice funk and mustyness.

2/21/16  the sour half tastes realllly nice. Awesome peddio complex sourness that hits you in the back of the jaw, slight vinegar, with some pleasant caramel malt in the finish. This one is destined for greatness, I’m thinking I’ll let it go for another few months then keg.

THE VERDICT

I really wasn’t truly satisfied with this one throughout the process, and as a result I kept adding more hops to compensate. It wound up being a highly dry-hopped beer, but it wasn’t what I intended. The London ale yeast didn’t work at all for this style – I think it really clashed with the high amount of munich malt and restrained the hop character significantly. The US-05 was OK, but I probably should’ve restrained myself from dry-hopping to begin with.. not really sure why I thought it “definitely” needed dry hopping earlier on. It really masked the malt flavors that I liked before I added the hops. Overall, a very drinkable hoppy summer beer but still not my ideal American Amber.

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Filed under All-grain, Amber, Hoppy

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