Sunday, August 14, 2016

Cream Ale v1.0 Recipe and Notes

One of the beer styles I've wanted to brew for a while is a cream ale. It's a nice, light, refreshing style that is easy to enjoy during the warmer months.  With summer approaching its end, I thought maybe it was time to brew it. The recipe I'm using in this case is based closely on the Kari's Cream Ale recipe on the American Homebrewer's Association web site. This recipe won a gold medal at the National Homebrewer's Conference in 2008, so it seemed like a good choice.

Using BeerSmith, the BJCP style guide, and calibrations based on my recent experience with The Grainfather, I had to modify the existing recipe.  My brewhouse efficiency with The Grainfather is pretty consistently coming out at 80%, so the original recipe's grain amounts were decreased to get the beer closer to the figures stated in the AHA recipe.

The Recipe

3 pounds, 12 ounces of 2-row Pale Malt
3 pounds, 12 ounces of Swaen Pilsner Malt
8 ounces of Flaked Maize
1 pound of corn sugar
1.35 ounces of Hallertau Mittelfruh hops @ 4.0% AA
0.55 ounces of Hallertau Mittelfruh hops @ 4.0% AA
1 Tbsp. pH 5.2 stabilizer
1/2 tsp. yeast nutrient
1 Whirlfloc tablet
1 packet Safale US-05 yeast

Note: Only after this went in the fermenter did I realize that I added a pound of corn sugar instead of the 8 ounces the recipe called for.

Estimated characteristics per BeerSmith:

  • Estimated OG: 1.056 (actual was 1.053 with a higher volume)
  • IBUs: 17
  • Color: 2.9 SRM
  • Estimated ABV: 6.0%
  • Estimated Pre-boil Gravity: 1.050 SG (actual was 1.049)
  • Estimated Final Gravity: 1.010 SG
My actual measured efficiency for this batch was calculated to be 79.4%.

The Mash Process

Here's the mash process for this beer, using The Grainfather:

  • 3.75 gallons of mash water was placed in The Grainfather and heated to 149F.
  • The grains were freshly crushed while the water heated, and were carefully stirred into the grain basket. The lid was placed on the grain basket, the overflow pipe attached, the lid put on the kettle, the recirculation arm attached, and the pump started. The pH 5.2 mash stabilizer was added at this time.
  • The grain mashed at 149F for 40 minutes.
  • The temperature setting was raised to 154F per the recipe, and the mash continued for 20 minutes longer.
  • The temperature setting was raised to 170F and a 10-minute mash-out began.
  • The grain basket was lifted and allowed to mostly drain, then 3.5 gallons of sparge water at 168F were batch sparged on top of the grain basket.
  • While sparging, the kettle temperature setting was increased to 190F.
  • This resulted in approximately 6.1 gallons of wort in the kettle pre-boil.
  • The corn sugar was added and the wort stirred well to generate a whirlpool.
This resulted in approximately 6.1 gallons of wort at a gravity of 11.9 Brix or 1.048 SG.

The Boil

This recipe featured a 70-minute boil, laid out as described below:
  • At 60 minutes (10 minutes after start) the 1.35 ounce hops addition was made, in a muslin hop sock dropped into the kettle
  • At 15 minutes, added the yeast nutrient and whirlfloc tablet
  • At 7 minutes, attached the counter flow chiller and recirculated boiling wort through it to sanitize the inside of the chiller.
  • At 90 seconds, added the 0.55 ounce hops addition to the kettle in a hop sock.
  • At flame-out, recirculated wort into the kettle until the kettle temperature dropped to 160F.
  • Pumped wort into the sanitized SS Brew Tech Brewmaster Bucket fermenter. The temp inside the fermenter was approximately 80.5F.
The OG of the wort was measured at 13.1 Brix or 1.053 SG.  This is 2 SG points higher than the original AHA recipe, probably because of the 8 ounces of added corn sugar. The volume in the fermenter was approximately 5.25 gallons.


The original recipe called for pitching the yeast at 64F and keeping it there for 12 days. Since I was using dry yeast and that normally does better when rehydrated in warm water before pitching, I pitched the yeast while the fermenter temperature was still 80F.

I attached my cooling system and set it to work reducing the fermenter temperature. The control system was set to 64F. Heating would kick in if the temperature reduced to 62F (unlikely since the room's ambient temp is about 68F). Cooling would kick in if the temp exceeded 68F.

When I checked on the beer approximately 12 hours after pitching, the temperature was 69F. I grabbed some ice packs and added them into the cooling jacket to help lower the temp more.

The beer went into the fermenter on August 13 around 10:30pm and will be fermented for 12 days. It will likely be bottled between August 25-27.

Misc. Notes

I'm expecting this beer to possibly come out a little drier than intended due to the added corn sugar. It will also end up a little outside the BJCP guidelines at 6% ABV instead of 4.2% to 5.6%. Fortunately I don't plan to enter it into a competition.

I'm also curious to see if increasing the hops amounts by approximately 10% solves a lingering low bitterness problem I've had with some recent batches. I'd read that using hops bags can reduce bittering efficiency by as much as 10%, and wanted to see if this beer comes out closer to what I expect it to.  If so, I'll be adjusting hops amounts upward from here on.

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