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Peach Cobbler Ale 1.0

Earlier this year, my wife and I tasted a Peach Cobbler Ale brewed by one of the Ohio breweries (I cannot recall which one, which is just as well). It was a nice enough beer, but for my taste it was a little dry and thin. The peach flavor took a back seat to malt and hops, making it seem more like a Pale Ale with peach notes than a Peach Cobbler. Still, it inspired me to think about how I might brew my own version of the beer.

For my version, I wanted a sweeter, more full-bodied base, reminiscent of a nice slab of baked peach cobbler. That means a higher mash temperature.

I also want the crackery/biscuity notes of the malt to come through, to help the drinker imagine tasting a bit of crust. I'll use Victory Malt to try to achieve that. Some Honey Malt should help drive home the sweet cobbler illusion as well.

Cinnamon and Nutmeg will be used as well, as these are common spice additions to a peach cobbler.

Last bit not least is the choice of hops. When added late in the boil, Amarillo is said to impart citrus and peach type notes. I'm hoping those flavors will complement the peach puree used, and employing a single late-boil addition means no harsh bitterness and maximum flavor contribution, again helping to further the cobbler/dessert illusion.

To ensure a nice peach flavor, I'll ferment the beer with a very generous dose of peach puree. If I don't get enough peach flavor from that, I may supplement with natural peach flavoring to punch it up.

I'll use a clean-fermenting yeast with this, fermented low to keep it from generating any aromas or flavors that compete with the rest of the beer. US-05 is said by some brewers to be fairly clean, and in cases where it isn't, it tends to impart peach or apricot notes. If that happens, it will be good for this beer (where it might be undesirable in other).

Ingredients

3 pounds Two-Row Pale Malt
3 pounds Munich Light Malt
1 pound Honey Malt
8 ounces Victory Malt
0.70 ounces Amarillo hops @ 8.6% AA (15 min.)
1 tsp. Cinnamon @ 10 min.
1 tsp. Nutmeg @ 10 min.
49 ounce can of peach puree in fermenter
1 packet Safale US-05 yeast
1/2 vial White Labs Clarity Ferm
1/4 tsp. Yeast Nutrient
1.5 tsp. pH 5.2 Stabilizer
2.8 gallons mash water
1.8 gallons sparge water

I'm expecting the beer to have the following characteristics:
  • BJCP Style: 29.C Specialty Fruit Beer
  • Batch Size: 2.5 gallons
  • Original Gravity: 1.090 SG estimated (1.073 SG actual)
  • Final Gravity: 1.008 SG estimated (1.018 SG actual)
  • IBUs: 21.7
  • SRM: 14.6
  • ABV: 8.6% (7.6% actual)
Mash schedule:
  • Mash at 120F for 20 minutes
  • Mash at 158F for 60 minutes
  • Mash out at 168F for 10 minutes
  • Sparge with 168F water
Boil Schedule:
  • 60 minutes: No additions
  • 15 minutes: Add Amarillo, Cinnamon, Yeast Nutrient, and Nutmeg
  • 0 minutes: Chill
Fermentation Schedule:
  • Days 1-3: Gradually rise from 64F to 72F
  • Days 4-7: Rise to 75F until finished with primary fermentation
Once fermentation is finished, the beer will be treated with gelatin and cold-crashed for 3-7 days until bright and clear. Then I'll bottle it with 4 carbonation drops (medium carbonation) until it's ready to serve.
Post-Brew Notes and Observations

12/2/2018: The mash process went smoothly. Using the Brewie+, it was easy to do something I've not done before, which is to check the mash pH. It tended to hover between 4.9 and 5.2 during the mash, when checked periodically with an electronic meter. A gravity check during the mash, before the sparge, registered 1.060. After the sparge and pre-boil, it read 1.063 SG. This beats BeerSmith's estimate of 1.055 SG.

Gravity with the addition of half the can of peach puree came up to 1.070 SG, and volume was shy of 2.5 gallons. With the addition of the rest of the can, gravity increased to 1.072 SG and volume hit the 2.5 gallon estimate. The aroma coming out of the kettle (without the addition of any peach puree) was decidedly peachy already, so I'm hopeful this and the Victory malt "crusty" flavor will blend with the cinnamon and nutmeg to give us a very peach cobbler-like flavor.

12/3/2018: Gravity is now reading 1.064 SG. That represents about 1.18% ABV and attenuation of 12%. I've read that increasing the temperature to 72F may produce some "peachy" notes, so I'm going to start gradually taking the yeast up to that figure. As of this writing, the temp is 65F but I've reset the upper temp to 71F.

12/4/2018: Gravity is down to 1.027 SG, and the temperature is 71F. That's 60.3% attenuation and 5.78% ABV.

12/5/2018: Gravity has dropped to 1.023 SG and the temperature is holding at 71F. That's 6.5% ABV and 65.6% attenuation.

12/6/2018: Gravity is down to 1.019 SG and the temperature is at 72F. I turned off the temperature control tonight to allow the beer to finish out at ambient temperature.

12/8/2018: Gravity is now registering 1.021 SG with a temperature of 66F. That's 76% attenuation and 7.77% ABV according to Brewer's Friend.

12/9/2018: Gravity is holding at 1.021. A sample of the beer from the fermenter revealed a restrained but clear peach note, a hint of cinnamon and nutmeg, and a touch of biscuity/crusty flavor. I'm hopeful that when it is bottled it will still deliver these flavors.

12/10/2018: Gravity is down to 1.019 SG.

12/12/2018: Gravity is now 1.018 SG. That means the beer is at about 7.6% ABV.

12/14/2018: Gravity has held at 1.018 SG long enough now that it's time to bottle. I bottled the beer today using four small carbonation tablets per bottle (medium carbonation). One ounce of Brewer's Friend peach flavoring was added at bottling. A sample of the leftover beer after bottling revealed a very nice peach cobbler flavor.

12/31/2018: The beer spent a while in a 76F hot box and did get carbonated, but seems in the process to have lost much of the peach cobbler flavor. There's a hint of peach left, and the barest hint of spice, but overall it's somewhat bland. I'm hoping it will improve some with age.

05/12/2019:  It turns out that the bottling wand used to fill the bottles with this beer was infected by an unknown strain of bacteria. The entire batch had to be dumped. Every bottle gushed its contents out after opening.  Worse, the affected wand was the one I used most often, so most of the batches I've brewed in the past year were infected at bottling and have had to be trashed.

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