18. Pale American Ale

Receiver Function

American Pale Ale (18B) BeerSmith Recipe File

Sorry for the lack of pictures in this one guys


Pale ale isn’t exactly a beer that excites the hearts of many craft beer drinkers anymore, but it is easy to forget that this style was one of the first to save us from the light lager apocalypse.  It’s so easy to go to great lengths to get that bottle of sour or DIPA that everyone is talking about, but the truth is, world class beer is sitting at your local grocery store bearing that green label.  If you haven’t in a while, try some (make sure it’s fresh!): you’ll be glad you did.

For my taste, I prefer the pale ale recipes absent large amounts of crystal malt.  I like that pale, crisp hop forward variety that isn’t trying to be an amber.  So, this malt bill is about as simple as it gets, but the hops are the interesting part of this recipe.  I’m using two experimental and yet unnamed hop varieties, ADHA 529 and Experimental Pine Fruit. Who names these things, and why are the conventions different? (somebody please tell me).  I only have two ounces of each, so I’m leaving them for the flameout and dry hop additions, and using CO2 hop extract for bittering.


The name for this beer is inspired by the seismology research I’ve been working on at Rutgers for a year.  I have finally got my first set of results, and they (amazingly) turned out pretty great.  This isn’t a geology blog, so I’ll just leave this here, and let the nerds among you ponder it…


10 lbs. American 2-row pale malt

0.25 lbs. 10L crystal malt

Mash @ 152 for 60 min (single infusion @ 1.5 qt/lb) sparge with 5 gal

Boil for 60 minutes

4mL CO2 hop extract boil for 60 minutes

1 oz each ADHA 529 & Experimental Pine Fruit @ flameout, steep 10 min

WLP090 San Diego Super Yeast, 1500 mL starter

Dry hop 1 oz each ADHA 529 & Experimental Pine for 3 days

OG: 1.048

FG: 1.011

ABV: 5.0%

IBU: 43

Color: 5.2 SRM

Fermentation Temperature: 65-68°

Brew Day

This was the first brew day in quite some time, and after a hectic few weeks at school, I brewed this batch by myself to relax and become one with my brewery sans Jason or John.  Sometimes a brewer just needs to be alone with his/her brewery to really relax and enjoy the hobby (in contrast, Jason prefers to discuss sparge flow velocities, preferably with a model and John would have us 3 beers in by the end of the sparge).

The brew day went off without a hitch, though my efficiency was off by a small amount.  That’s ok with me; this is a session beer.  I try not to wade into the mainstream craft beer flamewars, but the abundant number of “session IPAs” is kind of funny to me.  I mean, isn’t that what Pale Ale is?  If you’re one who thinks there is a difference, send your significant other to the store to buy two unknown beers, one session IPA and one pale ale (ensure freshness).  Taste them blind.  Perhaps do this at the next home brew club meeting.  I’m willing to bet good money the distribution is about 50/50.

Anywho, simple beer, simple brew day: mashed, sparged, boiled and added hops at flameout.  Cooled the beer to 66 in about 15 minutes, aerated, pitched my favorite yeast, and put the fermenter in the fermentation fridge (now with thermowell!).


I set the temp controller to 65° and let it stay there for 3 days.  On day 4, I allowed the temp to raise to 67°.  On day 6, the OG was 1.011.  I tasted it, no signs of acetaldehyde, so I racked the beer to the keg.  I added the dry hop addition, and let it sit at room temp (68°) for 3 days.


After the dry hop, I placed the beer in the serving fridge, cold crashing it overnight.  The next day I fined with gelatin, and allowed the beer to carbonate to 2.5 volumes over several days.  I served this at John & Angela Hynek’s house warming party, which was awesome.  You should be upset that you weren’t invited.

My Take

Oh... it's so good...
Oh… it’s so good…

I absolutely love this beer.  It’s what I want from an American pale ale: crisp, barely noticeable malt profile that is the canvas for a great hop character.  And these experimental varieties really are awesome.  I get tons of tropical fruit, maybe some coconut.

The Stig

And now it’s time to turn the beer over to our Team Tasting Imbiber.  Some say He was an experiment gone wrong, and that lately He’s been dry hopping His underpants… all we know is, He’s called The Stig!

Aroma: Bright citrus zest, mildly piney. Also tropical with a hint of passionfruit. Extremely muted malt character with only the slightest, pale honey, white bread flavors.

Appearance: ~ 5 degrees SRM. Straw golden body. White head with sticky lacing and moderate retention.

Flavor: Bright hops again with notes of honeydew mellon, passion fruit and lychee. Malt profile is negligible and allows ample, but not overly zealous hop presence to shine.

Mouthfeel: Medium Light body with soft carbonation and accessibly bitter. Lively on the palate.

Overall: Truly a great session beer. Only gripe would be that it could use a bit more body. The addition of some red wheat to the grist could possibly provide some more body without weighing anything down, and could also improve head retention.


Truly great?!?!  I’ll take that one!  I count this as a huge win.  I love how simple this recipe is.  It’s like going back to the fundamentals of brewing.  For those worried about replicating (all one of you), I would use whatever tropical fruit hops you could get your hands on, as we may never see these varieties named and sold again.  And maybe throw in that dash of red wheat.

Books I referenced for this recipe:

Zainasheff & Palmer. Brewing Classic Styles. 2007.

Palmer & Kaminski. Water: A Comprehensive Guide for Brewers. 2013.

Oliver, Garrett (editor). The Oxford Companion to Beer. 2012.

2008 BJCP Guidelines.

1 Comment

  1. Congrats on knocking this one out of the park! I agree with the Stig’s assessment of body: I typically throw in ~5% of the grist as flaked wheat to add some good body and retention. Haze issues are negligible at that percentage.

    Also, I couldn’t remember if I mentioned this to you somewhere before (here or Reddit), but I’ve built a WordPress plugin to display beer recipes via BeerXML that you might be interested in for this site. I did a little write-up on it here: http://www.fivebladesbrewing.com/beerxml-plugin-wordpress/

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