Friday, April 4, 2008

New Brew

A few people who are new to homebrewing have asked me which of the many different beer styles are best to start with. For your first brew I recommend an ale on the lighter side (i.e. less than 6% ABV). Why? The reason being that these beers need a shorter fermentation time and they will allow the brewer to reap the benefit of his/her efforts in a few weeks rather than in a few months (or years, barleywine say what?) Additionally, larger beers require few extra steps in the brewing process to keep the yeast going and healthy enough to attenuate the wort fully ( all of the sugars). Why an ale? Generally, ales can be fermented at room temperatures. Lagers require refrigeration and close monitoring of temperature. Many first time homebrewers don’t always have an extra refrigerator around which can be used solely for fermentation.

I usually recommend American pale ale for your first time brew.

American Pale Ale

Because of its simple nature and great flavor the style of American pale ale is a great first brew. The all important component is hops. It is important to make three hop additions during the boil. The first hop addition is for bitterness. You should use a fairly high alpha acid pellet hops. Seven percent alpha acid (AA) or higher should be used and boiled for at least 1 hour. The second addition of hops is for flavor. This hop can be lower in AA since it is for flavor. Centennial is a great flavor hop because of its citrus-like flavor (also because it is the name of my high school). The flavor hops should be added in the last 15 minutes of the boil. This will give you a flavor of the hop with very little bitterness. The third and final hop addition takes place in either the last five minutes of the boil or during the primary or secondary fermentation stage (called “dry hopping”). The triple hop additions will give an excellent nose of hops to your pale ale. You might even become a “hop head” like me.

Three C’s American Pale Ale
(5 gallons, extract with grains)
OG = 1.060 FG = 1.014
ABV = 5.8%

6 lbs. light dry malt extract
1 lb. crystal malt (steep grains @ 150 degrees for 20 - 30 mins)
1 oz. Chinook hops @ start of boil 60 mins. (bittering)
1 oz. Centennial hops @ 10 mins (flavor)
2 oz. Cascade hops 1 oz. in primary and 1 oz. in secondary fermentation (aroma)
5 oz. priming sugar
White Labs California Ale Yeast
1 grain steeping bag

I buy a lot of my ingredients online at:

Additionally, there is a good local store called My LHBS in Falls Church, VA. Derek is the owner's name and he is good guy to go to for advice.

Keep it Gangsta,


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