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We're brewing more beer this week and have decided to make an American Style Ale. We're calling it a "lawnmower beer," which means it's the kind of beer you drink while mowing your lawn. When it's hot and sunny and you're working, heavy, high alcohol beers tend to be a bit much. This beer is light, crispy, and has a low alcohol content.
We're shooting for something akin to Budweiser, Miller, or Coors. You know, typical American beers. Though, one major difference between these beers and the one we're making is that our beer uses ale yeast. Most traditional american commercial beers are lagered. Lagering requires a cool (low temperature) fermentation environment.
Most folks end up modifying refrigerators to maintain the 50 degree (ballpark) temps needed for lagering. We realize that not everyone is set up to lager beers, which is why we decided to make this recipe a bit easier to follow by using ale yeast instead of lager yeast. We also opted to use only 1 grain and 1 hop. Hence the title "Easy" American.
American Beer Recipe
The detailed recipe is below. However, if you're more of a visual learner, here's a video of the entire process. Please note that we refer you back to this article for the details, because we don't cover the entire recipe in the video. Also, There's a fermentation video, and a kegging video further down in this article. At some point we'll add a tasting video as well.
Straight from the tap. No modifications.
Adding water to the kettle
4 pounds (1.8 kg) Briess 2-row pale malt
Adjuncts (extra stuff)
4 oz. (113 grams) dextrose (corn sugar)
1 oz. (28.3 grams) Saaz hops
1 package of US-05 yeast (the red package)
American Ale Strike and Mash Temperature
Strike and mash at 146F (63C). Note, we strike at 146 because we're using an electronic controller that will bring the temp back up once we add the grains. We also didn't use a ton of grain in this recipe, so the temp didn't drop much when we added them.
Pulling grains after 60-minute mash
American Ale Hop Additions
The boil schedule for this beer is very simple. This is a 60 minute boil. Add .8 oz. (22.7 grams) Saaz hops as soon as the boil begins (which is the "60 minute addition").
Adding Saaz hops to the hop silo
Add the 4 ounces (113 grams) of corn sugar and 1 Whirlfloc tablet at "15 minutes" (meaning, when there are 15 minutes to go in the 60 minute boil). Add the final .2 oz. (5.7 grams) hops at flameout (meaning, when the 60 minutes are up and it's time to turn off the heat).
Fermenting an Ale
Pitching Ale Yeast
After the boil is complete and all of hops, etc. have been added, cool to 65F (18.3C) and pitch the US-05 yeast.
Transferring chilled wort to a fermenter
Fermentation Temperature and Conditions
We typically ferment our beers in a cool dark place, covered by a blanket to ensure consistent and cool fermentation temperatures. We were shooting for about 65 degrees (18.3C) for the fermentation. However, we thought it would be cool to do a time-lapse of the fermentation process for this beer which required us to place a light directly behind the fermenter. Unfortunately, this raised the temp a bit and caused a quicker and more active fermentation than we were planning on. As a result, the fermenter overflowed and we had to clean up a big mess! Here's what it looked like.
Specific Gravity / Alcohol By Volume
Our pre-boil mash target was 1.026. We hit 1.030. Our estimated post boil gravity was 1.039 and we hit 1.044. Essentially, we got better conversion during the mash than we were planning for. The beer ended up fermenting all the way down to 1.00, which means that we ended up with a beer that is 5.78%. This is a bit higher than we were planning on, but hey, what are you gonna do? We'll just have to drink it and get a bit bigger of a buzz on than we had planned.
Kegging an American Ale
We opted to keg this beer instead of bottling it. Kegging is faster, less messy, and essentially way easier than bottling. It's pretty easy. All one needs to do to keg a beer is obtain a keg (we're using a 2.5 gallon (9.5 liter) keg, which is the size of the batch that we brewed). Sanitize the keg, add the beer to the keg (being careful to not let it splash or get any air bubbles in it because this could oxidize the beer). Then chill the keg and hit it with a co2 tank to carbonate. Here's the kegging process for this beer.
Tasting the American Ale
And now, the fun part. We get to taste our creation. As we expected, the beer was pretty light in character. It definitely didn't taste like a 5.5% ABV brew. It did end up fermenting a bit on the warm side, which gave the final taste a bit of a fruity note. All in all, this was a solid beer. 7.5 of 10. Would have been better if we had been more mindful during fermentation.
Dry Hopping the American Ale
This beer turned out OK, but as it sat around while we were moving into the new office the taste morphed. Sometimes it was tasting better than others. All in all it was a pretty good, but not great. At the end of the day we decided that it could use one last hop infusion. Here's the video: