Bunker Brew Blog #2 – Wheat Pale Ale
For our last Bunker Brew in The Bernard Shaw, we were re-hashing and slightly experimenting with a recipe we had previously attempted a couple of months back when trying to brew a ‘New England’ style IPA. With the first recipe we had a problem when fermenting it in our plastic fermenter, when we left to little head-space, and with the aggressive vermont ale yeast we were using, the top blew off it and contamination followed, as did sad and very frustrated face.
We didn’t lose faith though and had always planned to re-visit brewing up that very fruity, easy drinking style that is associated with east-coast IPA’s and Pale Ales. Since then we have brewed a couple of seasonal beers and also built a temperature controlled fermentation unit, and upgraded to a stainless steel fermenter, so we have a lot more control over how are brews are fermenting and in the end a better quality beer. So, since we just started to come into summer, and have been getting flashes of sunny weather, we decided it was time to have a crack again, but instead of an IPA we wanted something a little lighter and more refreshing but still have a good character and body to the beer, so we settled on an American style, Wheat Pale Ale, but heavily dry hopped and still using the Vermont Ale Yeast to give great tropical fruit flavours and aromas.
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Our recipe was fairly straight forward. For the grain bill we had 50% wheat malt, 45% golden promise and 5% carapils. For our boil hops we went for Citra and Nelson Sauvin. 20g of Citra @ 60 minutes, then 30g Citra and 25g Nelson Sauvin @ 0 minutes/whirlpool. We were then double dry hopping with 50g of Citra as well as 50g of Amarillo. A 25g charge of each, the first charge was for 5 days during fermentation and the second was for the last 3 days. Our brew day went pretty well, the only problem we had was during the mash, went we lost some efficiency and ended up a few gravity points lower than what we wanted ( we were aiming for 6% abv when the beer was finished but ended up around 5.5% abv). Our boil went well, as did our cooling and with our new more controlled fermentation set-up, we were able to keep our beer at a stable 20°C to get the most tropical fruit esters out of the Vermont yeast as we could. Both the dry-hopping stages went smoothly as well, and the smells of citrus, mango, orange, tropical fruit and all the other typical jargon associated with east coast style beers, would knock your socks off when within a few feet of the fermenter.
After about 12 days fermenting, we cold-crashed the beer for 48hrs to drop out any remaining yeast and hop matter for all the dry-hops used. We then racked it straight to keg and force carbonated it for 3 days, the first 2 days @ 30psi and the last day @ 20psi. On first inspection, we were pretty happy with how our beer turned out. The aroma was just what we wanted, really citrusy with lots of sweet, tropical fruit notes to back it up. On the taste the flavors did follow the aromas into the beer but with probably more bitterness than what we were after and definitely in the IPA style rather than Pale Ale, probably down to the amount of 60 minute boil hops added which should probably have been a lot less, but the beer is still quite green so it should mellow out a bit, but for the next one I think we will leave nearly all our hop additions to the end of the boil or whirlpool. Over all this brew was pretty much a success even though we didn’t quite achieve what we aiming for, we still ended up with a really nice, refreshing, summer beer. So can’t complain too much. Until the next one. Cheers!