This beer is actually a remake of one of our first amazing all-grain batches of beer. The recipe came from our fantastic, yet sadly far away, homebrew store, Dan’s Homebrewing. Despite Vancouver’s location in the Cascade region, for a long time there was only one homebrew store. Without Dan’s Homebrew store, Robert and I would not have been able to pursue our passion of barley juice. So if you live in the region of Vancouver, British Columbia, visit Dan’s store. It is reasonably priced and the people there are helpful.
This beer is the ESB. We first made it nearly two years ago. It is full of malty, carmel flavours and just enough hops to make it interesting. We have tinkered with the recipe a bit, such as adding our own farm grown hops, but the spirit remains the same. Anybody we’ve ever given this beer to has enjoyed it because it is very drinkable, yet it is interesting enough to impress beer critics. This is perfect beer for the dog days of winter.
Appearance: Cherry wood colour. Thin, but stable, creamy head.
Aroma: Sweet and carmel aroma, and a very light woody, earthy aroma from the English hops. There is a little bit of yeast flavour, which will subdue with time.
Taste: Very thick and creamy body that is taken over by rich carmel and candy flavours. Very little bitterness, despite the (assumed) 42 IBUs. You could say the carmel is somewhat cloying, but not overly unbalanced
Overall: This beer is very malty and creamy. The lack the any bitterness makes it very appealing to people who may often limit themselves to lagers. The carmel 60 comes through quite strong and is the dominating flavour, resulting in sweet carmel flavours that may turn some off. The technique of first wort hopping gives this beer a very smooth bitterness, with no harsh edges. It is similar to many ‘pale’ and amber ales in the BC beer market such as the Granville Island’s Pale Ale, Stanley Park’s Amber Ale and the Phillips’ Blue Buck Pale Ale. For those who swear allegiance to only IPAs (branch out people!), this beer is not for you.
Specifics: 23 litre batch, 80% extraction efficiency, ABV 5.6%, O.G. 1.053, IBU 42, single infusion mash at 67 Celsius for 40 minutes
We followed the recipe fairly closely from what Dan provided. We changed two things in the grain bill. Instead of Pale Malt, we used Gambrinus’s ESB. We also added 8 oz of barley flakes for a little extra body.
Gambrinus ESB Malt: 10 lb (ESB malt is labeled “ESB” malt; it’s practically a divine order to use it in our ESB)
Carmel 60: 12 oz (an ESB needs that darker crystal malt to give it the toffee and carmel flavours)
Barley Flakes: 8 oz (to give it that extra body and head retention; barley flakes are like cheap Carapils)
Chocolate Malt: 1 oz (such a small amount to added the slightest of roasty flavours; any more would be too much)
We changed the hops a bit as well. We used the hops we grew at our farm (thus we don’t know the exact AA% of the hops, thus the IBUs are likely incorrect). We also added first-wort-hopping to create a smoother bitterness we find desirable. Lastly, the last hop addition (0.65 oz of Kent Golding) was supposed to be added at flame out. However, we moved them up, boiling them for 15 minutes, to let the malty aroma shine through the hops.
First Wort Hopping: 0.4 oz Kent Golding (These hops will create a very smooth bitterness, taking the harsh edge off the 60 minute hops. First wort hopping is fantastic for balancing out the malt without adding any bitter hop flavours)
60 minutes: 0.9 oz Zeus
15 minutes: 0.65 oz Kent Golding
For yeast, we just used a packet of Nottingham dry yeast. Nottingham yeast will result in a cleaner, less fruity/ester-y beer than the style calls for, but that isn’t a big deal for us. In our minds, Nottingham yeast is good for all American and British ales (though we do switch up the yeasts every once in a while). It is cheaper than liquid yeast, it generally does not require a starter, and it ferments clean with few off flavours.
(AJ thinking about all the money he has saved by using Nottingham yeast compared to expensive Wyeast and White Lab alternatives. Perhaps he can use that money to buy some new clothes at the thrift store.)