Duelling Pale Ales


What we’re brewing:

  • Two similar pale ales (Mine is better!)

Brew date:

  • Saturday 8 July 2017

Brew day takeout:

  • Tandoori Times Indian

What we’re drinking:

  • Garage Project “Fuzz” pale ale
  • Homebrew Nogne O winter ale clone, pre-carbonation
  • Homebrew Astronaut DIPA, pre-carbonation
  • Knee Deep Brewing, “Auburn” pale ale
  • To Øl “Garden of Eden” Fruit IPA
  • Fantôme Printemps (I found this completely undrinkable, but Michael got through it)

What we’re listening to:

  • Country music (not Michael’s choice)
  • St Vincent, Marry Me 
  • At the Drive in, Inter alia
  • (New!) Broken Social Scene, Hug of Thunder

Other beer updates:

  • We bottled both my Nøgne Ø winter ale clone and Michael’s The Astronaut DIPA while the first brew was mashing. Both were tasting pretty good with no apparent faults. If anything, the winter ale was slightly under-attenuated, and the stronger-than-planned DIPA was a bit under-hopped. But we’ll wait to draw any conclusions until the bottles have been popped. Between bottling and brewing, can’t say we didn’t make the most of Saturday!
  • Bottled The Janitor Friday 14 July. Promising at that point, but I’m keen to see if the Riwaka shines a bit more with carbonation.



An upcoming local pale ale competition was the perfect excuse to brew two competing pale ales! Michael and I went head to head, brewing two similar but distinct pale ales in one day. Jointly producing ~18 litres of by-the-book pale ale was an interesting decision on our part, considering that you’ll rarely catch either of us drinking a pale ale when we have a choice. If I’m in the mood for something *like* a pale ale, then I prefer an IPA or even a hoppy pilsner (okay, what I really mean here is Garage Project’s “Hops on Pointe”).  But part of the fun of homebrewing, for me anyway,  is trying to get my head around styles I haven’t previously given much thought to. Maybe there are variations on a pale ale that would blow my socks off!

In this case, I brewed a straightforward pale ale, with the goal of getting a clearer sense of the character of a couple popular American hops: Simcoe and Amarillo.  I know, I know, these are in everything. What else is there to know? But honestly at this point, I’m a little surprised at poorly I can tell hops apart. I can tell Saaz from Citra, but all those major hops you see advertised on the labels of hoppy beers everywhere, presumably to impart taste knowledge–Amarillo, Simcoe, Galaxy, Centennial, Nelson Sauvin, Chinook, Mosaic, Ella, etc etc–unfortunately don’t mean all that much to me I’ve realised.

So with this in mind I based my pale ale loosely on the “Yakima Monster” by Liberty Brewing, which I believe uses only Amarillo and Simcoe for the taste and aroma hops. I say “loosely” because I don’t know if the clone I started with for inspiration is even right and because Yakima Monster technically falls into the IPA category for bitterness based on VicBrew’s guidelines, and I’m trying to win a competition here! My pale ale recipe is not as bitter and a little lower ABV (I know, it sounds worse to me, too). I’ve got a can of Yakima Monster in the fridge so I’ll see how they compare in a couple weeks once mine is carbonated.

The brewing process itself went okay for my beer. Mashed a little cooler than I intended at about 65.5 C, so the beer will have a lighter body than the medium I was shooting for. I was also late on the 10 minute hop addition so I tried to make up for it with some extra additions at the 5 and 1 minute marks.

The fermentation with Wyeast 1052 liquid yeast got off to a rollicking start and the crausen went straight through my airlock, so I had to replace it mid fermentation. Then I dry-hopped for about 2.5 days immediately prior to bottling. Going into the bottle, it didn’t have much hop aroma or bitterness (Michael said it tasted very “beery” and I have to agree) so maybe the carbonation will brighten it up a bit. Otherwise my exercise in learning something about Simcoe and Amarillo pairing is a bit of a bust. But that’s okay! I won’t knock it until I’ve tried it.

On to the competition! Beer #2! Michael’s pale ale also called for Amarillo and Simcoe, but he got all fancy and included Centennial and Citra, too. His recipe is a clone of Panhead’s “Supercharger” pale ale, straight from the brewery, and it’s nicknamed “The Mechanic” in tribute.

The brewing process for beer #2 went smoothly as far as I remember. Look, it’s exhilarating brewing two beers in one day, but my note-taking got a little sloppy, and it’s probably better general practice to leave less than two weeks between brewing and blogging about it. Anyway, this is what you get!

We had originally both planned to use Wyeast 1052 to ferment but there was only one pack left, so Michael volunteered to use Safale #5 (the dry yeast equivalent) instead. Despite a slow start compared with mine, the yeast seemed to get the job done in the end, and it also didn’t make a run for it out of the airlock, which was a plus. Michael dry-hopped for 1.5 days immediately prior to bottling and despite what I claimed at the start of this post, at bottling his beer seems solidly better. I don’t know if it’s the hop level (likely), the water profile (also a contender), hop varieties, grains, yeast or one of the infinite number of other variables, but although it pains me to say it, he’s likely made a lovely pale ale.

However, unrelated to the brewing itself, we had a bit of a bungle with the bottling, which has by chance impacted Michael’s beer more than mine. We washed all of our available bottles, grabbed a couple extra green glass champagne bottles just in case, and realised too late that we had vastly underestimated how much beer we had collectively produced in our largest ever batches. To cut a very long story short, we happened to bottle my beer first, and I used all of my allocated bottles and about half of Michael’s. Due to the hot mess of the situation, we found ourselves at 2am with some rinsed and lightly sanitised lambic bottles that we ended up using to bottle several litres of Michael’s lovely beer. Oops. This could yield interesting results. It’s off to the homebrew shop this weekend for more bottles that aren’t green and full of wild yeast!

So there you have it. We made two pale ales. Mine might be a little boring, but at least it’s not in lambic bottles (Sorry Michael!).


These are the recipes we brewed:

Karin’s pale ale:

I put a few things in our water to achieve Beersmith’s suggested “Hoppy pale ale” water:

Ca       140ppm
Mg      18ppm
Na      25ppm
SO4    300ppm
Cl        55ppm
HCO3 110ppm

Type: All Grain
Batch Size: 9.00 l
Boil Size: 14.37 l
Boil Time: 90 min

Est Original Gravity: 1.055 SG
Est Final Gravity: 1.013 SG
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 5.5 %
Bitterness: 41.8 IBUs
Est Color: 14.2 EBC

Measured Original Gravity:1.050 SG

Measured Final Gravity: 1.007 SG
Actual Alcohol by Vol: 5.6 %

Grain/hops/yeast bill:

2.30 kg Pale Ale, Golden Promise by Simpsons Grain 90.6 %
0.16 kg Carahell (Weyermann) Grain 6.3 %
0.08 kg BEST Melanoidin (BESTMALZ) Grain 3.1 %
5.50 g Warrior [15.60 %] – Boil 60.0 min Hop 27.8 IBUs
9.50 g Amarillo [7.90 %] – Boil 5.0 min Hop 4.8 IBUs
9.50 g Simcoe [13.10 %] – Boil 5.0 min Hop 8.0 IBUs
10.00 g Amarillo [7.90 %] – Boil 1.0 min Hop 1.1 IBUs
10.00 g Amarillo [7.90 %] – Steep/Whirlpool Hop 0.0 IBUs
10.00 g Simcoe [13.10 %] – Steep/Whirlpool Hop 0.0 IBUs
1 pack American Ale (Wyeast Labs #1056)
15.50 g Amarillo [7.90 %] – Dry Hop 5.0 Days Hop 0.0 IBUs
15.50 g Simcoe [13.10 %] – Dry Hop 5.0 Days Hop 0.0 IBUs


Michael’s pale ale “The Mechanic”

Michael also approximated Beersmith’s “Hoppy Pale Ale” water, above.

Type: All Grain
Batch Size: 9.50 l
Boil Size: 13.10 l
Boil Time: 60 min

Est Original Gravity: 1.053 SG

Est Final Gravity: 1.010 SG
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 5.7 %
Bitterness: 53.7 IBUs
Est Color: 11.7 EBC

Measured Original Gravity: 1.049 SG
Measured Final Gravity: 1.009 SG
Actual Alcohol by Vol: 5.2 %

Grain/hops/yeast bill:

2.30 kg Gladfield American Ale Malt (5.0 EBC) Grain 91.0 %
0.13 kg Gladfield Toffee Malt (10.5 EBC) Grain 5.0 %
0.10 kg Carared (39.4 EBC) Grain 4.0 %
2.00 g Warrior [15.00 %] – Boil 60.0 min Hop 8.8 IBUs
13.00 g Amarillo Gold [8.50 %] – Boil 10.0 min Hop 11.8 IBUs
13.00 g Simcoe [13.00 %] – Boil 10.0 min Hop 18.1 IBUs
8.00 g Centennial [10.00 %] – Boil 10.0 min Hop 8.5 IBUs
13.17 g Simcoe [13.00 %] – Steep/Whirlpool (after <80C) Hop 3.1 IBUs
13.00 g Amarillo Gold [8.50 %] – Steep/Whirlpool (after <80C) Hop 2.0 IBUs
8.00 g Centennial [10.00 %] – Steep/Whirlpool (after <80C) Hop 1.4 IBUs
1.0 pkg Safale American – #US-05 Yeast
40.00 g Citra [12.00 %] – Dry Hop 3.0 Days Hop 0.0 IBUs
17.00 g Simcoe [13.00 %] – Dry Hop 3.0 Days Hop 0.0 IBUs



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