Sunday, 9 February 2014

Chinook Pale

This is the first blog I have written in ages so I had lots of things that I could have written about but I thought first I would give an update on my latest homebrew and what has inspired it.  

The Inspiration

There are lots of different beers around at the moment, and I'm trying more and more that I'd never tried say 3 years ago. Saison, Sour, Berliner Weisse... all beers I really enjoy when I'm in the mood but it took a recent trip back to my Derbyshire home to realise how much I love a simple (in a good way) fresh cask pale ale. I have mentioned it before in a blog post but I'll say it again... I don't think cask pale ales get any better than Buxton Moor Top.  I think with lots of high ABV keg beers all the rage in London at the moment, I forget how much I love this type of beer.

Pint of Moor Top
My dad at the Cliff Inn, Crich with a Moor Top!

So, I decided after a couple of adventurous (for me) homebrews, I would revert to my love of simple pale ales and try and recreate a Moor Top type dry, crisp, hoppy pale ale.  All I knew is that Moor Top was brewed with a smidgen of wheat and with chinook hops. I look chinook hops. There are lots of fruity pale ales around, I'm thinking particularly of ones made with Australian and NZ hops, chinook is less fruity with more of a herby, grassy, piney taste. I want a dry moreish pale ale and I think this hop works better than a tropical fruity tasting one that can sometimes take over a bit.

My Chinook Pale

The Recipe


3.5kg    Maris Otter
0.25kg  Wheat


10g Chinook        60 mins
20g Chinook        30 mins
30g Chinook        10 mins
40g Chinook        Dry Hop



I know it's a very simple recipe and there could be more to it but one thing I have learnt from brewers (especially when I brewed with Kernel) is that it's all about simplicity, especially with a light pale ale like this... keep the malt base simple and let the hops shine through etc.

The brew day went well with no problems for probably the first time ever. I added some gypsum to harden the water slightly.  I mashed at a fairly low temperature of about 65 degrees for 90 minutes. I'd read that mashing at lower temperatures for longer would give more fermentable sugars, hopefully meaning a good attenuation and a nice dry beer.  I was hoping that this along with the clean US-05 yeast would give me the crisp dry beer I was after. The estimated OG was 1.039, it ended up as 1.041.  The estimated FG was 1.011, it ended up at 1.010. So, apparently the yeast attenuated well so I was pretty pleased.  I then dry hopped the barrel with more Chinook.

Lovely chinook added to the boil
Cold Break settling nicely to leave an amazingly clear wort

I reckon lots of homebrewers reading this will think that I've not added enough hops but it is a weak beer (about 4%) and according to the malt/hops chart, this is still considered to be very hoppy and it has an IBU of about 47 which I thought was enough for a beer of this strength.

After conditioning in the barrel for 10 days, I bottled the beer with sugar.  I filled 43 330ml bottles (all the bottles I had in the house) which left a few pints for me to enjoy straight from the barrel and by this time it was tasting really good... I could almost imagine I was drinking Moor Top! well, that's probably a bit biased, but I genuinely think it didn't taste far off.  

The more I have read of other people's recipes, I'm still a bit anxious that I've not added enough hops or the late addition wasn't late enough or I should have dry hopped with more. Having said that, I always have doubts when I've made a beer, after all it's all about trying new things.  I'm still optimistic that the beer will develop further as it conditions in the bottles and as always I'm excited about the outcome.

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