Back in April I blogged about making pale ale with fresh hops: I got a very decent-tasting beer with an unexpectedly low alcohol content. I tried the recipe again, with two different ingredients: instead of light dry malt extract I used Hop + Grain’s flavour booster, which is a mix of DME and dextrose, to up the fermentable sugar. And because I didn’t have as many hops from Peter’s place, I got some Galaxy to add late in the boil and dry-hop with. I figured Australian heritage bittering hops and modern aroma hops would be a good combination, and Galaxy is in a lot of my favourite contemporary beers like Stone & Wood’s Pacific Ale and Kosciuszko Pale Ale. Here’s the recipe:
- One tin Coopers Light Malt Extract
- 1kg of Hop + Grain Flavour Booster
- hops: Galaxy and Peter’s backyard
- Mangrove Jacks M44 US West Coast yeast
The local hops went in at the start of the boil, and I added 20g of Galaxy at 45m and another 20g at 55m.
And I also discovered the real reason for the missing alcohol. When you boil a bag of fresh hops in wort for an hour, the flowers soak up a lot of the liquid: the same thing happened with the leftover hops, which I’d dried and kept in the freezer. When I had made the first batch, I hadn’t wrung any of the liquid out of the big mass of soggy hops. I chucked them in the bin, along with an unknown quantity of fermentable wort. I didn’t realise this until removing the hop sock from the boiler at the end of the boil: when I noticed how heavy the bag was, I sterilised a strainer so that I could squeeze out as much of the wort from the hops as possible.
The other problem I’d had with Batch I was leakage. A lot of the bottles got hairline cracks and leaked into the plastic bins, which is a problem I’ve had with previous beers. The Mangrove Jack’s M44 has a reputation as a slow starter, so my guess about the leakage was that there was still fermentable sugar in the beer, on top of the priming sugar I added at bottling. I decided to leave the beer in the fermenter for three weeks. Towards the end, I chucked in the rest of the Galaxy.
The result is the best beer I’ve made: ABV of about 4.5%, lovely Galaxy bouquet and the same clean bitterness I got from the first batch. It tastes like a really modern Australian pale ale on the high end of the hoppiness scale – if I were to change anything about it, I’d maybe use less Galaxy to dry-hop.
This is the first time I’ve made a beer that’s so good that I’ve kept buying beer for regular drinking and only cracking the home brew occasionally, because I want it to last.