Fer: A cleansing summer ale


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Assume it is September and you want to brew a beer for summer drinking.

A lager needs months of lagering—an ale it will be. For summer drinking we do not want roast notes so no stout or porter. We do not want a high alcohol beer either (this needs months of ageing to remove the alcohol heat to begin with.)

So the choice narrows to a nice pale ale. An ale we can sink a glass of quickly yet also an ale with enough character to sip a second glass of it.

Let us decide some specifics:

1. Our ale will be 4.5%abv.

2. This means an Original Gravity in the range 1045–1050

3. Bitterness should be reasonably assertive—a cleansing ale. So 40IBU sounds good. Brewed in September, bottled in October, drank in Jan–Feb the bitterness will be a bit lower than 40IBU as the hop compounds turn from bittering to flavoring compounds.

Now we need to select a malt bill, a hop bill and a water bill and a mash schedule. Start on the malt bill in the next post.


Head Honcho
Staff member
The malt bill

This is a small ale by necessity—no place to hide poor brewing technique! In a big, roasty Russian Imperial Stout we can use a cheaper malt, not here!

So we will choose the best malted brewing barley there is: Maris Otter (called Golden Promise in Scotland where it is grown for making whiskey.

Looking at the Bairds Malts website we get:
Extract (0.7/0.2mm), dry: 310 LDK min


310 is the “degrees of extract (DE)” we can get from the malt—using laboratory techniques. Brewers can only get like 80% efficiency so .8 x 310 = 248.

We can plug this into the formula for calculating the weight of grain needed to get a specific gravity wort of our desired volume.

We want G to be 1050 max (50 gravity points.) Our V is usually 22L so we can calculate the weight (W) of grain from:

G = (W x DE)/V (so the more grain, the higher DE and lower the volume the heavier the wort)

50 = (W x 248)/22

So W = 50 x 22/248 = 4.435Kg malt

Personally, I would increase the grain bill to 5Kg and stop sparging while the last runnings are still fairly thick—wasting a bit of the sugar but getting a wort full of good flavor with no husky etc off flavors. We are home brewers, the biggest beer I ever brewed was 16Kg of grain, brewed it with a mate we had three mash tuns and 2 kettles going. A commercial brewer uses so much grain they could not “waste” any extract.

There is one more thing we can do to boost the malt flavor—next time.


Head Honcho
Staff member
The above I posted in Critters and Gardens and was moved to Food (where it clearly does not belong) by the idiot Setanta. I have copied it here and will complete it here. OzPol’s loss but what else can I do in the face of one sided GMod interference in MRBs?

Setanta has moved interference up a step by banning me after moving a thread so I cannot delete the contents of a post of mine he has moved. And FD wonders why he is losing so much money even after advertising revenue :ROFL1:ROFL1:ROFL1


Head Honcho
Staff member
One more thing about the malt bill: we can do something that will increase malt flavor heaps. We will dry roast some of the malt to what is called “light amber.”

We set our oven to 90°C and pour two kilos of our Maris Otter malt into a scrupulously clean (no fat!) roasting dish. The malt should be 2.5cm/1" deep. We roast the malt at 90°C to dry it out.

At all stages of the roasting you need to stir the malt every fifteen minutes to prevent the top grains burning. No matter if a few grains turn a darker color but we don’t want the whole lot to turn brown! That is not light amber malt!

After the hour at 90°C we turn the heat to 100°C and roast the grains at that temperature for half an hour, stirring every 15 minutes of course. After the half hour turn the oven to 110°C and roast for a further half hour. At the end of the half hour cut a few grains open—if the pure white endosperm (inside of the grain) has turned to the lightest shade of buff no more roasting need be done. I never found the need for an extra half hour roasting at 120°C.

Throughout the roasting there is the most delicious scent of biscuits baking!

We let the grains cool overnight before crushing all the grain in the maltmill. The best maltmills have three rollers crushing the grain, two at a wide spacing, two at a narrower spacing. I have a 2roller Valley Mill and need to run the grain through twice, no problem for most brews, was a bit tedious in the shop where we might have several grain orders to do for Saturday pick up.

The light amber malt will boost malt flavor and aroma heaps while the color of our pale ale will only be deepened slightly. Perfect!
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