Beer Post: Cream Ale

I know, I know… This blog is usually about fitness and exercise… and beer is about as far from that as you can get.  Hey… It’s my blog… deal with it.

Since the weather is warming up, as much as I love dark beers, I decided to abandon the stout and make something lighter.  My all time favorite beer (those who know it please don’t laugh) is really kind of a regional beer out of Rochester NY called Genesee.  My favorite is the Cream Ale.  Smooth and bubbly but nearly impossible to find in CoMo.  I have found it in Oklahoma, Springfield, MO and many other places… just not here.

So I decided to try and make my own.  I tried to find a recipe online someplace that was close but they were either all grain or some goofy knock off.  I took an all grain recipe and called my local brewing supply, The Homebrewery, in Ozark, MO.  After explaining my plan to Todd, one of the owners, he sat down with me and converted everything and made some suggestions.  Since I don’t have the gear or time to brew all grain, I wanted to work with extract.

Here is the extract recipe we came up with:

Total cook time 60-90 min

Bring 5 gal of water to a boil

Add:
6lb dme
(reserve 1 1/4 cups of dme to prime)

Bring to boil

Add:
1/2lb cara pils, cracked
(steep for 20 min)

After 20 minutes, add:
1oz Columbus Hops
(40 min cook)

After 40 minutes, add:
.5oz Saaz Hops
(20 min cook)

After 55 minutes, add:
.8oz Saaz Hops

(5 min cook)
NOTE: comes in 2oz pkg.  you will have LEFTOVERS.  Don’t use it all!!

Cool to under 90 degrees rapidly (ice water bath)

Next;

Pour into primary fermenter:

1 1/4 cups dme to prime, dissolved in 1 cup of water

1 pkg. Dry Nottingham yeast

Pour or siphon wort into primary fermenter

Primary fermentation 7-10 days

Rack to settling bottle for 2-3 days

Yeah, I know… It’s a mess.  I promise I will clean it up and make it more readable… later.

I picked a glorious spring evening last weekend and started the cook out on the back deck, just before sundown.  When I cook beer, since I don’t have a dedicated brew space and I hate to stink up the house (yes, cooking beer stinks), I purchased a turkey cooker (cajun cooker with a big pot) and I usually brew outside.  I know, all of you brew snobs will rail on me for this, but its part of the experience.  It’s more fun for me to do it this way and, since I only brew 4-6 batches per year, it’s just easier.

I, personally, love the smell of cooking beer.  It reminds me of the good times my buddies and I had making beer back in the day.  I especially love the strong, pungent aroma of the hops.  I’ve gotten to where I can actually smell a difference between varieties.  How’s that for sad…!

Anyway, the cook went without incident.  The beer came out a malty, golden color that should be very nice when it settles.  I dropped in the rest of the DME and yeast starter.  Done!  I love easy recipes!

By morning it was crawling out of the carboy!  I swear I NEVER had this problem before.  I always had to beg my beer to ferment.  Now it’s trying to escape!  The last 3 batches have made a huge mess all over.  After several blow offs and much cleaning of beer goo off of everything, I finally decided that;  a.) I need a bigger fermenter, and b.) the only way to save this batch was to split it into two fermenting tanks, so I poured half of it into another carboy.  Within minutes, both were bubbling away happily.

I pulled off a small smackerel to sample as I split it.  After 24 hours the beer is still very sweet since the yeast hasn’t eaten all of the sugar yet, but I really like the hops I used.  Strong, but not bitter.  This will mellow with time and fermentation.  I think this is going to be a REALLY good beer.  It may not be exactly like Genesee, but it will be close enough.  I am already thinking about backing down the hops a little for the next batch.  I think .75oz of Columbus and 2 X .5oz of Saaz will be enough.  It’s fun to get this far into making beer.  Experimenting with my own recipes.  I’ve seen suggestions of using flaked maize or rice instead of the cara pils in other cream ale recipes, so I have lots of things to try.  I may very well have to make a few more batches!

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