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Style of the Week: American Brown Ale!

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February 6, 2015 by fhsteinbart


Typical Nut Brown Colored Ale with off white head as shown in a proper straight sided sleeve glass, cheers!

Typical Nut Brown colored Ale with off white head as shown in a proper straight sided sleeve glass, cheers!

It’s just seems weird to me that we have names for most beer styles that are irrelevant to color, yet we still persist in creating some styles exclusively based on color! Namely the ubiquitous Brown Ale. All that you can really say is that the ale is brown, but what do we even mean by the use of the word brown as a descriptor? As I see it, Brown Ales should be of a dark color that resembles a harvested nut like Pecans, or Hazelnuts. While it can be dry, or full bodied, hop forward or malt forward, light auburn to almost deep reddish brown as in a Porter, it’s just not as roasty as a Porter. So, if I haven’t confused you enough already, I’ll give you a recipe of mine that is a nicely balanced beer in terms of malt and hop character. It sports an off white head and is dark brown with no “ruby” highlights. Below is a recipe that follows the Texas style, in which there is noticeable hop character to balance out the noticeable malt character:

Extract:

6 lbs. Light DME

2 lbs. Munich LME

¼ lb. C-40 Malt

¼ lb. Pale Chocolate Malt

¼ lb. Chocolate Malt

¼ lb. C-80 Malt

2 oz. Chinook Hops (Bittering)

2 oz. Centennial Hops (Flavor)

2 oz. Amarillo Hops (Aroma)

Whirlfloc tablet or Irish Moss

Wyeast 1056 , WLP001, or US-05 Dry Yeast

Procedure:

  • Heat 2-5 gallons of water to 165°F.
  • Add steeping grains to kettle and steep for 30 minutes.
  • Remove grains, and rinse with 165°F water
  • Turn off heat and add malt extract, stirring until fully dissolved.
  • Return to Heat, bring to boil for 5 min. then add bittering hops.
  • At 20 minutes remaining, add the flavor hops.
  • At 15 minutes remaining, add the Whirlfloc tablet or Irish Moss.
  • At 7 minutes remaining, add the aroma hops.
  • At knockout, cool the mixture by placing kettle in an ice bath or use a wort chiller. Add the mixture to the fermenter, removing the hops, and bring total volume to 5 gallons using distilled, bottled, or filtered tap water.
  • Aerate unfermented wort (shaking works well).
  • Pitch yeast and ferment at 65°~68°F for 7 to 10 days.
  • Allow to age an additional two to three weeks before packaging up as usual.

All Grain version:

10 lbs. 2-Row

2 lbs. Munich Malt 10L

¼ lb. C-40 Malt

¼ lb. Pale Chocolate Malt

¼ lb. Chocolate Malt

¼ lb. C-80 Malt

2 oz. Chinook Hops (Bittering)

2 oz. Centennial Hops (Flavor)

2 oz. Amarillo Hops (Aroma)

Whirlfloc tablet or Irish Moss

Wyeast 1056 , WLP001, or US-05 Dry Yeast

¾ gm. Brewing (Burton) Salts per gallon (~3.75 gms. or 1 level tsp.) in the mash and in the boil.

Procedure:

  • Infusion mash at 150°F for 90 min with the Brewing (Burton) Salts.
  • Sparge until 6~6½ gal wort has been obtained.
  • Add the rest of the Brewing (Burton) salts after the boil commences.
  • Boil for 1 to 1½ hours total time.
  • Add the bittering hops after 15 minutes boiling and continue to boil for 60 more minutes.
  • Add the flavor hops at last 20 minutes.
  • Add Whirlfloc or Irish Moss at last 15 minutes.
  • Add the aroma hops at last 7 minutes.
  • Gravity may vary depending on system efficiency, so adjust accordingly.

Package up as usual; bottled versions should use 100 gms. corn sugar (approx. ¾ cup), or kegged to 15 psig, and allow two weeks to come into condition. Serve at 55°~60°F in a Sleeve style glass, share, and enjoy! This beer will continue to evolve and change over the coming months, so make enough to last you through your next brew.

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