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Style of the Week: American Amber Ale!

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May 8, 2015 by fhsteinbart


Here we see a good representation of the American Amber Ale served in a typical pint glass. Nice foam stand too!

Here we see a good representation of the American Amber Ale served in a typical pint glass. Nice foam stand too!

Whenever you call a beer a name based on its color, you’re going to have a lot of debate on what constitutes that beer in the way of flavor, aroma, and character. In my opinion, Amber Ale is a more caramelly version of American Pale Ale (APA). While sweeter in the finish than an APA, the OG and the hopping rates are similar. What differences exist are in the finish (in this case, the terminal gravity or TG), and the color (which is due to an increased amount of either caramel, or character malts) of this beer. Amber color varies quite a bit as well, since no two people see the same color in quite the same way. If you were to  taste a cadre of several Amber beers, you’d find a lot of variability, but a common theme throughout, representing my previously mentioned differences. So if you have a decent Pale Ale recipe, you could use that as a starting point in creating a proper Amber Ale. In the recipe below, I’m going to use both caramel, and specialty grains to make for a nice, slightly sweeter, higher body beer that will have good malt structure, with a nice counter posing but balanced bitterness, and a lowered, but noticeable hop character. This makes for a very drinkable beer, which is richer and fuller than the Reds that are now taking the area over as they are drier, crisper, and hence hoppier than the similarly colored Ambers. Below is the recipe I call Amber waves of grain:

Extract:

6 lbs. Extra Light DME

¾ lb. Crystal 40 malt

¼ lb. Victory Malt

1 oz. Goldings Hops (bitterness)

1 oz. Willamette hops (flavor)

1 oz.  Liberty hops (aroma)

Wyeast 1056, WLP001, or US-05 Ale yeast

Procedure:

  • Heat ¾ 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 back to boil.
  • After 10 minutes, add the bittering hop addition.
  • At 20 minutes remaining, add the Whirlfloc tablet or Irish Moss.
  • At 15 minutes remaining, add the flavor hops.
  • At knockout, add the aroma hops, then 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:

10 lbs. Pale Ale Malt

¾ lb. Crystal 40 Malt

¼ lb. Victory Malt

1 oz. Goldings hops (bitterness)

1 oz. Willamette Hops (flavor)

1 oz.  Liberty hops (aroma)

Wyeast 1056, WLP001, or US-05 Ale 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 154°F for 1 hour. Sparge to 6.5 gallons of wort, and bring to a roiling boil. Add the bittering hops 10 minutes into the boil. Continue boiling for 40 more min. then add Whirlfloc tablet or Irish moss.  At 45 min. then add flavor hops. At knockout, add the aroma hops, then cool the mixture by placing kettle in an ice bath or using a wort chiller. Add mixture to fermenter, removing hops, and aerate unfermented wort (shaking works well). Pitch yeast and ferment at 65°F to 68°F. 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 20 psig, and allow two weeks to come into condition. Serve at 50°~55°F in an American Pint 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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