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Style of the Week: American Red Ale!

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August 14, 2015 by fhsteinbart


Here we see a typical American Red Ale served in a standard 16 oz. pint glass.

Here we see a typical American Red Ale served in a standard 16 oz. pint glass.

One of the most ubiquitous beers that is truly American is the style called American Red. One of the first breweries to make it come from places like Anchor, Full Sail, and Alaskan. Unlike the maltier, fuller, and sweeter American Amber Ale, these beers tend to be more sharply flavored and like the American Pale Ale, upon which they are derived, have a more pronounced hop character due to the decreased use of caramel malts, and the preferred use of darker, more roasted malts. So if you have a great Pale Ale recipe, you could simply add less caramel or crystal malt to the malt bill and add some darker roasted malts like chocolate or black patent to make a great Red Ale. All these beers are siblings from the same family of beers, but differ slightly from each other due to small differences in terminal gravity and grist bill. Below is a recipe of mine that makes a very nice American Red Ale, and I feel that when brewed as is, will make any brewer satisfied with the finished product.

Extract:

6 lbs. Extra Light DME

¼ lb. Crystal 40 malt

¼ lb. Victory Malt

2 oz. Chocolate Malt

1½ oz. Goldings hops (bitterness)

1½ oz. Willamette hops (flavor)

1½ oz.  Crystal 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

¼ lb. Crystal 40 Malt

¼ lb. Victory Malt

2 oz. Chocolate Malt

1½ oz. Goldings hops (bitterness)

1½ oz. Willamette hops (flavor)

1½ oz.  Crystal 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 151°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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