Serrated Summer Ale 3.0 – Hoppy Blonde

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Serrated Summer Ale (1)

Brewed 06/12/16.  Finally, I get to brew a summer beer while its warm enough to feel like summer outside!!!  My Munich Helles required jeans and long sleeves and I brewed that in May.  Oh well.  Anyway, this is my third time brewing my main summer beer, Serrated Summer Ale.  The first time I brewed this ale, it was basically a different beer.  It was essentially a knockoff of Two Brothers Sidekick extra pale ale.  Its a very light pale ale with a big tropical and citrus kick, but its definitely West Coast.  The beer is crisp, dry, and clear.  If that appeals to you more, check it out here.

The second version of this beer, as well as this version, are more modeled after a beer called Eureka by TreeHouse.  Eureka is a blonde ale, but not in the traditional sense.  When most people think of a blonde ale, they think of an entry level craft ale that isn’t a drastic departure from the macro lagers that many enjoy.  The beer is typically crystal clear, subtle, and crisp.  There usually isn’t much going on in the way of hops or any sort of yeast profile.  I dare say that blonde ales are a bit boring.  I enjoy them from time to time, and have even brewed several, one I really liked, but if I want crisp, refreshing with not a lot going on, I’ll usually take a lager like a Helles.  Eureka, and my Serrated Summer Ale, are not blonde ales of this traditional variety.   The beer is cloudy in the New England/Northeast IPA style of beers.  The soft mouthfeel is there.  And so are those beautiful citrus and tropical hop flavors.  The beer is still super light and easy drinking, and I’ve only tried Eureka once, but I imagine I could guzzle those by the dozen during the summer.

That brings my to this summer ale.  I wanted something similar to Eureka, but I’m not really into doing clones.  Given what I know about brewing New England style beers, I figured I could brew something close to Eureka without knowing really anything specific about it, and I succeeded last year in that effort.  This year’s Serrated Summer Ale really isn’t much of a departure from last years batch.  I kept the OG down a little bit just to make this one even lighter and more sessionable.  I’m shooting for an ABV between 4% and 4.5%, last year was about 5%.  I simplified the hop bill a bit, cutting out Zythos hops and strictly focusing on equal parts Citra and Galaxy.  This beer should be packed with citrus and tropical fruit flavors that should be perfect in the summer months coming up.  I subbed flaked wheat in place of oats from last years, I just prefer the body they provide over the oats.  As usual, my yeast of choice is Wyeast 1318 London Ale III.  Last years version of this ale was the first time I used London Ale III and I haven’t looked back.  I love this yeast and have written about it in great detail in a number of other articles here, but its just so damn good.

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Cheers! I finally got to wear some short sleeves on brew day this time!

This was a fairly quiet brew day.  I play in an ice hockey league and I had a 8:00 pm game on the night of brew day, so I wasn’t able to partake in my usual shenanigans.  Don’t get me wrong, beers were had, but I kept things pretty low key.  Steve came ove rto help me out which was very much appreciated.  I brew a modified version of BIAB, where I still do typical mash volumes, and I fill another pot with the full sparge volume and basically soak the grains in that for another 15 minutes.  This method usually gets me between 70 to 78% efficiency.  The downside is it can be a pain to brew alone.  I like to squeeze the grain bag to get all the sugars I can out, and that’s hard to do alone.  Long story short, thanks Steve!

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Steve contemplating

I was having some thermometer difficulties on this one, the digital reading seemed to jump around a lot even after I changed the battery, but I think I got my mash temp around 154, a bit shy of the 156 I was aiming for.  I really don’t want this one drying out too much.  Around the half hour mark I went to stir and found that I had lost four degrees which is not typical.  I’m guessing it was from their being less volume in the mash, so there was more headroom in the kettle for heat to escape, even when covered by my usual pile of blankets.  I heated it back up to 156, stirred and covered again.

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The rest of the brew day was fine.  I boiled for 60, hit all my hop additions, and chilled to 180 for a 30 minute hopstand.  I did run out of propane once with about 15 minutes in the boil, but I always have an extra on hand to that was a quick fix.  After the hopstand, I chilled the rest of the way down.  My hydrometer sample was right on the money at 1.045.  I pitched my yeast and into the ferm chamber it went.  As always, I’ll post a kegging update and tasting notes as I go.  Here’s the recipe and water profile.

Recipe Specifications

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Batch Size (fermenter): 5.50 gal
Bottling Volume: 5.50 gal
Estimated OG: 1.045 SG
Estimated Color: 4.2 SRM
Estimated IBU: 32.2 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75.00 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Ingredients:
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Amt Name Type # %/IBU
6 lbs Brewers Malt 2-Row (Briess) (2.0 SRM) Grain 1 65.3 %
1 lbs Wheat, Flaked (1.6 SRM) Grain 2 10.9 %
1 lbs White Wheat Malt (2.4 SRM) Grain 3 10.9 %
8.0 oz Caramalt (Thomas Fawcett) (15.0 SRM) Grain 4 5.4 %
8.0 oz Carapils (Briess) (1.5 SRM) Grain 5 5.4 %
3.0 oz Acid Malt (3.0 SRM) Grain 6 2.0 %

0.25 oz Warrior [15.00 %] – Boil 60.0 min Hop 7 14.3 IBUs
0.50 oz Citra [12.00 %] – Boil 10.0 min Hop 8 8.3 IBUs
0.50 oz Galaxy [14.00 %] – Boil 10.0 min Hop 9 9.6 IBUs
1.50 oz Citra [12.00 %] – Steep/Whirlpool 0.0 m Hop 10 0.0 IBUs
1.50 oz Galaxy [14.00 %] – Steep/Whirlpool 0.0 Hop 11 0.0 IBUs

2.00 oz Citra [12.00 %] – Dry Hop 5.0 Days Hop 13 0.0 IBUs
2.00 oz Galaxy [14.00 %] – Dry Hop 5.0 Days Hop 14 0.0 IBUs

2.0 pkg London Ale III (Wyeast Labs #1318) [124. Yeast 12 –

Mash Schedule: Single Infusion, Light Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 9 lbs 3.0 oz
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Name Description Step Temperat Step Time
Mash In Add 11.48 qt of water at 168.2 F 156.0 F 60 min

Ca+2                  Mg+2               Na+                   Cl-                 SO4-2                     HCO
126.9                  7.4                   4.9                  140.1               92.0                        16.260

Keg Update:  The FG of this beer came in at 1.015, giving me an abv of 4% which is perfect for summer drinking sessions!  The aroma and hop flavor were great going into the keg for more dry hops, so I can’t wait to see how this turns out!

Tasting Notes 07/18/16:

Appearance:  Serrated Summer Ale pours a hazy gold with hints of orange and a fluffy white head.  If you’re a fan of New England style pales, this should appeal to you.  As stated above, this doesn’t look like your typical blonde ale.

Smell:  This beer has a very fruit forward aroma.  There’s a ton of passion fruit, citrus, pineapple, mango, and some lemon zest.  The aroma is really pleasing on this one.  Blending with the hop aroma is some nice fruity esters from the yeast.

Taste:  This beers is saturated with hop flavor without the bitterness of a pale ale.  The hop flavor is mostly citrus and pineapple.  There is a light sweetness, but not much malt flavor to speak of.  Still, for a 4% beer this one has some nice flavor to it.

Mouthfeel:  Light bodied without feeling thin.  Dry and refreshing but there’s still enough body to maintain a smooth texture.  This beer is really juice like in mouthfeel, it really enhances the drinking experience.

Overall:  Another successful attempt at this beer.  I’d be ok bumping this up to 4.5 percent, but I like keeping this light and mild.  The hop flavor is exactly where I want it.  I’d consider subbing some of the 2 Row for Golden Promise to add a bit more malt flavor to this, maybe even dropping the caramalt and doing all Golden Promise as the base.  We’ll see, that’s next summer’s dilemma!  For now, I’ve been enjoying this one for a few weeks now and I’m very pleased with the result!

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Serrated Summer Ale 2.0

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Serrated Summer Ale (1)

Nothing like brewing a summer beer when temperatures are in the high 50’s/low 60’s!  Unfortunately that’s the reality in the Chicagoland area this time of year.  I’ll be in the 80’s one day and then drop 20 degrees the next.

The goal of this brew day was obviously to brew a nice easy drinking summer beer that has great hop flavor, but a light smooth bitterness.  The other goal here was to test out Wyeast 1318 London Ale III.  I’ve been a huge fan of Conan yeast, and as of now I intend to use it as a house yeast for the majority of my beers.  Before I commit to that plan, I wanted to try out London Ale III and see if it lives up to the good things I’ve read about it.  The yeast is supposed to be fairly clean, decent attenuation, lets the hops pop, and lends a creamy mouthfeel.  This is also supposedly the yeast Hill Farmstead uses, and if I can get anywhere near their quality and mouthfeel then I’ll be thrilled.  I wrote an article about my thoughts on a house yeast, you can read it here for more detail HERE.  

This beer is a bit of a departure from my recipe last year.  Without knowing what their recipe was, I based the idea of this beer last year on Two Brothers Sidekick Extra Pale Ale.  It’s a light, dry APA thats really drinkable and perfect for summer days.  I still love that beer, but I had a beer from Treehouse recently that I felt would be an even better summer chugger.  Treehouse Eureka (the Citra version) is a cloudy, creamy, hoppy blonde ale that tiptoes the blonde/APA line.  As I was drinking it, I thought about how it would be the perfect beer to drink a sixpack worth while sitting on my deck on an 85 degree day.  I didn’t set out to brew a clone of this beer, and Treehouse is apparently pretty tight lipped on their recipes anyway.  I wanted a ton of tropical and citrusy hop flavor without a lot of bitterness.  I used Zythos, Citra, and Galaxy in this beer last year, along with Nelson Sauvin.  For this year’s version, I dropped the Nelson hops and focused on achieving a smooth body by using oats and white wheat.  I also kept the higher chloride ratio to boost the body of the beer.  I loved the impact this had on my 527 DIPA.  The hops still popped, but the beer was so smooth, and the bitterness wasn’t harsh.  That same approach should work really well in this beer.  I used some light caramalt for a hint of sweetness to sit under the hops and to get a bit of color.  If all goes to plan, this beer should blend elements of a blonde ale and an APA.  I’ll call it a blonde, but this beer definitely won’t fit neatly in the style guidelines.

Givin' the ol grain bag a squeeze

Givin’ the ol grain bag a squeeze.  I’m holding the bag, my neighbor Phil is doing the squeezing

I was really happy with how this brew day went, and I was determined to have a mistake free day.  As usual, we had our friends and neighbors over, but I laid out my ingredients on a table beforehand and kept my process tight.  I hit my temps and numbers, coming up just one point high on my OG, winding up with 1.050.  I did a 30 minute hop stand at 180 degrees after my 60 minute boil, then chilled to 70 and pitched my yeast.  It’s been fermenting away for a week, and I’ll give it a few more days before transferring to the keg for dry hopping!

Water profile:

Ca+2       Mg+2       Na+        Cl-        SO4-2         HCO
141.9       0.0           0.0         180.9      95.1           0.000

Recipe Specifications
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Batch Size (fermenter): 5.50 gal
Bottling Volume: 5.50 gal
Estimated OG: 1.049 SG
Estimated FG: 1.014 FG
Estimated Color: 4.2 SRM
Estimated IBU: 35.2 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 78.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 78.0 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Ingredients:
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Amt Name Type # %/IBU
6 lbs 12.0 oz Brewers Malt 2-Row (Briess) (2.0 SRM) Grain 1 71.5 %
1 lbs Oats, Flaked (1.0 SRM) Grain 2 10.6 %
1 lbs White Wheat Malt (2.4 SRM) Grain 3 10.6 %
8.0 oz Caramalt (Thomas Fawcett) (15.0 SRM) Grain 4 5.3 %
3.0 oz Acid Malt (3.0 SRM) Grain 5 2.0 %

0.13 oz Apollo [17.00 %] – Boil 60.0 min Hop 6 8.3 IBUs
1.00 oz Citra [12.00 %] – Boil 5.0 min Hop 7 9.0 IBUs
1.00 oz Galaxy [14.00 %] – Boil 5.0 min Hop 8 10.5 IBUs
1.00 oz Zythos [10.00 %] – Boil 5.0 min Hop 9 7.5 IBUs

1.00 oz Citra [12.00 %] – Steep/Whirlpool 0.0 m Hop 10 0.0 IBUs
1.00 oz Galaxy [14.00 %] – Steep/Whirlpool 0.0 Hop 11 0.0 IBUs
1.00 oz Zythos [10.90 %] – Steep/Whirlpool 0.0 Hop 12 0.0 IBUs

1.00 oz Citra [12.00 %] – Dry Hop 5.0 Days Hop 14 0.0 IBUs
1.00 oz Galaxy [14.00 %] – Dry Hop 5.0 Days Hop 15 0.0 IBUs
1.00 oz Zythos [10.90 %] – Dry Hop 5.0 Days Hop 16 0.0 IBUs

2.0 pkg London Ale III (Wyeast Labs #1318) [124. Yeast 13 –

Mash Schedule: Single Infusion, Light Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 9 lbs 7.0 oz
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Name Description Step Temperat Step Time
Mash In Add 11.79 qt of water at 165.9 F 154.0 F 60 min

Update 06/12/15:  I transferred this beer onto the dry hops in the keg last night.  The FG came in at 1.011, a bit drier than I had wanted, but the beer should have a nice light body for summer drinking.  The other downside of the beer drying out was the abv comes in at 5.1 now, rather than the 4.7 I was shooting for.  It’s not quite the low abv session beer I was aiming for, but this thing should still be light and chuggable.  It’ll sit on the hops for a few days and then I’ll start carbing it!

Tasting Update 06/22/15:  I’m thrilled with the way this beer turned out!  The beer is so smooth with great hop flavor and a nice light malt body.

Appearance:  The beer pours a bright gold with hints of orange.  The beer is hazy and unfiltered just like Eureka from Treehouse Brewing.  It pours with a nice creamy head and sticky lacing that hangs around.  A really nice looking beer if you enjoy the unfiltered look (I do!).

Smell:  Nice fruity aroma consisting of orange, grapefruit, and some pineapple.  There are hints of yeast esters.  The hop aroma isn’t overpowering and goes well in this beer.

Taste:  Very mild bitterness gives way to bright citrus hop flavor.  There’s some orange and grapefruit, but aside from the citrus there’s also passion fruit and mango notes.  The malt base here is pretty light and grainy with just a bit of sweetness in the finish.  There’s a hint of English yeast esters, but they compliment the flavors in this beer really well.  Overall the yeast profile was pretty clean.

Mouthfeel:  This is one of the ways this beer shines.  I really like the silky smooth body that the Wyeast 1318 leaves.  The beer is light in body, but this yeast keeps it from ever seeming thin or watery.  The beer still finished dry enough to be really refreshing and drinkable.

Overall:  I really could not beer more pleased with this beer.  I’d be interested to see what this beer would be like with Conan yeast, but I really like what the 1318 brings to the table here.  This was a great trial run for me with 1318, but I’d like to use it in a DIPA or something a bit bigger before I come to a final opinion on it.  I will say that it lived up to my expectations!  I would maybe add some carapils in place of some basemalt to keep a bit more body in the beer, but I’m kinda nit picking.  I’d like to keep the abv down just a bit more, somewhere around 4.5 to 4.7 or so, but again, that’s a pretty small complaint here.  I’m very satisfied with this beer, and any recipe tweeking will be minor!