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The Beerhiker

Homebrewing an American Pale Ale

The cost of good beer is out of control. I am sick of paying $12 for a 6 pack of decent microbrewed ale. It's even worse if you like quaffing 22 oz bottles. No way am I going to pay over $100 for a gallon of beer, ever again.

Last week, I literally dusted off my old homebrewing gear and made my first batch of ale in 15 years. There's nothing like the aroma of boiling wort and full flower hops in the kitchen. I had to replace a few items, like my old tubing and sanitizers, but all my other equipment cleaned up rather nicely.

I decided to make an classic American Pale Ale (partial mash) first, because it's a fairly fool proof recipe. I've also been inspired  by the Pale Ale and Brown Ale at Moat Mountain Smokehouse in North Conway, NH, this winter and they're my preferred styles at the moment. The Moat brews on premises and has some fantastic beer. The food is also great and not expensive. I highly recommend that you stop in for a meal if you're staying overnight near Pinkham Notch, in the White Mountains.

Here's the American Pale Ale recipe that I brewed up for this batch. After we bottle it, I'll probably brew up a Brown Ale and then a batch of mead with by sister-in-law, who is a beekeeper.

Beerhiker American Pale Ale

  • 6.5 lbs of amber dried malt extract
  • 0.5 pounds of Crystal Malt 80, crushed
  • 1. 5  oz Centennial hop flowers (7.8%), boiling [27.2 IBUs]
  • 1.0 oz Centennial hop flowers (7.8%), aroma [3.7 IBUs]
  • Safale US-50 dry ale yeast

Directions

  1. Boil 2.5 to 3 gallons of water in a big pot
  2. Add malt extract and mix until chunks are fully dissolved
  3. Add Crystal Malt and boiling hops in separate muslin bags for 55 minutes. Maintain low boil throughout.
  4. Scoop out 1/2 cup of wort for yeast starter and store in a capped, sanitized bottle. Chill down to 75 degrees by immersing in cold water.
  5. Remove Crystal Malt and boiling hops after 55 minutes and add muslin bag containing aroma hops for 5 minutes.
  6. Remove aroma hops
  7. Pour wort into a sanitized carboy, and top off with cold water to bring total amount to 5 gallons. Cap with stopper and airlock. Let cool overnight to 75 degrees.
  8. When yeast starter reaches 75 degrees, add yeast.
  9. After 12 hours, add yeast starter to carboy. Store carboy out of direct sunlight in a location between 60 and 75 degrees.
  10. Ferment and bottle after 2 or more weeks.

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13 comments

  1. 12 USD for a six pack?! Count your blessings :) Nothing about Sweden has kept its ability to shock me like the cost of alcohol here, it's mind-boggling. Even after seven years I still get annoyed at paying approx 12 USD for a Duvel. In a pub it would be two or three times that. I'm almost teetotal these days.

    Best of luck with the brew!

  2. The fact that you are not brainwashed by light beer aka WATER raises my level of support for your blog to another level!

  3. My husband has been brewing his own again the last couple months. We have a beautiful stout on hand right now. I was wondering how much it cost for you to make your batch? Please share the Brown Ale recipe you plan to use too. I'm begging for a Brown for his next brew.

  4. Brian – I think the closest I've ever gotten to a light beer is an Asahi Dry over sushi. Budweiser adds rice sugar to their brews to keep them lighter, like some of the Japanese brewers.

  5. Amber – that your real name? Probably $35-40. I bought some extra hops and supplies so I didn't really keep careful track. I haven't dreamed up the brown yet, but will keep you posted.

  6. I loved making beer and mead (now that is a lesson in patience), but after so many moves I have set the equipment aside for now. Maybe one of these days. In the meantime, homebrew lasts a long time, so I am enjoying what I made a while ago.

  7. I hear ya. I just brewed my first batch and tasted it this weekend. Not the most carbonated beer but definitely tasty! I'm going to pick up a new carboy soon and start brewing every three weeks. Keep up the good work.

  8. There certainly is nothing like the smell of wort. How can something I enjoy so much come from something which smells so ghastly!

    The Backpackers Club in the south of England keep weights ultra low by hiking from pub to pub. No need to take lunch. That comes from the first pub. No need to take an evening meal. That comes from the pub you've camped behind. Not much breakfast is needed. Of course, this isn't the cheapest way to camp, but it tends to be convivial.

  9. The cheapest beer in Norway, is about 14 USD for a 6-pack. And I think thats fine. Its Tuborg, and tastes totaly fine. Much better than som of yours "blue ribbon" stuff :)

  10. Excellent! Homebrew on the trail is always good, though can be a bit heavy compared to spirits such as whiskey. One way to save weight is, when you bottle your beer, sanitize some 1 liter plastic water bottles (and the twist-on caps) and bottle several in those. They'll carbonate the same as those in glass bottles, and will be much better for hiking – less weight and no breakable glass.

  11. do not let the wort boil over, it makes a big mess o the stove

    cleaning everything so that only the good bacteria is present is a pain

  12. Tobit from VFTT and

    OMG, here I am trying to quit drinking beer and you make this entry on one of my favorite blogs. :p

    Seriously, beer is my downfall and I think I have finally given it up. I have to if I ever plan on losing these 50 lbs. I need to to make peak-bagging a bit easier.

  13. Tobit – I am a beer drinker with a hiking problem, too! Problem is, hiking makes me very thirsty.

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