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xxDrSmurto's Golden Ale - variations and musings

November 21, 2012, 11:22:14 AM by DrSmurto | Views: 24367 | Comments: 56

To save people wading through 44 pages of discussion on AHB I thought i would distil my thoughts on this beer and its evolution from kit beer to the variation i tend to brew at the moment. WARNING - long post follows.

The golden ale started out life as a JSGA clone on and was initially posted by a brewer called Pale_Ale. It didn't contain wheat or crystal and possibly used the kit yeast. Over time on that forum it evolved and I took it under my wing and turned it into the kit recipe you now see listed on AHB and other places.

1 can Coopers Sparkling Ale (can be subbed for Coopers Lager for a lower IBU)
1 can Coopers Wheat Malt
250g crystal (caramalt, caramunich, carabohemian, light/medium english crystal)
20g Amarillo @ 15 and 0 (sometimes listed as 15g @ 10, 5 and dry hop, i prefer the former)
Topped up to 20L (not 23L).

This can be converted to full extract by replacing the hopped kit with the same quantity of unhopped extract (1.7kg liquid extract) and adding a bittering hop at 60 min to 30 IBu total.

The 1st AG version which was brewed October 2007 (and no, not my 1st AG, it was my 4th).

55% Pils
20% Munich
20% Wheat
5% Caramunich II
(All Weyermann malt)
Amarillo @ 60 to 31 IBU
0.75g/L @ 10, 5 and dry hop
Mash - 66C for 90 mins, 78C mashout.

The first major variation was several months later when i replaced the Pils with JW Trad Ale and caramunich with JW caramalt. I also had by now gotten over the tendency of new brewers to dry hop everything so the late hop schedule had become 1g/L at 20 and 0. This version was the one entered in ANAWBS in 2008 and scored 46/50 winning its category (english bitter) and beer of show. As an english bitter it exploited a loophole in the guidelines which allowed american hops. I had entered it as an APA in SABSOSA earlier that year and it scored 31.75/50 in the APA category with comments of lacking hop flavour and aroma and more of an english pale ale than american. I took that information on board and the loophole in ANAWBS and entered it as an english bitter and the rest is history. To be fair, the golden ale is not that different to an english summer ale where the beers tend to be lighter in colour and higher in hop flavour and aroma.

Over the years i have used this recipe to try out new grains, hops and yeast using the ideology that by changing 1 variable at a time you get a better understanding of the contribution of each new ingredient. Different base malts, crystal malts, hops, yeast and even water chemistry have been used. I kept the % of grain the same, the g/L of late additions the same so whilst it has changed over time to not resemble the original in many ways the ideology behind the recipe remains the same - balance. Easy drinking, balanced beer with plenty of hop flavour and aroma but also with a great malt backbone that carries through. In reality, the philosophy is english in style but using more aromatic hops (american, australian, NZ).

I used this recipe for a homegrown hop series a few years ago to compare the flavour and aroma of my homegrown hops and used the results of that to decide whether to keep or dig up hops. As a consequence of that series i now only have Victoria and Chinook in the garden. Not that the other hops were bad, they weren't, it was just a matter of space vs how much homegrown hops i wanted. For those who have seen the growth i get from a few hop plants you'll understand and I didn't want to get to the point where i felt obliged to use my hops all the time to use them up.

So to my current and favourite variation.

55% Ale (normally TF FM MO or GP)
20% Vienna (german)
20% Rye
5% Carabohemian
Magnum @ 60 to 30 IBU
Victoria 1.5g/L @ 20 and 0
WY1272 American Ale II
Water chemistry - CaSO4 and CaCl2 added to achieve ~ Ca 90 ppm with the SO4:Cl ratio at ~1:1 starting from rainwater so no Na, Mg or CO3.
Mash - 67C for 90 mins, 78C mashout.

Carabohemian is easily my favourite spec malt. It has 90% of the flavour of caraaroma minus the burnt toffee notes and ~ half the EBC.

Rye is an amazing grain and ever since trying my first beer with it in it (Boilerboy/L.W. American Rye IPA) I have been hooked. At this % it does increase the mouthfeel a bit making it seem more full bodied and the spicy, earthy characters comes through.

Vienna over Munich was something i stumbled upon when i ran out of munich once. Munich adds a bready/toasty character whilst Vienna is more smooth honey like whilst still adding plenty of malt backbone. I found it allowed the rye to shine through a bit better than munich.

MO and GP - This beer is balanced between malt and hops so it needs a good malt backbone and over the years I have come to the conclusion that Australian malt can't provide that. It's not malted with that in mind; no commercial beer brewed on a large scale has a real malt backbone (IMHO). English beers have that character in spades and hence their malt is malted with that in mind. The same philosophy applies to Vienna and Munich malts which are available in Australian versions but I find them lacking. I prefer quality over cost saving.

The yeast choice is quite simple. US05 is clean, easy to use and reliable but adds nothing to the beer. WY1272 adds an extra dimension with ester production. I also find it clears better.

Homegrown Victoria hops are amazing. The first time i tasted a beer that used this hop (Jeff/Boston now head brewer @ MVBeer) it screamed Loquats (citrus, mango, peach). Goes beautifully with rye and I get enough from my plants to brew a number of batches each year.
So there you have it, my take on the golden ale.

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