I wanted to start off with something simple to brew and easy to drink. An APA seemed like a good bet, so I spent five minutes with Google and picked the first decent looking extract APA recipe that I found.
Recipe - simple APA.
10 litre batch
Light DME 1.2kg
Dark Crystal Malt 120g
60 minute boil
Hops - all Cascade, leaf, 5.5% AA
7.5g 30 mins
7.5g 10 mins
7.5g dry hop for 5 days
1 tsp Irish Moss at 15 mins
As you'd expect from a first effort, there are all sorts of things that I've learnt from this. I'll probably expand on some of them in future posts, but here's a list to be getting on with:
- Everything takes longer than you expect, particularly getting stuff warm and then getting it cool again.
- It's probably worth bagging the hops when you dry hop, particularly if you don't have a good way of filtering them out when you siphon the beer off to the bottling bucket.
- It's quite a pain in the arse to keep a fermenter at 18 degrees in winter in Cambridgeshire without some sort of heater.
- If you boil 10L of water for about an hour, you don't end up with 10L at the end. And if you forget to take account of this then your nice light APA can turn into something a bit more hefty - I ended up with an 8L batch with a theoretical IBU of 57, measured OG of 1.060 and measured FG of 1.015.
The finished beer came out mid brown, grapefruity with a hint of caramel. It wasn't super complex or aromatic and there were initially a few funky fruity rough edges that I couldn't pin down the source of, but it smoothened off with a bit more time in the bottle. To be honest, for a first brew I'd have been satisfied to produce anything that was identifiably beer, so getting something that was actually pretty drinkable was a definite bonus.
Update: a bottle of this brew ended up sitting in a friend's kitchen for the best part of six months, and that time turns out to have been really rather kind to it. The rough edges have gone, the fruity hops have basically gone too, and what's left is basically dark crystal malt cut through with a bit of bitterness - nice smooth flavours, sherry, caramel and dried fruit. I'm not sure that I could pull that off again deliberately, but I'd be interested to try!