THE BEER GUNNER

THE BEER GUNNER

Grains. Hops. Water. Yeast.

The Wedding Beer Series: Centennial Blonde Homebrew Recipe and Review

I’m getting married in October and I’ve been designated the official brewer of the wedding reception.  So this spring I’ve been experimenting with a few homebrew recipes that might appeal to all types of beer drinkers- from the novice to the craft beer aficionado. The first of these wedding series experiments that has gone from grain to glass is the Centennial Blonde- a beer that I wanted to be low in alcohol but high in flavor.  

Beer Style: Blonde Ale
Batch Size: 5.5 gallons
Original Gravity: 1.040
Final Gravity: 1.008
Bitterness: 21.5 IBU
Boiling Time: 60 Minutes
Color: 3.9 SRM
Alcohol: 4.2% ABV

Ingredients
7.00 lbs. Pale Malt (2 Row) US
0.75 lb. Cara-Pils/Dextrine
0.50 lb. Caramel/Crystal Malt - 10L
0.50 lb. Vienna Malt
0.25 oz. Centennial (9.50%) boil for 55 min
0.25 oz. Centennial (9.50%) boil for 35 min
0.25 oz. Cascade (7.80%) boil for 20 min
0.25 oz. Cascade (7.80%) boil for 5 min
Danstar Nottingham Ale Yeast

Dry hop- .5 oz Cascade and .5 oz Centennial

Extras
Yeast Nutrient – 10 minutes
Whirlfloc- 10 minutes
1.5 grams gypsum
1.5 grams calcium chrloride

Directions
Mash at 150 degrees for 60 minutes. Sparge with 175F water to create enough wort to reach 5.5 gallons after the boil. Boil and add hops according to the schedule above. Chill to 68 degrees and pitch the yeast. 

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Review
The Centennial Blonde is 4.2% with with subtle floral and citrus aromas and taste. Moderate golden pale color with a low hop bitterness, a medium white head, high carbonation with a touch of biscuit flavor from the malt. It has a dry finish that is vaguely reminiscent of some american adjunct beers.This beer is perfect after a long day in the sunshine chopping down trees or pairing with spicy or rich foods. Easy drinking. 

Conclusion
I partially succeeded in creating a beer that was low in alcohol, high in flavor, and appealing to all types of beer drinkers. While the beer is 4.2% and easily approachable as an entry level craft beer, it may leave a bit to be desired for those inclined towards more bitter offerings. If I brew this one again I would consider raising the mashing temp a degree or two to make the body a little more malty, and adding an additional ounce of dry hops to give the beer a more pronounced aroma. 

Please check back soon to see how the wedding series of beers is coming along. Currently I have a Sour Centennial Blonde in secondary that uses the same base recipe as the Centennial Blonde but also has wild yeast from the dregs of Hill Farmstead Vera Mae, The Bruery/Cigar City Marron Acidlife, and Allagash Coolship Red. Also, a Belgian Blonde is in the keg and carbing, and an all Citra IPA is fermenting away. 

Centennial blonde homebrew paired with Oaxacan shrimp tacos, pasilla tomatillo salsa and guacamole.

Centennial blonde homebrew paired with Oaxacan shrimp tacos, pasilla tomatillo salsa and guacamole.

Just another afternoon drinking delicious local lagers in historic Nassau brewery lagering tunnels from the 1860s. 

Welcome to Brooklyn KBS!

Welcome to Brooklyn KBS!

Electric Amarillo Pale Ale

A few months ago Midwest Supplies was cool enough to contact me and ask if I would review one of their beer recipe kits. After looking through their wide selection of available styles- available in both all grain and extract with yeast type and grain crushing options - I decided the Amarillo Pale Ale all grain kit with Wyeast Northwest Ale 1332 would be perfect for the spring weather.  A few days later the kit was on my doorstep with all the ingredients necessary to brew a great batch of beer and a detailed recipe. Included in the kit was the following:

10 lb crushed 2-Row  8 oz. Carapils, 8 oz. Caramel 40L specialty grains, 1/2 oz. Columbus, 2 oz. Amarillo hops, priming sugar, muslin bag and yeast

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That night I made a 1 liter starter with the Northwest Ale yeast and looked over the hop bill for the recipe which had the following directions:

Add 1/2 oz Columbus bittering hops (half the bag) and boil for 60 minutes for optimal hop utilization. After boiling for 40 minutes add 1 oz Amarillo flavor hops. Boil for 20 minutes then add 1 oz Amarillo aroma hops and remove the kettle from the heat.

While I thought this was a great base for the hop bill I decided I wanted to add a few more hop additions to the boil and purchase some more Amarillo hops for dry-hopping as well.  Unfortunately my local homebrewing store was out of Amarillo, so I decided to dry hop using 1 oz each of Centennial, Citra, and Mosaic hops. Also, since I keg my beers I decided to throw the 5 oz of priming sugar (dextrose) to the boil to add a little bit of gravity and dry the beer out a little bit more. 

Here is my final recipe for those interested:

OG 1.050
FG 1.012
IBU - 26
ABV 5%

Grain
10 lb 2 row
8 oz carapils
8 oz cararamel 40L
5 oz corn sugar (dextrose)
Hops 
.5 oz Columbus at 60 minutes
.33 oz Amarillo at 15 minutes
.33 oz Amarillo at 5 minutes
.33 oz Amarillo at 1 minute
1 oz Amarillo at turn off
Dry hop - 1 oz mosaic, 1 oz centennial, 1 oz citra, 1/2 oz columbus
I usually add 1 oz of mixed hops every 2 days for 8 days for dry hopping schedule- wanted to use amarillo but my homebrew store was out of it
Yeast
Wyeast 1332 Northwest Ale
Single Step Infusion at 151 degrees for 60 minutes

The Results
After fermentation and dry-hopping I transferred this beer to the keezer and carbonated for a week. As of now this beer is almost gone and everyone has really enjoyed the citrus and tropical aroma and flavor, the beautiful bright blonde color, the dry character, moderate bitterness, and immense drinkability. It is very easy to drink several of these beers and keep reaching for more. 
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Final Verdict

The Amarillo Pale Ale recipe kit from Midwest Brewing is a great kit that I would highly recommend to any homebrewer from novice to award winner. With a few small recipe tweaks to fit my palatte and available ingredients, I am quite pleased with the results and would happily make this beer again. 
Pros- great service, yeast options, grain crushing options, front door delivery, quality ingredients, easy to understand directions
Cons- liquid yeast viability dates could be old, dry hopping not included in recipe or ingredients

My keezer is finally finished. Many thanks to Billy at BillyBrew.com for the awesome tutorial and my buddy Tim for helping me build the collar.

My keezer is finally finished. Many thanks to Billy at BillyBrew.com for the awesome tutorial and my buddy Tim for helping me build the collar.

birthday beers

birthday beers

The keezer collar is almost complete. The taps are in the mail and the woodstain is almost dry…

The keezer collar is almost complete. The taps are in the mail and the woodstain is almost dry…

On April the 28th, twenty-five homebrewers at Public Assembly in Williamsburg shared their brews with the public in the biannual Brooklyn Wort 2012 homebrew competition.  The competition has been organized by Brooklyn Homebrew and Sycamore bar since 2009 and has steadily been growing in size and stature.  This year all potential participants were required to submit a beer in a preliminary round before being selected to participate in the main event. There were over 125 entries to get one of the 25 spots. 

I was lucky enough to be one of the brewers selected to share their beer at the event. It was a lot of fun meeting other brewers, sampling beers (hoppy ipa’s, chile beers, funky beers, belgian beers, etc), and getting feedback from both the public and a group of judges including brewers (Sixpoint, Brooklyn Brewery, Kelso, Carton), distributors, and bar owners. A lot of people said they really enjoyed my Lupulin Lager- a hoppy lager with big hop aromas and a nice smooth finish - and I got pretty good scores from the judges (average of 36 out of 50), but I did not place in either of the two categories- people’s choice and judges choice- however I was just happy to be there among all the creative homebrewers. 

Congratulations to all the brewers that won…and many thanks to all the judges and Brooklyn Homebrew and Sycamore for putting on a really fun and unique event.

Hopefully I’ll be back next time.