Brewing a delicious, hoppy American Pale ale is a breeze with extract brewing. Homebrewers can use the ease of brewing with malt extracts to their advantage to brew beers that are showcases for American hops during a surprisingly short brew day.
Many homebrewers turn their noses up at extract beers. Once they have conquered the summit of all grain brewing, some brewers feel brewing with extract is a step back down the slope. However, brewing with extract can have its advantages.
Obviously, extract brewers skip the labor- and time-intensive steps of milling, mashing, lautering, and sparging. There is an added time-saving advantage to malt extract: the extract does not have to be boiled for a full hour.
Since the extract is essentially an all grain wort that has been fully boiled at the manufacturer and has simply had most (or all) of the water taken out, the malt extract company has done most of the work for you. All you need to do is to boil the extract long enough to sanitize it.
“But,” you may be asking, “what about hop utilization? Don’t I have to boil hops for a full hour to get the full bitterness out of them?”
Well, yes and no. For a standard addition of bittering hops, you do have to boil for a full hour. Boiling hops for a shorter period of time may result in a smaller amount of hop isomerization and utilization. The solution: add more hops. If adding bittering hops for only fifteen minutes in the boil will result in half the utilization of a 60-minute boil, double the amount of hops you would normally add at the beginning of an hour-long boil.
Adding a lot of hops late in the boil increases the hop flavor and aroma in the beer. Some refer to it as “hop bursting.” So, adding double the amount of bittering hops at fifteen minutes before the end of the boil achieves two goals. First, it gives us the bittering we want. Second, it preserves a lot of the fruity and citrusy flavors American Ale fans crave. Any hops added later than the fifteen-minute mark will only increase the effect of American hoppiness.
The result is a very short brew day and a very tasty American Ale.
15-Minute American Ale
5 gallon batch
6 lbs. Light Dry Malt Extract
1 lb. 60 L Crystal Malt
2 oz. Simcoe Pellets (or your favorite American hop) – 15 minutes
1 oz. Simcoe Pellets – 5 minutes
1 oz. Simcoe Pellets – Flameout
Safale US05 Yeast
Steep the crystal malt in a grain bag in the water as it is coming up to a boil. When the temperature reaches 170F, take the bag out. Add the extract before the wort comes to a boil to help avoid a boil over. When the wort begins to boil, add hop additions at times above. Only boil wort for 15 minutes. Chill and pitch yeast.
One note: you will not need as much water as a typical one-hour boil, since you will not be losing as much water to boil off.
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