On Tuesday, I judged a flight of beers for the Dixie Cup, the annual competition held by Houston’s Foam Rangers homebrew club. The style of beer was cream ale. Judging cream ale, and tasting several different twists on it, gave me a few insights into brewing the style — especially if you are brewing it to enter into a BJCP homebrew competition. [Read more…]
It’s summer. It can get hot as hell at times, especially after some yard work or exercising. Even the most dedicated homebrewer or craft beer aficionado can occasionally appreciate a “fizzy yellow lager” — or the ale equivalent — under these circumstances. They’re crisp, they’re light, they’re effervescent — and sometimes, they’re just the thing to slake your thirst. If you’d like to brew a cream ale or American Pilsner style beer, here’s a countertop partial mash recipe for 5.0 gallons (19 L) that will show you how. (And if you’re an unbearable craft beer purist who is absolutely compelled to turn up his nose at this style of beer, go check out my series on Russian imperial stouts.)
The biggest keys to success here are using the freshest possible ingredients, not scorching the extract, and running a good fermentation. If you use old liquid malt extract, the color of your beer will be too dark, and you’ll probably taste a little oxidation. You’ll add more unwanted color to the beer of you scorch the malt extract. (So, dissolve it in wort first.) Running a good fermentation will keep the beer crisp and free from excessive yeast-derived aromas (esp. esters, which you want to minimize in this type of beer). If you’re brewing the lager version, consider kräusening it.
And finally, if you want to brew this in the traditional manner, brew the beer initially as a fairly strong beer (around OG 1.064), then dilute it to working strength with deaerated water in the keg. (The recipe gives the straightforward method of brewing the beer — no kräusening or high-gravity brewing. But those techniques aren’t too hard to add, if you’d like.)
If you’ve never brewed a beer using a countertop partial mash before, review the technique before you start. You’ll need a 2-gallon beverage cooler with a spigot, and a large steeping bag in addition to your usual extract brewing equipment.