Real Fermenting: Pale Ale

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Pale Ale

This is a recipe for 1 gallon of Pale Ale. It is pretty unusual to see 1 gallon recipes online, but as it is part of my philosophy to make small batches, I have had to learn how to convert things into smaller brews. Small batches encourage experimentation, and do not cost too much if the experiment goes bad. Another part of my philosophy is simplicity. To that end, this brew is made from malt extract (rather than whole grains), but with pellet hops. That means we are free to try different combinations and amounts of hops, while maintaining a fairly simple boil process. I bought this hop sampler from Seven Bridges Cooperative, which provides an excellent array of hop varieties to try out. Perfect for small batch brewers.
Pelleted Organic American Bravo Hops

The process for this Pale Ale is very simple.


13oz malt syrup (Malt Extract, Golden Light)
1 gallon water
Ale yeast (Safale US-05 Dry Yeast)
1/4oz (7g) American Bravo Hops (@60 mins)
1/4oz (7g) Belgium Cascade Hops (dry hop)


1. Boil 1 quart of the water in a pan. As soon as it is boiling, add the quarter ounce of Bravo hops to the water in a reusable teabag. Set a timer for 50 minutes and simmer the water, covered, for this whole time.

Boiling on the left, cool 3 quarts of water waiting on the right.

2. After 50 minutes, add the liquid malt extract to the boiling quart of water. Stir it in so it doesn't burn on the bottom of the pan. Simmer for ten more minutes.
3. Now the hops have simmered for 60 minutes total (that's what @60 minutes means next to the Bravo hops in the ingredients. I just included that in case you want to read other sites where this is not explained). Turn off the heat and pour the mix into 3 quarts of cool water you have waiting.

After 60 minutes of the boil

4. Leave this gallon to cool to room temperature. You can put in an Immersion Wort Chiller or use a ice bath, or just do what I did, put it into a bathtub filled with cold water. Stir with a clean spoon and it'll be cool enough in 10 minutes or so.
5. Add the Belgium Cascade hops to your fermenter and pour in the cool liquid. This is dry hopping.

Me pouring straight into my new Better Bottle (usually would use my bucket as a primary, but that is still tied up with the Blackpeach Gruit Ale
6. Pour in a packet of dry ale yeast. To mix it in, I bunged the bottle's mouth and shook it for 3 seconds. Another advantage to brewing in gallon batches.
7. Fit your airlock and fill with cheap, cheap vodka.

Pouring in the "Vodka of the Gods" from Trader Joes (about $10 for 1.5L)
Okay, you're done! This will ferment for about a week, and then go into bottles for a couple of weeks for conditioning and carbonation.

How To Experiment

In this section, I will describe a few different ways you could experiment with this basic recipe. Of course, your results will vary. That's what you want. You should probably follow a few recipes first so you get the hang of the basic techniques.

If you buy the hop sampler pack (8 packs of 1oz) I mentioned above, then you have enough hops to make 16 1-gallon batches with the amount of hops in this recipe. That gives you plenty of opportunity to try brewing different types of beer. This website gives the guidelines from the Beer Judge Certification Program. It describes the kind of grains and hops used in many different styles of beer. Use it as a starting point for making your own decisions about what to include in your recipe.
The basic rule is that boiled hops are progressively more bitter. Alpha acids (specified for each hop variety) range from around 3% up to roughly 20%. These are the acids that become bitter (isomerized) in the boiling process. A hop variety with lower alpha oil will have more beta acids. The beta acids are aromatic and have the typical grassy, citrusy, grapefruity characteristics we value in Pale Ales and IPAs. This article describes the main hop varieties available in America today. You can also grow your own, and rhizomes (roots) are available from homebrew stores and online. This helpful bitterness calculator can help you figure out how much hops to add and when in the boil.

This recipe uses organic Breiss pale malt extract. It is a very basic and versatile extract. You can buy different malt extract for brewing darker or lighter beers, or you can use a small amount of grains to make a partial grain brew. I plan on buying some chocolate and crystal grains in the next couple of months so I can demonstrate this only slightly more complicated method for adding some malty fullness to your brews.

The Safale US-05 dry ale yeast I have been using is a good standard yeast for beer. However, there is a massive range of liquid and dry yeasts available, each of which can give a different character to your finished product.

So far I have just been using filtered tap water in my brews, but certain varieties of beer require special water. You can adjust your local water by adding Gypsum (called "Burtonising" after the British town on the river Trent, which has higher sulphate levels) or using a store-bought mineral water with high carbonate levels.

Spices and other adjuncts
Oats, rye, buckwheat, sorghum. Nearly any non-barley grain can be added to the boil to give a fuller flavor. In a gallon batch you would use around 1/2 cup in an oatmeal stout, for example. If you are Anheuser-Busch InBev or SAB Miller, you probably are rubbing your hands together and adding cheap sugars, like corn. Homebrewers don't need to add cheap flavorless adjuncts to their beer.
Many American brewers add spices and other flavorings in the fermenting or conditioning stage. These range from dried orange peel to cloves to juniper berries and many more besides. You can experiment with these on a per bottle basis, as I will be demonstrating in the next week or so with Cider Three Ways. \

Finally, I would love to hear about your brew experiments! Please let us know in the comments, or email me at

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