Dale’s Pale Ale Brewday, and the No Chill Brewing Method

I decided to squeeze in a brewday to brew a Dale’s Pale Ale clone for our family trip to the Outer Banks in April.  I recently met the Head of Brewing Operations of Oskar Blue’s while spending some time at Three Notch’d Brewing Co., and he was nice enough to give me the recipe for Dale’s Pale Ale.  Now, it was for a 1900 gallon batch, so I had to do some work to scale it down to 5 gallons, but I think I got it pretty close.

I stayed inside as much as I could

I stayed inside as much as I could

Its been downright cold here in Charlottesville the past week or so.  The low yesterday morning was around 0F, and when I fired up the burner to get started, it was only 15F.  Not an ideal night for brewing, but when you work full time and have 2 small children, you brew when you can brew.  I probably won’t brew again when it gets this cold though.

The brewday was running very smoothly up until the end of the boil.  I was using a new whirlpool method to keep the hops out of the fermenter, rather than my usual hop spider, to try and increase my hop utilization and get a better hop aroma and flavor from the late additions.  I used a total of 6.5 oz of hops in the boil, 4 oz of that at flameout.  Instead of cutting off the burner and chilling immediately, I planned on starting the whirlpool pump, chilling down to around 180F, then cutting off the chiller to allow the hops to steep while recirculating for 20-30 minutes.  This method allows for aroma extraction without increasing IBU’s from steeping in near boiling wort.  Then, after cutting off the pump and allowing the hops to settle in a cone at the middle of the kettle, transferring the wort through the chiller into the fermenter, leaving the hop particles behind.  As a note, this only works with pellet hops, since they can pass through a plate chiller, while leaf hops will clog your pump and chiller. After an initial shot of hop particles, I got a nice, clear wort into the fermenter.


hop cone


The issue came when I went to turn on the water for the plate chiller and nothing happened.  I guess it turns out that the faucet had frozen, and I couldn’t get a drop of water to come out.  Enter panic mode.

I had no way of chilling the wort down quickly.  Before trying to turn on the water, I had cut off the burner, dropped in the final hop addition, and starting recirculating with my pump.  So this was running while I pondered what to do next.  I ran inside, poured a pitcher of hot water, and poured it over the faucet, thinking that would do something.  But the water inside the pipe was frozen, and I had no way of fixing that.  I went back to look at the temp of the wort, and in 5 minutes it had already dropped below 200F.  Maybe I wasn’t completely screwed after all.  In only 14 minutes the wort had dropped down to 180F, which meant that my IBU wouldn’t be effected too much, and DMS production was of little concern as well.  I went inside and looked at my plastic carboy, it read “do not exceed 140F”.  So, after 40 minutes of recirculating, I was down to 140F.  I decided to get it in the carboy, drop it in the refrigerator, and let it finish cooling to 65F before pitching my yeast starter.

After transferring and cleaning up, the wort was already at 105F

After transferring and cleaning up, the wort was already at 105F

After getting up at 345 and 545 am to check on the temperature, I pitched the yeast at 715, about 8 hours after the boil finished into the wort at 68F.  Long night.  But I am pretty confident that the beer will turn out just fine.  After doing some research and finding this ARTICLE ON NO CHILL BREWING I was able to relax a little.  This method was developed more for areas that are too hot, not too cold, but I guess the same principles apply to my situation.

Here’s the recipe:

My Dale’s Pale Ale (5.5 gal)

Efficiency – 85%

OG -1.062

FG – 1.013

ABV – 6.5%

IBU – 68


9 lbs Pale 2-Row

1.2 lbs Munich 10L

0.9 lbs Caramel 20L

0.2 lbs Caramel 90L


0.5 oz Columbus (15.6 AA) First Wort Hops

1 oz Cascade (6.2 AA) 30 minutes

1 oz Columbus, 10 minutes

4 oz Centennial (9 AA), whirlpool for 30 minutes at 180F (read above)

(notice there are no dry hops in Dale’s Pale Ale)


Danstar West Coast Ale Yeast, 2L starter


Mash at 152F with 4.25 gal

Sparge at >170F with 4.7 gal

I added 1.5 tsp gypsum (CaSO4) and 1 tsp CaCl to both the mash and sparge water, since we are low in calcium and sulfates in Charlottesville.  See my post on WATER ANALYSIS for more info.

60 minute boil

Baby J turned 5 months old this week!

Baby J turned 5 months old this week!

Keags and her "snow gloves"

Keags and her “snow gloves”






Published in: on February 21, 2015 at 2:39 PM  Comments (1)  
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Smooth As a Baby’s Butt Pale Ale

I decided last minute that I wanted to brew up a beer for Shannon’s upcoming baby shower, that will be less of a “traditional” baby shower, and more of a “co-ed hang out and drink some beer” baby shower.  Guys, you’re invited too.

7.5 lbs American 2-row malt
1.5 lbs Vienna malt
0.5 lbs Crystal 40L
0.5 lbs CaraPils
2oz Cascade hops (1 oz @60min, 0.5 oz @30min, 0.25 oz @15min, 0.25 oz @5min)
Nottingham yeast (1L yeast starter)
1tsp Irish Moss (15 min)

First, I want to offer a tip on making yeast starters.  I have used them on the past 2 brews, and I have to say, it definitely makes a difference on the lag time for yeast fermentation.  Happy, healthy yeast results in happy, healthy, tasty beer.  It takes a little extra effort up front, but the reward is worth it.

When adding yeast nutrient to your starter, DO NOT add it during the boil.  I forgot to add it in the beginning before I started boiling, so I thought I would just add a shake of it in while the wort was boiling.  It resulted in a violent reaction in which I lost about 200mL of my starter.  And it made quite a mess.  Now on to the brew day.

It was a little chilly for early November, but I braved the cold to brew Wednesday afternoon.  I poured a jar of black IPA from the keg and got started.  I wanted a beer that was easy to drink and not too complex for the crowd that will be attending the party.  Don’t get me wrong, we have a lot of good beer drinking friends, but I wanted something everyone could enjoy.  So I opted for a simple pale ale.

The Vienna malt will add a little bit of color, along with a toasty or biscuity malt aroma, while the Crystal malt will also impart some color and sweetness.  I typically use CaraPils in all my beers, as it aids in head retention.  We’re aiming for an ABV of around 4-5%.

I mashed in with 3.5 gallons of water at 165F for a mash temp of 152F for 1 hour.

For sparging, I decided to go again with a batch sparge.  I used 5.25 gal at a target temp of 170F.  Although I took a temp at the first sparge and only got 160F, even though I had heated the sparge water to near 200F and measured it around 190 in the liquor tank.  Still need to work on getting the sparge temp where I want it. Also of note, I probably ended up with a little less than 5 gallons.  I think that the cold weather resulted in a higher percentage of boil off.  We’ll monitor this over the winter.

Our Original Gravity came in at 1.044, target was 1.051, but that recipe had a 10.5 lb grain bill, and I tweaked the recipe down to 10 lbs, so I’m pretty happy with the OG. Should get us right around 4.5% ABV.

Chilling the wort was a breeze today, as the temps dropped into the 40’s in time for chilling.  I went from boiling to 76F in 30 minutes!  Again, I constantly agitated the wort with the wort chiller to keep it circulating to maximize heat exchange.  That is one thing I am looking forward to with winter approaching.  Shaving off 30 minutes of chilling time.

I will ferment this one about 2 weeks before kegging and force carbing.  The party is in early December, I don’t have time for dry hopping and secondary fermenting and all that nonsense.  This will have to do.

Typically, it takes about 24 hours for my yeast to really get going when I pitch it directly into the wort from the package.  Here’s what my beer looked like just over 12 hours after pitching my yeast starter.

Update 11/21/12

Kegged Baby’s Butt Pale Ale today, dry hopped in the keg with 1 oz Cascade (see post on dry hopping in keg) set in keezer at 35F and 10 psi.  Will check back in 2 weeks for carb level, shooting for 2.5 volumes CO2.

Published in: on November 8, 2012 at 4:33 PM  Comments (2)  

Update on American Psycho Ale, McPaleAleroy bottled!

So during bottling last night, we opened up one of the champagne bottles of American Psycho Ale.  Earlier in the week, I tried a 12 oz bottle of the same brew and it was pretty flat.  As you can see from the picture here, this was not the case with this bottle.  So I’m still wondering whether the priming sugar just wasn’t mixed in well or if it just needed more time.  I guess we’ll see as we open more of them! For those of you holding on to a champagne bottle of this, I think its safe to say it’s had enough time to condition, and hopefully you got a good one.

Spencer came over last night to help finish what he and I started, McPaleAleroy.  After a few good beers at Mellow Mushroom, we set out to bottle the Pale Ale.  Checklist in hand, all went well this time.  First things first, we boiled the priming sugar and added it to the bottling bucket.  We sanitized the bottles this time by racking the star san solution into each bottle, rather than immersing the bottles in it.  This resulted in less foaming in the bottle, which made me feel better about it.

The result was a light ale with a slight bitterness at the finish.  Shannon thought it tasted a little funny, but both Spencer and I agreed that it tasted fine and should end up a nice, easy to drink beer.  Our haul was 36 12oz bottles and 7 22oz bottles.

We also received a surprise in the mail from our friend Nick of Happy Brew with Nico. Three bottles of beer, FedEx’d to our front door.  I’m excited to try these and see how they compare to my rookie brews.  He’s been brewing for 10 years now and has helped me out with a lot of questions and advice.  Thanks Nick!

Published in: on October 15, 2011 at 11:14 AM  Leave a Comment  

McPalealeroy racked into secondary, Homecoming tomorrow!

Today we racked McPalealery into the secondary carboy, in another 2 weeks it will be ready for the bottle.  And tomorrow JMU faces Richmond in a top 10 matchup for Homecoming!  Unfortunately the only home brew I will be bringing with me to homecoming is a 22 of Hopmore 69, since we are on our last few bottles of that and trying to save them for later.  Shannon will be drinking it, since she only wants to have 1 beer.  American Psycho was just bottled and needs a few weeks to condition, and McPalealery (McP) is sitting in the secondary.

We tasted McP during the move and its going to be a good, drinkable beer.  It’s light, but has a nice bitterness at the end.  This one will be a good one for next summer.  I can see myself throwing back 3 or 4 of these in one sitting, probably more if I didn’t want them to last.   But we did get a full 5 gallons from this batch, so our yield will be better than the first two, and I suspect we end up with over 2 cases this time.

The final gravity measurement of this one was 1.009.  With an original gravity of 1.046, we should be looking at an ABV of about 5.2%.

JMU has a tough matchup tomorrow against Richmond.  With our QB Justin Thorpe out for probably 5 games for a drug violation, backup redshirt freshman Jace Edwards will need to step up in his first start to lead the Dukes to victory.  I’m a little worried about this one, but with the home crowd of 25,000+ I think we’ve got a good chance at pulling the “upset”.

I’ll be heading to the lot early to start on my homecoming chili, using my brew pot and new propane burner to cook everything.  Excited about getting an additional use out of my home brew equipment.


Bottling Day for American Psycho Ale

Today we bottled American Psycho Ale.  It’s a mildly spiced pumpkin ale with no pumpkin.  Essentially it’s just an american amber ale with some cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and allspice.

We ended up with about 4 gallons to bottle.  We used the champagne bottles we got from Albemarle Cider Works a few weeks ago.   We bottled 12 champagne bottles, 14 12 oz bottles, and our 32 oz growler.

We’ll give this one a little extra time to condition in the bottles with the spices, but I’ll probably try one after a week or so just to see how its going…

“American Psycho Ale”

OG – 1.050 FG- 1.009 ABV- 5.3%

McPalealeroy, American Pale Ale

Thanks to all who gave naming suggestions for this new American Pale Ale.  Ariel was ultimately the winning choice, and will be rewarded with a 22 oz of McPalealery after it is bottled in about 3 weeks.

Ingredients for McPalealeroy

I also want to thank Spencer for coming over and helping me brew yesterday, for him, a six pack will be put aside.

McPalealeroy is my attempt at a standard, go to recipe that I plan on brewing regularly.  It should be a nice, light, mildly hoppy, drinkable beer for everyday use.  It ended up with a specific gravity (SG) of 1.046, which should get us to around 5% ABV.

While at the home brew shop, I was treated with a nice surprise, Simcoe dry leaf hops.  Simcoe hops are generally difficult to get your hands on, and are thought to possibly be the secret “Hop X” in the popular Dogfish Head 60, 90, and 120 minute IPAs.  So I jumped on the opportunity to use some of these high Alpha Acid hops to use as my bittering hops.  The only problem with that is that I wanted a simple recipe that I could easily replicate over and over. Well, I probably won’t be able to get these Simcoe hops each time, but oh well.

Simcoe dry leaf Hops

I was very happy with the results from yesterday’s brew.  We boiled about 3 gallons of water, ended up with about 2.5 gallons of wort, I added the full 2.5 gallons of chilled drinking water after cooling the wort to about 80F to make 5 gallons, then pitched the yeast.  This morning the fermenter was bubbling pretty regularly.

The beer is a nice light pale ale.  I used a lighter 20L crystal malt specialty grain and extra light dried malt extract.  The total for this brew for ingredients came out to about $45.

Here’s a clip of the boil

after wort was chilled, straining it into fermenter

adding water to dilute wort to 5 gallons

finished wort, original specific gravity 1.046