This beer starts with an understated aroma of apricot thatís nicely balanced by the spicy aroma of Saaz hops. The carbonation is extremely crisp, easily mistakable for forced carbonation; the head is long lasting and light, but not milky. The taste has a hint of fruit flavoring, but is mostly a light malty flavor with a finish of bitter spice. There is very little ďextract twangĒ and no aftertaste. The color is a hazed tawny gold.
This is the first beer Iíve finished that I really enjoy, that my wife really enjoys, and that Iím comfortable handing out to guests of all levels of beer appreciation. Itís my intention to devote one fermenter to this recipe full time and keep it as a haus ale.
My local home brew store charged about $40 for the entire ingredients list, which fills 54 12oz bottles. Northern Brewer charges $45.80 + S&H for the entire list.
RECIPE & PROCEDURE:
4lbs Pale Malt Extract (Syrup)
2lbs Light Malt Extract (Dry)
.5lbs Crystal Malt 40L
1oz Saaz Hops
.75oz Cascade Hops
1 packet Muntons Dry Yeast
4oz Apricot Extract
1. Bring 3 gallons of water to a constant temperature of 165F. Once the water has reached and stabilized at 165F, add the Crystal Malt and steep for 25 minutes. Do not allow the temperature to rise about 170F.
2. After 25 minutes remove the Crystal Malt and allow the bag to drain. Do not squeeze.
3. Stirring, add all 6lbs of Malt Extract. Once the mixture has reached a uniform consistency, increase the heat and bring the mixture to a boil.
4. Once the mixture reaches a boil, add 1oz of Saaz Hops, and continue the boil for 55 minutes. WARNING: (1) Boiling wort has a tendency to bubble over the sides of its container, so keep an eye on your pot to be sure it doesnít heat too quickly; (2) More heat is required to reach a boil than to maintain a boil - try turning down the mixture to medium heat after reaching 212F to avoid scorching the pot and the wort.
5. After 55 minutes, add .75oz of Cascade Hops, and continue the boil for an additional 5 minutes.
6. At the conclusion of the total 60 minute boil, remove the mixture Ė now wort Ė from the heat and chill until the wort reaches 70F.
7. Once the wort reaches 70F, rack or carefully pour the wort into 2 gallons of water in a sanitized fermenter. Top off the fermenter to 5 gallons and stir until the mixture is homogenous and will aerated.
8. Add the yeast, and seal the fermenter. Allow 8 days for primary fermentation to complete at approximately 72F.
9. After 8 days, or when the hydrometer reaches a constant level of about 1.19, add the 4oz of Apricot extract and a cup of dextrose to a sanitized bottling bucket, and then rack the fermented wort on top.
10. Bottle the fermented wort/extract/dextrose mixture, and allow to condition for about 14 days.
NOTES AND REFLECTIONS
The total ABV for this beer is quite low, only about 3% ABV. Thereís nothing inherently wrong with that, and it makes for a very nice summer session beer, but offering friends whatís almost smallbeer is a little embarrassing. Iíd consider adding corn sugar or clover honey to my next batch in order to boost ABV a little. Alternatively, Iíd consider adding an additional pound or two of Light Dry Malt Extract in order to both boost ABV and add some additional malt flavor to counterbalance the apricot/hops.
Also, I like the way the hops counterbalance the sweet of the Apricot, but in my opinion it's SLIGHTLY overhopped for its style. In the future I plan to reserve about an eighth of an ounce of the Cascade Hops, and maybe a tenth of an ounce of the Saaz hops.
Finally, the beer was definitely hazier than Iím comfortable with, and thereís distinct sediment in the bottles. Iíd rather not have to secondary the wort if I can avoid it, because a haus-ale is really no good if you have to wait the better part of a month for it. I didnít add Irish Moss on this first pass, and Iíll definitely add it next time for a clearer brew.