Fine-Tuning The Cream Ale

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PCatsoulis

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Hey folks, for my next brew I want to do a simple cream ale. While there are plenty of recipes and really only a few simple rules to follow when making one, I wanna see if anyone can help build some input as to what I can do to really make my homebrew variant a consistent, go to beer for the friend (and hopefully one day consumer) alike. My current recipe is as follows:

5 gallon batch
7 lbs 6-row
2 lbs flaked maize
1 lb corn sugar (added before boil)
2 oz cluster (1 at 60 min and 1 at 20 min)
Wyeast Kolsch 2565 yeast
Ferment at ~55 F and bring up to 65 5-7 days in. Monitor fermentation for up to an additional week. Cold crash at 33-34 F for 24 hours, add priming solution and bottle (condition another 2 weeks).

Given this recipe, am I going too simple? I know I have seen people use a variety of ale malts and occasionally white wheat as adjuncts. I also know that I could use crystal hop pellets or any combination of neutral hops (saaz, cascade, spalt, etc...) as far as my greens go. Also Wyeast isn't the only company that makes Kolsch yeast (Omega and WLP make a few strains themselves) and on top of that WLP080 is a completely different blend of yeast made just for cream ales...There's a lot of variety for relatively neutral materials and my major question to you all is what have you found that works the best for you? Let me know :)
 

gunhaus

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I would skip the 6 row, and the notion of "rules' . I would also probably skip the sugar (One adjunct at a time is enough) 7lb 2 row 2 lbs of corn, 25 or so IBU's of what makes ya happy, and clean forgiving yeast. Brew -drink-enjoy or modify until you are happy ( YOU - Not others - YOU. Make others happy after you think it tastes good.) Or not - your choice!
 

BigEd

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Too simple? No. This should be a simple beer. Agree with gunhaus that I'd lose the sugar. If you want more ABV increase the grains a bit. Also agree on the six row. Nothing wrong with using it especially if you already have it but any extra pale malt will be just fine.

If you want to add another ingredient to the grain bill a 3-5% addition of light crystal malt would not be out of place. Cluster is a good choice for first addition but they're not know for great aroma qualities. I'd use a low alpha German or British type for the late addition.
 
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PCatsoulis

PCatsoulis

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Too simple? No. This should be a simple beer. Agree with gunhaus that I'd lose the sugar. If you want more ABV increase the grains a bit. Also agree on the six row. Nothing wrong with using it especially if you already have it but any extra pale malt will be just fine.

If you want to add another ingredient to the grain bill a 3-5% addition of light crystal malt would not be out of place. Cluster is a good choice for first addition but they're not know for great aroma qualities. I'd use a low alpha German or British type for the late addition.
Maybe do a late addition with an oz of Hallertau?
 
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PCatsoulis

PCatsoulis

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I would skip the 6 row, and the notion of "rules' . I would also probably skip the sugar (One adjunct at a time is enough) 7lb 2 row 2 lbs of corn, 25 or so IBU's of what makes ya happy, and clean forgiving yeast. Brew -drink-enjoy or modify until you are happy ( YOU - Not others - YOU. Make others happy after you think it tastes good.) Or not - your choice!
the whole reason for using the corn sugar was because it should convert well with the high-protein 6-row....at least that was the idea my buddy Tom gave me. Still glad to hear people coming in and pointing out that this recipe should be simple.
 

BigEd

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No conversion worries with that recipe. Corn sugar is sugar and most two row pale malt will convert their own weight in unmalted grain. I have used six row on occasion for these types of beer because I like the "husky/grainy" flavor. The difference of conversion enzyme content between modern two row and six row malts is negligible. Fifty years ago if you were making a beer with 40% corn or rice it would have been a consideration.

Hallertau or one of the US derivatives like Mt Hood would be very nice as the late hop. A half ounce is probably all you need.
 

z-bob

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I've made cream ales before with rice and with corn; my next beer will be 95% 2-row and 5% sugar because I want to see how that works :) (not to boost the alcohol so much as to dry the beer out.)

Cluster is a good 60 minutes hops. I would not add more at 20 minutes, though. I would switch to something like Willamette, Saaz, Tettnang, Mt Hood, etc. for the finishing hops. Or leave out the finishing hops altogether.
 

AlexKay

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Another vote for simple is good. This is almost exactly my recipe (6-row, maize, cluster at 60 and 20) though I skip the corn sugar, and I use Wyeast 1007.
 

couchsending

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With these clean simple beers process is as much if not more important that recipe.

What are you fermenting in? If fermenting cold pitch way more yeast. You’ll have a faster, cleaner ferment. It shouldn’t need more than a week. However don’t cold crash it. Slowly cool it down. Potentially leaving it at around 40 for a bit. This is not only traditional for lager but also for kolsch. It will help with the crispness of the beer. 2565 doesn’t flocc at all. You’re gonna want to give it some time to make sure you don’t end up with a bunch of it in bottles.

I know a brewery that has won Cream
Ale at GABF (twice I think) with 1318 fermented at 56 or so. Double the traditional pitch rates for ales of that gravity. Plus it floccs waaaaay better that 2565.
 
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PCatsoulis

PCatsoulis

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so i grabbed 2565 for this and I grabbed an oz of crystal for the 20 min mark (which I think I'll reduce to half). What i think is gonna make this beer my version is i am adding a lb of honey malt to the recipe I listed. I want a subtle sweetness to bring out the mouthfeel. Thoughts? (also its already in the grain bag so too late lol)
 
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bleme

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so i grabbed 2565 for this and I grabbed an oz of crystal for the 20 min mark (which I think I'll reduce to half). What i think is gonna make this beer my version is i am adding a lb of honey malt to the recipe I listed. I want a subtle sweetness to bring out the mouthfeel. Thoughts? (also its already in the grain bag so too late lol)
My first beer was a Northern Brewer Speckled Heifer (Spotted Cow clone). Their recipe now doesn't have any honey malt, but I think it used to. I've made 3 other cream ales since then, and always add at least 1/4lb of honey malt to my recipe. A full pound is way too much though.
 

z-bob

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What happens if you use a Belgian yeast to ferment a cream ale? I have some 1388 yeast slurry in the fridge from a gallon batch of mead, and it'll have been in there for a couple of months by the time I get to brew with it. I don't know if it's stressed or not, but a nice easy cream ale to munch on should bring it back to health.
 
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PCatsoulis

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My first beer was a Northern Brewer Speckled Heifer (Spotted Cow clone). Their recipe now doesn't have any honey malt, but I think it used to. I've made 3 other cream ales since then, and always add at least 1/4lb of honey malt to my recipe. A full pound is way too much though.
unfortunately it is already mixed in with the other grains :|
 
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PCatsoulis

PCatsoulis

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What happens if you use a Belgian yeast to ferment a cream ale? I have some 1388 yeast slurry in the fridge from a gallon batch of mead, and it'll have been in there for a couple of months by the time I get to brew with it. I don't know if it's stressed or not, but a nice easy cream ale to munch on should bring it back to health.
I am not entirely sure...I guess you'll get good attenuation out of the yeast but I would imagine that you'll get more a blonde mouthfeel out of the beer.
 

z-bob

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I am not entirely sure...I guess you'll get good attenuation out of the yeast but I would imagine that you'll get more a blonde mouthfeel out of the beer.
Yeah, I've decided to modify the recipe just a little (mostly just by changing the hops) and call it a Trappist Single. (Singel?) -- a blonde with just over 5% ABV and 25 to 30 IBU.
 

mrdauber64

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Using Cascade in a Cream ale is a good change. That is usually my go-to hop for cream ales. It gives a nice orange character when used at 5 minutes.
 
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PCatsoulis

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the whole reason for using the corn sugar was because it should convert well with the high-protein 6-row....at least that was the idea my buddy Tom gave me. Still glad to hear people coming in and pointing out that this recipe should be simple.
Also I just realized that made no sense haha. I guess I am just using the corn sugar for the sake of having some more sugar. My buddy Tom gave me the base recipe.
 
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PCatsoulis

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Ok, so here's what I have put together for this beer recipe:

7 lbs 6 Row
2 lbs flaked corn
1 lb honey malt
1 lb corn sugar (boil)
1 oz cluster (60 min)
0.5 oz crystal (10 min)
1 packet wyeast Kolsch 2565
1 whirlfloc tablet (15 min)
1 tbsp pH 5.2 Stabilizer (mash)

-90 minute mash @ 150 F (beersmith is telling me to strike at 159 for this)
-90 minute boil
-pitch at room temp, cool the wort to 55 F in fridge for the first week
-raise to 65 F after a week
-once fermentation is done, cold crash to ~35-40 F for 24 hours, add priming solution and keg

My boss at my homebrew shop told me the honey malt would have a very subtle flavor so I am hoping a pound isn't too much. If it is then I will scale it back on the next go around with this.
 
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PCatsoulis

PCatsoulis

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Using Cascade in a Cream ale is a good change. That is usually my go-to hop for cream ales. It gives a nice orange character when used at 5 minutes.
I actually really like the way that sounds. I will definitely consider it on my next cream ale attempt
 

z-bob

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That pH 5.2 buffer doesn't have a very good reputation around here. Have you used it before?

Also, a pound of sugar is a lot.
 
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PCatsoulis

PCatsoulis

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That pH 5.2 doesn't have a very good reputation around here. Have you used it before?
I have not...but currently my recipe is reading a mash pH of 5.67...what alternatives are there?
 

z-bob

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I have not...but currently my recipe is reading a mash pH of 5.67...what alternatives are there?
4 ounces or so of German acid malt? Or half a teaspoon of 88% Lactic acid.

Edit: a teaspoon of lactic acid. I was thinking 5ml and coverted it to tsp wrong in my head. A half teaspoon might be enough; just depends on how much bicarbonate is in your water.
 
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