Samuel Adams Boston Ale Homage

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Hop

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Note: I’ve written a new post entitled Samuel Adams Boston Ale Clone if you’re looking for a Boston Ale recipe. The process of figuring out the clone can still be seen below and in the original post.

I decided I’d go for a simple recipe for my brew session this weekend. So, I figured it was time to try to pay homage to Samuel Adams Boston Ale, which is a delicious Stock Ale. The lovely thing about trying to clone a Sam Adams recipe is that they provide you with a lot of useful information to start with.

From the website, we know:

Color: Red to Amber
Original Gravity: 13 Plato (1.053 SG)
Alcohol: 5.1% ABV / 4.0% ABW
Malt: Two Row Pale, Caramel 60
Hops: Spalt Spalter, East Kent Goldings, Fuggles
Yeast Strain: “Top-fermenting ale yeast” (theirs is proprietary)

“Keeping with the Stock Ale style, Samuel Adams® Boston Ale is fermented at cooler almost lager like temperatures and conditioned much longer than most ales. It also is Krausened and dry hopped.”

It also has fruit and ester notes with a smooth, round finish.

Okay, time to start paying homage (I’m saying “homage” because I don’t know if it’s a clone just yet)!


We know they krausen (add freshly-fermenting or unfermented wort to carbonate) and dry hop. We're going to dry hop this sucker for a week, starting after a week of fermentation (at least a day after primary is complete). This will probably produce more hop flavor and aroma than Boston Ale (which I'd think is more like 3 days), but I want that flavor myself, and this is an "homage." As for adding freshly-fermenting (or unfermented) wort to carbonate, I don't want to brew a mini-batch of beer to do it, so I'm using corn sugar or DME.

As for the yeast, we know they ferment at “almost lager like temperatures.” What this means to me is that they ferment around 60 °F using an ale yeast that can handle it, but they probably let the temperature rise to get some additional ester production. So, we’re looking for a yeast strain that has a fruity character and can cover a wide range of temperatures, starting around 60 °F. To me, that means Wyeast American Ale II, which has an impressive range of 60-72 °F and the character we want (I started the search with White Labs East Coast Ale Yeast, but it can’t handle the low temperatures).

On to the malt. To me, it tastes very English on the malt end. So, I’ve chosen Maris Otter and a British Crystal 60. Knowing that I don’t want to go over about 10% on the caramel malt and our target gravity, the proportion was rather quick to determine.

Finally, the water profile. This beer is somewhat malty and has a smooth, round finish, so I'm going for at least 100ppm of chloride and a ratio of around 1.5 chloride/sulfate. Given the color, a Residual Alkalinity of ~36 is appropriate. I'm giving ppm rather than grams because everyone has a different system. For me, I'm using an electric fryer with a pretty high ratio of water to grist (2 quarts water per pound of grain).

Without further ado, I give you Mad Alchemist New England Ale (5 gallon all-grain recipe):

Ingredients
  • Maris Otter (9 lbs)
  • British Crystal 60 (1 lb)
  • Hops: 1 oz Fuggles, 1 oz East Kent Goldings, 1 oz Spalt
  • Yeast: American Ale II (Wyeast Labs #1272), 2000 ml starter
  • Water: Calcium (86 ppm), Sodium (45 ppm), Sulfate (68 ppm), Chloride (102 ppm), Bicarbonate (119 ppm)

Target Profile
  • Original Gravity: 1.053 SG
  • Final Gravity: 1.013 SG
  • Color: 10.6 SRM
  • Bitterness: 31 IBU
  • Alcohol by Volume: 5.14%
  • Carbonation: 2.5 volumes

Process
I’m going to do a single step mash at 154 °F for medium body in the beer. I will boil the wort for 90 minutes. The first 0.5 oz of each variety of hops will be added with 60 minutes left in the boil. 0.25 oz of each variety of hops will be added with 15 minutes left in the boil. 0.25 oz of each variety of hops will be added to secondary after one week of fermentation, and will be allowed to dry hop for one week.

When I add the wort to the fermentor, it will be at 60 °F. I’ll allow it to rise naturally to 68 °F. After fermentation is complete, I’ll add ~4.4 oz corn sugar when bottling to achieve carbonation of 2.5 volumes at 68 °F. I’m going to let this ale age for at least a month before drinking, and more likely two months. I would age it at cooler temperatures (55-60° F) if I had the ability to do so.

I’ll let you know how it turns out!
 
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Hop

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Wow, I just learned something! I've krausened before... both ways. I thought skimming the krausen layer off was krausening, and adding freshly-fermenting wort to carbonate your beer was just a method to carbonate. Thanks!
 
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Hop

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It's certainly possible, yes. I was aiming for a pretty balanced level of bitterness, and anywhere from 25-32 seemed fairly balanced to me based on the gravity.

If you want to go lighter on the bitterness, feel free to reduce the amount of hops or the time it's in the boil.
 
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I went ahead and made a number of adjustments to the recipe based on feedback. I increased the percentage of crystal 60 from 10% to 15% to get it a bit darker and sweeter. I reduced bitterness to 20 IBU by changing the proportion and time of the hop additions (0.25 oz of each at 45 minutes left, 0.5 oz of each at 10 minutes left). I also updated the water information and made it a bit less specific.

I haven't updated the post on the forums, but it is available on my page here: Mad Alchemist New England Stock Ale

Thanks for the feedback on the recipe.
 

Berlbrew

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As an employee at the SA Boston Brewery, I'd recommend using WLP008, 'East Coast Ale' as they call it, that is a strain derived directly from the SA ale yeast which we use in most of our ales. It will give you the best results for sure. Also, ferment closer to 60, the true nature of a Stock Ale is to be fermented cool as if it were in a stock room or cellar (lower 60s). Good luck!
 
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Awesome, thank you Berlbrew. The only reason I didn't choose that yeast is because it lists the minimum temperature at 68, and I wanted to ferment at 60. I'm switching my recipe out to that yeast for next time for sure.
 
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Bottled today. Tasted outstanding. It is reminiscent of Sam Adams Boston Ale, but the yeast I used (Wyeast London Ale) significantly changed the character. It's at once malty and somewhat sweet like the Boston Ale, but has a dry and crisp finish thanks to the yeast. It's a bit toasty, and the hop flavor and aroma is wonderful.

Truth be told, I'm going to stick with that London Ale yeast for future batches unless I want to truly clone Boston Ale.

If I really wanted to clone Boston ale, the first thing I'd change would be the yeast--I'd use the East Coast Ale yeast from White Labs.

I'd keep the percentage of English Crystal 60 at 15%, but I might look for something a bit more subdued in flavor than the Maris Otter as the base malt (I'm loving the character of my beer, but it's a little more toasty than Boston Ale). Rahr Pale Ale is still a little toasty, but less so than Maris Otter (and not really nutty).

The bitterness is probably slightly low and the dry hopping might have run a little long (1 week), so those would need to be be adjusted as well.

So, as for a more accurate clone of Boston Ale:
- Replace Maris Otter with Rahr Pale Ale @ 85% of the grain bill
- Keep the British Crystal 60 @ 15% of the grain bill
- Dry hop for 3 days instead of 7
- Bring the bitterness up to 25 IBU instead of 20
- Use White Labs WLP008 East Coast Ale Yeast
- I'd also carbonate to 2.0 volumes instead of what I initially recommended
- The water profile that I used seems perfect to me

Link to the new recipe:Samuel Adams Boston Ale Clone
 

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