Session Red Ale Recipe Critique

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Feb 4, 2022
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I would love anyone's critique or recommendations on how to improve the recipe below, being brewed to raise funds for a local charity. It will be paired with an Irish meal and distributed widely. This is my 2nd collaborative brew with a professional craft brewer, so its a large 6.5HL batch (I've been homebrewing for 5 years using a Grainfather). This recipe is a tweaking of a previous Session Pale Ale I designed that was widely popular, but I want to turn it red and launch for St. Patrick's day. I don't have enough time to test batch it at home. Its meant to be a low alcohol crowd pleasing balanced "session" beer that still has some punch, and is not a sell-out mainstream flavour.

Session Red Ale
Batch size: 6.5 HL
Expected ABV 4.1%
SRM 18.5
IBU 40

Canadian 2-Row - 185 (67%)
Cara Foam. - 25 (9%)
Cara Munich 2 - 25 (9%)
Red Rye - 25 (9%)
Crystal Dark - 18 (6%)
TOTAL - 284 lbs

Triple Pearle 25oz @ 30 min
Triple Pearle 15oz @ 15 min
Rakau 15oz @ 5 min
Rakau 25oz Dry Hop (day 12)

350g US05 Yeast
What's your known good recipe? That might help evaluate the changes to your expectations.
What's your known good recipe? That might help evaluate the changes to your expectations.
Below is the original, but for a 4.5HL batch, versus planned 6.5HL batch. My analysis of changes (did my best on the math to scale it) is as follows:

- Dropped Munich Type 1
- Added Red Rye (Simpsons Red Rye Crystal Malt 89-117 °L)
- Added Crystal Dark (Simpsons Crystal Dark 94-108 °L)
- 4% increase in total grain bill weight
- 25% increase in hops at 30 mins
- -25% decrease in hops at 15 and 5 mins
- No change to dry hops
- SRM increase from 7 to 18.5
- IBUs from 33 to 40 (21% higher)

Session Pale Ale
Original, 4.25HL batch, Nov 2021
Expected ABV 4%
Actual ABV: 4.5%. (OG1.041; FG 1.006)
SRM - 7
IBU - 33

2 Row - 120lbs
Cara Foam - 20lbs
Munich Type 1 - 20lbs
Cara Munich 2 - 15lbs
TOTAL 175 lbs

(All hops from Tavistock Hop Co.)
Triple Pearl (8-11% Alpha) 13oz @ 30min
Triple Pearl (8-11% Alpha) 13oz @ 15min
AlphAroma (Rakau) 7-10% Alpha 13oz @ 5min
AlphAroma (Rakau) 7-10% Alpha 16oz Dry Hop @ 12 days

Whirlpool at end of boil.
200g US05 Yeast
Mash 60 min at 155F
Ferment at 77F
Could you go back to the original recipe, then add debittered black malt to get to SRM 15-ish?

Some personal opinions:
  • I don't like "harsh zone" crystal malt in Amber Ales;
  • although, for Irish Red Ales, BJCP competition guidelines suggest that some roasty flavors are appropriate
  • SRM 18, unless it's clear, may end up brown in the glass
  • 30% crystal is too much for my tastes.
You added a lot more crystal malt. Unless the original had that much and you reduced the %, it's going to be very different.
If you just want it redder, keep the munich, drop the new added crystal, and use something to darken. I like Midnight Wheat. It darkens the beer with a nice smooth flavor, no acridness. If I were making this, I'd keep the original grain bill and add enough of it to get the color I wanted.
If you want some darker crystal, I've had good luck with Simpson's Double Roasted Crystal. I keep it around 2% or so, though.

I haven't tried those hops, so can't really comment on that part - if you think it would be better with less flavor hops then go with it!

For IBUs, I would love this beer at 40IBU, but that's pretty high for a 4.1% beer. Especially since the previous one had 33IBU and had a bit higher alcohol. Comparatively, I think this one would turn out noticeably more bitter.