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Suggestions for a Honey Porter and Blonde Ale

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vandoogie

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Hello everyone,

So I'm about to start on my 4th and 5th one gallon batches. My first batch was BBS's Everyday IPA kit, and my second and third were a Honey Grapefruit Ale and Peach Cobbler Ale, which I got the recipes for out of Brooklyn Brew Shop's "Beer Making Book", and then just purchased all of the raw ingredients to make them. For my next two batches I decided to purchase two pre-assembled 1 gallon kits from one of the only homebrew stores within 10 hours of my home. One is a Honey Porter, and the other is a Blonde Ale. However, upon opening up the kits, I found that the "instructions / recipes" included with them are pretty much the most worthless things I have ever seen, giving no specific amounts of hops to add at any of the hop additions, no expected OG or FG readings, and are just all around terrible. They came with 1 oz bags of hops, however I know from reading through a lot of 1 gallon recipes that you should only ever be using 0.2 - 0.5 oz of hops for that small of a batch.

So instead of contacting the homebrew store and asking them to give me better specifics for these kits, I decided this would be my first foray into customizing existing recipes to make my own (hopefully with some helpful suggestions).

So the Honey Porter came with a 1 oz bag of East Kent Golding hops and a Nottingham Ale yeast, and the Blonde came with a 1 oz bag of Cascades and a Safale US-05 dry ale yeast. I also still have a couple of different packages of hops left over from my last couple brews, with almost full ounce packages of Centennial, Columbus, and Saaz hops to work with if I choose.

So my question is, does anyone have any suggestions for what types of hops I should use, how much per addition, and when I should do the additions for either both or one of these two beers? I will do my own research into this as well, and try to find some other similar recipes that will help me in making a decision, but you guys' input on this would be awesome as well!

Thanks!
 

DocScott

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Good for you for thinking the instructions sound wrong! Here are a few suggestions:

For the porter, you want the malts to shine through, not the hops. I think the EKG is a fine choice (its one of my go-tos for porters). I'd use about 0.2-0.25 oz at 60 min. Maybe a very small 0.1 oz at 20-30 min if you want a bit more hop in the flavor. You just want a little bitterness to balance the maltiness of the porter.

For the blonde, maybe a 0.2 oz bittering charge followed by smaller additions at 20, 10 and 5 min for some flavor and aroma. Since you are making the recipe, you can decide how far you want to take it. You can turn it into more of a pale ale or ipa with larger and more late additions, or keep the ibus low and keep it light. If you're looking for a model of a great blonde, look up biermuncher's centennial blonde recipe (centennial is similar to cascade but with more AAs). I really like the combination of cascade and centennial in lighter ales and ipas.

Good luck and let us know how they turn out!
 
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vandoogie

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Good for you for thinking the instructions sound wrong! Here are a few suggestions:

For the porter, you want the malts to shine through, not the hops. I think the EKG is a fine choice (its one of my go-tos for porters). I'd use about 0.2-0.25 oz at 60 min. Maybe a very small 0.1 oz at 20-30 min if you want a bit more hop in the flavor. You just want a little bitterness to balance the maltiness of the porter.

For the blonde, maybe a 0.2 oz bittering charge followed by smaller additions at 20, 10 and 5 min for some flavor and aroma. Since you are making the recipe, you can decide how far you want to take it. You can turn it into more of a pale ale or ipa with larger and more late additions, or keep the ibus low and keep it light. If you're looking for a model of a great blonde, look up biermuncher's centennial blonde recipe (centennial is similar to cascade but with more AAs). I really like the combination of cascade and centennial in lighter ales and ipas.

Good luck and let us know how they turn out!
Thanks a lot! I think I will pretty much stick to your suggestion for the Honey Porter.

As for the blonde, I looked up Biermuncher's recipe, which says:

0.25 oz Centennial [9.50%] (55 min)
0.25 oz Centennial [9.50%] (35 min)
0.25 oz Cascade [7.80%] (20 min)
0.25 oz Cascade [7.80%] (5 min)

for a 5.5 gallon batch, so would I basically cut those amounts back to 1/5 of those amounts for a 1 gallon? so 0.05 oz or so per addition?

I also found a recipe that says to use 0.25 oz Saaz @ 60 mins and another 0.25 oz Saaz @ 5 mins. I don't really know much about Saaz or what kinds of flavours / aromas that would impart into the beer, so I'm not sure how that would turn out. Opinions?
 
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vandoogie

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Also about the Nottingham ale yeast... I have never used a yeast so far that I've had to hydrate before pitching, i've always just pitched directly into the fermenter and shook. How exactly do I go about doing this? It gives kinda crappy instructions on the back of the packet, so some help from someone who's actually used it before would be great. Also, how much should I use from the 11 gram packet? I usually just use half packets for a 1 gallon, should I do that with this one as well? and if I do use only half of the packet, is there a way that I could save the other half and use it for another batch? I know the specs on the website for it say once opened it can only be used for 3 days afterwards...
 

woozy

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use 1/3 to a 1/2 of the yeast and scotch tape the package shut and keep in freezer. To pitch get 1/3 cup of warm (not hot) water (cira 85 -100 degrees F) and stir the yeast into it. Frankly I think it's okay to dry pitch (especially as you are overpitching) but every-one else on the planet disagrees with me.

Hops. If you have a scale measure in grams (units are more accurate) and measure .2 oz (6 grams) and visually seperate into fourths. You'll drive youreself *nuts* trying to measure .05 oz.

BTW, How was the Grapefruit Honey Ale? I've tried that twice but I think I'm cursed when I try it. I keep getting low efficiency. One's bottled and one's fermenting so I haven't had a chance to drink them yet.
 
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vandoogie

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For the Grapefruit Honey I emailed BBS to ask what their target OG and FG readings should be for that recipe (for some reason they don't include them in the book to "keep it simple"), and they told me OG of 1.052 and FG of 1.013, I ended up with a OG of 1.056 (may have used slightly more grain than the recipe said =P which I did just to counteract any loss of efficiency) and - after 3 weeks in the fermenter - had an OG of about 1.011, so pretty close. I bottled two weeks ago this wednesday, so I'm not quite sure how the finished product tastes yet, but I will let you know in three days once they're ready to refrigerate and have some time to chill / clear up. When I tasted at bottling it was amazing though, much better than even my finished product of the IPA (which ended up being yeasty, as I made several mistakes both when pitching the yeast and also when siphoning off the yeast into bottling bucket).

As for the hops, I do have a scale that's pretty accurate with small amounts. Should I go with 0.05 oz amounts though??? or is that cutting the amounts back too much?

Thanks for the advice on the Nottingham yeast, I will probably use half and then scotch tape the packet closed and freeze until I get around to brewing the Blonde, as Beirmucnher's recipe says to use Nottingham as opposed to the Safale US-05 that came with my blonde kit. Does anyone else have any opinion on wether I should dry pitch or hydrate it first? Why do some yeasts say to dry pitch while others say to hydrate?
 

DocScott

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I would rehydrate any dry yeast if you can (I have also been lazy and pitched it dry and it works absolutely fine). Nottingham will work well for both beers.

In terms of the blonde, as I said before, it's up to you. I love hops, so I'd probably bump up the amounts slightly. However for the style, lower ibu is really more appropriate. If you want a tried and true recipe, I'd use the 2gram amounts. If its me, I'd use 2 grams at 20 min, then double the late additions for more aroma
 
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