Hello friends, it’s been a while. My apologies for letting this little beer-soaked corner of the Internet go to seed. But I think I’m back, at least more regularly than I have been of late. 

Since brewing a traditional hefeweizen back in March (which turned out fantastic, despite a mucky sparge), it had been nearly five months since I broke out the mash tun and brew kettles, by far my longest hiatus since I began ardently home brewing about five years ago. So I went back to the recipe vault to pick something well-suited for the coming fall season, with football and leaf raking around the corner.

After some debate between a saison (which is still on the agenda in the near future) and a pumpkin beer (again, something I’ll do soon), I opted for a fairly standard brown ale, probably a little more American in attitude than your traditional English Northern or Southern varieties thanks to the somewhat aggressive hop schedule. The genesis of the recipe itself, which some of you may recognize, comes from the Surly AHA Rally wort provided by Todd Haug, with some minor variations. It’s the same general recipe I employed for my Wild Rice Brown brewed earlier in the year, minus the wild rice, and I also backed off on some of the base malt this time around to try and bring the alcohol down a bit.

Here’s what I went with:

OG: 1.058
FG: 1.015
IBU: 43

ABV: 5.5%
SRM: 16

Single infusion mash at 152 degrees F
Boil Volume: 6.5 gallons
Batch size: 5 gallons

8 lbs. Castle Pale Ale Malt
12 oz. Brown Malt
4 oz. Caramel 80
4 oz. Caramel 120
1 lb. Brown Sugar
1 oz. Willamette (60 min)
1 oz. Willamette (30 min)
1 oz. Columbus (2 min)
Wyeast 1335 British Ale II

The brew day itself went fine, however I think I collected the wort too quickly (about 20 minutes) as my efficiency was horrendous. I missed the mark on the OG pretty dramatically, coming in at 1.040, which will likely put this beer at the 4% ABV range after it ferments out. Technical failings aside, it’s not a big deal in my opinion, as it should make for a more sessionable beer.

As if the excitement of brewing my first beer in ages wasn’t enough, I also invested in a new digital temperature controller that allowed me to convert my basement refrigerator into a fermentation chamber. It was stupidly simple to set up, and I’m now in full control of my temperature settings instead of leaving fermentation in the whimsical hands of Mother Nature depending on how hot or cold the ambient air in my house happens to be.

With this newfound control, I’m planning to brew an Oktoberfest this coming weekend, my first attempt at a lager. I’ll let you know how it goes.