This post was originally from a previous beer blog that we’re shutting down. It was originally posted February 7, 2012. We’re moving it here for archival purposes.
In December we decided to brew a red ale. This was only our second homebrewing attempt, the first being a Real Ale earlier in the year. We tried to keep that first homebrew as simple as possible. We used the Coopers Real Ale Kit from the Chico Home Brew Shop. That first attempt was “drinkable” but it wasn’t going to win any awards and didn’t compare favorably to commercial offerings. It also didn’t age well, taking on a sour taste not characteristic of the style; possibly due to an infection. Despite mixed results with the first batch we were determined to increase our knowledge with a more involved brewing process. Stephanie and I were assisted by Stephanie’s Dad Bill for this brew. The red ale recipe we chose is based on the No Sham Shamrock Irish Red Ale recipe in The Complete Joy of Homebrewing. Our version of the recipe:
5 lbs Brewcraft Amber Malt Extract
1 lb Crystal Malt
.5 lb Toasted Malted Barley
2 oz Northern Brewer Hops (boiling)
1 oz Santiam Hops (aroma)
1 packet Safale S-05 Dry Ale Yeast
1.25 cup Amber Dried Malt Extract (bottling)
The Coopers Real Ale was a pre-hopped extract that did not require boiling. We just dissolved some sugar in water, heated up the contents of the can, mixed it together, mixed with water, and threw in some yeast. This red ale called for a few additional steps. We had to steep the grains, boil them with the extract and Northern Brewer Hops for an hour, and add the Santiam hops for the last minute of the boil.
A week later we met up with Bill and bottled our beer. It would be bottle conditioned (carbonated) just in time for Christmas. Our beer tasted pretty odd at this point, but that’s to be expected and we had high hopes that it would be tasty when it was done with bottle conditioning.
We gave our red ale another week before opening the first bottle. Overall we were satisfied with how it came out. It was certainly tastier than our first homebrewing attempt. It had a bigger hop bite than is typical for an Irish red ale, but that was to be expected because we added an ounce more of the Northern Brewer hops than what the recipe called for. The beer has some strange flavors in there. I can’t tell if something went wrong or if our California palates aren’t used to an Irish style ale. The possible causes of off flavors that I’ve considered are: poor cold break, poor aeration before yeast pitch causing weak fermentation, and disturbance of sediment during racking. We’ll try to avoid all of those problems next time in case they did cause problems.