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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

August Brew of the Month: Paint It Red Pale Ale

By Max Spencer

Brewing is an ancient tradition — one as old as civilization itself. I am often humbled by the fact that we get to take part in a ritual our ancestors have performed for millennia when brewing at home. It’s amazing to think about the effort that went into making beer before the rise of modern malts, yeast labs, hop companies and homebrewing stores. Nevertheless, despite new technologies and suppliers, ingredients and methods haven’t changed much in the last few hundred years. Occasionally, something comes along and drives this point home for me — in this case, it was a yeast.

In 2014, a homebrew enthusiast named Lars Garshol went to the Stranda region of Norway during a trip to learn about Norwegian farmhouse ales, local homebrewing methods, and kveik yeast — you can read about this trip on his incredibly informative Larsblog. Louis Pasteur was the first scientist to show that yeast is the agent of fermentation in 1857, but brewers were unintentionally propagating yeast centuries before this realization. One of the most illustrative examples of traditional yeast propagation is the kveik Lars sought. Most brewers have heard old stories of straw wreaths and wooden logs being soaked in batches of fermenting beer and transferred to future batches — this is the origin of kveik. Good strains of kveik were passed down for generations and traded between families; they are living artifacts.

Lars was successful in his quest for kveik thanks to the generosity of Stranda homebrewer Stein Langlo in the form of two sour cream containers full of gray flakes. Lars sent this yeast to the National Collection of Yeast Cultures (NCYC) in the UK for analysis. Despite difficulties in propagating the yeast, they managed to recover one strain from the sample. Omega Yeast Labs eventually purchased a culture of the strain from the NCYC and made it commercially available in 2015 as the HotHead Ale OYL-057. It’s an amazing yeast with high attenuation, medium-high flocculation and an insane fermentation temperature range (62-98°F). The large temperature range makes it an ideal house strain for any homebrewers with a lack of temperature control in their home. HotHead produces mild fruity esters, but otherwise has a very clean character that lends itself well to any modern ale styles.

I decided to use the HotHead in a pale ale — a Norwegian farmhouse ale may be the next experiment on the docket for this yeast. I used Calypso hops which provide aromas and flavors of red apple, pear, tea and earth. I also dry hopped a small amount of my beer (one gallon) for two days with 0.25 oz of rooibos tea — an African tea with flavors of earth and vanilla. I enjoyed both variations of the beer, and the rooibos is unnecessary unless it appeals to you. I would use one ounce of tea for a full 5-gallon batch. My fermentation temperature varied between 70-95°F to push the yeast. The result was a beautifully clean fermentation with slight citrusy esters — this yeast can really take a beating on the temperature front. Try out the HotHead for your next batch — not only is it a great yeast in terms of fermentation, but it’s a living fossil that echoes forth from generations of homebrewers.

All Grain ($26.68)

    • 5.5 lbs. Pale Malt
    • 4 lbs. Munich Malt 10L
    • 0.5 lbs. Melanoiden Malt
    • 0.25 lbs. Honey Malt
    • 0.25 lbs. Golden Naked Oats
    • 15g Gypsum in mash / sparge
    • 0.25 oz. Calypso first wort @ 60 min.
    • 0.25 oz. Calypso @ 30 min.
    • 0.50 oz. Calypso @ 15 min.
    • 1.00 oz. Calypso @ 0 min. 
    • 1 package Omega Yeast Labs HotHead Ale (OYL-057)
    • OG: 1.054 FG: 1.010
    • ABV: 5.9% IBUs: 41.0
    • SRM: 8.2
Mash Schedule: Mash in with 3.3 gallons of water @ 164°F (target temp for mash is 152°F). Drain mashtun, batch sparge with 4.75 gallons of water @ 175-180°F.

Extract ($39.17)

    • (Boil volume: 3.5 gallons; if boiling full volume, use all grain hop additions)
    • 4.25 lbs. Light Liquid Malt Extract
    • 3.3 lbs. Munich Liquid Malt Extract
    • 0.25 lbs. Honey Malt
    • 0.25 lbs. Biscuit Malt
    • 0.25 lbs. Golden Naked Oats
    • 0.25 lbs. Corn Sugar
    • 0.50 oz. Calypso @ 60 min.
    • 0.50 oz Calypso @ 30 min.
    • 1.00 oz Calypso @ 15 min.
    • 1.00 oz Calypso @ 0 min. 
    • 1 package Omega Yeast Labs HotHead Ale (OYL-057)
    • OG: 1.055 FG: 1.010
    • ABV: 5.9% IBUs: 45.5
    • SRM: 8.6

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