An American Pale Ale in London

Well, An APA in Maori Hill, Dunedin to be precise. I’ve really got into IPA and APA recently so I decided to find a BIAB recipe and make my own. I trawled the Interwebz and came up with quite a few, but the number that had a BIAB version were few and far between, so in the end I went for a clone of something called 3 Floyds Zombie Dust, from the US. I know Maverick in Wanaka does a pale ale of some description called Zombie Dust but I don’t know if this is coincidence or plagiarism. I don’t really care, because I seem to remember enjoying Maverick’s Zombie Dust. The original recipe was on the HomeBrewTalk top 100 but I managed to find the BIAB version on and it looked reasonably simple so I headed down to The Malthouse to get me some chicken feed and ganja pellets.

Note – The other brewshop in Dunedin lasted less than a year, I think the guys there were good brewers but possibly lousy businessmen 😦

So, I have some new equipment this time around – I splashed out $75 on a large camping burner. I would dearly love to have been able to justify spending 200 on a Bayou solid fuel rocket booster like the one I borrowed last time but this baby will have to do. I had a play around with it when I first got it and it seemed woefully inadequate so I made a minor modification. The ‘carburettor’, for want of a better word (just a washer, basically) didn’t open wide enough for my liking so I removed it altogether to allow the maximum amount of air into the mix, and while it doesn’t exactly roar, at least I am able to bring 30L to mash temperature in about 30 mins, which isn’t too bad.

The Grain Bill

  • 5.2Kg 2-row
  • 515g Munich
  • 225g Carapils (recipe calls for Carafoam, unavailable in Dunners)
  • 225g Crystal 60
  • 225g Melanoiden

The Hop Bill

  • 21g Pacific Gem pellets
  • 140g Riwaka pellets (in 35g batches during boil)
  • 85g Riwaka (dry hopping)

The entire hop bill was supposed to be Citra pellets but apparently these are only available in the US, and even there they’re not too easy to get hold of. Anyway, the guys at Malthouse came up with substitutes – Pacific Gem as the bittering hop, and Riwaka for the later hop additions. It turns out that I was quite lucky to get Riwaka too, because 80% of the annual crop is sold to the US as a substitute for Citra, and last year the Nelson/Marlborough hop crops were hit bad by inclement weather.

Riwaka hop pellets have the most amazing aroma, so full of citrus. I had to put them in the freezer though, as they were “stinking up the fridge”. I hope this hasn’t reduced their potency though – when I got them out this morning to divide them up into the right portions they still totally honked so hopefully we’re ok. Next time I won’t buy them until the day before.

Yeast and Maltexo soup


I almost forgot, I’m using liquid yeast, and creating a starter culture for this brew. In the past I’ve always just used dried stuff (SafeAle etc) but I decided to splash out on a Wyeast 1968 smack pack because that was what the recipe called for. About 4x the price of a sachet of SafeAle too!! Because it’s going to end up at over 6% ABV I am taking no chances and made a starter. Good old John Palmer’s How To Brew provides perfect instructions for the first-timer, better even than Wyeast’s own site. I used a 500g of can of Maltexo instead of the brewer’s DME that the recipe calls for (waaay cheaper) and after 4 days I have a beautiful crop of yeasty goodness in my kegerator. I discovered, as I was putting the empty can in the recycling, Maltexo is actually made at the Speight’s brewery here in sunny Dunedin!

I’ve decided that the next piece of kit I invest in will be a digital thermometer. I’m still struggling with a candy maker’s thermometer and at only 6″ long it’s really difficult to read because it needs be entirely inside the kettle for the tip to reach the water.

Anyhoo, the mash went according to plan, it proved quite easy to keep the liquid at the desired temperature with the new burner (well, as much as it was possible to tell, using my crappy thermometer). I hope the chickens like the spent grain this time (they turned their beaks up at the leftovers from the stout). They’re both broody at the moment, which means they are kind of off their food anyway.

Let’s boil this shit. It takes my burner another 30 mins near enough to raise the temperature to boil. At T minus 60 I just noticed that the all-grain version of the recipe has 35g (1 oz) of hops added at T minus 60, and this step seems to be missing from the BIAB edition – I only have about 20g spare, so I have to rush upstairs and retrieve these from the freezer and throw them in. Wonder how they will affect it?

At T minus 15 I toss in the first of 4 x 35g baggies of Riwaka, with another 3 to come at 5 minute intervals until finish. I’m also using finings for the first time.

After the boil is done and all the adjuncts added, so it’s cooling time. I don’t know how

Thai Green Curry ?

Hop soup

much I can trust the reading of the hydrometer at this stage though – it’s so thick with hop gunk that it looks more like Thai Green Curry than proto-beer. Original gravity is 1.042 ish (and dropping as the hops settle) which is waaay below what I was aiming for (1.060 ish). This is bad news. I don’t know where I’ve gone wrong – that’s the second time I’ve come out way below on a BIAB. My efficiency is rather poor, to say the least. Arse!

I gave it a taste, and rather surprisingly, it tastes quite good. It may turn out alright, but who wants a 4% APA ?? We shall see…


One thought on “An American Pale Ale in London

  1. Hurrah for DME! I made a mercy dash to the beer outfitters and came back with a Kilo of malt extract powder, which is hopefully going to raise my ABV by a couple of percent. As fermentation hasn’t started yet, I figure it’ll be safe to open the fermenter and pour in a saucepan of DME wort, providing it’s cooled to the temperature of the main wort to avoid shocking the poor yeast cells (who were probably thinking, fuck, we ain’t got a lot to eat). Hopefully we can save this brew yet…

    Note: If there is one thing you do NOT want to allow to boil over on your stove top, it’s malt extract. This is going to take me all fucking day to clean up!


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