Today I kegged the all-Galena hopped American Pale Ale I brewed on the Fourth of July. That’s 7 weeks ago, a long time even by my standards. Due mostly to my day job, I haven’t had friends over nearly enough this summer, so I didn’t have a free tap until now. The Galena APA has been sitting in the primary in the Harry Potter closet all this time.
On the spectrum of anxiety over long rests on the yeast cake, I’m in the middle. I’m not one of those homebrewers who racks off the primary after a week, and I don’t usually secondary at all. But anything longer than 4-5 weeks and I start to get a little antsy. My inner critic kicks in and I begin scolding myself for letting my busy schedule and personal inertia destroy an innocent homebrew by allowing it to age past the terminus of perfection and into the sinister, uncouth dark age of spoilage. Then I get OCD about it. I sniff my hydrometer samples for the telltale “rotting meat” and “shrimp” aromas supposedly typical of autolysis. Once my fears are quelled, I leave it for a few more days, still fearing that the next time I take a sample, it will be too late.
Yes, I could just rack to a carboy after 4 weeks, but that would risk oxidation, which I consider a much more real and terrifying bogeyman than autolysis. I won’t rack unless I intend to age for a long time.
So I’ve been wary for a couple of weeks. But when I took the last sample before kegging, the beer didn’t smell like my Uncle Brian’s backyard during one of his legendary shrimp boils, so that was a good sign. It doesn’t taste like excrement either – huzzah, bullet dodged again.
But more interesting than this tiny conquest over beer-death (hey, I take the victories where I can get ’em) was the result of the dry hopping.
I added a half-ounce of Galena pellets (12.8% AA) a week ago. I always dry hop APAs and IPAs, but especially wanted to do so this time on account of the hop aroma lost during the long rest. Galena isn’t commonly used for aroma or dry hopping from what I can tell, but reports on the Interwebs had me expecting dark fruit aroma from the dry hops.
Those reports weren’t exaggerated. There’s a definite cherry/berry aroma here. It’s deceiving for a pale ale, as it doesn’t exhibit any of the notes we typically associate with “hop-forward” beers: not floral, nor herbal, nor citrusy. But it’s enticing. Coupled with the bready malt notes of the Munich in the mash, the beer ends up smelling a little bit like cherry pie, more so like a tart blackberry cobbler.
That isn’t coming through in the flavor, but I haven’t tasted it properly (i.e., carbonated and chilled) just yet. That first pint will be one for my personal record book, I’m sure. And I’m already thinking about other ways to use Galena as a late-addition hop: as a component in a late-hopped Belgian dubbel, paired with some Special B malt; or in a dry farmhouse wheat with a little bit of rye or mahlab – yeah, I’m still jonesing to use mahlab.
This could be the start of something unorthodox and awesome. You and me, Galena, we’re goin’ places.
This Fourth of July, I celebrated my right to make beer. Regular readers may recall that a few months ago, I posted a recipe for an American Colonial Ale inspired by a recent trip to Philadelphia. The perfect beer to brew on the Fourth of July! But silly me, I forgot all about it until after I left Austin Homebrew Supply with my ingredients for a different beer. So I’ll have to brew the colonial ale another time. Oops …
Instead, I brewed a single-hop Galena American Pale Ale, the second in my “Misty Mountain Hop” series of single-hop brews (the first was a Citra APA). This was a new grain bill entirely of my own devising, and if the beer comes out well, I’ll probably make it my standard grain bill for all APAs from now on:
- 9 lbs 2-row malt
- 1.5 lbs Munich malt
- 8 oz Crystal 40L
- 8 oz Crystal 75L
The wort looked and smelled delicious coming out of the mash tun, a sort of tangerine-copper color with an aroma like toasted artisan bread. I’ve got high hopes.
The hop additions were all Galena, of course. This common bittering hop doesn’t seem to be used often for late hop additions, but I’ve read reviews of a few beers with late Galena hops that had descriptors like “dark fruit” and “tart berry”. Sounds awesome to me. I used:
- .85 oz at 60 minutes
- .5 oz at 15 minutes
- .5 oz at 5 minutes
- .5 oz at flameout
All of my Galena hop pellets were rated 12.8% AA. I’ll probably add another half ounce of dry hops before kegging for added aroma. My OG came in at 1.055, pretty much smack in the middle of the BJCP range for American Pale Ales. I pitched 15 grams of rehydrated Safale US-05 yeast.
But my real declaration of independence this brew session was from my old swamp cooler. After long deliberation (and somehow, writing about the idea a couple of weeks ago made it seem more feasible – thanks, Internet!) I finally bit the bullet and got myself a true temperature-controlled fermentation chamber: a Kenmore 5.1 cubic foot chest freezer with a Johnson Digital Temperature Controller dialed in to a range of 65-68°F.
The Galena APA has been in there for a few days, and I’m still working out the kinks. Last night after I was out of the house all day, it had somehow got down to 60°F, though it was back up within minutes after I cracked the freezer lid for a while. But I can already say that this is one of the best purchases I have made in support of my homebrew habit. Ever. No more checking the closet every hour to monitor the temperature. No more keeping dozens of frozen water bottles on hand, waiting to be used in the swamp cooler, spending their idle time rolling around my garage freezer and making it harder to find more important stuff (like, you know, food). Perhaps most importantly, no more risks of infection from the stagnant water in the swamp cooler, which always bothered me. I just let it do its thing, check it once or twice a day, and it’s always been in the range I want … except for last night, but it’s never gotten higher than 68°F.
And now I am at liberty to brew what I want to brew, any time of year. I can lager in August. With a few modifications, I can make warm-fermented fruity Belgians in February.
Freedom. I dig it. Don’t we all?