American Pale Ale – Recipe & Review

American Pale Ale brewed with Briess’ new Copper Carapils malt.

At this past year’s National Homebrewers Conference I had the chance to try a couple of beers showcasing Briess Malting’s new Carapils Copper malt. While it seems hard these days to get folks excited about anything that’s not over-the-top hoppy, sour, or barrel-aged, I was genuinely impressed by said beers. The malt had a subtle bready character backed up by a soft toasty quality that I found unique and appealing. While these descriptors sound pretty generic, this malt had a unique character that was subtle yet different from what I’d expect from similarly colored crystal or kilned malts.

Wanting to get a chance to use this malt—and eyeballing some leftover Mosaic hops in my freezer—I decided to formulate a hoppy pale ale that would perhaps test the specialty malt’s ability to stand out in an intensely hopped beer.

Cryo Hop Pale Ale Recipe

Size: 3.25 gal
Efficiency: 68%
Attenuation: 80.7%

Original Gravity: 1.055
Terminal Gravity: 1.010
Color: 11.46 SRM
Alcohol: 5.98% ABV
Bitterness: 30.6 IBU (does not account for whirlpool isomerization)

Malt Bill:
3.25 lbs. (40.6%) Briess 2-Row
3.25 lbs. (40.6%) Crisp Maris Otter
0.75 lbs. (9.4%) Weyermann Vienna
0.75 lbs. (9.4%) Briess Carapils Copper Malt

Mash Profile:
150°F – 60m

Water Treatment:
Extremely Soft NYC Water
3 g. Gypsum (to mash)
3 g. Calcium Chloride (to mash)

10 g. Warrior (16.2% AA) – 60m

16 g. Centennial (10.4% AA) – whirlpool 15m
33 g. Chinook (11.6% AA) – whirlpool 15m

80 g. Mosaic (12.8% AA) – dry hop 3 Days

Kettle Additions:
0.5 ea. Whirlfloc Tablets (Irish moss) – 15m
0.5 tsp. Wyeast Nutrient – 10m

Wyeast 1056 American Ale

Tasting Notes

Judged as a BJCP 18B American Pale Ale

Aroma (7/12):
Medium-plus hop nose with aromas reminiscent of pine resin, mango, and some pithy citrus. The hop is slightly grassy and vegetative. Beyond the hops lies a subtle malt toastiness that is trying to make itself known beneath the more boisterous hop components.

Appearance (3/3):
The beer is deeply golden, bordering on copper. There is just a whisper of haze, somewhat remarkable considering the amount of dry hop that went into the beer. There is a large white persistent head that leaves lacing all the way to the bottom of the glass.

Flavor (14/20):
The flavor showcases a very hop-forward balance heavy on pithy grapefruit, pine, and just a touch of tropical fruit. This beer illustrates the variability in character that is common with hops, especially for homebrewers and small commercial brewers that are unable to cherry pick their hop selections. My previous experiences with Mosaic were much more tropical and fruity than what I experienced with this beer. Beyond the hops lies a subtle malt character that has some intriguing toasted bread crust and biscuit flavors. There is not a whisper of caramel sweetness—something I try to avoid in my pale ales. There is a light minerality that intensifies the moderate amount of hop bitterness. The beer is very dry and balanced.

Mouthfeel (5/5):
The beer features a medium-to-low body. This is a crisp and refreshing beer. No hop astringency or other unpleasant mouthfeel components.

Overall Impression (7/10):
This is a really nice beer. The hops I used were a bit old and not as bright and fruity as I would have hoped from such a heavy dosing of Mosaic. Finding an appropriate malt balance seems to be a perpetual challenge when brewing American Pale Ale. The trends in APA have been moving towards minimizing malt while driving up hop aromatics and flavor. This beer strikes an excellent balance by creating some nuanced malt character that is toasty and dry without detracting from the hop character or burdening the beer with heavy, sweet caramel flavors.

Very Good (36/50)

Low Dissolved Oxygen Brewing – Retry

Triangle testing was used to see if I could consistently select the one beer out of three that was different.

A number of months ago I royally screwed up an experiment designed to test whether using low-dissolved oxygen brewing had any practical effect on the the outcome of a finished beer. I accidentally dosed the beer with 10x the amount of sodium metabisulfite intended and successfully produced two wholly undrinkable beers.

For those unfamiliar, the original reason I wanted to test this variable was a paper published on The authors argued that the use of low-dissolved oxygen techniques on the hot side of the brewhouse is a primary driver of the fresh malt flavor present in German lagers and it is those techniques that are a key differentiator between said beers and those from other lager breweries that have less control over oxygen on the hot side of their brewhouse.

The paper provides an outline of techniques homebrewers can use to limit oxygen uptake on the hot side of the brewhouse. Based on those techniques, I derived an experiment where I would brew one lager using conventional techniques and then brew a second, identical batch that incorporated the following LODO techniques:

  1. Pre-Boiling Brewing Liquor: All of the hot water used in my mash was first boiled for 5 minutes before being quickly cooled via a plate chiller to mash temperature and then gently stirred into the mash.
  2. No Sparge: I eliminated the sparging step from my normal brewing process as it offers another opportunity for oxygen ingress into the mash.
  3. Chemical Oxygen Scavengers: Prior to mashing in, my strike water was dosed with sodium metabisulfite, which acts as an oxygen scavenger during the mash. I aimed to dose the water with 55 mg/L, the recommended dosing rate for beers employing a no-sparge method. This turned out to be 1.1 grams based on my 5.4 gallons of strike water.
  4. No Vourlauf: I skipped my normal vourlauf stage as, again, it could be another potential source of aeration in the mash.

For the recipe, I chose to make a simple pale lager that had a touch of simple sugar in it as well as a touch of late hop character. The idea was to create a fairly neutral palate where any differences could be easily perceived.

LODO Lager Brew Test

Size: 3.25 gal
Efficiency: 70%
Attenuation: 84%

Original Gravity: 1.052
Terminal Gravity: 1.008
Color: 4.25 SRM
Alcohol: 5.78% ABV
Bitterness: 18.8 IBU (does not account for whirlpool isomerization)

Malt Bill:
5.0 lbs (74.1%) – Weyermann Pilsner Malt
1.0 lbs (14.8%) – Weyermann Vienna Malt
0.75 lb (11.1%) – Corn Sugar

Mash Profile:
150°F – 60m

Water Treatment:
Extremely Soft NYC Water
3 g. – Calcium Chloride (to mash)
1.1 g. – Sodium Metabisulfite (to mash)

6 g. – Warrior (15.4% AA) – 90m
25 g. – Hallertauer Hersbrucker (2.5% AA) – whirlpool 15m
25 g. – Cascade (6.9% AA) – whirlpool 15m
25 g. – Czech Saaz (2.2% AA) – whirlpool 15m

Kettle Additions:
0.5 ea. – Whirlfloc tablets (Irish moss) – 15m
0.5 tsp. – Wyeast Nutrient – 10m

2L Starter – White Labs WLP 860 Munich Helles 


To test the resulting beers, I completed a series of blind triangle tests. To setup the test, two of the same beers and one outlier were tasted blindly side-by-side. I then tried to select the sample of the three that was different. This test was completed five times with the outlier beer randomized over the tests. Pure chance would have had me select the correct sample 1/3 of the time or 1.65 times out of the 5 rounds of testing. With this particular round of testing, I was able to select the outlier successfully 3 of the 5 times.


First, I must say that it was extremely difficult to distinguish between the two beers in a blind triangle test. The differences between the beers were extremely nuanced. The biggest perceivable difference between the samples was that the LODO beer had a consistently higher level of sulfur in the aroma—making the beer stand out ever so slightly in a blind triangle test. I failed to notice any perceivable difference in either malt or hop character between the LODO and conventionally-brewed beers. If I were to judge the beers on a point system, I would say the LODO beer was subjectively slightly worse than the conventional beer due to the increased sulfur levels in the beer. This is likely directly attributable to the sodium metabisulfite used in the beer mash; something I wouldn’t expect to be employed by a commercial brewer attempting LODO hot side processes. This makes me think that perhaps the methods large German lager brewers use to prevent hot side aeration (that do not employ sodium metabisulfite) may very well be effective in maintaining a fresh malt character in their beers. As a homebrewer, I’d say the use of sodium metabisulfite as an oxygen scavenger should be cautioned against, at least at the 55 mG/L levels that seem to leave residual sulfur in the beer.