First of all, let me be clear. I’m not a seasoned brewmaster. I’m just a lowly homebewing hobbyist, but I enjoy it. For a while, I would just follow a recipe and cross my fingers in hopes that the beer I’m making turns out drinkable. As I got more involved, I decided to start coming up with my own recipes.

Again, I am a hobbyist and I really am just figuring this all out as I go. I don’t know nearly enough to be able to say with certainty what qualities each and every ingredient brings to the character of a beer. What I do know is that experimenting is what gets you a little closer to figuring that out, and that’s why I bother taking the time to come up with my own recipes. Mostly, I’ll decide on a style that I want to brew and I’ll search around for recipes for that style. I’ll take notes on what seems like common ingredients or practices, and then I’ll come up with something based on that. I wouldn’t call it cheating so much as I would call it getting a head start. It’s just like I said. It’s experimenting. If something comes out a little…off with a recipe, I’ll then try to figure out what it was and maybe adjust that particular recipe for next time. Well, as of this date, I’ve only brewed one of my half-dozen recipes more than once, but it’s a start.

Anyway, I’m pretty sure every homebrewer, at one time or another, daydreams about opening a brewery. In this day and age, there are hundreds of brewery success stories so why can’t it be my story? Well, maybe someday. For now, I’ve got too much on my plate. That being said, I still have time for an occasional brew day, and I thought it would be fun to share the recipes I come up with here.

This is my first attempt at a pale ale. I’m starting to think it might turn out a bit closer to an IPA, but we’ll see. Here’s the recipe, which makes 5+ gallons:

Fermentables:

  • 10.50 lb. Briess 2-Row Malt
  • 0.75 lb. Briess Caramel 60
  • 0.75 lb. Rahr White Wheat Malt

Hops:

  • 2.0 oz. Cascade
  • 1.0 oz. Centennial
  • 1.0 oz. Chinook

Yeast:

  • Wyeast 1056 American Ale

Other Ingredients:

  • 4 oz. vodka
  • 2 oz dried tangerine peel
  • 1 tsp Irish moss
  • 0.5 tsp yeast nutrient

Basically, mash the fermentables at 153 for 60 minutes. Strike out for 10 minutes at 170 and then sparge to collect your wort. My habit is to take refractometer readings every half-gallon, and if I’m still getting decent sugar, I’ll keep collecting, but I’ll stop at seven gallons for a five gallon recipe. I’ll then boil down to 6.5 gallons, take another reading at that point (it was at about 1.070). At that point, I’ll start the official timer and boil for sixty minutes, adding ingredients according to the schedule below:

-60 minutes: 0.50 oz. Cascade, 0.50 oz. Centennial, 0.50 oz. Chinook
-30 minutes: 0.25 oz. Cascade, 0.25 oz. Centennial, 0.25 oz. Chinook
-15 minutes: 1 tsp Irish moss, 0.50 tsp yeast nutrient
-10 minutes: 0.25 oz. Cascade, 0.25 oz. Centennial, 0.25 oz. Chinook
-0 minutes: 1.00 oz. Cascade

Cool the wort, pitch the yeast according to the packages instructions and ferment 1-2 weeks and then transfer to secondary for 1-2 weeks. While fermenting is going on, soak the dried tangerine in the vodka, and when it’s time to rack to secondary, strain off the tangerine bits and pour the liquid in with the fermented beer.

As for the name of this recipe, I have a tendency of using obscure lyrics from old country western songs for the names of my recipes (Hey…everybody’s got something, right?). This one, “Dressed Like 1950,” is part of a lyric in a song called “The Ride” by David Allan Coe. The song tells the story of a run-in with the ghost of Hank Williams.

Anyway, I’d like to say, “enjoy,” but I’ve yet to see how it turns out for myself. Perhaps I’ll check in somewhere between 2 and four weeks with an update. Instead, I’ll say, “good luck” and ask for leniency if it turns out awful.