I’m not going to deny it. Since I started homebrewing, every time I´ve had the opportunity of going on holiday, I´ve made some research on the local beers from the place I was going to visit and the pubs where I could drink them. This has become another attraction for those days. Of course, this also happened with the trip we made in October 2017 to Scotland, a country with a great brewing tradition. Among the beers we were able to taste, all of them of a considerable level, a few of them stood out.
We enjoyed Long White Cloud, the flagship pale ale from the always reliable Tempest Brewing Co, we drank from cask and bottle Gold and Red from the little Skye brewery, from the island of the same name; and we liked very much Green Hopped IPA from Dark Star Brew, with fresh “green” hops infused during conditioning. But if we had to choose one from all the beers we drank, we wouldn’t hesitate to pick Blønd from Pilot, a brewery from Leith, in the north of Edinburgh. We drank this beer for a dinner in a restaurant in Edinburgh and we loved it. Pale golden in color and quite hazy, it has a great tropical hop aroma and flavor, not too much bitterness and a really smooth mouthfeel. A beer to enjoy every sip. I looked for some information on brewery website and I found out that it was brewed with 50% of malted oats and that Amarillo and Galaxy were the hops used. I read also that it was only 4% ABV. Nowadays, this information has been removed from the website, I don’t know why, maybe a marketing decision.
Once we got back home from holidays, and while I was planning the next beers we were going to brew I remembered this Pilot Blønd and we decided to brew, if not a clone, at least a version of it. Based on information from the brewery we started to work on a recipe. First thing we did was to buy some malted oats, something we had never brewed with before. In particular, we made an order for naked malted oats, that were going to be 50% of the grist for the recipe. For the other 50% of the grain, we chose Pilsen malt from Dingemans we had at hand. For the hops, we didn’t have Galaxy or Amarillo, so we chose to use two varieties we had an amount enough for this recipe, East Kent Goldings for bittering and Citra in whirlpool and dry hop. The next step was to pick a yeast. Some time ago we had ordered three sacchets of Vermont IPA from Giga Yeast, the first of which we had used to brew our first NEIPA. Being a liquid yeast we didn’t want to risk them to spoil, so we decided we were going use that yeast for this oat pale ale. Finally, we had to decide our water treatment. I will explain it later, but we wanted to have a mash pH around 5.30 and a ratio sulfate:chloride of 1:1.
Taking into account everything said until now, the recipe and the process summary looked like this:
OAT PALE ALE (PILOT BLØND VERSION)
1.30 Kg (2.87 lbs) (50,0%) Pilsen base malt (Dingemans) (5.0 EBC)
1,30 Kg (2.87 lbs) (50,0%) naked malted oats (3.0 EBC)
30.00 g (1.06 oz) East Kent Goldings (5.00% AA) leaf (boil 30 minutes, 28.4 IBUs)
50.00 g (1.76 oz) Citra (14.20% AA) pellets (whirpool 15 minutes, 34.8 IBUs)
50.00 g (1.76 oz) Citra (14.20% AA) pellets (dry hop, 6 days after pitching yeast, for 4 days)
Vermont IPA (#GY054) from Giga Yeast (2 golden pitch sacchets, ptiched directly without starter)
Volume: 10.5 L (2.77 gallons) OG: 1.044 FG: 1.010 ABV: 4.4% IBUs: 63.2 Color: 7.5 EBC BU/GU: 1.451 Efficiency: 65.00%
Ca: 114 ppm; Mg: 3 ppm; Na: 7 ppm; SO4: 143 ppm; Cl: 147 ppm
68.9ºC (156ºF) for 60 minutes, mash out 75ºC (167ºF) for 5 minutes
In the morning of the brewday we boiled about 18 liters (3.96 gallons) of water to evaporate chlorine. In the afternoon, we milled the grain and we added 50 mL of sulfuric acid 1 N and about 12 mL of 33% of calcium chloride to adjust mash pH and get the water profile shown above. With the water heated at the corresponding temperature, we added the grain slowly, stirring continuously to prevent grain clumps. We put the lid on with the mash at a temperature of 69.8ºC (157.6ºF). We mashed for one hour, opening the lid after the first 30 minutes to stir the grain again. After one hour, the mash temperature had dropped to 65ºC (149ºF). We turn the induction plate on to raise the temperature to about 75ºC (167ºF) for the mash out, stirring one more time. We removed the bag with the grain and heated the wort to boil. We took a sample to measure the pre-boil gravity, 1.030, the same of the theoretical value.
Half an hour into the boiling we added 30 g (1.06 oz) of East Kent Goldings for bittering and when the boil was finished we turned off heat and we added 50 g of Citra that smelled really great when opening the packet, something that it is not always the case. We kept these Citra hops for 15 minutes and the temperature of the wort went from 94ºC (201.2ºF) at the beginning to 87ºC (188.6ºF) at the end of that time. Then we remove hops and started to cool the wort with our cooper chiller, keeping the first liters of water to use them for cleaning. Since the tap water was quite cold (it was December), the wort reached 17.5ºC (63.5ºF) in a few minutes. We transferred the wort to an 11.5 liters (3 gallons) PET demijohn, which we shook to oxygenate wort as much as we could. Original gravity was lower than expected (1.038 vs 1.045) because the evaporation was lower than which we had planned. We pitched directly two sachets of Vermont Ale Yeast from Giga Yeast because they had some time and maybe one of them was not enough. As we had a gose we had previously brewed in the fermentation chamber at a different temperature that the one we wanted for our oat pale ale, we left the demijohn in a bathroom which a steady temperature of about 18ºC-19ºC (64.4ºF-66.2ºF).
Next day, 20 hours after pitching yeast there were no signs of fermentation. Since the fermentation chamber was empty then, we put the demijohn in it, setting a temperature of 18.5ºC (65.3ºF). The activity in the airlock started slowly after 48 hours, increasing its intensity with time. Beer temperature was 19ºC (66.2ºF). By the third day, the airlock activity was frantic and a thin krausen was forming. On the fourth day the airlock activity was almost nonexistent and the krausen was gone. After another two days without apparent activity we added the dry hop charge, 50 g (1.76 oz) of Citra pellest that still smelled like heaven, which gave us hope that this beer would result in something good. Four days later we removed hops and we lower the temperature gradually for 48 hours until it reached 15ºC (59ºF), to clear the beer somehow, although the great amount of malted oats as well as the hops used for dry hop kept the beer with a hazy appearance at that point. This haziness was something characteristic of the beer we were trying to emulate, so no worries.
After three days at 15ºC (59ºF), in the morning of that day we removed the demijohn from the fermentation chamber and we left it in the kitchen to bottle in the afternoon. Final gravity was 1.016, a little bit high (our NEIPA with the same yeast finished at 1.015), with a final ABV of 2.9%. A value a little off from the one we had planned, but nothing to worry about. We added sugar, boiled with a little water and cooled, enough to get about 2.4 volumes of CO2 and we bottled around 9.24 liters (2.44 gallons), 28 bottles of 33 cL. While we were bottling, we took a sample to taste it and it had a really good aroma from dry hopping, as well as a nice flavor, with a nice clean bitterness. This made us be optimistic regarding the final result, once the beer was carbonated. At bottling, the look of the beer was very similar to Blønd from Pilot Beer. In a next entry we will talk about how the beer turned out and if it met our expectations.
(UPDATE: You can check how this beer turned out here)