Blonde Ale [Extract] - some advice?


I am currently composing everything for my first brew. I am reading Palmer’s “How to Brew”, I am not through yet, but getting there. Rather than just buying a kit I want to understand a bit more and buy the ingredients myself.

In style I want my beer to approach a Blonde Ale probably no one of you will know (“Chopfab Hell” by a local brewery which is getting increasingly popular in the area). It doesn’t have to be a clone but I’d like it to go in the same direction. On their website they actually give quite some information about the beer.

  • IBU 21[/*]
  • golden color[/*]
  • Nose: flowery, fine hop[/*]
  • Palate: fruity, mild[/*]
  • Malt: Pale Ale, Pilsner, CaraHell (pale caramel malt)[/*]
  • Bittering hop: Centennial[/*]
  • Flavoring hop: Cascade, Chinook[/*]
  • Dry hopping: Cascade[/*]
  • ABV: 5%[/*]

It’s a very drinkable beer, noticeable but not excessive bitterness. Since it’s my first brew I’d obviously do extract. I’d go for Spraymalt Light. Since steeping grain doesn’t seem too hard to do, I think about steeping CaraHell but I might leave that out just to keep it easier. As for the yeast, probably any general purpose ale yeast like Safale US-05 will do?

For a 2.3 gallon (10 l) batch I would take:

  • 3 lb Dry Malt Extract Light[/*]
  • 10 g Centennial 60 min, pellets 9.6%[/*]
  • 5 g Cascade 15 min, pellets 7.4%[/*]
  • 2.5 g Chinook 15 min, pellets 11.3%[/*]

Ferment two weeks.

With a calculator (80% attenuation) this comes out to 5.1% ABV, 21.5 IBU.

My big question then is for dry hopping, how much would I use? (again Cascade, pellets) I’d likely throw it in after 3-4 days (when the fermentation dies down a bit) and leave it in for the remaining 1.5 weeks.

(And my even bigger question, do you think any of this makes sense? E.g. the hop distribution…)

If I was to steep some CaraHell, I would of course reduce the DME - to maybe 2.75 lb plus 0.75 lb steeped CaraHell (assuming 25-35% efficiency)?

I don’t care about the final color too much at this point, more about the general taste profile. So if it became darker it wouldn’t be an issue to me…

Thanks for any help!

Looks like you’ve done your homework, pretty much everything there looks good. The one issue that jumped out at me is your assumption of 80% attenuation. You are more likely to get no more than 75% (extract doesn’t ferment out as completely as all-grain does). With that in mind, I wouldn’t reduce the spray malt as you were thinking to accommodate the carahell. Just add it.

As for the dry hops, I find I get best result by waiting till the fermentation is done before adding them. And then leave it an additional 4-5 days. Which brings up the calendar. The beer is done when it is done, and doesn’t always follow the schedule you think it will. But I would plan on a minimum of two weeks before dry hopping.

The US-05 is a very clean ale yeast, so it might not get that “fruity on the palate” aspect, unless you ferment slightly on the warm side (mid to high 60s). Other yeasts might get you more fruitiness, but I personally would start with this one and see how it goes. That description from the brewery might be aimed at people who are used to drinking lagers, which are super clean, so anything else would seem fruity.

I made a faux kolsch with us-05. Was looking for a fruity finish similar to Spaten. On a recommendation from Pietro, I fermented in the high 50’s, between 56 and 58, and did get a nice, fruity finish. Seems weird to get that from lower temps, but it definitely worked for me. I think a lot of people perceive this flavor as peach/stone fruit, but my palate is not yet that refined. Fruity is about as detailed as I can go.

With all that said, RC is right, your attenuation with extract won’t be as high (usually) than it would be with all grain. My kolsch was BIAB, and it finished at 1.007, about 3 to 5 points lower than I was used to getting with extract.

Good luck,