So I have been thinking about this idea for a while and I’ve come to the conclusion that I would love a nice, hop forward session beer. Most Pale Ales kick in around 5-6% so you can’t really have too many of them. I was thinking of brewing something around 4.5% ABV (maybe closer to 4%) that also has a nice hop presence. Anyone have any recommendations for this? A recipe? Maybe some tips that they have tried that have worked?
There are a few commercial beers that fit this description. 21A Bitter American (my favorite of the style), Lagunitas Daytime, and Surly Bitter Brewer come to mind. I find it a very difficult style to pin down. My tips are to make sure you have some (5%-10%) light colored crystal malt in the grist. Bitter to an IBU:OG ratio of about .75. Dry hop with at least an ounce.
Those are somethings I’ve been thinking about. I was considering a Rahr 2-Row Pale base with some Vienna to give it a little extra flavor. Continuing with the theme I was contemplating some caravienna (10%) and then just back loading on hop additions. Maybe just a half ounce at 60 then a 10 and a 5 and two ounces of dry hops? I was hoping to use Galaxy again because I really liked them last time but it appears NB is out so I have to try something else.
I don’t have any specific tips except maybe be somewhat conservative with the hops at first. The reason I say this is I just tried an Ontario bitter last night that was about 4.5% and fairly hop forward. It probably would be exactly what you are looking for, but for my taste I found the high hop presence created a hole where the malt should be. But I am a malt first type of guy so maybe take my opinion with a grain of salt.
I’d second the Pro Series kit of Surly’s Bitter Brewer. It is easily one of my favorite beers and endlessly amazing all that flavor gets packed into a 4% ABV beer. I’ve toyed with the recipe a bit and played with variations on the recipe, changing yeast and hop types. I even used the recipe as a starting point to do something like 21A’s Bitter American (also very good). I know Surly uses White Labs 007 on Bitter Brewer but I really like the recipe with W. Yorkshire or London ESB.
Oddly enough glacier hops are on my list of things to try and I was debating putting them in this beer. Maybe I’ll just have to do that after checking out the bitter brewer recipe. On the yeast front, I guess I was leaning toward US-05 just because I have it lying around but for a lower gravity beer something that lends itself a little more to the beer might be called for.
I bought a lb of Glacier on a whim and have used them a couple of times with good results (their very low cohumulone makes them ideal for bittering something with lower IBUs) - just put a session APA on the gas a couple days ago, calling it “All Dinosaurs Must Die! APA” since it’s bittered and finished with Glacier and late-hopped with Comet.
My last batch was an APA that I FWHed and late hopped with glacier. I bittered with aurora.
I was happy with it. To me the glacier tasted a bit like a mellow cascades.
Well I don’t know what you mean exactly by “hop forward beer” but English bitters are really nice in my opinion. They are true session beers, have decent bitterness for their gravities and have some really nice interesting flavors. If however what you mean is an APA but lower gravity that reeks of “C” hops then just scale down you favorite APA and hop burst it. I recently made an American wheat beer which was not particularly bitter but had a ton of hop flavor and aroma, I really like the way it came out so I am sure you could do the same with an APA. Good luck.