I’m proud of this beer. Not because it’s particularly amazing, but because it’s the first all grain recipe I developed that I didn’t completely screw up. I imagine it’s the same feeling parents get when they send their first born to college. Sure, he didn’t turn out the way they imagined… and yeah, maybe he’s majoring in Canadian studies, but dammit it’s their kid!
As a home brewer, I’d arrived at the point where I wanted to step up my game. We are constantly growing, and with brewing that can mean anything from upgrading our brewing equipment to trying a new recipe. We are looking for ways to better our craft. It’s why parts of our homes start looking like mini breweries, which happened to me. What was once satisfying (brewing recipes perfected by others), wasn’t anymore. I began to investigate what was involved with making my own recipe. Within ten minutes of research I was terrified. There are so many different ingredients other then hops, grains, and yeast you can use to brew that it can be overwhelming at first. It’s hard to know which flavour a single ingredient contributes to the end product, let alone all of them. Fermented strawberries do not taste like fresh strawberries, trust me. It took me a while to jump in but once I did I haven’t looked back. If you’ve been sitting on the fence about creating your own recipes then I recommend that you just do it because it’s really rewarding. I’ve said it before, no one is expecting you to be a master brewer, except maybe you. The pressure is off, so let down your hair and have some fun. Beside we all know that the best way to learn is by making mistakes, right?
I really liked this beer even though it didn’t turn out exactly the way I wanted it to. It was just a little bit too hoppy than what I was aiming for. I added 2 oz. of hops instead of 1.5 oz. and left my aroma hops in the boil for 5 minutes too long. These are two small adjustments, but in brewing a little bit of anything goes a long way! These two choices made it just a bit too bitter. A delicious Irish Red should be malty with a slight caramel finish. I was close but I missed the mark. I also didn’t get the colour right. There is a reason Irish Reds are called Reds (they’re Red!), but mine was more like an Irish Blonde (not that I’m complaining). I still haven’t figured out what I should have added or subtracted to the grain bill to achieve my desired colour but I’m sure I will figure it out next time. Remember the best was to learn is by making mistakes.
Luckily, we don’t live in the dark ages anymore and we have access to amazing resources that help ease the burden of developing recipes. There are brew journals and computer programs that will make your brew days WAY better. All you do is enter in your ingredients, brewing equipment, and other related information and they’ll do the hard work for you. I’ve used The Home Brew Journal, by Ben Keene, and would recommend it. You can get it here. If you’d prefer software, I use a free program called Brew Target. It’s super easy to use and makes my brew day a lot more enjoyable. By enjoyable I mean I can drink beer and make beer at the SAME TIME worry free that my unreliable math skills won’t translate to unreliable beer. I simply love it.
Even though this beer wasn’t what I was trying to achieve it was still delicious and I would make it again. It had all the essential flavours I wanted and honestly it’s the best beer I think I’ve ever made. Most of my friends and family said they really enjoyed it as well, so you know, maybe I’m on to something? Can Irish Blondes be a new beer style? I would recommend giving this recipe a try.
Let me know how turns out!
Till next time, Cheers!
Illegally Blonde Irish Red.
8 Pounds, 2 Row Brewers Malt
16 Ounces, Vienna Malt
12 Ounces, Caramel/Crystal Malt - 60L
8 Ounces, Caramunich Malt
2 Ounces, Roasted Barley
2 Ounces, Kent Goldings
Wyeast Labs Irish Ale Liquid Yeast 1084
Collect 3.3 Gallons of water to 173.16F. In your mash tun add all grains. Once your water has hit target temperature add to grains and stir mash and hold for 1 hour. In the mean time, collect another 4.8 gallons of water and heat to 179F. Use this water to sparge. Bring the wort to a boil. Once the wort is boiling add in 1oz of Kent Golding Hops. At the 50 minute mark add in another 1oz. of hops and boil for 10 minutes.
Stop the boil and begin the cooling process. Be sure that no un-sanitized equipment/anything (seriously) touches the wort. Cool to 65F and rack into carboy. Pitch yeast let ferment for 2 weeks. After primary fermentation is complete rack into another sanitized carboy for secondary fermentation. After 1 week it’s ready for bottling or kegging.
In a sanitized bottling bucket add a 3/4 cup of priming sugar (dextrose). Rack beer in bucket and with a sanitized stainless steel spoon stir to mix in sugar. Begin bottling. Use an empty pop bottle to use as your tester to know when the beer has properly carbonated. Once the bottle has reached the same firmness as a filled pop bottle the beer is ready. Refrigerate and age for 21 days or just enjoy!