Home Brewing Bottle and Glass

Making something yourself increases your enjoyment, of that I’m certain.  This is true for food, but I’m starting to realize how it is doubly true for beer.  Or at least for me.

Even more than enjoying the fruits of your labour is the opportunity to identify where you made a mistake – or didn’t – and to make changes and tweak the recipe until you have something that you’re really happy with.


The all-grain home brew

This definitely applies with my first all-grain batch of home brewed beer.  A couple of months back I made a half-batch of an American Pale Ale.  My expectations were that this should turn into something akin to a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale – lots of aromatic hops, with a fairly solid malt backbone.  My final result did not quite meet those expectations, but that was exciting since I can now try and find out what to improve for next time.

Home Brew Pale Ale


For starters, here’s my expectation versus reality:



Sierra Nevada is a deep amber colour.  As you can see by the photo above, mine is quite light and closer to gold or straw.


Sierra Nevada boasts lots of pine and citrus – primarily grapefruit.  My pale ale definitely presents the citrus notes, but there is very little in the way of resin.


The original has lots of citrus and pine flavours from the hops, with a fairly strong malt backbone.  My pale ale has very, very mild citrus tones in the flavour profile but in spite of the lightness of the beer is surprisingly malty with lots of bready tones.


Sierra Nevada is a fairly full-bodied pale ale thanks to the choice of malts.  Mine lives up to this part of the beer and presents a surprisingly full-bodied feel even though the colour is so light.


Why are they so different?

Well for starters I think the light colour may be the result two things: inexperience when sparging the grains, and different malts than the original beer.

It proved difficult for me to sparge the grains properly in my small kitchen, and I was not prepared for what it would be like to do this in my small system either. It’s certainly possible that I didn’t sparge the grains enough to get all the residual sugars left on the steeped grains, and I may have lost some of the colour from that.

Home Brew Steeping Grains

Sierra Nevada also uses slightly different malts than my recipe.  The original uses Caramel malt whereas my recipe used Carapils and Crystal. This difference would definitely alter the body and flavour of the finished product.

Another thing I think I would do differently next time relates to the hops.  For my next batch I want to try and add some hops after the boil as the wort is cooling as this can provide even more flavour and aroma – something my beer is lacking.  The original Sierra Nevada also uses Magnum in addition to Perle for bittering hops.  If I follow suit I could certainly up the bitterness level a bit more for next time.


The end result

The funny thing is that in spite of all these differences between my beer and the original, I’m very satisfied with the result.  Sure, I had some other issues relating to carbonation but overall the beer turned out better than expected.  In fact, the light colour with a malt body is something that I find myself enjoying more and more so I may try to replicate that as I seek to create my own American Pale Ale recipe.

Do you have any suggestions on how I can change my beer or solve the problems I mentioned?  Am I mistaken in my interpretation of the solutions?  Let me know in the comments below, or on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter!


Pin It on Pinterest

Share This
%d bloggers like this: