Mission Impossible

I was contacted by a good friend last week and asked to do the impossible.

Zeek contacted me on the 17th of June and invited us to a party/dinner on the 28th. He also asked if I could bring a beer as well. But there was a catch. He didn’t want just any old beer.

A couple of years ago he and I went to a beer festival and sampled the various tasty beverages. We both agreed on our favorite beer there and spent quite some time at the Half Pints Brewing Comapny table. One of their casks was “dry-fruited” with a variety of citrus peels. The beer was a very pleasant blend of fruity citrus, moderate hops and a slightly malty backbone.

Brewmaster Dave explained everything that was done to the beer and we took note.

We both had the same thing in mind – that we had to make our own twist on this beer.

Thus when Zeek called and asked to bring beer, there simply could be no other choice. He wanted that magical citrus elixir.

My mission though was something I hadn’t tried before. From grain to glass in less than two weeks as I had nothing suitable in the pipeline.

The Problems:
1. Recipe design
2. Clean fermentation
3. Clarify the beer
4. Carbonate properly
5. Add the fruit

The Plan
1. A simple, lightly hopped Amber Ale
2. Fermentation starting at 17C to keep things ester free, ramping up near the end.
3. Filter the beer with 1 micron pads for perfect clarity
4. Crash carbonate at high PSI
5. Micro plane the zest of several citrus fruit and soak them in spirits before adding to the keg.

I have quite a bit of confidence in this process except for the filtering. I have filtered thousands of bottles of wine, but I have never filtered a beer. I know on an intellectual basis that it should work well, but I am concerned on trying it for the first time with such a tight timeline. There is no chance that I can make a second beer if this doesn’t work out.

Crash carbonating and adding citrus are both things that I am very familiar with and have done many times. Fermentation temps are easy to control in these times of air conditioning and cool basements.

Lastly, the recipe

8 pounds of Pale Malt
1 pound of Honey Malt
2 ounces of Chocolate Malt
1.5 ounces of Saaz hops (60 minutes)
1 ounce Belma hops (15 minutes)
1 envelope US-05 yeast (Safale)

The simple malt bill should ferment quickly using the American Ale yeast. The chocolate malt is for color mainly. The honey malt should compliment the fruit and melon flavours of the citrus and the Belma hops. I’m pretty confident of the recipe. At least that’s something that I’m comfortable with.

Fermentation started in earnest late Sunday night, after a great brew day on Saturday. If all goes well I should be filtering and carbonating on Thursday night. If not, I’ll have to find a keg of beer somewhere.

Have I bit off more than I can chew? Possibly…

Is it worth it?
Good friends and good times always are.



Beerideas is a fortysomething father that enjoys well made beverages. He is a homebrewer, educator and child at heart.

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