Pale Ale: History, Brewing Techniques, Recipes 2nd ed. (Classic Beer Styles series no. 16) by Terry Foster
Date read: 9 – 16 November 2015
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Paperback, xi, 340 pages
Published 1999 by Brewers Publications
- 1 The Evolution of Pale Ale
- 2 Style Definitions and Profiles of Pale Ales
- 3 Brewing Pale Ales
- 4 Packaging and Dispensing Methods
- 5 Pale Ale Recipes
- Appendix A Recommended Commercial Pale Ales
- Appendix B Suggested Reading
- Chapter Notes
- About the Author
I found this quite interesting and I believe it will be very useful when I start picking/modifying recipes and brewing on my own. I do enjoy pale ales and bitters but I believe I like something a bit more “English” and far less West Coast. Seems a good reason to perfect a recipe or four across the spectrum of pale ales, as considered by Foster.
It is a tad out of date in ways but mostly in a (probably) non-critical way. The prime example is the many beers referenced as either comparisons or as commercial examples that are no longer in production. Some of the references to individuals and companies are also a bit dated, as are some of the developments in, say, hops and other areas. The book could stand a bit of an update but it is not significantly less useful either due to its being dated.
“This book is an attempt to foster interest in one of the world’s great beer styles and to encourage you to brew it and drink it” (4.) Sounds like a plan to me.
Much expanded along with new material. “I determined that I would not simply revise the earlier book but would write a new book from the ground up” (4).
- References, more.
- More discussion of bitter as “largest class of pale ale derivatives in England” (4).
- Dispense/Real ale section is “considerably more comprehensive” (4).
- “… more emphasis on extract recipes, since I feel I downplayed that important aspect of homebrewing in the first edition …” (4-5).
- Historical section “much expanded” (5).
1 The Evolution of Pale Ale
In a bit about the use of adjuncts in English brewing after the Free Mash Tun Act of 1880,
“Further, sugar and cereals are not adjuncts. The term adjunct implies that something was added. Sugar and cereals add nothing; they are merely cheap malt substitutes (62).”
That seems like an unsustainable claim. Lots of sugars add flavors along with doing specific things to, say, the body as do all of the other cereals used. Sugar and cereals are frequently serving in the role of “merely malt substitutes,” whether cheap or not, but many of them contribute to aspects of the beer that are not addressed via standard malts, either, and certainly add something. They are also frequently not cheaper than malt. Small point, indeed, but I felt it needed noting.
2 Style Definitions and Profiles of Pale Ales
“For further interesting discussions on the need for style definitions, read “The Last Wort” by Alan Moen and “Beer Styles: An International Analysis” by Keith Thomas8” (104).
Full citations from Chapter Notes [but good luck finding these; not sure I am going to be able to get my hands on them even].
- Moen, Alan. “The Last Wort: A Question of Style — The Search for Ales beyond the Pale.” Brewing Techniques (September 1997): 98, 86, 87. [I have no idea what this page numbering means.][Verification of the citation but not available here.]
- Thomas, Keith. “Beer Styles: An International Analysis.” Brewery History Journal (Summer 1975):35-40. (302) [Not sure if this is complete but is not verification; doesn’t disprove anything either.]
Foster decided the style was a bit more complex than he thought in the the 1st ed.; particularly when one adds dispense type in (104). He includes the English bitters, English pale ale and English IPA. As American subtypes he includes American pale ale, American amber and American IPA.
3 Brewing Pale Ales
He recommends a two-step mash for two-row pale malts as Fix and Fix (see below) demonstrated that a 30-minutes rest at 104 °F (40 °C) before going up to saccharification temperature improved yields as much as 15%. He omits the protein rest that they also recommend as he thinks most two-row malts are highly modified enough and to include it would negatively effect “both foam and malt flavor” (147.) I believe that is a fairly common understanding of most modern fully modified malts.
Thus, he mashes pale ale styles in two steps: 104/155 °F (40/68 °C) (147).
- Fix and Fix. An Analysis of Brewing Techniques. Boulder, CO.: Brewers Publications, 1997, 24-30.
A lot of good information is covered in this chapter and includes useful tidbits about all ingredients and processes prior to packaging.
4 Packaging and Dispensing Methods
He calls for a pale ale specific glass to be designed as “Pale ale is one of the most important beer styles in the world…” (246).
The Dogfish Head, Sierra Nevada and Spiegelau-designed IPA glass works well with pale ales, especially pale ale and IPA. It truly enhances the aroma, especially hop aroma. But they are fragile, even if that is mostly perception, and a real pain in the ass to wash. [I hand wash my beer glasses with LFD soap]. As to the maybe fragile, I had one for a good two years or so and it got some good use as that is the glass I wanted if I had a pale or IPA to drink. Not my most prominent styles by consumption but one of the few that clamored for one specific glass. Less than two weeks ago it came apart in my hand while I was washing it. I was very lucky in that the deep slice into the pad of my
left right thumb [I am left-handed] was at a shallow oblique angle.
I kind of want two to replace it but they are a pain.
[I am not getting into the why of the whole line now from Spiegelau of style-specific glasses that are variations on the shape of this one; there is definitely a kind of marketing or schtick angle to them. The IPA glass does truly enhances hop aroma in a way that I much prefer; it does not—for me anyway—affect the flavor though. I would love to try the stout glass as they may be my favorite styles; no declarations. The barrel-aged one looks quite useful but in a general way already covered by our glassware. The stout potentials, glass-wise, are where we shine already so justifying a spendy “weird” one is tough. I won the IPA glass at a Sierra Nevada tasting. The stout glass was done with Lefthand and Rogue. Not sure where I am going to win of one them.]
5 Pale Ale Recipes
Recipes are provided for all of the substyles, English and American, that Foster identified and all include three recipes: 5-gallons malt extract, 5-gallons all grain, and one-barrel all grain.
The ones that I am particularly interested in are the special bitter and the English pale ale. American pale at some point, of course. Then a fine-tuning of and to my taste to find a mix of English and American pale. Perhaps with southern hemisphere hops. Who knows? I certainly do not as I have yet to have a pale ale I can’t live without. I have had tasty ones, and there are some I prefer at this point, but they are not “perfect” pales to me. Looking forward to exploring.
Appendix A Recommended Commercial Pale Ales
This is a prime example of content in dire need of updating. I cannot begin to know about the English examples but I guarantee some of those are no longer in production or have radically altered in brewery consolidations/closures. The list for the US certainly is problematic: Ballantine’s IPA, Bert Grant’s IPA. Some others are questionable and most are of very limited distribution even if extant.
Appendix B Suggested Reading
Includes the following topics of suggested resources:
- Malt Extract Selection
- Malt Analysis
- Methods for Preparation of Crystal Malt
- Barley-Based Syrups
- Hop Varieties
- Traditional Fermenters
- Yeast Strain Selection
- Yeast Cultures
- Brewing Water Chemistry
- Counterpressure Bottling
- Handling and Selection of Kegs
- Brewing Real Ale
- Where to Find Real Ale
- Source of Suppliers
Lots of good sources in both the suggested readings and the chapter notes.
Highly recommended for anyone interested in brewing pale ales and/or the styles Foster places within their kin: English bitters, English pale ale, English IPA, American pale ale, American amber and American IPA.