Foster – Pale Ale

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

Cover of Foster Pale Ale, 2nd ed.

Paperback, xi, 340 pages

Published 1999 by Brewers Publications

Source: Own

Contents:

Acknowledgments

Introduction

  • 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
  • Glossary
  • Index
  • About the Author

Review

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It is a tad out of date in ways but mostly in a (probably) non-critical way.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.

Introduction

“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

Chapter Notes

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.

Beer Lover’s Gift Wish List 2014

This is my 2014 Beer Lover’s Gift Wish List which consists of things I am recommending for assorted reasons. Some I own and/or have used and some I have not. I will make it clear which is the case.

[Note: Having ordered something from this list as I constructed it over the last couple days has reminded me why I need to post this earlier if I am going to. Some of these cannot arrive before Christmas at this point but some can. There are also many other, and more appropriate, gift giving opportunities than Christmas.]

1. First up is something we bought personally from the creator at Fall Fest in Bend. We had been looking for a bottle opener that fully respects bottle caps and was ergonomic to use. Beautiful is also a definite plus.

Bottle opener by SJ Woodworks

Bottle opener by SJ Woodworks

Bottle opener by Steve J. Bonora of SJ WoodWorks  $18

It works beautifully. Here’s hoping it lasts a long time.

2. BottleTrade has several things but tshirts mostly. My favorite tshirt is the Hop Medley one. But my favorite item is the His & Her Stout Glasses. Check out that while you can get one or the other, you can also get a pair in all four possible combinations of His & Hers. That’s sweet and should be supported for that reason alone. I have a pair on order and maybe some as gifts too. They will arrive late for Christmas at this point but it is “the thought ….”

3. Educational and reference tools abound. The Cicerone Certification Program has several useful items that any serious beer geek who is trying to improve their knowledge base should appreciate.

I have a set of the Beer Styles Profiles Card Sets and I am also in the process of completing the Road to Cicerone German Course. Either that or the new British and Irish course would help anyone wanting to know more about the styles of those countries and certainly help anyone studying to become a Certified Cicerone.

4. Sadly I cannot afford to be a member of the Master Brewers Association of the Americas but I am certified by them as a Beer Steward.  Their web store has loads of useful times from educational to entertaining and many items are on sale now until the end of the year. We have both the Flavor Wheel and the Defects Beer Wheel. We haven’t had a chance to put them through their paces yet but look forward to it.

The Flavor Wheel is the official flavor wheel as developed by M.C. Meilgaard, et al. for the American Society of Brewing Chemists, the European Brewing Convention and the Master Brewers Association of the Americas.

Beer drinker, homebrewer, professional brewer, brewery worker, bartenders, etc.: all should be familiar with this tool and, more importantly, its terminology and organizational structure.

5. I have been meaning to write about Michael Kiser and his Good Beer Hunting blog/website for a good while now and just haven’t managed it. Check him out. Seriously. Just leave here now and check him out. His shop is full of quality as is his writing and photography. No doubt his podcasting and events are too. I have the issues of Mash Tun and a print of the Hunter Gatherer by Andrew Wright.

I do not have a Beer Peen Hammer but “Good God!” if you’d like to get me one. Check out that post.

6. Perhaps stocking stuffers for next year: Hop-infused lollipops made from locally grown hops – cooked in small batches and hand poured LolliHOPS™ from Yakima Hop Candy. 

7. Our friend Bend Brew Daddy takes excellent, collection worthy, photos and he has a calendar out for next year. Photos of Central Oregon beers and breweries here and the Rest of the World here.

8. Beer Hunter: The Movie Michael Jackson on DVD. Is there anything else to be said? I do own and have watched this and the “special features.” Worth seeing for all beer geeks; worth owning for many of us.

9. Home Brew Club Membership. A homebrew club membership could be just the thing for the budding homebrewer or someone considering it. Sara and I are members of our local club, COHO.

According to the All About Beer 2014 Beer Lover’s Gift guide there is currently a promotion on AHA membership. Join or buy a gift membership (reg. $43) for $43 and get a free book.

10. Beer books.

Bend beer Bend beer: a history of brewing in Central OregonJon Abernathy; The History Press 2014WorldCatLibraryThingGoogle BooksBookFinder 

Our friend Jon Abernathy’s Bend Beer was recently released. This is what I have had to say about it here so far.

“It is currently “the definitive” book on brewing in Central Oregon, but I know even Jon wants more answers to some things. There is more he could not fit due to space constraints. Such is book authorship.”

Vintage beer Vintage beer: a taster’s guide to brews that improve over timePatrick Dawson; Storey Publishing 2014WorldCatLibraryThingGoogle BooksBookFinder

My review of Dawson’s Vintage Beer.

“Vintage Beer by Dawson is an excellent introduction to cellaring beer. It is a quick read that will also bear close studying and better note-taking. Production values are high and it is well-edited.”

Cheese & Beer Cheese & BeerJanet Kessel Fletcher; Andrews McMeel 2013WorldCatLibraryThingGoogle BooksBookFinder 

Any fan of good cheese and beer should own, and make use of, this book. We picked up our copy from the author at a signing and tasting at the Deschutes Brewery Bend Public House.

Tasting beer Tasting beerRandy Mosher; Storey Pub. 2009WorldCatLibraryThingGoogle BooksBookFinder 

My review of Mosher, which I consider the core book in the Beginner’s Beer Library.

“Synopsis: This is an excellent introduction to beer, beer culture and history, and the tasting (not simply drinking) of beer. Highly recommended!”

11. Magazine subscription. All About Beer and Beer Advocate are probably the two leading beer magazines in the US. Both are worth reading regularly if you like to keep up on what’s happening in the wider world than your own backyard. I subscribe to both.

12. Spiegelau glasses. We have one of the IPA glasses which we got as swag at a Sierra Nevada tasting at Broken Top Bottle Shop and Ale Cafe. It does lovely things for the aromas of hop forward beers. That is enough to affect, and improve, the overall taste of these beers. It is not a massive contribution but it works. The glass itself is fragile and hard-to-clean (I handwash my glasses) but I haven’t broken it yet.

I would definitely like to try the new stout glass. [Link found via 2014 All About Beer guide but was well aware of the glass’ existence.]

13. $300 Yeti Hopper 30 cooler. OK. Honestly. I have no experience of this or any other Yeti coolers but having looked at their website I definitely want one! This could be most useful when buying beers on road trips to get them home at reasonably stable temps. It certainly could have many uses but that would be our most likely use case.

14. For other ideas see the following (some items on my list came from these):

  • All About Beer 2014 Beer Lover’s Gift Guide. As I said, got a few ideas and a few links from here.
  • 10 Gifts for the Serious Homebrewer from The New School. There are some seriously useful items on this list. I won’t waste your time and point you at the 1st part as it was mostly (80-ish%) stupid products. I’m hoping their upcoming 3rd list is better.

There you have it: my most recent list of ideas for gifts for beer lovers. There is always my Beginner’s Beer Library page for ideas as it evolves. No promises on how quickly that is, though.

McMenamins Thundercone Fresh Hop Ale

McMenamins Thundercone Fresh Hop Ale is released today, Friday the 13th, in Bend. Overcome your lingering superstitions and go enjoy some.

On Wednesday, 11 September 2013, I stopped by McMenamins Old St. Francis School Brewery to pick up a growler of their newest seasonal Thundercone Fresh Hop Ale. It isn’t officially released (in Bend) until Friday the 13th (today) but the brewery offered me a growler full in advance and I gladly accepted.

This is my first fresh hop beer of the year and I was really looking forward to it. It took all of my willpower not to dip into the growler on Wednesday evening but my friend Miles couldn’t join me until Thursday so I held off.

Nice Thundercone sticker also given to me. I really like McMenamins designs.

Nice Thundercone sticker also given to me. I really like McMenamins designs.

You can learn about Thundercone from the McMenamins website.

It is a one-batch companywide release and when it is gone it is gone. This is its 4th year according to the promotional flyer they provided me. Thundercone uses Pilsener and Belgian Caramel malt and is bittered with dried Chinook hops. Five pounds per barrel of fresh Cascade hops from Sodbuster Farms is then added in three additions to every batch.

Last night Miles and I dove in. We used the Sierra Nevada Spiegelau IPA glass and a Nonic pint glass to see what aroma differences we could detect. The Spiegelau IPA glass, in my experience, directly enhances the hop aromas but does little to nothing that otherwise affects the taste.

Thundercone Fresh Hop Ale in a Nonic pint, growler, and a Spiegelau IPA glass, and a sticker.

Thundercone Fresh Hop Ale in a Nonic pint, growler, and a Spiegelau IPA glass, along with a sticker.

In the aroma I got a bit of the caramel from the malt, along with an earthy, grassy hop aroma with just a hint of fruit. The Spiegelau glass heightened the fruitiness and brought out a bit of the grapefruit one would expect from Cascade hops. Clearly, the fresh Cascades are an entirely different beast than their dried sisters. Color was a cloudy dark orange. I suspect minimal filtering, which helped provide a creamy, medium-bodied drink. In the flavor the grassy, earthy qualities come through, along with a bit of, to me, more general citrus. This was a highly drinkable beer and Miles and I made short work of the growler.

Alcohol: 6.19% • IBU: 56 • SRM: 7

Thank you, McMenamins for the beer, growler and sticker!

For another perspective on this beer, see Jon’s post at The Brew Site.

I believe we both recommend you seek some out while you can.

Disclaimer: This beer and a growler to hold it were provided to me free of charge by McMenamins Old St. Francis School pub as an unsolicited PR item with no expectation of anything in return.

My “8 Ways To Celebrate Oregon Craft Beer Month”

A few days ago The New School tweeted a link to an article at Gadling.com (travel blog), “8 Ways to Celebrate Oregon Craft Beer Month,” by Anna Brones on 6 July 2013. Since I was on my way to Corvallis for a few days I found its timing serendipitous, especially suggestion #2. Thus, I thought I would use it to build a post around.

I had never heard of the Gadling travel blog before or of the article’s author, Anna Brones. Poking the site and especially her byline link, I must say I am slightly confused. It states that,”Anna Brones is a food and travel writer based in Paris, France. In her spare time, she heads up Foodie Underground.” Most of her articles are about Europe, although I did see one about train travel in the Pacific Northwest so perhaps she gets out here once in a while. Not a complaint at all. Just seems a bit random to me but then, hey, I’ll take folks talking up Oregon Craft Beer Month on a wider basis.

On to the article and what I am already doing that fits her suggestions:

1. Go to a festival

While not making it to the big one this year (Oregon Brewer’s Festival), we did attend the Whole Foods Summer Brewfest on Saturday, 6 July, which benefitted the Humane Society of Central Oregon. We tasted all of the following beers and one mead from Nectar of the Gods:

  • Deschutes Belgian Baroness
  • Stone Oak-aged Arrogant Bastard
  • Fort George 3-Way
  • Sierra Nevada Southern Hemisphere
  • Crux Castor Weizen
  • Hop Valley Vanilla Infused Porter
  • Full Sail Bohemian Pilsner

It was small but included these breweries and around four to six more. It was a tough choice for which beers to try and several we would have liked to sample we had to pass on since we were going to a movie afterwards.

2. Plan a road trip that involves at least five breweries

While I hadn’t actually “planned” out a road trip, per se, it is always my intention to visit the breweries when I go to Corvallis. And this trip was going to include one brand-new brewery, Mazama Brewing, and one new to me, the OSU Fermentation Sciences pilot brewery, where I had scheduled a visit for a tour and tasting. The following is a list of the breweries I visited in the order I got to them this time:

  • Mazama (brand-new; soft opened 31 May)
  • Block 15
  • Flat Tail
  • OSU Fermentation Sciences pilot brewery (new to me)
  • McMenamins Corvallis Pub (new to me)
  • Oregon Trail

I intend to write a post each about my visit to Mazama and the OSU Fermentation Sciences pilot brewery.

3. Buy beer and other assorted goods

The Fourth of July is mentioned so I will mention the 4th of July Coming Out Stouts party we had with 7 of our friends. Its name, which had a couple different variants, was in celebration of the Supreme Court’s DOMA and Prop 8 rulings and of my recovery from my recent surgery. We sampled 12 stouts and one porter while enjoying food, conversation and companionship on our back porch. Most of the stouts were already present although I did pick up another Cavatica Stout from Fort George (it comes in 16 oz cans and not 22 oz bombers like the others) and a Rogue Shakespeare Oatmeal Stout to pair with the other oatmeal stout I already had.

On 2 July I picked up bottles #7-12 of Black Butte Porter XXV from Broken Top Bottle Shop to round out my case. While I couple of days later I bought a Deschutes Teku goblet at the brewery to compliment the BBPs and other big dark beers from Deschutes.

No doubt other beers have and will be bought over the remainder of the month. As for other beer gear, yesterday I ordered a new Danby 11 cu ft DAR1102WE fridge to replace my much smaller Danby DAR440W as The Cellar. It won’t be delivered for two more weeks but I got an amazing price from Standard TV & Appliance who has it for 15% off through this Monday. Even without the sale it would have been much cheaper then Amazon or Home Depot.

4. Plan a weekend of “research”

The suggested “research” is browsing this Portland monthly article, “50 Best Oregon Beers,” to see which you can get if you live elsewhere. Since I do live in Oregon, I thought I’d see how many I have had so far. It looks like I have had 18 of the 50 so far, although I am fairly certain I have tasted 2-3 more of them.

As for research, especially if you put scare quotes around it, well, that’s what I do. Each week I have scheduled a minimum of one hour/day for four days of beer studying and research. I read beer books and magazines and websites and blog posts and so on. I try to review some of them and hope/intend to review more.

While in Corvallis I got 3 books from OSU Valley Library and bought 2 books and a magazine at The Book Bin. I am currently reading Bamforth, Charles W, ed. 2006. Brewing: New Technologies. Woodhead Publishing in Food Science, Technology, and Nutrition. Cambridge, England: Woodhead Pub. and I am re-reading Bamforth, Charles W. 2009. Beer: Tap into the Art and Science of Brewing. 3rd ed. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press. I intend to write reviews of both.

Numbers 5 and 6 are run and drink, and bike and drink but due to my surgery I can neither run nor bike currently.

7. Try a new style of beer

This one is in theory harder to pull off than any of the others but succeed I did. At Block 15 in Corvallis I was able to try their IMP, a Belgian enkel or single. While touring the OSU Fermentation Sciences pilot brewery I was able to taste their Standard American industry lager and a Nordic Farmhouse Rye. That’s three new styles.

One could argue that I have drank plenty of standard American industry lager, which would be true, but I haven’t in a decade or two and I certainly  haven’t since I started seriously drinking craft beer. I still think I need to give the ubiquitous PBR a try soon but I can in reasonably good faith consider myself to have tried Bud/Miller/etc. and even a variant made with 016 hops instead of Willamettes.

8. Learn to homebrew

I tried this myself once back in the mid 80s while in Belgium with a British homebrew kit. It did not turn out well. I did help a friend on brew day with a Russian River Blind Pig clone back in June but I doubt I will get a chance to do so again this month. The books and magazine that I bought at The Book Bin are all on homebrewing, though, and one of the books from Valley Library is, so in essence the attempt is there.

No doubt I have missed something or the other but there’s my list of things done to celebrate Oregon Craft Beer Month as bounced off of some list of ideas.

The most important thing, though, is missing from the list. That is simply to experience and (responsibly) enjoy some tasty Oregon craft beer this month. Along with every other month of the year!

What are you doing to celebrate Oregon Craft Beer Month?