Projects and Thoughts

Reviewing Homebrew U the Perfect American Pale Ale with Matt Brynildson

IMG 2108

I’ve been a big fan of the brewing network since I started brewing, and I’ve been listening to the shows religiously for the past three years. When I heard they’d be making a dvd to share the best way to brew a pale ale I had to have it. I consider pale ale a challenging beer to brew well. It’s a beer of balance, walking the line of hoppy and clean, while avoiding being thin. I’ve said this before, it’s a large percentage of what I drink, and equally large portion of what I brew. The idea of getting tips on how to brew the beer straight from Matt Brynildson was impossible to pass up. So I signed up for the preorder, and paid my $17.99.

Unfortunately I had to buy a DVD, I’m not sure what their plan is long term, but I really wish they would sell it through digital distribution, in this day and age getting a DVD is unnecessary. Though, the packaging is nice, a soft sided case featuring the stars and a table of contents. I was happy to see some additional special features included with the DVD. The yeast starter tutorial seems like a quality approach to making one, and the firestone-walker tour is also cool, the rest is b-roll stuff. I must admit, Doc isn’t quite how I pictured him.

The video starts out with some effusive praise for Matt, extolling his credentials a number of GABF medals for pale ale. It goes on to explain the approach matt approaches his pale ale. He perfers his lower abv than traditional American Pale, dryer, with less caramel malt, and less body. The dryness allows the hops to pop. He targets 4.5-5%, and utilizes a late hop method he learned from John Hall while a brewing at Goose Island. The video then goes on to share how to achieve this; using a pimped out fully automated more beer 2100 smart system. drool

Here are my very simplified set of high level take aways, there is more detail and nuance in the video. The recipe starts with a simple domestic grain bill that mimics marris otter. Mashing low, using 1.4qts per lb of soft water with a ph between 5.2 and 5.4. Then ramp mash temp to ensure conversion (155), then a mahout at 170 to lock in fermentability. A equally simple hop regime using a small bittering charge, a small 30m charge, which they state is for hop body (google hop glycosides), and the bulk of the hops at flame out. They do an extended hop stand / whirlpool. Chill to 63, oxygenate for 1 minute, and ferment with a large pitch of London ale yeast. Starting at 11.5p (1.046), finishing out at 2.6p (1.010). They recommend dry hopping before fermentation has finished out. After transfer to secondary, but before fully attenuated, leaving about 1p (4 sg points) left so that yeast can scavenge any oxygen incorporated during Dry hopping. These concepts alone should be enough to give you a solid starting point.

Things that I thought were missing; details on what they meant by soft water, so I could target something specific. I realize everyones additions are different, but tell me what numbers you are targeting for my calculations. A recommendation for a single infusion temperature for someone who will make this on something other than a fully automated system. Maybe a target carbonation level, I realize that 2.3 vols is standard, but future styles might be more complicated.

In general, I found the dvd enjoyable, and a good resource if you want to see from the source how to brew a great pale 31 clone. Don’t expect tons of tech, but you’ll get some quality tips. While I was hoping for more content along the lines of designing great beers, where you get guidelines and concepts for designing a pale ale, this is a more concise recipe, with some fundamental mixed in. You’ll have to buy the DVD (?) to get that recipe. :)

Note: As with all reviews, I’ll disclose if I was paid or provided the product for review. I have not been paid for this review, and I purchased the DVD with my own money, and I’d do so again.

6 thoughts on “Reviewing Homebrew U the Perfect American Pale Ale with Matt Brynildson”

  1. Push Eject says:

    Well written and fair. How did you find the production value?

    1. m750 says:

      Thanks for the feedback. I thought the audio and video were good, and all the transitions we good. Professional quality, did not seem like a personal video editing. I am a little behind on listening, are there more videos coming soon? I’d be glad to review future videos as well.

  2. Push Eject says:

    Style 2 has been shot and is in editing now! Cheers.

    1. m750 says:

      Cool, I will look for it. If there is any chance to get an early copy for review, Let me know.

  3. Nicely written. I’ve been listening to the BN for a couple years now, and it’s safe to say the majority of brewing knowledge I’ve gotten is from their podcasts (along with the books from Palmer, JZ, and Charlie P).

    American Pale is what got me into better beer. Sierra Nevada was my gateway beer years ago. It’s the style I go to about as often as American IPA these days. I have yet to brew an APA with an English yeast strain. The couple times I’ve used British strains (White Labs 007 in an IPA and most recently Wyeast 1968 in my best bitter) I’ve found them slower to get going, and harder to finish dry with, regardless of my mash temp.

    Does the video focus only on the one recipe from Matt B? I kind of assumed they would offer a couple different directions within the style. I’ve brewed JZ’s recipe from BCS that was the non-caramel one (with munich and victory) and found I still prefer my APA with crystal and citrus hops. Also find it interesting the Matt B goes for less body. I like mine to finish relatively dry, but a FG of 1.010 and no caramel makes me wonder how it doesn’t come out really thin. Matt’s APA sounds like what we’re seeing marketed now as “Session IPAs” like 21A’s Bitter American, or Founders’ All Day IPA.

    1. m750 says:

      The video does focus on a single recipe, but outlines Matt’s approach to brew a pale ale. If that makes any sence, I mean FireStone Walker brews multiple pales, so one would think they use a similar approach to brew them, but this is aimed at brewing a pale 31 style beer. And you are really right about how far away from more traditional pales these are, they are almost in the Extra pale ale category, with more hop flavor/aroma, less body, and less abv. It’s interesting how wide the spectrum for a particular style can be.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *