Not Red’s Apple Ale Recipe
These days, apple ales are a dime a dozen, and finding one that hits the flavor you are looking for can be quite a challenge. It’s a delicate balance trying to get enough apple character without making a beer that is too sweet. I decided to try and make my own apple ale last year when we were taking pre-orders for our McClure’s cider, and I was pretty happy with the results!
My thought process was to keep it simple while focusing on the nuances of how beer and cider ferment and how blending them would affect the final product. I decided on brewing 3 gallons of a sweet, amber ale and fermenting it all together with 2 gallons of cider. Simple enough.
When cider (or any fruit) ferments, it always ferments out dry because the sugar is so simple that the yeast has no problem munching through it all. Knowing this, I wanted to make sure the base beer had enough sweetness to support the cider when it fermented out. A healthy dose of crystal malt and a higher mash temperature (154°-156° F) helped to give me the sweetness I was looking for.
There are some basic blending principles to consider. Cider is typically 1.050 gravity, so take that into account when you blend it with the beer. Stir well before checking the gravity of the blend. The base beer has 30 IBUs, but remember that is going to be cut down when blending with 2 gallons of cider. Finally, if you build your water, remember that the cider will also cut your water salts for the full 5 gallon batch.
The other issue I ran into when making this beer is sulfur being produced by the yeast with the cider. I’ve run into this issue with other fruit beers I’ve made. Sulphur is a natural byproduct from yeast, but it dissipates very easily. I used some extra nutrients when I made it the second time and that seemed to fix the problem. I used a little Fermaid K and Diammonium Phosphate when I added the cider. Make sure you give the beer enough time in fermentation to drive off the sulfur, and if there is still some in the final product, you can scrub it with CO2 in keg or stir it out at bottling time.
The final beer came out just how I wanted it. The sweetness of the amber ale blended perfectly with the crisp, acidity of the cider, which resulted in a nice caramel apple character. The best part of the recipe is it’s easy to scale to a bigger batch size. Making a 10 gallon batch only requires you to make 6 gallons of beer and have 4 gallons of cider to ferment with it. Have a little fun with it and experiment by splitting the batch. I tried one 5 gallon batch with cinnamon and it made a great Fall treat!
Not Red’s Apple Ale Recipe (3 gallons of beer fermented with 2 gallons of cider)
Specs (for 3 gallons)
Estimated O.G. = 1.055
Estimated F.G. = 1.017
Estimated ABV = 5.0%
Estimated bitterness = 31
Estimated SRM: 14
4.5 lbs. Muntons Maris Otter
0.5 lb. Flaked Barley
0.5 lb. Flaked Wheat
0.5 lb. Simpsons Medium Crystal
0.5 lb. Honey Malt
0.25 lb. Victory Malt
0.05 lb. Carafa III
0.25 oz Chinook pellet hops (11.1% AA), added at the beginning of the 60 minute boil.
¼ tsp Irish Moss or 1 Whirlfloc Tablet, added with 15 min left in the boil.
0.5 oz El Dorado pellet hops added with 10 minutes left in the boil.
0.5 oz El Dorado pellet hops added at the end of the boil.
Cider and Additional Nutrients
2 gallons of fresh apple cider added to the primary fermenter
¼ tsp Diammonium Phosphate
¼ tsp Fermaid K Yeast Nutrient
0.25oz Cinnamon Sticks (added in the last 10 minutes of the boil)
1 pack (a starter could help with yeast vitality) of Wyeast 1469 West Yorkshire yeast, White Labs WLP085 English Ale Blend, or 1 pack of dry Lallemand London ESB yeast. You may also choose 1 can of Imperial Organic A09 Pub Yeast for a higher cell count to start.
- Mash at 154-156F for 60 minutes. A mash-out at 168-170F for 15 minutes is recommended, but not necessary. Drain, sparge, and proceed with a 60 minute boil.
- Chill to 66-68F. Add your 3 gallons of Wort and 2 Gallons of Cider to your sanitized fermenter. Stir vigorously to mix and oxygenate. Pitch yeast. Ferment at 66F for two weeks before bottling or kegging.
- A secondary fermentation for one week to improve clarity and reduce sedimentation is optional.
- Extract Version:Replace the Munton’s Maris Otter malt with a 3.3 lb Munton’s Maris Otter liquid malt extract canister. Steep the specialty grains (flaked barley, flaked wheat, medium crystal malt, honey malt, victory malt, and Carafa III) at 150-155F for 30 minutes using a muslin grain bag. Remove the bag, allowing the grains to drain into the boil kettle. Turn off the flame and dissolve the malt extract in the kettle. Turn the flame back on, bring to a boil and proceed as as above. NOTE: You’re still making a 3 gallon beer, and adding 2 gallons of cider in for fermentation. Adjust your water accordingly. As the extract version is slightly different than the all-grain, you may have a slightly different starting gravity at the beginning of fermentation.