Monday 9 April 2012

Epic Pale Ale clone

I really enjoy brewing clone beers, especially when it's a recipe that comes straight from the brewery itself. I try not to do it TOO often - it's still great to try other recipes from non-professionals, and to give recipe-building a shot on your own - but sometimes a particular beer sticks out. One that as soon as you have it for the first time, you think, "I'd REALLY like to be able to brew this on my own". This is particularly the case when it's a beer that you can't buy in your area.

So, while my most recent brew was the Deschutes Black Butte Porter from the Can You Brew It podcast, I couldn't resist trying another of their attempts. I had my first (and currently, only) Epic Pale Ale a couple of months ago. I bought the beer while on a beer trip in Portland, Maine. Even though the beer had travelled to the U.S. all the way from New Zealand, and had been stored at room temperature at the beer store, it still had a really bright, citrusy hop presence, and a malt backbone that, while not overly sweet, still managed to provide a nice balance with the hops. Turns out that the brewers at Epic use all Cascade hops in the Pale Ale, which is great since I just received an order of Cascade pellets a couple of months ago.

The grist of the recipe does seem a bit odd at first glance. It's made up of a whopping 20% caramel malts. The guys from CYBI used a mixture of Caramalt, Carapils, and Pale Crystal... because I didn't have all of those grains available to me, I found out the Lovibond rating of all of them and did my best with a mix of Carapils and Crystal 30 L. While that definitely seems like a lot of Crystal for an APA, they do recommend mashing at 148 F, which would help increase the amount of fermentable sugars in the wort, so that the resulting beer should be drier than originally expected.

Now, back to the hops. As I mentioned, they use all Cascade. I've tried/brewed an all-Cascade beer before, also a clone recipe - Deschutes Mirror Pond Pale Ale, an excellent beer. But the Epic Pale recipe goes even further. It has five hop additions during/directly after the boil, with an additional two dry-hop additions. The additions at the start of the boil are so small, however, that the resulting CALCULATED IBUs for the beer is a measly 22... really small for an APA. However, the website lists the IBU as 45. I assume this is at least partially due to the last two hop additions when the boil is complete. At flameout, they say to add 1.5 oz of Cascade, and then whirlpool for 10 minutes without chilling. Then, you add ANOTHER 1.5 oz, and whirlpool for yet another 10 minutes, and THEN begin chilling the wort. These 20 minutes would easily extract some bittering units from the hops, as well as those added previously, so the total IBUs for the beer would definitely be higher than 22. As for the dry-hopping, there's two additions of 2 oz each - one for 5 days at fermentation temps, and then another for 5 days at cold crash temps. Note that below I have two 10-minute additions; this is because I had some older Cascade hops to use up, and had to adjust their AA% for age.

As for the yeast, I'm ashamed to say I had to deviate from the recipe... sort of. The Epic brewer called for Wyeast 1272 American Ale II. I would have loved to follow the recipe and use this yeast (which I've never tried before), but in order to do so I would have had to wait several weeks - at least - before I'd have it.. and THEN I'd have to make the starter. So, I went with good-old-dependable Wyeast 1056 American Ale. I know it won't be the same, but with all of those Cascade hops in this beer, I'm hoping the yeast character of the real Epic Pale Ale was only so noticeable.

I should also mention that I made a slight screw-up with the recipe below. The CYBI recipe calls for a 90-minute boil, with the first hop addition at 75 minutes. However, I entered it in Beersmith as a 75-minute boil only, and that's how I brewed it today.

Recipe targets: (5.75 gallons, 80% efficiency): OG 1.052, FG 1.012, IBU 23, SRM 7.5, ABV 5.3%

1.86 kg Canadian 2-row
1.86 kg Maris Otter
591 g Crystal 30 L
364 g Carapils

Cascade - 23 g (2.5% AA) @ 75 min
Cascade - 31 g (2.5% AA) @ 30 min
Cascade - 17 g (2.5% AA) @ 10 min
Cascade - 28 g (5.5% AA) @ 10 min
Cascade - 42 g @ flameout, then wait 10 min
Cascade - 42 g, whirlpool, then wait 10 more min
Cascade - 56 g dry-hop for 5 days at fermentation temp
Cascade - 56 g dry-hop for 5 more days at cold-crash temps

1/2 tsp yeast nutrient @ 15 min
1/2 tab Irish Moss @ 5 min

Yeast: Wyeast 1056 American Ale (PD Feb 7/12, with a 2 L starter)

Water: Fredericton city water, carbon-filtered; mash water treated with 5 g of Gypsum

- Brewed April 9th, 2012 with Jill. 50-minute mash with 13 L of strike water, mashed in at 148 F (target). Mashed out with 8 L of 208 F water, resulting temp 167 F, rested for 10 more minutes. Sparged with ~ 4 gallons of 168 F water, drained into kettle for final volume of 7.25 gallons. SG 1.041 (target). 75-minute boil.

- Chilled to 64 F with immersion chiller. Planned final volume 5.75 gallons, due to higher-than-normal hop sludge leftover. Poured and strained into Better Bottle. Pitched yeast slurry at 64 F. Set in room with temp at mid-60s.

10/4/12 - 12/4/12 - Good activity first morning, bubbling almost every second, temp 66 F. By the next day, some beer was sucked into the airlock, krausen very high, bubbling twice per second, temp 68 F. Slowing visibly by third day, bubbling every 5 seconds, temp holding at 68 F.

19/4/12 - Took gravity reading of 1.013. Added first addition of dry hops directly into primary. Temp 66 F.

23/4/12 - Moved fermenter into fermentation chamber, temp set at 40 F. Left overnight, then added second addition of dry hops the next day.

1/5/12 - Bottled (a couple of days late) with 106 g table sugar, aiming for 2.5 vol CO2 for 4.5 gallons, max temp of 68 F reached.

Tasting notes posted...


  1. Hey Shawn,
    Good job on the site! I'm looking forward to reading a lot of the posts. Glad to see you're as obsessed as me! haha

  2. Thanks Jeff... it didn't take too much reading on your site to realize I had found another homebrew-obsessed victim!

    1. Haha, true enough!
      Let me know how this ones turns out, I might give it a go as I have a lot of Cascades left over from last year that I'd like to use up!
      Btw, just kegged a split batch of brown porter, one with WLP002 English Ale and 1 with Wlp037 Yorkshire square, man what a difference in flavour the two yeasts made! I'll send 1 of each of to you when I get the others ready.. cheers

    2. Awesome, looking forward to trying them! Always a good idea to give experiments like that a go, when you can. I imagine it really helps you get a better feeling for what certain yeasts bring to the table.