Great Homebrew Recipes: Mike McDole’s Tasty American Pale Ale

Occasionally, I will try to document a recipe that appears to be popular amongst the Internet brewing community. As well as serving as a reminder of a potential future brew, it also gives me the opportunity to relate interesting points about contemporary brewers and their brewing practices.

Mike “Tasty” McDole recently chatted on The Brewing Network forums about his Tasty APA recipe and included a link to his recipe on Beer du jour. Apparently, through a combination of good luck, skill, friends, and some happy coincidences, Mike ended up taking a good bit of it to GABF ’08 and the crowd loved it.

I can only take credit for the recipe and to a lesser extent the brewing. The beer wouldn’t have been made without the good graces of the 21st Amendment Brewery and Shaun O’Sullivan. And I can’t fail to mention my friend and mentor Jamil Zainasheff who made it all possible by letting me take his ProAm spot at the 21A. I’m very lucky to know these guys.

Mike talked a little about where the recipe came from and what he was going for when he came up with it.

This beer [is] mostly about the malt bill so I recommend going to your stash of hops and coming up with a 33–38 IBU hop bill where one third of the IBUs are between 20 minutes and flameout. The hops I list are for what I call “Pliny Lite” but that’s just because the beer was conceived when I blended 3 oz of my Pliny The Elder clone with 9 oz of my Munich Helles… The goal of this recipe is a dry quaffable beer with IPA level hop flavor from an APA level (lower cost) hop bill. The goal is not a beer you can’t make because you can’t get the hops.

Also, although the beer definitely benefits from dry hopping, you don’t necessarily have to. The late additions should carry over enough and those hops could better be used for another batch.

So mix it up and change the name. Choose your favorite hops and make it your beer.

Mike has an advanced setup and normally uses a hopback for the final boil kettle additions. Here is what he had to say for folks that do not have a hopback available.

Frankly I have no real idea what the hop aroma contribution of the hopback is. On the rare occasion I don’t use it, I don’t notice a particular difference which is probably because I use plenty of dryhop. I use it when making lagers like Helles where I don’t dryhop and I (or judges) can’t perceive any hop nose. I think the prevailing wisdom is that the aroma probably gets scrubbed out during primary fermentation. I’m really just using the hopback as a trub filter and if I want more hop aroma I increase the dry hop.

So to answer the question, the reason I say half as much flameout hops as hopback hops is because I feel that would be the equivalent [amount] of hop aroma due to the better utilization in the kettle versus the hopback. Just my opinion, no science, and I’m certainly open to other ideas.

This beer doesn’t lack for hop flavor so I could also see dropping the hopback/flameout hops altogether.

Since I will not be using a hopback, I have already adjusted the hop schedule in this recipe to move the hopback addition to flameout at half the amount, as Mike suggested. Look at Mike’s original recipe for his version. You might also want to listen to the dry hopping episode of Brew Strong for some tips from Mike on how he gets so much hop character into his beers.

I have formulated this recipe to produce five gallons (19 L) of beer for packaging. I assume a loss due to trub of a half-gallon in the fermenter and another half-gallon in the boil kettle. That leaves six gallons (22.7 L) at the end of the boil. I assume a boil-off rate of about one gallon per hour, which means I need seven gallons (26.5 L) at the start of the boil for a 60-minute full-volume boil. I have adjusted the ingredient amounts accordingly to achieve the desired gravities, bitterness, and pitching rates. I assume the use of bagged pellet hops for all hop additions with the contribution of first wort hops at 35% of normal. I use the Rager formula for calculating bitterness and the Morey model for calculating beer color. I created the extract version of this recipe using Ken Schwartz’s method to convert from all-grain.

Recipe: Mike McDole’s Tasty APA

OG: 1.056 (13.8 °P)
FG: 1.013 (3.3 °P)
ADF: 77%
IBU: 37.9
Color: 6.1 SRM (15.1 EBC)
Boil: 60 minutes
Pre-Boil Volume: 7 gallons (26.5 L)
Pre-Boil Gravity: 1.005 (1.3 °P)

Extract Weight Percent
Light DME 5.5 lbs. (2.50 kg) 57.9
Pilsen DME 2 lbs. (0.91 kg) 21.1
Wheat DME 0.5 lbs. (0.23 kg) 5.3
Steeping Grains
Carapils Malt (2 °L) 1 lbs. (0.45 kg) 10.5
Crystal (40 °L) 0.5 lbs. (0.23 kg) 5.3
Hops IBU
Chinook 13% AA, First Wort Hopped 0.25 oz. (7 g) 4.5
Warrior 15.6% AA, 60 min. 0.25 oz. (7 g) 18.1
Simcoe 12% AA, 20 min. 0.25 oz. (7 g) 4.7
Columbus 15% AA, 10 min. 0.25 oz. (7 g) 3.8
Northern Brewer 9% AA, 10 min. 0.25 oz. (7 g) 2.3
Centennial 10.5% AA, 1 min. 0.25 oz. (7 g) 2.1
Simcoe 12% AA, 1 min. 0.25 oz. (7 g) 2.4
Cascade 5.8% AA, 0 min. 1 oz. (28 g) 0.0
Columbus 15% AA, Dry Hop 1 oz. (28 g) 0.0
Centennial 10.5% AA, Dry Hop 0.5 oz. (14 g) 0.0
Simcoe 12% AA, Dry Hop 0.5 oz. (14 g) 0.0
White Labs California Ale WLP001, Wyeast American Ale 1056, or Fermentis Safale US-05
Fermentation and Conditioning

Use 11 grams of properly rehydrated dry yeast, 2 liquid yeast packages, or make an appropriate starter. Ferment at 68 °F (20 °C). When finished, carbonate the beer to approximately 2.5 volumes.

All-Grain Option

Replace the extracts with 8 lbs. (3.63 kg) American two-row, 3 lbs. (1.36 kg) Pilsen, and 0.5 lbs. (0.23 kg) Wheat. Use a single-temperature infusion mash of 60 minutes duration at 154 °F (68 °C). A mashout step is optional. Mash efficiency is assumed to be 70%. Mike uses Mosher’s “Ideal Pale Ale” water profile. Note that there is a typo in the online version of the recipe. The Mg level should be 18 and not 118.

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