Having been inspired by a days homebrewing with UBrew earlier this year I have decided to get my brewing legs back and start pumping out at least one craft brew every six weeks. The first one I have tried to tackle is the American Amber Ale (BJCP category 19A). 

According to the Beer Judging Category Principles http://www.bjcp.org/docs/2015_Guidelines_Beer.pdf an American Amber Ale is an amber, hoppy, moderate strength craft beer with a caramel malty flavour. The balance can vary quite bit, with some versions being fairly malty and others being aggresively hoppy. Hoppy and bitter versions should not have clashing flavours with the caramel malt profile.

So this seems to be quite a broad category where you can have a real play with both the amount and variety of hops as well as what malts you use. Herein, I'm going to describe the grain bill and types of hops that I have used as well as the yeast and fermentation temperature.

Wort transferred to the secondary fermenter

Grain Bill
Pilsner Malt - A typical base malt which is very pale in colour and fairly neutral in flavour, this is 65% of my grain bill
Vienna Malt - Imparts an orange colour to the beer with nutty and toasted flavour, 17%
Crystal Malt - Adds additional colour and some caramel flavours to the beer, 3%.
Cara Münich III - When people think of malt flavour, they are usually tasting Münich malt, by using the type III I was aiming for some red / amber colour to come through, 15%.

Total grain weight 8.05kg

Mashing temperature 67oC / 152oF for 60 minutes using 22L (2.7L per kg of grain) of water containing ~160ppm of SO4 and ~71ppm of Ca and a residual acidity of -25. Followed by recirculation of the mash until the wort runs clear and then sparging with water at 71oC / 160oF till a total volume of 30L is obtained.

The wort is was boiled for 90 minutes to try and create high bitterness from the hops as well as driving off all of the dimethyl sulphide (DMS) from the wort. DMS can be a major source of off flavours in your final product so make sure a good rolling boil is achieved and don't cover the wort when boiling.

Hop Additions - American Hops were used for this brew

Hop 1 alpha acid 14.7% - 35g added at start of boil
Hop 2 alpha acid 15.3% - 14.2g added with 20 minutes to go
Hop 3 alpha acid 8.4% - 21g added with 10 minutes to go
Hop 4 alpha acid 13.8% - 43 g added with 1 minute to go

Flame out
Hop 1 alpha acid 14.7% - 28g
Hop 2 alpha acid 15.3% - 14g
Hop 4 alpha acid 13.8% - 43g

White labs WLP001 - California Ale yeast was used from a 2L starter culture. The starter culture was created by dissolving 200g of light dried malt extract (DME) in 2L of water. One pack of yeast was pitched 2 days before the main brew day. The fermentation temperature was 21oC / 70oF. The starting gravity (S.G.) was 1.070 / 17 Plato. 

Secondary Fermentation and Dry Hopping

After about 7 days the primary fermentation had finished and hops were added to increase the aroma of the beer.

Hop 1 alpha acid 14.7% - 28g
Hop 2 alpha acid 15.3% - 7g
Hop 4 alpha acid 13.8% - 28g

The final gravity (F.G.) achieved was 1.015 / 4 Plato giving a % ABV of 7.2% with a yeast attenuation of 78% which is inline with what White Labs say is the attenuation.

Carbonation and bottling

I don't keg or cask my beers, mainly because I can't drink it quickly enough so instead I choose to bottle mine. To give the beer some carbonation from the bottles I mix the beer with dextrose for another mini fermentation in the bottle. In this case I used 120g for the final volume of 20L of beer. The key is then to leave it for two weeks to carbonate.

The final product

So how has it all turned out? Pretty well overall, I get a good hop flavour with some strong bitterness and caramel from the malts. However, the alcohol is a bit too forwards and there are some ester flavours. In terms of what I can do for next time I will ferment at 18oC / 65oF to try and reduce the ester profile as well as reducing the amount of dextrose used as it has turned out to be a bit over carbonated. For 20L I will try 85g of dextrose and see how that turns out.

Give it a go and let me know how you get on and what you think of the final results.