American Pale Ale (APA) is a popular craft beer style that has its roots in the early days of American craft brewing. In the 1980s, American brewers began experimenting with using American-grown hops, which had a distinctively different flavor and aroma profile than their European counterparts. This experimentation led to the creation of the American Pale Ale style, which has since become a staple in the craft beer world.
Although an American Pale Ale is quite similar to an English Pale Ale there are significant differences including the types of hops and yeast used. American hops such as Cascade, Centennial, and Chinook are typically used in an American Pale Ale recipe, providing it with its distinct citrus and pine aroma and flavor. American Ale yeast provides a clean and neutral profile that allows the hops and malt to shine through.
In this article, we’ll be discussing the key elements of an American Pale Ale recipe, including providing you with a detailed recipe for brewing your own APA at home.
Table of Contents
American Pale Ale Recipe
Original Gravity: 1.051
Final Gravity: 1.010
To brew a 5-gallon batch of American Pale Ale, you will need the following ingredients:
7.5 lbs American 2-row malt
1 lb Crystal malt (40L)
1 lb Munich malt
1 lb Carapils malt
1 oz Cascade hops (60 min)
1 oz Centennial hops (15 min)
1 oz Chinook hops (5 min)
1 pack of American Ale yeast (US-05, Wyeast 1056 or White Labs WLP001)
Priming sugar for bottling
In a large pot, heat 6 gallons of water to 155°F. Add the grains and stir to prevent clumping. Hold the temperature at 155°F for 60 minutes.
Remove the grains from the water and rinse with hot water to extract additional sugars.
Bring the liquid to a boil and add the Cascade hops. Boil for 60 minutes.
Add the Centennial hops for the last 15 minutes of the boil.
Add the Chinook hops for the last 5 minutes of the boil.
After the boil, cool the liquid to 68-70°F and transfer to a fermenter.
Pitch the yeast and seal the fermenter.
Allow the beer to ferment for 2 – 3 weeks at 68-70°F.
Bottle or keg the beer and add the priming sugar for carbonation.
Allow the beer to condition for an additional 2-3 weeks before enjoying.
American Pale Ale Style Profile
Appearance: Color-wise American Pale Ales generally have a golden to copper color, and are typically a fairly clear beer although some versions can be hazy looking. They should also have a moderate to high level of carbonation, with a thick, creamy head.
Aroma: Their strong hop aroma of citrus and pine is one of their distinguishing qualities, it may also have a hint of malt sweetness in the background.
Mouthfeel: They typically have a medium to medium-light body, with a moderate to high level of carbonation. The finish is dry and crisp, with a noticeable level of bitterness.
Taste: The taste is hoppy, but also well-balanced, with a good mix of malt sweetness and bitterness.
Food Pairing: American Pale Ales pair well with a wide variety of foods, but they are particularly well-suited to spicy foods such as Mexican or Thai cuisine. They also pair well with grilled meats and sharp cheeses.
Designing Your Own American Pale Ale Recipe
Here are some tips to help you create your own unique version of this beer style
Choose your base malt: American 2-row malt is the most commonly used base malt for American Pale Ales, as it provides a good balance of sweetness and a light color. Other common base malts include Maris Otter or Pilsner.
Add specialty malts: Specialty malts, such as crystal malt or Munich malt, can provide for additional layers of flavor and color. They can also add sweetness, caramel, or biscuit flavors. Be careful, not to overdo it with the specialty malts, as too much can add unwanted sweetness and can also overpower the hop character.
Select your hops: You will want to use American hops varieties such as Cascade, Centennial, and Chinook. These types of hops provide for the strong citrus and pine aroma and flavor these beers are known for. You can also experiment with some of the newer hop varieties on the market such as citra and mosaic.
Experiment with dry hopping: Dry hopping is the process of adding hops directly to the fermenter after fermentation has finished, doing so can add extra aroma and flavor to the beer. American Pale Ales are one of the styles of beer that definitely benefit from dry hopping.
Select the right yeast: American Ale yeasts are the traditional choice for American Pale Ales, such as Safale US-05 for dry yeast and Wyeast 1056 or White Labs WLP001 for liquid yeast. These yeasts provide a clean and neutral yeast profile that allows the hops and malt to shine through.
Adjust the alcohol content: The alcohol content of an American Pale Ale can range from 4.5% to 6%. If you want to increase the alcohol content use more malt or malt extract, alternatively to lower the alcohol content, use less malt.
Consider water chemistry: The pH and mineral content of the brewing water can have a big impact on the final beer. Be sure to check your water and adjust as needed to achieve the desired pH level.
Have fun and experiment: Designing your own American Pale Ale recipe is a fun and rewarding process where you can get as creative as you like, don’t be afraid to experiment with different ingredients and techniques. Try different malt, hop, yeast, and water combinations and see how they affect the final flavor and aroma of your beer.
It’s also important to keep detailed records of your brew process and the ingredients you use so you can replicate the recipe or make any adjustments when you make the beer again.
American Pale Ale is a delicious and versatile craft beer style that is perfect for hop lovers. With the right ingredients and brewing techniques, you can create a unique and personal version of this classic American craft beer. Try experimenting with different hop varieties, malt combinations, and yeast strains to create your own signature American Pale Ale recipe.
P.S. Want access to Big Robbs’s top 5 favorite beer recipes from his brewpub? They are our gift to you, details are on the side of the blog or at the bottom if you are on your phone. Cheers!