I’ve really been looking forward to writing this post and sharing with you guys how to home brew an English Pale Ale. I absolutely love this style of beer. Without a doubt, it is one of my all-time favorites. beers.
I am a wee bit old-fashioned and somewhat of an anomaly compared to all of the hop heads out there in the craft beer world these days (love you guys lol). Now do not get me wrong I do like a hoppy beer from time to time but overall I prefer my brews to be more even-keeled and perhaps even a slight bit more towards the malt side than the hop side. Shocking in this day and age of more hops the better, I know! But this is why I enjoy an English Pale Ale so much.
So in this post, I am going to give you just a little of the history of this beer, the ingredients that go into making it, exactly how to brew one for yourself as well as a recipe, the ingredients, and equipment required so you can home brew one of these classic beers for yourself.
Let’s get brewing…
Quick Overview of an English Pale Ale
So what is an English Pale Ale?
Well if I had to sum it up quickly I would tell you that it is a bronze or copper-colored beer that is slightly malt forward, having a minuscule caramel aroma and taste to it.
You can notice the bitterness of the hops but not overly so. It uses British hops so you do not get the citrusy pine aroma and taste that you do from its American counterpart. The hops even out the sweet flavor provided by the malt, and I consider it to be more of a balanced beer than most.
Although some versions can get up into the 6% ABV range, most are around 4.5 – 5 %. It has a medium mouthfeel to it and typically it is not a highly carbonated beer.
To me, it is an easy-drinking beer that is not too malty, not too hoppy, carbonated nicely, tastes and smells delicious, and is just right for those Friday afternoons after a long work week brews.
A Quick Blurb on the History of The English Pale Ale
Most people consider Bass Ale, which was brewed in Burton on Trent in England back in the late 1700’s, to be the original example of this style of beer.
Back then they were actually considered IPA’s, however, nowadays there would not be too many people (if any) who would taste one and consider it an IPA. Around the mid to late 1800’s they started being referred to as pale ales.
Pale ales have actually evolved somewhat from English real ales which typically had very little if any carbonation and were served from cellar kegs.
When the industrial revolution came around the malting process improved which allowed for pale malts to be produced where before the malts used were always darker. Hence the birth of the English “pale” Ale.
Next, let’s take a look at the style profile of an English Pale Ale…
How it Should Look
As previously stated its color is typically copper or bronze depending on which crystal malt you use and how much of it. It is typically a very clear beer, with a clarity that would be referred to as good to brilliant unless it is dry-hopped.
It would have very little head which would be off whitish in color. The carbonation should be very low with slow rising bubbles seen within the beer itself.
How it Should Smell (Aroma)
There is some malt aroma but it is not strong or overpowering, let’s call it low to moderate. You will notice a slight caramel aroma at times depending on the recipe. In some cases, you may find a mild fruitiness to it.
Many people pick up a biscuity or somewhat of a bready aroma. When it comes to hop aroma there can be none too mild and if there is one it is the more traditional earthy or floral aromas that the British hops tend to provide.
What the Mouthfeel Should Be Like
The mouthfeel of an English Pale Ale is light to medium light. It typically has low carbonation. But if you are homebrewing it and you prefer more carbonation you can adjust accordingly. Commercial bottled brands do tend to have higher carbonation.
What it Should Taste Like
It’s a traditional beer so the number of hops and malts used will keep the taste in balance nicely.
The bitterness you taste from the hops will be low – medium, it is not an overly bitter tasting beer. But it is also not an overly tasting sweet beer, hence why I again call it balanced.
Most people today due to all of the hoppy or bitter-tasting beers would probably refer to an English pale as being a malt-forward beer which I understand, and if that is how someone refers to it understand that it does not have an overpowering malt taste though.
It also should have a dry finish, which means there would be no aftertaste, it would be refreshing and clean. Many think that this style will leave a sweet aftertaste, it does not.
Home Brewing an English Pale Ale
Alright so now you know what an English Pale Ale should look, taste, smell, and feel like, let’s take a quick look at the ingredients used to brew this delicious homebrew.
Further in the article, I am going to give you an exact recipe with ingredients to brew it also.
Grains to Use
To start with in most cases the base malt will be an English two-row malt, such as Maris Otter. Now sometimes you will find recipes that use American two-row and it is ok to substitute for it.
The difference is that the English two-row is slightly darker coming in at around 3.0 – 4.0 Lovibond and will provide more of an orange color. American two-row would produce a light blonde color as its Lovibond range is 1.7 – 2.0.
English two rows produce a unique richer flavor that some might call slightly nutty, I tend to find it has a more biscuity flavor to it.
The two-row will make up about 90% of the grain bill for this ale.
After your base grain, you will then use caramel or crystal malts to make up 5 to 10% of the grain bill. You will want to use medium crystal malts with a color range between 30 to 60 degrees Lovibond.
Crystal malts have a significant impact on the flavor, mouthfeel, and of course the taste of your pale ale. The lighter crystal malts will impart a lighter sweet caramel flavor whereas the darker malts produce more of a caramelized taste. With this beer, you are looking for the lighter sweeter caramel flavor.
Sometimes you will find carapils or wheat is used to add somebody and head to the beer. If you use them do so moderately and no more than a 2 – 3 % of the grain bill as any more than that will make the beer cloudier and part of what makes this beer is its clear crisp appearance.
Rarely you will find people using the darker, black, and chocolate malts in their recipes, I do not advise you to use them as it changes the beer from what it is supposed to be.
Hops to Use
It’s an English pale ale so it goes without saying that in most cases you will be using traditional English hops and this is what really makes this beer unique from its American counterpart. Having said that, the recipe I will be sharing with you today uses Hallertauer Tradition, which also works nicely for this brew.
Most recipes will call for Fuggles and BC Goldings. Some recipes will include Challenger and Target hops.
Most recipes will have two hop additions, the first one towards the outset of the boil for bitterness and then an aroma hop addition towards the end of the boil. Some people may dry hop this beer to add some more aroma to it, but I typically do not. But try it out and see what you think.
Yeast to Use
Clearly, you want to use English ale yeast. I prefer dry yeasts myself as they are easier and they work just as well as the liquid yeasts in my experience.
My two favorite English yeasts are:
Fermentis Safale S-04
Danstar Nottingham dry ale yeast.
Fermenting is the same for any ale you are making.
You can read about proper fermenting techniques here.
However, the basics are that put your fermenter away for 7 – 14 days in a location in your home where you can maintain a temperature in the 62 – 68 degrees F range (16 – 20 C). Do not panic if the temperature gets a little warmer, as long as I can keep my fermenting temperature under 75 degrees F I am happy.
I also have fermented without any problems at 60 degrees F (15 C). Keep in mind the temperature in your fermenter is going to be warmer than the room temperature due to the action of fermentation itself creating some heat.
I recommend that you cold crash this home brew. It is not supposed to be a cloudy beer at all, it should appear clear and crisp, and cold crashing is a great way to help accomplish this.
You can learn about cold crashing here.
Cold crashing simply involves after fermentation is complete putting your fermenter into a cold space like your fridge for 2-3 days and allowing all of the debris leftover from the hops, yeast, and other proteins to drop out of suspension and fall to the bottom of your fermenter, resulting in a nice clear beer.
Bottling or Kegging
Again bottling or kegging this beer would be the same as any other.
|Keep in mind that traditionally this beer does not have as much carbonation as other styles, but that is your preference. If you prefer to go the traditional route of this style just reduce the amount of priming sugar if bottling and gas if using CO2.
If you like more carbonation just carbonate and condition the way you usually do.
British Pale Ale Recipe
Alright, let’s make some beer…
Brew Day Video
I am calling this beer “A Sight For Sore Eyes”.
This is a very basic recipe but makes for a surprisingly tasty beer. It has an average strength ABV coming in at approximately 4.6%. It has a nice flavor that is a result of the balance between the malts used, the hops, and the English ale yeast.
You will find this beer to be very drinkable, and you can enjoy a few of these at one sitting without getting too wobbly.
It has what I would describe as a slightly toasty and biscuit flavor to it from the malts that combined with the earthy and floral taste and aroma imparted from the English Hops make for a delicious beverage.
The following are the details of this homebrew:
Target OG: 1.046
Target FG: 1.011
Pre Boil Volume: 6.25 gallons
Post Boil VOl: 5.25
This is based on a brewhouse efficiency of 75%
Grains Used in The Recipe
8lbs of 2-Row (Preferably English, but American can be substituted)
1 lb of Crystal 40L
Hops Used in The Recipe
1 Oz Hallertauer Tradition (60 min)
1 Oz Fuggles (5 min)
Yeast Used inThe Recipe
Safale S-04 English Ale Yeast (substitute with English Ale Yeast of your choosing)
Mash for 60 minutes at 153 degrees F
Boil for 60 minutes
Add 1 oz Hallertauer Tradition at the start of the boil
Add 1 oz Fuggles at 5 min mark (5 mins remaining in the boil)
Getting Your Ingredients
All of the ingredients I have listed can be easily sourced from most homebrew shops.
If you would like to support this site you can order your ingredients by clicking on the following link. This helps Big Robb keep this blog up and running and allows him to buy the odd pint here and there!
On the following link, I have also listed some English Pale Ale all-grain kits I recommend.
Buying an all-grain kit is a great way to go, they provide you with all of the ingredients, instructions, recipes, etc.
Plus one of the greatest advantages is you get to see the reviews on these kits before ordering them. You get to see what other people who have brewed it think of it.
You can go here to order your ingredients or the all-grain beer kits I recommend:
Equipment to Brew an English Pale Ale
What I have just walked you through is clearly brewing on an all-grain system.
If you have never brewed on an all-grain system I personally recommend and brew on the all-in-one electrical systems. They are simply the easiest way to make great-tasting all-grain beer.
You can see which systems I recommend here.
And there you have it my friend you know now exactly how to home brew an English Pale ale. If you brew one up do me a favor and let me know how it turns out.
Now go get your brew awwnn!
Big Robb is out!