Bottling Day: Fort Dummer (American Pale Ale)

One of my favorite local beer blogs is Hoppy Boston. For the most part it is a very simple blog. It’s just a guy, Ryan Brawn, who lives in the Boston area reviewing a beer. Why mess with a winning formula?

Recently Ryan wrote a post about a house beer. A house beer is a beer that you usually have on hand at home. I am working through a backlog of beer at my house. I love this concept. As a beer drinker it is too easy to be caught up in the latest and greatest, while taking the classics for granted. After going to three Red Sox games last month, and a vacation planned for June, my plan is to spend as little money in May as possible. When I have space and more disposable income, I am going to make sure to have a couple of commercial house beers. Right now I am thinking it’ll be a six pack of Newburyport Pale Ale, Notch Session Pils, and one seasonal beer.

For my homebrew, Curly’s Milk Stout has been my house beer for a while. I am still tweaking and trying to perfect the recipe. Recently I did a vertical of every batch of Curly’s that I have brewed. Jennie and I split the last 22 ounce bomber from the original, one gallon batch. That was the version she liked the best. So much for continued improvement. The beer keeps extraordinarily well. It is slightly hop-forward for its style with a late addition of Fuggles hops. This character fades over time, but there is enough malt complexity to compensate.

When I just want to have a beer, I don’t find myself going for Curly’s Milk Stout. I realized I needed a sessionable pale ale to have as a second house beer. After visiting the new Trillium Brewery in Canton, I spent a small fortune. It would certainly be cheaper and easier to have a juicy pale ale of my own at the house.

I originally brewed such a beer for the Ales for ALS Homebrew Competition in Essex, Fort Dummer. I loved that beer when I brewed it. I even hoarded the last couple of bottles, and the flavor kept quite nicely even after a few months. Since I am primarily brewing this beer for the house I brewed a three gallon batch. This would also give me plenty to bring to homebrew club meetings, enter into competitions, or just share with others. This is also a beer I want to drink when it’s fresh.

My original plan was to use the 1084 Irish Ale yeast I harvested from BeerSmith’s Dry Irish Stout, and subsequently used with Pyrite Pistol and Banshee Breakfast Stout. I ended up putting off this brew day for quite awhile and decided to buy a fresh package of yeast. I went with 1318 London Ale III. I love this yeast. I originally used it in the first batch of Curly’s Milk Stout and several English beers. Many craft brewers in the northeast use 1318 in hoppy pale ales. The yeast gives the beer a softer mouthfeel, and its fruity esters compliment fruity American hop varieties.

I scaled up my starting gravity of the beer to try and get the alcohol by volume over 5%. When the homebrew shop did not have any whole leaf Ahtanum hops, I substituted Citra just because. I flipped the dry hops to a degree; I added the whole leaf Citra during active fermentation to see if the expanded contact surface for the yeast would give the beer a juicier flavor. I racked the beer off the Citra after five days into a new vessel. I had planned to add a huge second dry hop five days before packaging. One day before I planned to bottle, I saw two packages of hops in my freezer that I forgot to add. I really need to label my hop additions. I think I will use these hops to brew another batch of Alan’s Stepchild.

I had been meaning to brew this up for weeks. I finally got around to it the same weekend as the Westbrook Gose debacle. That is probably why I never got around to posting a brew day post. I didn’t notice the oversight until after I bottled the beer!

Even though my second dry hop was less than an ounce, the beer still had a beautiful hop aroma as I bottled it. If this is going to be one of my house beers, I can always do a bigger dry hop next time. I can’t wait to crack one open in a couple of weeks.

See the full recipe here.

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