Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Experimental Grapefruit Pale Ale

My glass of Elvis Juice at
Brewdog Birmingham
Ever since I first achieved good results brewing with fruit I've been determined to brew with more fruit, fruit juices, purees, concentrates etc. And ever since I first got into craft beer I have been amused by what flavours people have described, the first descriptor that stuck out was "grapefruit". I remember thinking to myself  how the fook could you taste grapefruit from a beer that doesn't have grapefruit in it?

So I decided to brew an American pale ale with 10% grapefruit juice.

My point of reference for a recent brew that I had that ticked the grapefruit box is one by a commercial Irish microbrewer that is almost a SMaSH, and the solitary hop is Mosaic, a hop I'm over-stocked with at the moment. As two litres would be made up from grapefruit juice the batch size only needs to be 18 litres. Grapefruit juice is surprisingly sugary, at 90g per litre for the Tesco juice. I worked this into the calculations as adding a litre of water and 90g of sugar. When it came to priming the maths are the same: one litre of juice contributes 90g of sugar, which would land just a little short of where the carbonation was meant to be, so another 30g of sugar was added to the bottling bucket.

The yeast used was Mauribrew 514 dried ale yeast. I had intended on using WLP-644 originally but didn't grow up enough in time. 514 kind of reminds me of Safale S-04 and indeed it may be the equivalent, but I'm not a fan of either.

Batch size: 18 litres (additional 2 litres to be made up by grapefruit juice)

Amount Item Type % or IBU
4.10 kg Pale Malt (2 Row) Bel (5.9 EBC) Grain 94.25 %
0.25 kg Wheat Malt, Bel (3.9 EBC) Grain 5.75 %
10.00 gm Hop Extract [51.00 %] (60 min) Hops 65.9 IBU
30.00 gm Mosaic [13.00 %] (0 min) Hops -
1.00 Litre Tesco Grapefruit Juice (Fermenter) Misc
10.00 gm Mauribrew 514 Ale Yeast
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1.00 Litre Tesco Grapefruit Juice (Bottling) Misc
30.00 gm Sucrose (Bottling) Misc

Tasting notes
Refreshing, opaque,
bitter, grapefruit
This beer pre-dates BrewDog's excellent Elvis Juice, the only beer this year I've given five stars to on Untappd. Had I seen the recipe for Elvis Juice beforehand I probably would have opted to use grapefruit rind instead of juice, and gone down a different route with the hopping, but my main intention at the time was to see what fermented grapefruit juice would do to a pale ale.

The final beer ended up around 5.3% abv. Due to a screw up with the hop extract I likely ended up with around 30 IBUs, but at the same time there was an intense bitterness from the fermented juice. The grapefruit is there, it's undeniable. It's not the delicate "hop" grapefruit though, it's in-your-face, real flavour. When consumed ice cold it's quite refreshing but if it's any way warmed up the grapefruit really comes to the fore. This was definitely an experimental beer which was educational more than sessionable. It's drinkable in its own right, but no more than maybe two at a time. My buddy in beer Mark after tasting it commented that it may be possible to bitter a beer entirely without hops and set a challenge for us to devise a recipe for a balanced beer, with bitterness, flavour and aroma without using any hops at all, a challenge accepted! 

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