Recirculating wort during the mash

Recirculating wort during the mash

Yeast selection can have a huge impact on the overall balance of the beer you are brewing. This became very apparent to me recently when I brewed two examples of American amber ale. Both were hopped very similarly and both had similar grain bills. The main difference was the yeast I chose to ferment each batch. The first batch was fermented with ECY21 East Coast Yeast Kolsch while this batch was fermented with yeast that I harvested from a can of the infamous Heady Topper. The amber that was fermented with the Kolsch yeast was clearly malt dominated with very restrained hop flavor and bitterness while the amber that was fermented with the Heady Topper yeast had a more pronounced bitterness and hop flavor with a balancing malt profile. I instantly fell in love with the head topper yeast.

Filling kegs of Amber from the Conical

Filling kegs of Amber from the Conical

The recipe below is the batch that was fermented with that yeast. The recipe has its roots in Brewing Classic Styles as the west coast blaster. BCS is an excellent book and one that I have gotten many recipes for over the years. This is the fifth time this recipe has been brewed and I must say this is one of my favorite versions so far. The third batch of this recipe won a first place out of 59 American Ales in the 2013 National Homebrew Competition round 1. The name comes from one of my good friends, Tribes, for whom I usually split this beer with. He loves the hop flavor and aroma balanced by the caramel and toasty malt sweetness. Now let’s get to the recipe.

Tribes Amber (Batch Number 151)

10B – American Amber Ale
Recipe for 12 gallons Post Boil


18lb/80.1% Breiss 2-Row
1.5lb/6.7% Breiss Caramel 20L
1lb/4.3% Weyerman Munich
.75lb/3.3% Breiss Caramel 120L
0.75lb/3.3% Breiss Victory
0.5lb/2.2% Fawcett Pale Chocolate


1 oz US Horizon 10.3 % 60 Min
1 oz US Centennial 10.0 % At Flameout
1 oz US Cascade 6.3 % At Flameout
2 oz US Centennial 6.3 % 10 min into whirlpool
2 oz US Cascade 8.9 % 10 min into whirlpool


Heady topper bottle culture pitched approx 420 billion cells.


Strike: 7.5 gal, 4.9g caso4, 2.9g cacl2, 1.7 ml phosphoric 85%
Sparge: 9 gal, 5.9g caso4, 3.4g cacl2, 3.1 ml phosphoric 85%

CA 88
MG 10
NA 3
SO4 111
CL 50
HCO3 46

Mash Schedule

Maintain 151 for 1 hr then mash out through recirculation to 168.

Measurements and Calculations

Wort Volume Before Boil:13.00 US gals
Wort Volume After Boil:12.00 US gals
Volume Transferred:11.25 US gals
Volume Of Finished Beer:10.00 US gals
Pre-Boil Gravity:1.054 SG
OG:1.060 SG
FG:1.016 SG
Apparent Attenuation:72.2 %
ABV:5.8 %
IBU:36.6 IBU
Color:13.3 SRM
Mash Efficiency:85.6 %
Mash pH: 5.3
Fermentation Temp: 66 ?F
Fast ferment test: 1.014

Process Notes

Measured the Mash pH at 5.32 at 72?18 min into the mash. Ran a slow lauter and sparge and collected 12.5 gal of wort. Overshot gravity and undershot volume so I added 0.5 gal water to hit 13 gal and 1.054 pre boil gravity.
Rolling 60 min boil. Added bittering hops at beginning of boil. Added 1/2tsp rehydrated Supermoss HB and 1 tsp Wyeast nutrient at 10 min. Killed flame and added 2 oz hop charge. Whirlpooled in boil kettle for 15 min then shut off pump and added 4 oz hop charge. Let hops steep for another 5 min then started racking to conical at 63.
Used a heady topper yeast that was built up from a slant. 10ml-> 250ml->2.6L for 420 billion cells. Oxygenated wort for 2min and pitched entire starter. Active fermentation within 21 hrs and by 40 hrs was fully fermenting. After 10 days cold crash to 40 degrees and let settle for 4 more days. Rack under pressure into two kegs. Carbonate at 2.5 vol CO2.

Tasting Notes

The Heady Topper Yeast accentuated the citrus and grapefruit flavors and aromas of the hops. Also developed a fruity sweet ester profile that complements very nicely. Malt is mainly caramel and toast and nicely balanced by the bitterness. Nice white head with good retention and fine bubbles. Medium mouthfeel with a fairly dry finish. When I brew this again I would like the beer to attenuate a bit more to lower the malt sweetness.