Thursday, May 29, 2008

Yvonne's Sterling Moon

My good friend Yvonne loves lagers. She's tried many ales, but always returns to the refreshing crisp taste of full flavored lager beers. She doesn't buy those sissy watered down American versions, but usually finds a number of imports superiorly satisfying. I have yet to introduce her to some great local and regional brands.

Yvonne wants a batch of homebrew to share with her friends and neighbors, and since I'm out of lager season, we've decided to go with yet another pale Sterling ale. Sterling is a hop variety with smooth citrus and soft fruit flavors and a wonderful floral aroma that makes it perfect for bountiful late hop additions. It's like a full flavored version of Saaz, and really can't be overdone. Since it does have both Hallertau and Saaz qualities, it makes a pale ale (fermented at cooler temps) taste very lager-like.

As I write this, I was thinking about Sam Adam's Imperial Pilsener. It had a ton of Hallertau hops, to the point where it was a bit too cutting and harsh. I could see brewing a version of this by blending Hallertau with some Sterling to smooth it out some. Anyways...

Below is a recipe for Yvonnes' lager-like pale ale. She enjoyed the Sterling Pearl, and her Sterling Moon is slightly sweeter and lighter in hops. I really like the mix of malts...a little pilsener to lighten it, yet a generous percentage of pale crystals for sweetening the malt taste. The hop blends should lend some complexity to the otherwise straightforward Sterling taste and aroma. Very pale and clean, which should become crystal clear as it conditions.

In the end this will be the perfect beer to enjoy out on a beach veranda on a warm summer evening as the sun sets and warm gentle breeze sweeps in over crashing Lake Michigan waves, while the bright full moon steadily shows off it's sterling beauty glistening off crest tops towards a vanished Eastern horizon.

Yvonne's Sterling Moon

5.0 lbs. Organic 2-row Pale
2.0 lbs. Belgian Pils
.75 lbs. Crystal 20L
.50 lbs. Crystal 10L
.20 lbs. Aromatic
.20 lbs. Biscuit

0.50 oz. Sterling, 5.3%, pellet, 60min
0.75 oz. Sterling, 5.3%, pellet, 25min
0.50 oz. Sterling, 5.3%, pellet, 15min
0.20 oz. Amarillo, 8.9%, whole, 15min
0.60 oz. Sterling, 5.3%, pellet, 5min
0.45 oz. Vanguard, 4,8%, pellet, 5min
1.25 oz. Sterling, 5.3%, pellet, 0min

Wyeast 1056: American Ale (yeast cake)

Brew Day Stats

Brewed: 5/29/08
Racked: just primary
Bottled: 6/13/08

Water Adjustment:
Strike...1.5 tsp Gypsum, .75 tsp acid blend
Mash out...distilled (1.43 gal)
2nd Sparge....75 tsp gypsum, .75 tsp CaCl

H2O/Grain Ratio: 1.4 qt/lb
Mash Ph: 5.4
Sacch. Rest Temp/Time: 152°F/60min
Mash Out Temp/Time: 166°F/10min
1st Batch vol/SG: 3.25gal/1.055

2nd Batch Sparge Vol/H2OTemp/MashTemp: 3.25gal/185°F/172°F
2nd Batch SG: 1.024

Pre-Boil Vol: 6.5
Pre-Boil SG: 1.040
Boil Time: 90min
Post-Boil Vol: 5 gallons
Mash Efficiency: 80%

OG: 1.050
IBU: 36
Color/SRM: Straw-Golden/5-6
Ferment Temp: 65-72°F

FG: 1.011
ABW: 4.1%
ABV: 5.1%


1. The stats came out exactly as expected...mash temp and pH, evaporation, gravities...absolutely great!
2. This wort smells and tastes light and fresh, as opposed to some worts that taste much more bitter and heavy.
3. Showed signs of fermenting within 30 minutes, and foam building after just 1 hour.
4. Luckily we have a dip in temperature this evening when most of the fermentation will take place. After that, its not so critical that the temp go up.
5. I have a strong feeling about the quality of this beer, and I'm sure Yvonne will love it.
6. The final gravity came out nice and low at 1.011. Should come out fairly dry, and with mild bittering, it may be too drinkable, but perfect for summer.


Anonymous said...

Nice looking brew.

I'm about to do something really similar next week (except with some wheat in the grain bill). Love the hops

David said...

Love the poetic ending! Yer writing is great bro. Cheers.

Jason said...

I noticed you used pellets for the Sterling and whole hops for the Amarillo. Does using pellet vs. whole make a difference?

Ted Danyluk said...

Lawerence, Sounds great! Have you tried using them for dry hopping?

Some wheat...can't go wrong with that. I bought a whole pound of Sterling (back when it was only 18 bucks), not knowing what they were like. I'm happy I did, cause they've lasted a long time, and have made three tasty and hoppy pale ales.

David, Thanks bro. Gotta try and throw that in there once and a while.

Jason, I had some left over Amarillo that still smelled quite fresh and thought they would blend well with Sterling. I generally don't like whole hops, but one good thing is that they make straining the wort a little easier when the rest of the hops are pellet.

Pellets breakdown faster in the boiling wort, and get utilized much quicker. Though they are more difficult to filter, they seem to provide a much more precise bittering, flavor and aroma. I also like them for dry hopping.

I will buy whole cone hops for bittering and middle additions, and sometimes to blend with pellets for dry hopping, just cause it helps with filtering. I guess it is just preference. What do you prefer?

Jason said...

I haven't used anything but pellets, so I was curious as to the difference it makes. I can understand the filtering aspect though.

I'm growing some hops this year, so I will try and use them depending on what kind of yield I get. A squirell or something bit off the top of one of my plants, so i'm nervous it won't grow up anymore. I guess I'll just wait and see.


Jesse • Julie • Abby • Louie said...

All of your sterling ales sound great! I have a few ounces of whole sterling that are ear marked for a pilsner and/or kolsch - so your description of the sterling character have been helpful.


Ted Danyluk said...

Jesse, thanks for stopping by.. Sterling is really a wonderful hop for all additions. It is nice alone, or as a the dominant hop blended with similar/softer varieties (noble, amarillo & perhaps other Americans).

I'm happy this info is helpful to others, and thank you for making that known.

Your pils should come out very nice with some Sterling in the late additions. Let me know how you like the hops.

Anonymous said...

Nice article Ted. I had bought a bunch of Sterling pellets this past summer when it was all my LHBS had, and was looking for a good recipe to use them up. This looks perfect although I'll have to convert to extract/partial boil and probably sub in Amarillo for that Vanguard. Love all the late hop additions.

This was a great read on Sterlings - you don't really hear much about them! I don't see Yvonne's Sterling Moon on your brew list - does that mean it's all gone? If so how was it?

Ted Danyluk said...

Nathan, Thanks. It turned out perfect. If I told you it was a lager, then you took a sip, you would believe it. Very pale, clean, not very sweet, clean hops, enough bittering, a good moderate hop flavor and aroma. I like what the pils malt did, and along with the super light sweet malts, it turned out very lager-like. I would like to brew this one again some time.

Most of it was kegged for Yvonne, and it was super tasty. I only have one more bottle left. Maybe it will help me write up a description of it.

Also, I will write about an unclear detail in all of my posts. That is the 0-min addition of hops. These are actually put in after about 5-8 minutes of aggressively chilling the wort. the wort is still plenty hot to break-up and steep the last addition, and definitely doesn't scald them.