After diligently standing watch over our 5 gallon keg, our highly anticipated Tankhouse Ale clone was bottled last night. I’ve been eagerly waiting to sample this batch as I’m a big fan of Mill Street Brewery’s famous beer. I have to admit, there was some quality control measures that needed to be done. I had to make sure that the beer was carbonating properly, (therefore samples were required) run diagnostic tests on the tap lines to make sure there were no leaks present, (again, samples were required) and to make sure that the ‘out’ post on the keg was in proper working order to be able to bottle it when ready. (even more samples required). So when it came time to bottle, there was considerably less than 5 gallons!
I had a heck of a time filtering this batch because of something I learned this time around: don’t dry hop in a keg if you plan to filter it! My usual 30 min filter session turned into a 3 hour ordeal. The correct procedure would have been to rack after primary fermentation (7 days) into a second carboy, dry hop (for 7 days), then cold crash it to help settle the particles and then rack to a keg to filter. (Note to self: self, do it this way next time!)
Despite the welcomed learning, this beer turned out to be fantastic! I had high hopes for it, and it came through. The fruitiness of the dry hopped Cascades are always welcome.
As for how did it compare to the original? Here’s what I’ve observed:
- Colour: Pretty close, although ours is a tad darker, possibly due to the cararoma. The commercial version (CV) is a bit clearer, perhaps cold crashing it before filtering or using a finer filter might do the trick
- Body: The original seemed to have a slightly more complex malt profile, with a bit more of a sweet/bready/roasty taste. I read somewhere that they might be using biscuit malt in their recipe, so maybe next time I would omit the cararoma and substitute it with biscuit malt.
- Head: Our version had a thicker head to it due to the use of the carafoam. It wasn’t a bad thing, but I would possibly lower the amount from 0.40lbs down to 0.35 lbs.
- Bitterness: Level is 90% the same. I did detect a slight difference in the hop character overall. The original must have a flavour hop addition, which we omitted, because the hop flavour in the CV is more rounded. I would change one of the aroma additions we did to a flavour addition at 15 mins before the end of the boil to compensate. Our version did have more of a fresh hop nose to it, from the dry hopping, which to be honest, I prefer.
- ABV: The original sits at 5.2% ABV. We ended up at 5.0%. Our target Original Gravity (O.G.) was 1.055 and our target Final Gravity (F.G.) was to be 1.016. The actual readings we got were: 1.050 O.G. and 1.012 F.G. for an ABV of 5.0%. This is possibly due to sparging a little too quickly, perhaps we’ll slow it down a bit next time.
A couple of other tweaks I’d like to try would be to use a higher quality liquid yeast that might add yet another dimension to the beer, plus I’d also like to experiment with a tip I learned from reading “Brewing Better Beer by Gordon Strong“, where he suggests not to add your dark grains to the mash at the beginning, but wait until you start to sparge (Vorlauf) so you don’t extract as many tannins and therefore astringency from them. Apart from that, I’m very happy with how this beer turned out and it beer will probably be finished by the time you’re done reading this post!
Feel free to give this one a go, and please share your results with us!
Read the unbiased opinions of some homebrewers who have brewed this recipe: Tankhouse Ale Clone – Canadian Home Brewing Forum
You can see and/or download the revised recipe here.