The Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. is a legend of the microbrewing industry. It was at the forefront of the microbrewing revolution that took place in the early 1980’s that sought to give beer drinkers a quality alternative to the light American lagers that dominate the market. It helped lay the foundation for all the amazing craft breweries that we have today. Of all the incredible beers that Sierra Nevada brews, one stands as a true classic, it’s Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. By adapting a classic English Pale Ale to the domestic ingredients that were available, it brought to the forefront that uniquely American ability to take something and make it their own. What made this beer stand out at the time it was released, was showcasing the now famous Cascade hop. It’s highly recognizable citrus and floral flavour and aroma changed the way people think about pale ales. Now, 30 years later, it still stands as the preeminent example of the American Pale Ale style.
There are only a handful of places that I’m able to get my hands on a bottle up here in Toronto, if there are even that many. After my recent visit to Maui, where I enjoyed a bottle anywhere and everywhere I could, I decided I had to try and create something as close to it as I could.
- 5.6% ABV
- Original Gravity of 13° Plato (1.053* S.G.)
- Final Gravity of 2.8° Plato (1.011* S.G.)
- 37 IBU’s
- 2-row pale malt, caramel malt
- Bittering hops: Magnum, Perle
- Finishing hops: Cascade
* S.G. can vary by +/- 0.002 per ° Plato
Seems simple enough right? Well, not so fast. One of the key characteristics of a good American Pale Ale is the hop flavour and aroma. So how do you get that? You could dry hop, but apparently Sierra Nevada doesn’t dry hop their pale ale. Ok, well, you could add flavour additions, but that happens anywhere between 30 minutes and 10 minutes left in the boil. You could add aroma additions, but again, that’s anywhere between 10 minutes left in the boil to flame out. Plus, how long does the wort sit before chilling? Is there a whirlpool step? There’s also the issue of how big should these additions be to get the character we want? As for the grain bill, that might be a bit easier. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale has a nice caramel taste to it, so I would assume that there is more crystal malt in there than I would usually add to my recipes. You could also just go by the color and keep adding the crystal malt into your brewing software until you reach the desired colour.
To answer some of these questions, the article I found to be most helpful was on the Northern Brewer Homebrew Forum. In it, a homebrewer named ‘Beerfan’ says he took it upon himself and called the brewery in the off chance he might obtain some useful information to update a clone recipe he had been working on. Sierra Nevada kindly offered some changes, mostly to the timing of the hop additions and the amount of crystal malt, to bring it closer to the original. Hats off to the people at Sierra Nevada for being so open and helpful to us home brewers, it only makes us respect them more!
A good pale ale should normally mash at around 152F, so somewhere in that range should be sufficient. Yeast-wise, I would assume a good American Ale yeast like Wyeast #1056 would be the one. (From what I’ve researched, it sounds like this is the strain the brewery uses.) It’s the first time I’ll be using liquid yeast, so I’m curious to see what difference that makes. I’ll also be making a starter to beef up the number of yeast cells as per the advice of Jamil Zainasheff in his Brewing Classic Styles: 80 Winning Recipes Anyone Can Brew book. I think I read somewhere that Sierra Nevada uses leaf hops for their beer. I only have pellets at the moment, so I’m going to have to use those.
So, adding this all up, here’s what I’ve got:Carbonation and Storage
Hoptomology’s Sierra Nevada Pale Ale Clone – (Revised)
American Pale Ale
|Type: All Grain||Brewer: Hoptomology|
|Equipment: 7.5 Gallon Stainless Steel Pot + 5 Gallon Coleman Cooler Mash Tun|
|Est Original Gravity: 1.053 SG||Measured Original Gravity:|
|Est Final Gravity: 1.010 SG||Measured Final Gravity:|
|Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 5.6 %||Actual Alcohol by Vol:|
|Bitterness: 37.0 IBUs||Bitterness Ratio: 0.699|
|Est Color: 7.0 SRM||Calories: 0.0 kcal/12oz|
|Total Grains Used: 9 lbs 0.7 oz||Total Hops Used: 4.018 oz|
|Mash Style: Single Infusion, Medium Body|
|Brewhouse Efficiency: 85.00 %|
|Sparging: Fly sparge with 2.85 gal water at 168.0 F to achieve 6.18 gal|
|Boil Size: 6.18 gal||Boil Time: 60 min|
|End of Boil Volume: 5.48 gal||Estimated pre-boil gravity: 1.045 SG|
|Batch Size (into fermenter): 5.00 gal||Measured pre-boil Gravity:|
|Final Bottling Volume: 5.28 gal|
|Fermentation: Ale, Single Stage|
|Primary Fermentation: 10.00 days at 68.0 F|
|Secondary Fermentation: 0.00 days at 0.0 F|
Carbonation and Storage
|Carbonation Type: Keg||Volumes of CO2: 2.3|
|Pressure/Weight: 10.10 PSI||Age Beer for: 3.00 days|
|Keg/Bottling Temperature: 40.0 F||Storage Temperature: 40.0 F|
|Taste Rating: 0.0 / 50|
| Download the recipe:
www.hoptomology.com – A little about life, a lot about beer.
You can read the review here: Reviewing my Sierra Nevada Pale Ale clone