Well, the Stone Pale Ale that I brewed is in, and man, this is a seriously good beer. The flavours are very balanced, with a definite caramel flavour to it from the generous amounts of crystal malt (19%). The Ahtanum hops are a unique contribution. Even though I’m expecting the signature citrusy flavours associated with American hops, it’s flavours are slightly illusive, as they seem to really blend in well with the surrounding malt body. I’ve always remembered the saying that “if you can pick out one particular ingredient, then there’s too much of it”. They’re in there for sure, they just don’t jump out and hit you in the face. This beer is quite complex for having such a straight forward recipe.
One of the reasons, I think, is because of the water profile. I added some Epsom salt (0.55g per gallon) and Calcium Chloride (0.25g per gallon) to my water to match the profile stated in Stone’s book: The Craft of Stone Brewing Co.: Liquid Lore, Epic Recipes, and Unabashed Arrogance. Those levels are:
30ppm Ca / 85ppm SO4 / 12ppm Mg / 40ppm Na / 40ppm Cl
These numbers are not very far off my own water here from Lake Ontario, but the sulphate level is a bit higher at 85ppm as compared to mine of 28.6ppm. I’ve noticed that by using Magnesium Sulphate (Epsom Salt) as opposed to Calcium Sulphate (Gypsum), the resulting enhancement is slightly different. I’m not finding it as ‘harsh’ as I sometimes get with having too much gypsum in my beers. Maybe it’s just all in my head, because sulphate is sulphate, right? Maybe it’s the sulphate/chloride balance? I’m not sure. My point is, I think the water profile definitely made an impact on this beer in the form of added complexity.
The other interesting choice for this beer was the use of an English Ale yeast. I used Safale S-04, but the book suggests White Labs #WLP002. The yeast character didn’t come through very much, but it does give the beer another underlying layer to ponder.
Since I’ve never actually tried the Original beer, I enlisted the help of 2 fellow home brewers that have. Both enjoyed the beer very much, but if you want to get down to some specifics between the two, here were their observations:
- clone was a touch darker (about 1 SRM)
- clone had more caramel flavour and aroma (probably due to my high F.G. This is the second time I’ve brewed this recipe, and both times I’ve ended up with a final gravity of 1.022.)
- the hops character could ‘punch’ out a bit more
I agree with all of these observations despite enjoying the beer.
I’m always amazed at how sometimes very simple recipes can be so deliciously complex. It shows the mark of a truly talented brew master. And that brew master is Steve Wagner and Mitch Steele at Stone Brewing Co., well done!!
This one is definitely worth having on tap!
Download the recipe here: