Homebrew Batch #1: Red Ale

I brewed my first batch of beer on 8/1, about two weeks before I started writing this blog.  I had been thinking about trying homebrewing for over 10 years, and finally decided to take action.  I'm glad I did, but like most hobbies, they gradually steal more and more of your time. 

As a I mentioned in a post I wrote a few weeks ago, I wanted to document the progression of my homebrewed beers.  I'm doing this because I think it will help me, and maybe others, to learn from my experiences.

For my very first beer, I decided to make a Red Ale because my wife likes them.  I  also like them, but I wanted one with a hoppy edge.  I went to Main St. Homebrew and selected their Tennessee Red recipe, which is described as "A classic American-style red ale with lots of malty rich flavors, but a dry finish and a perfect complement with some hoppy Amarillo hops. Not bitter but with a good hop flavor and a beautiful dark red appearance. One of the new store favorites."

Sounded great to me!  Hope it turns out as well as it sounds....

  • Style:  Red Ale
  • Malt Base:  Briess Amber Malt Extract
  • Grains: Crystal 60L, Victory, Melanoidin, Roast
  • Hops:  Centennial  (the recipe called for Amarillo, but they ran out of it)
  • Yeast:  Danstar Nottingham

 Brew & Tasting Log:   I will update this periodically.

  • Aug 1:  Brew day.  Since this is my first batch, I was ultra paranoid about sanitizing everything.  I followed Main Street's excellent brewing instructions to the Nth degree.  It took 8 hours to cool the wort to yeast pitching temperature (I didn't use an ice bath).  I messed up the OG rating because I measured while a huge block of ice was floating in the fermentation bucket.  Note to self—next time wait until yeast pitching time to take the reading.  The wort had a sweet malty flavor with mild hops coming through.
  • Aug 2:  The air lock is bubbling!  It's a beautiful thing.  Beer is on the way!
  • Aug 6:  Transferred to carboy for secondary fermentation.  The auto-siphon didn't seem to work as I had to keep pumping it.  Turns out it was defective.  The past week was hot—in the upper 80's.  The bad thing about this is my beer fermented at a higher than recommended temperature.  As a result, the yeasts might impart some "fruity" flavors.  I like Juicy Fruit gum, so maybe that's a good thing?
  • Aug 18:  Bottling Day.  Washing and sanitizing bottles is hard work.  I used Main Street's detailed bottling instructions.  They worked well, but I had some leakage from the bottle filler.  Performing the whole procedure over an open dishwasher door is a BRILLIANT idea!

Bottles ready to be capped
  • Aug 28:   First taste after bottling.  Nice carbonation and fizz.  Hazy amber color.  Tastes like malt extract.  Not bad, but not very impressive.  Needs more time to mature in the bottle.
  • Aug 29:  Took a few bottles to my fantasy football draft party.  Everyone else was drinking Corona.  This is Portland, what's up with that!?!  Heretics.  Anyway, the host told me he liked my beer.  He had two of my brews and then switched over to the Corona.  Not sure how to interpret that....
  • Sep 17:  Still has some of the malt extract flavor.  Tastes pretty much like it did on 8/28.  I hope this isn't how all malt extract brewed beer tastes. 

September 17
  • Sep 26:  Now we're talking!  The sweet malty taste is gone and the hop bitterness is more apparent.  It has changed a lot in the week.  I think it'll be done in a few more weeks.
  • Oct 7:  I think it's finally ready to be unleashed on the worldor at least on the two people I've arm twisted into sampling it. 
  • Oct 22:  The first review is in!  This was provided by my friend Liquid Courage (I think the feds are chasing him down).  "Great pour, great head with really good lacing. Very drinkable. Had a very distinct aftertaste that I still haven't placed. All in all, we like it! :)"  When I pressed him about the aftertaste, he said "not good or bad, just very different".   I'll wait for the other review to come in before I provide my own critique.
  • Oct 23:    Some family friends stopped by.  Both said they liked it, and asked for more!  I didn't have any more cold ones in the fridge, so I sent them home with three bottles.
  • Nov 1:  I officially christened the beer "1st Try Red".  Here are the beer's details:
    • Bitterness:  25 IBUs
    • Color:  10 degrees SRM (Gold to Copper)
    • ABV:  5.7%
    • Calories:  188 per 12 oz.
  • Nov 14:  I'm drinking this as I'm brewing my third batch. I like how it's progressing.  It tastes drier than it did two weeks ago.  I'm going to consider this beer officially done!  I may provide more tasting notes if I manage to keep some bottles around for more than a few months.  Overall I like it, but there is room for improvement.  Not bad for a 1st try!
Have you tried other Red Ale recipes?  Have any recommendations?  Think I'd like to do an IRA soon.


  1. TriFecta wishes all clients paid in beer currency ... outstanding brew. Mild hops and a nice cool citrus finish ... I sure hope that's what I'm supposed to be tasting ... cause that's what I got. Outstanding beer.

  2. So glad you liked it! BTW, don't think your palate is any less refined than that of a beer geek. Each of our perceptions of taste and flavor "is what it is." Very zen. You are right because that's what you tasted. I could drink the same beer and taste something entirely different. No one would be wrong, in my humble opinion.

    That said, I do taste something similar to what you describe.

  3. I just completed a BJCP course, and you'd be amazed how ones tastebuds detect different flavors, or intensity or said flavor...heck out of 12 in our class, one person could barely detect Diacetyl, and another couldn't sence it at all....Sanjay speaketh wise words. The one thing I took away from the class is with several people tasting and looking up the standards for that beer style under BJCP guidelines, so learning that a particular taste one is detecting would be "x".


Thoughts? Tell me what you think.