New England Apple Ale Recipe

In the next installment of my recipe series, here is my apple ale recipe, which I am calling New England Apple Ale. I wanted to make a full-bodied beer, that made you think of apples (and cider, and apple pie). I wanted this to hold its own as a beer first, rather than a beer-cider hybrid, or a sickly-sweet fruity beer. I think I pulled this off.

The apple notes are strong, but they are balanced by the toasty notes from the roasted barley. The cinnamon and nutmeg in this recipe are dialed down from the last iteration of this beer I brewed, and I think that helps a lot. It still reminds you of apple pie, without completely being one.

This recipe took 3rd place in the 2008 Sam Adams Tour Center homebrew contest.

Read on for the full all-grain recipe.

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This is for a ~5 gallon batch.

Grain Bill

  • 8 lb 2-row Pale Malt
  • 2 lb White Wheat
  • 1.5 lb Crystal 60
  • .5 lb Roasted Barley

Hopping schedule

  • 1 oz. East Kent Goldings 5.5% Alpha Acid for 60 mins.
  • .5 oz UK Northdown 6.5% Alpha Acid for 15 mins.

Also

  • 1 tsp. Irish Moss for 15 mins.
  • 1/2 Gala apple, sliced up, in the hopback

When Racking to Secondary

  • .5 Tbs Cinnamon
  • .5 Tbs Nutmeg
  • 1 Gallon Organic Apple Cider

Notes

The specific gravity when the wort went into the primary was 1.060. When I racked it to the secondary (before adding the cider), it was 1.022. The specific gravity of the cider was 1.051. I’m not sure why the fermentation stalled so early; but I suspect the low fermentation temperatures in my basement. I forgot to take a reading when I bottled, so I don’t know how much alcohol the cider added, but I imagine it re-started the stalled fermentation, since it didn’t finish too sweet.

Be sure you read through the whole recipe before starting (though you made it this far, so why am I mentioning it?). You will want to be sure that your secondary fermenter has enough room for the 1 Gallon of cider you will be adding.

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40 Comments

  1. Indytom
    Posted September 18, 2008 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

    This sounds really good and I am planning on trying it with some fresh cider next month. What temperature did you mash at? Will have a lot of impact on residual sweetness. Thanks

  2. Indytom
    Posted September 18, 2008 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

    I also meant to ask what yeast you used. Thanks

  3. Posted September 19, 2008 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

    I used my standard mashing procedure, which I use for all of my all grain brews. I have detailed it in this post, if you are interested.

    For the yeast, I used WLP004 Irish Ale Yeast .

    Let me know how yours comes out!

  4. Cory
    Posted May 4, 2009 at 3:41 am | Permalink

    What would be an extract alternative recipe for brewers not as experienced as all grain brewing?

  5. Posted May 4, 2009 at 4:04 am | Permalink

    Hi Cory-

    I’m not sure exactly how to convert it to extract, but I’d suggest just taking either a red ale or brown ale recipe that you like, that has a good malt profile, and add the apple slices, cider, and spices as I did in this recipe. Experiment and have fun! I’d love to hear how it turns out!

  6. Dan Perrone
    Posted August 12, 2009 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

    This sounds great. Did you put the Gala apple in your hopback without hops? Just the apple?

    Thanks,

    Dan

  7. Posted August 19, 2009 at 3:02 am | Permalink

    Hi Dan

    Yeah, I just put the apple in the hopback, with no hops. By the end, the apple slices were nicely cooked, but very bitter tasting (from the hops added in the boil). That was unfortunate, since I thought it would be fun to eat them afterward.

  8. PolarHuskie
    Posted December 1, 2010 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    Not sure what happened, but I just tried this recipe and it is nothing like you would think Apple Ale would taste like. The result was a dark beer that is quite thin with a strong alcoholic taste. Barely drinkable. The brew went really well so I can’t point to anything that might have gone wrong. Too bad, I had high hopes.

  9. Posted December 11, 2010 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    PolarHuskie, that is too bad. My version was rather dark, but it definitely did not have an overly-alcoholic flavor, and the body was not too thin. I’m not sure what to suggest, but I hope you have better luck in your future brews!

  10. Mikey B
    Posted April 28, 2011 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

    Just got commissioned to make beer for a music festival on the Applegate River called AppleJam (May 20-22 2011, Provolt, Oregon. $20 online for all three days, free camping)

    Given the location and name of the festival, I decided to make apple beer. I followed this recipe, but I cancelled the roasted barley, and used Crystal 20 instead of 60, and I just cubed the apple for the last 15 minutes of the boil instead of making a hopback.

    The original gravity is 1.063 (whoa!) and it is looking a bit like a hefeweisen so far.

    Can anyone answer this: 30 minutes into the boil last night, I ran out of propane (after the propane store was closed) and had to re-start the boil this morning and add the rest of the hops. The wort tastes good…will this have any effect on the finished product?

  11. Posted April 28, 2011 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

    Hi Mikey B

    Sounds like fun!

    If your wort tastes good, then I think you are probably fine. The biggest risk you run would be souring, if bacteria/wild yeast got in and soured the wort overnight, but this would be unlikely, since you had just boiled it (thus killing anything that might have been in there from the grains, etc). Also, since you boiled it again afterward, if it wasn’t soured then, it won’t sour now; anything that may have gotten in would be killed off by the second boil. It is possible you may have boiled off some of the hop aroma that would have otherwise been present, but since this beer isn’t very hop-aroma-centric, I wouldn’t worry. In fact, in addition to not worrying, I would relax, and have a homebrew :).

    As an aside, what you ended up doing (leaving it overnight and then boiling it) is very similar to making a sour mash. In that case, though, you would leave it with all the grains in the water (as a mash) and leave it overnight. The wild yeast and bacteria that is always present on the grains would sour the mash overnight, and then the next day you would sparge, and boil as usual. Because the wort was boiled after it was in contact with the wild yeasts (thus killing them), you wouldn’t have to worry about your fermenter always having wild yeasts in it that you are unable to get out. If you ever want to try making a Berliner Weisse, this is the basic process.

    Enjoy the AppleJam!

  12. Caleb
    Posted August 6, 2011 at 1:27 am | Permalink

    The only thing about adding during the boil even late and flameout, is that the majority of the apple will be fermented out. You can always backsweeten after racking to secondary or even before if you want to with an unfermentable sugar like lactose or even splenda. 1/2 to a cup of splenda per 5 gallon volume should be enough although you may want to taste test to your liking by taking samples with your gravity readings.

  13. Chris
    Posted August 9, 2011 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

    Can anybody convert this to an extract?

  14. Posted September 27, 2011 at 7:42 am | Permalink

    Patrick – Did you make 4 gallons of beer, then add the 1 gallon of cider to make 5 gallons combined? I am thinking of doing it that way and adding the cider near the end of primary.

  15. Posted September 27, 2011 at 7:59 am | Permalink

    Hi Ryan

    I think it was a little less than 5 gallons of beer when I racked to secondary, but I used a 6 gallon carboy, so there was enough room. There wasn’t a whole lot of headroom, but the fermentation at that point, even with the added sugar source, wasn’t too vigorous. But, if you are worried about not having enough space in your carboy, I would suggest trying to shoot for a little over 4 gallons going into the primary, since you should plan to leave some behind with the yeast and hops particulate that settles out during primary fermentation. Also, if you have any extra that won’t fit into secondary, you can always just rack it into a pint glass!

  16. Justin
    Posted July 30, 2012 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

    I did not have a hop back and i used two apples cut into 1/4 added at cut of boil and left in until chiller cooled beer down to temp, wow, i have to say this recipe is amazing………

  17. Posted July 30, 2012 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

    I’m glad you like it!

  18. Posted October 29, 2012 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

    Just brewed this ale… I didn’t use a hopback (although, I did as many have, sliced up an apple and put it in the wort as it cooled). Otherwise, I followed the recipe pretty closely. I thought I’d really goofed it up when I put in apple cider with preservatives. Apparently, I had really hearty yeast – they persevered and the ale turned out absolutely wonderful!

    This beer won’t last long in the house! Thank you for such a great recipe. You have made the beer world just that much better!!!

  19. Cody
    Posted February 6, 2013 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    with the addition of cider to the secondary, did you still add the standard amount of priming sugar when time to bottle???

  20. Posted March 8, 2013 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

    Hi Cody

    Yeah, I gave it a little extra time in the secondary to try to be sure that all of the fermentable sugars would be consumed, and then I primed as usual. I would recommend using a little less priming sugar than usual, though, since it turned out a bit more fizzy than I like.

  21. Ironlungz
    Posted October 19, 2013 at 2:09 am | Permalink

    I brewed this today using the Papazian mash method for a protein rest as I normally do for all grain recipes. I followed your recipe up to thirty minutes into the boil when I added 1/2 cup molasses, then to the last fifteen minutes where I added about .5 oz. ginger and one diced apple, and with 5 minutes of boil left I added another diced apple and another.5 oz of ginger along with 1/4 cup of dark amber agave nectar, about a teaspoon of pie spice, .5 tsp cinnamon, .5 tsp clove, .5 tsp nutmeg, 1 tbsp of vanilla extract. I must say that as it drips out of my tubing into the carboy it is making my whole house smell like warm apple pie !!! :) Thank you for the motivation to create good sir

  22. Ironlungz
    Posted October 19, 2013 at 2:11 am | Permalink

    The Original Gravity at 90 degrees is 1.074 so approximately 1.080 is the determined original gravity.

  23. Posted October 19, 2013 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

    Sounds great! The ginger sounds like a nice addition. Let me know how it tastes when it is done!

  24. Ironlungz
    Posted October 26, 2013 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    Alrighty so a week later and I transferred into my secondary with a fresh pressed apple cider from columbia gorge that was on ice. ( I live in Oregon so its about as fresh as I could get without making it myself.) Upon transfer I did not add anything to the secondary besides the gallon of apple cider. I left about four inches from the top for space inside my carboy which is great except for a very rapid fermentation that took place within a couple hours that developed enough foam to overflow for what has been about 24 hours now. Not a bad thing really but I would leave more space in your carboy or treat it like primary fermentation and use a hose with a bucket for overflow etc… That being said, I tasted before the transfer and was impressed with the buttery smoothness achieved. It was only slightly overly spicy considering I had not yet mixed with the cider. The flavor of the two apples I added to the boil are definitely there but only left as an aftertaste being very subtle. I could not pick out the ginger, but I never wanted to, just a more diverse sweet/spicy like an apple pie would be in my opinion. I like adding ginger to my pies :) The molasses is noticeable but only adding to a bit of sweet and buttery effect which I think compliments this brew. I will let you know the final gravity once I bottle. Cheers!

  25. Ironlungz
    Posted November 5, 2013 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    Final Gravity of 1.010 after three weeks, tastes like apples but less like apple pie. Probably lost some of the spice in the fermentation overflow when transferring to secondary. It reminds me of some kind of dry cider ive had before but does not end that way. I would add some carapils and brown sugar into the recipe. Maybe some more molasses. Overall I am pleased with the flavor, not with the aroma, less body than desired, but a tasty brew none the less.

  26. Posted November 5, 2013 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

    I think you are right about the spice aromas coming off in the secondary, since sour secondary was such a vigorous fermentation from the added cider. I wonder if adding the spices later in the secondary, after things have settled down (you could transfer it to another carboy, and do a full tertiary conditioning step, or you could probably just drop the spices in and call it a day). Anyway, I’m glad it turned out enjoyable!

  27. Matt
    Posted November 27, 2013 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    I never saw the fermentation length? Did you just do a 21 day primary and 3 day secondary, or 30 day primary? I put the recipe into Beer Smith and it’s telling me 30 day primary. Thanks.

  28. Posted November 27, 2013 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    Hi Matt

    I usually just check on it about every day (or every other day) starting at about 2 weeks, and when it looks like things have settled down, then I move it to secondary. Anywhere in the 3-4 weeks range would probably be fine for this beer, though.

    -Patrick

  29. Matt
    Posted November 27, 2013 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

    Thanks. I just finished brewing this batch up. The pre-boil measurement came in around 1.035, which seemed quite low…but the post-boil gravity when I put it in the primary was 1.072! I piggy-backed Ironlungz additions and it smells absolutely awesome…it also has a pretty damn good taste going into the primary! Looking forward to the finished product…especially when Beer Smith estimates it’s going to have a 8% ABV…going to knock my wife on her tail :-). Thanks for the great recipe!

  30. Matt
    Posted November 27, 2013 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

    One more note…I also used a blow-off tube…kind of anticipating a violent fermentation. The yeast I got had to be a fresh batch…they were out of the irish ale so I went went the 001 california ale yeast. I was actually surprised how dark the batch turned out based on the Beer Smith color…it’s a darker brown ale…the scale at my local brew shop must have been a little off when I measured the barley. I guess we’ll see.

  31. Tammy
    Posted December 10, 2013 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

    I brewed this back in October. I kegged it and carbed it. Yuck! I was about to throw the batch out when one day it turned around and became awesome! Conditioning is the key. I poured a glass and threw in a Fuji apple slice- wonderful!

  32. Posted December 12, 2013 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

    I’m glad it turned out okay in the end!

  33. Tom C
    Posted January 2, 2014 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    I brewed this back in October as well. Followed your recipe and it turned out fantastic. It was a very dark brown/black and you could decipher the cinammon and nutmeg. The apple taste was perfect. I remade it about a month ago and this time it turned out more like a brown ale in color (I mashed about 3 degF above recipe, but still got about the same attenuation). This batch was bottled and I tried one after only three days in the bottle and BAM! face full of apple. Two weeks later, the amount of apple present is consistent with the first batch. My only point with this is that you can hone in the amount of apple you get by how long it is conditioned before being put in the fridge. Excellent recipe, I will make it a 3rd time at least for sure.

  34. Posted April 23, 2014 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    I’m curious as to why you decided to add the apple cider to the secondary instead of to the primary? Is it because you wanted to retain more of the sweet cider sugars in the secondary that may have fermented out completely in the primary? I just did an apple ale based on a friend’s tried and true recipe, actually fairly similar, but we added cider post-boil at 170 degrees when it was still in the rapid chill phase.

  35. Posted April 23, 2014 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    Hi Geoff

    Yeah, I wanted to have some residual sweetness, but I also wanted to avoid an overly-vigorous fermentation that might have occurred with all the sugars present at once, for fear that more of the cider flavors would bubble off along with the CO2. That is also a reason I wanted to avoid adding the cider on the hot side– I was afraid of the flavors wafting away. That being said, I never tried it the way you describe, so maybe I have nothing to worry about? It never hurts to experiment, so you should do whatever method produces the results you like best!

  36. Gareth Burns
    Posted April 24, 2014 at 12:43 am | Permalink

    Hey Patrick I am really excited to give this recipe a try. I am curious what you think about after things have settled down in the primary adding the cider straight to that would do? Once this step has settled down move to conditioning and there add the spices. Also what do you think a vanilla bean would do to this? Cheers!

  37. Gareth Burns
    Posted April 24, 2014 at 12:44 am | Permalink

    Sorry Patrick don’t know how I didn’t see the post above : / just the vanilla bean question please.

  38. Posted April 24, 2014 at 6:53 am | Permalink

    Hi Gareth

    I’ve never tried using vanilla beans in my brews, but I think it sounds great! I think I would add it in the secondary (or even tertiary) fermentation, so the wonderful aromas aren’t pulled off during the vigorous fermentation. But, like I said, I have never tried it, so let me know how it goes!

  39. Paul
    Posted August 28, 2014 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    I’m going to try this as an extract batch with five lbs extract about a quarter of it amber. It won’t be too heavy – my family will like it better that way. Will use allspice for spices and skip the late hops to let the allspice and apples come through. Like the idea of roasted. Hadn’t considered that before. Maybe a little less though – one third lb? Is this still your recipe? I like to try to make recipes my own.

  40. Posted August 28, 2014 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    That sounds great, Paul. Definitely, make it your own!

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