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Session Summer Ale

Written by Josh Charig

8 June 2022

With winter behind us, the days getting longer and bouts of warm weather are blessing us, more of us are wheeling out the BBQs and parasols, and nothing beats a warm summer’s day more than a refreshing beer.

Very few things in life beat sitting in a garden sessioning on lawnmower beers with some friends, especially if you can say “I made this beer”. Whether you keg or bottle, you can have an ample supply saving you from running to the shops mid session.

This is a recipe I like to make and enjoy in the summer months. It’s light, refreshing, easy to drink yet has that complexity to make it moreish without being demanding. The great thing about this recipe is certain ingredients can be switched out in a pinch and it still has great results. Stylistically it’s somewhere between a Belgian wit and American wheat.

Malts
The backbone underpinning the body and drinkability of the beer is a simple malt bill of 50% pale malt, 50% wheat. I tend to use maris otter as that’s what I have to hand but any pale malt will do. Wheat adds body, a grainy flavour, fuller smoother mouthfeel and a satisfying haze to the beer.

Hops
I use a single hop for this: Calypso. It’s a fantastic and somewhat underrated hop. In a similar ballpark as more traditional C type hops, Calypso is citrusy and complex with a distinct mellow bitterness, which makes it perfect for an easy drinking summer ale. It can also have flavours of apple and pear, spice, mint and an earthiness. I think more people should be using Calypso and it really needs more love from homebrewers.

The majority of hops go in towards the end of the boil to focus the flavours on the rich tropical hop notes. Calypso has a relatively high alpha acid percentage, and we want to limit the amount of IBUs. Too much bitterness will create a more challenging beer and will lack the refreshing qualities we’re after.

I’ve tried this recipe with some other hops. Eukanot goes equally well, as does Ella and Summit. I’d recommend keeping it to a single hop though as this will create a good balance of easy drinking and complexity.

Yeast
I pretty much always use Fermentis WB-06 for this recipe. When fermented warm (I usually go for ~24°C) it ferments quickly and throws out some great phenolics and esters typical of a Belgian wheat yeast, which goes great with the Calypso hops. WB-06 is a high attenuator, but with a 50% wheat base creates a beer with a really drinkable mouthfeel.

I’ve tried other yeasts but my favourite for this recipe is WB-06, something like US-05 or WLP001 works well, giving the beer a cleaner profile. Kveik yeasts like Voss will give a really nice orange ester flavour to the beer too.

Recipe
OG: 1.043
FG: 1.006
ABV: 4.86%
EBC: 8
IBU: 27.1
Batch size: 25L
Efficiency: 75%

Fermentables
Pale Malt 2.5kg
Wheat 2.5kg

Hops
Calypso 10g @ 60 minutes
Calypso 15g @ 15 minutes
Calypso 20g @ 5 minutes
Calypso 20g @ Flame out
Calypso 35g dry hop 3-5 days

Yeast
Sale WB-06

Process
Mash in at 65°C for 60-90 minutes, then raise the temperature to 75°C for 10 minutes. Drain off the wort and sparge, collecting around 30 litres of wort. Bring the wort to the boil adding the hops in at the prescribed times. Cool quickly and then pitch rehydrated yeast. Ferment at 24°C for a week or until final gravity is reached. If possible reduce temperature to 20°C and dry hop. If possible, cold crash for a few days then bottle or keg.

Check out how I make the beer in the video. I make 25 litres and place 4-5 litres in a small demijohn and ferment with an American ale yeast.

We’d love to know how you get on with this in the comments.

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2 Comments

  1. That looks nice. Its now on my summer to do list, Got some Herkules might substitute.

    • Did you end up making this? How did it come out with Herkules? I think I used to use it a lot for bittering due to its high AA%, but never as an aroma addition.

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