The perfect pale ale recipe is elusive.
Most homebrewers brew this style early on in their careers, but spend years trying to master it. A great pale ale satisfies the hop heads but is balanced enough for the casual drinker. It’s one of my favorite beers, and one of those beers I always want to have on tap.
Like many recipes, you start the quest towards a homebrewed pale ale by using a commercial version for inspiration.
Do you want it to taste like Dale’s? How about Mirror Pond, or Sierra Nevada, or Alpha King? Maybe you want your pale ale to lean more towards the British side, with more balance from the malt.
I’ve always enjoyed the grapefruit-like citrus flavors from the cascade hops used in Sierra Nevada’s pale ale, as well as the tropical fruit flavors from the citra hops found in their Torpedo IPA.
With that in mind, I created this Citra Pale Ale, named for the citra bittering hop but brewed with both citra and cascade. I love the beer, and others do to. I will continue to make some tweaks to the recipe, but I’ve finally found my house pale ale.
The cascade and citra hops blend beautifully together. There is a bright, fresh hop flavor but no harsh bitterness. The malt profile is simple but provides a solid supporting act for the hops.
Here are a couple of reviews from people I’ve sent bottles to:
- Video review from The Beer Clinic’s Marty Nachel
- Review from Rick at Extended Pints (photo credit also goes to him)
And here is the recipe for those interested in trying it. It will never be perfect but to my palate it is really really good:
Citra Pale Ale Recipe
Batch size: 6 gallons
Original Gravity: 1.056
Final Gravity: 1.011
11 lbs. 2-Row
.75 lbs Crystal 40L
.5 lbs CaraPils
Citra AA% = 12
Cascade AA% = 6
.5 oz Citra (60 min)
.5 oz Citra (15 min)
.5 oz Cascade (15 min)
.5 oz Citra (0 min)
.5 oz Cascade (0 min)
.5 oz Citra (dry hop)
1 oz Cascade (dry hop)
WLP001 California Ale yeast with 2 liter yeast starter.
Replace the 2-Row with 8.25 lbs light liquid malt extract. Add half of the extract in the beginning and half with 15 minutes left in the boil to preserve the lighter color of this beer.
Mash at 152F. Cool to 66F and pitch yeast. Ferment at 68F until fermentation stops, then transfer to secondary and dry hop for 7 days. Carbonate to 2.2 volumes.
The next time I brew this recipe, I will increase the mash temperature to 155F to add a bit more body. This comes from the recommendation of BJCP judge Marty Nachel as seen in the above linked video. He says that it will add some needed malt sweetness and balance to the beer by making it a less fermentable wort. It’s a good idea and I’m excited to see how it works out.
You could also play around with the dry hopping proportions. I think 1.5 oz is a good number, but you could try flipping it around and using more citra than cascade. The good thing about this recipe is that you can buy 2 oz of both citra and cascade and be set. Hey, I like convenience, and it worked.
I would love to hear if anyone brews this recipe, along with any tweaks they made to the recipe.