Recipe: Harvest Apple Ale

Actually I’m leaning towards calling this beer “Hood River Harvest” because all of the apples came from Hood River; we went apple picking in September and came back with a ton of both apples and pears. Looking for more uses for the apples (we canned a lot of applesauce) I found a recipe in The Homebrewer’s Recipe Guide called “Apple Brown Betty Fall Ale” and decided to brew up a variation.

As usual, this recipe is extract-based for five gallons.

  • 7 lbs. light malt extract
  • 0.5 lbs. chocolate malt (350°L)
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 1.5 oz. Fuggles hops for 60 minutes
  • 0.5 oz. Hallertauer hops for 5 minutes
  • 1 tsp. Irish moss
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon (steep at end of boil)
  • 4 lbs. apples, diced (steep at end of boil for 30 minutes)
  • 4 lbs. apples, 1 cinnamon stick, 1 vanilla bean for secondary
  • Wyeast 1272 American Ale II

The end goal is a brown(ish) fruit ale spiced with cinnamon.

About the hops: I actually substituted two ounces of my own home-grown hops for the Fuggles and Hallertauer the recipe calls for. In fact I have no real idea what variety of hops they are (I suspect Cascade or similar) or what their alpha acid content is, so it’s all guesswork.

The four pounds of apples at the end of the boil are steeped for 30 minutes (remove the pot from the burner), then I strained them out and made malted applesauce with them: purée the cooked apples (pick out any hops stuck with them), add sugar, allspice, nutmeg, and vanilla to taste, and bring to a simmer on the stove (five minutes at a nice simmer should do it). Eat it soon, or can it; it’s a surprisingly different character, with hops playing a prominent role—but I find it goes very well with beer.

For the secondary fermentation, I found that shredding the apples seemed to work pretty well, though the original recipe calls for puréeing them. Either way, bring to 150° in a pot with some water for 20 minutes to kill any bacteria, let cool and add to the secondary.

Just this weekend I racked the beer off the apples (and cinnamon stick and vanilla bean) to clarify an additional seven or so days before bottling; I want to minimize any leftover chunks getting into the process.

Thus far the original gravity was 1.053 and the gravity at this most recent racking was 1.012, which gives an alcohol by volume of about 5.3%. It tasted pretty good, too, and a bit different. I’ll be interested to taste the final results.