So let’s put together our perfect autumn party beer. In keeping with the session theme, we’ll be shooting for a target of about 1046/11.4°P. This should ferment out to give us an alcohol content of around 4% ABV.
In large measure, the choice of hops will determine that national character of your beer. English hops such as East Kent Goldings will, of course, create an English bitter or pale ale character; Continental hops will tilt the beer towards the Germanic. Belgians, being caught in the middle, often use both for a very mysterioso hop profile. I think we’ll follow that middle path here and go with a mix of Saaz and East Kent Goldings.
Searching for a complex, but restrained malt profile, we’ll be looking at a mix of pils malt and a slightly more heavily kilned base malt such as pale ale or Vienna. A portion of wheat will add a little creaminess and great head retention, which can sometimes be lacking in lighter beers. On top of that, we’ll drop in a dollop of melanoidin* malt which will give a shimmery amber color and an inviting depth.
So put it all together with your best technique and roll out the barrel for your family and friends. If you do it right, all you’ll have to haul home are the empties.
* Melanoidin malt is a moist-kilned malt akin to a darker Munich malt, a name it sometimes goes by. Some maltsters call it “aromatic,” but not all aromatic malts are as dark as we’re looking for here. Confused? Just look for a moist kilned malt around 20–25° Lovibond. Amber/Victory/biscuit, although in the right color range, is too toasty for our recipe.