Beer Recipe: “JuniPA II” Juniper Pale Ale

This is a recipe loosely based on an extract brew I made a while ago before converting to all grain.  It features an ingredient I really love- juniper berries.  They are far more “berry” and far less “gin” than you might think, and make a very interesting addition to many beer styles.  As you’ll read below, this is a good brew, but didn’t quite capture the magic of the original recipe.  But, I think I know how to fix it in the future.

Batch Size: 5 gal/ 18.9 L

Malt:
11 lb/ 5 kg        Marris otter malt
3 lb/ 1.36 kg     Rye malt
2 lb/ 0.91 kg     Crystal 60 malt

Hops:
1 oz/ 28 g       Simcoe, 12.7%, 15 min, 19.2 IBU
1 oz/ 28 g       Brewers Gold, 10.5%, 15 min, 15.9 IBU
1 oz/ 28 g       Cascade, 7.3%, 10 min, 8.1 IBU
Total IBU:       43.2 (Tinseth)

Other:
1 oz/ 28 g      Juniper Berries, crushed (10 min)

Yeast:
1 pkt               Safale US-05 (1.2 pkt recommended)

Target CO2:     2.5 vol

Gravity:
OG:                 1.075 (67% mash eff; target 1.070, 62%)
FG:                  1.021
ABV:                7.55% after conditioning

Water:
Mash temp:          153F/ 67.2C (target 152F/ 66.7C)
Mash thickness:   1.2 qt/lb/ 2.5 L/kg
Single infusion mash, single (batch) sparge
Boil time:              90 min

Calculated Profile:

Calcium 52.6 Sulfate 131.3 Hardness 132
Magnesium 0.1 Chloride 60 Alkalinity 31
Sodium 73.8 Bicarbonate 37.3 RA -7

I was pretty happy with this water profile, save for the sodium content, which is just how my water is served up.  I balanced it towards sulfate to accentuate the hops, and drove down the RA with some lactic acid. (See my water treatment post here.)

Fermentation Temperature: 74F/ 23.3C ambient; pitched at 77F/ 25C; lamp to keep it warm after the ferment tapered off

Tasting Notes:

juniper pale ale

Juniper pale ale. I need to work on my lighting a bit (that dark splotch is a reflection of the table), but you get the idea.

Appearance: dark-ish yellow-brown, pours with light tan weak head; I think I am finally coming around to the idea of using finings- this beer could probably use some to tackle the haze

Aroma: same aroma as the other juniper beer, seems to be characteristic of the juniper berry; something like dark fruit or berry

Taste: sweeter than I would like, nearing cloying; bitterness in the throat, but not enough to balance fully; characteristic juniper berry taste similar to the aroma- not piney or resinous like a juniper branch might be

Mouthfeel: very full, perhaps a bit moreso than I would like for this beer, and certainly more than it should be if I was to call this a pale ale

Overall: This is a good beer, but not great.  I think it could be great if I dialed back the crystal malt and replaced at least a large portion of the Marris Otter with 2-row or something a bit cleaner and less sweet.  A cooler ferment to drive down ester production would likely also help.  I would say this is a higher quality, better brewed beer than the extract version I did a while back, but it needs to finish much drier and cleaner to capture the magic of the original version.  I’d definitely recommend experimenting with juniper berries- they won’t make your beer taste like gin or, as a friend of mine calls gin, Christmas trees in your mouth, and add an interesting layer of complexity.

– Dennis,
Life, Fermented

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About Dennis
Home brewer, home chef, garage tinkerer. Author of Life Fermented blog.

4 Responses to Beer Recipe: “JuniPA II” Juniper Pale Ale

  1. Anonymous says:

    I don’t see juniper berries in the recipe.

  2. Joe Hastings says:

    I’m curious to know when you added the juniper to the boil. Right from the start or closer to end? Plan to make a juniper spiced red ale but don’t want to kill it with gin. Hiw you describe the juniper flavour here is what I’m going for.

    Thanks in advance!

    • Dennis says:

      I put them in a sandwich bag and mashed them up a up bit with the back of a spoon before adding them at 10 minutes in the boil. Another source lists them at “a maximum of 0.2 oz at 60 min” but I didn’t think 1 oz at 10 min was too much. You could probably go less in something that wasn’t overkill on the crystal like mine though. I think the gin flavor is really more from the needles than the berries, but it may well be that different varieties give you different effects. I got mine from a jar in the spice aisle, leftover from making some sauerbraten. Unfortunately I did not note the brand.
      – Dennis

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