I brewed my first batch of 2009 on Sunday. A few days later than planned, but I got it done. I brewed an American pale ale (recipe below) with two slight twists.
The first twist was using homegrown hops. I had never done that before. I have been growing hops for four years, but never ended up using any in my beer. This time around, I added Northern Brewer, Centennial and Chinook hops as bittering hops. I am going to use Cascade and Centennial as late hops, added in secondary via the French press method.
The second twist was using a partial mash to make fairly dry beer. I like my APAs on the dry side, but the fermentability of malt extract worts is sometimes higher than I'd like. So, I combined the 2.5 gallons (9.5 L) partial mash wort with 3.0 gallons (11 L) of wort made from dissolved malt extract at around 150 °F (66 °C). I slowly ramped the wort from 150 to 158 °F (66 to 70 °C), taking about 5 minutes to do so.
The idea behind this is to let the amylase enzymes from the partial mash wort degrade any unfermentable carbohydrates that may be in the malt extract. Does it work? I don't have any scientific evidence that it does, but I've done this before and I've always liked the results. It has yielded relatively low FGs and crisp, good-tasting beer....