Pecan Street Brewing Company’s County Jail Pale Ale: Replicator

Dear Replicator, Recently a friend and i took two days to drive around central Texas (mainly Austin) to visit new breweries. On our way to Fredricksburg we were driving through Johnson City and noticed a sign for Pecan Street Brewing. They had only been open for a couple of months but they already had six house-brewed beers on tap. My favorite was the Pale Ale. I would love to know how they create this tasty beer. Can you help?
Phillip Jenkins
Houston, Texas

I recently flew to Austin, Texas to visit friends from the local club, the Austin Zealots, where I had earlier served as “Primary Fermenter.” Since a side trip to Johnson City makes for a leisurely drive through what is arguably the prettiest part of Texas I decided to check out Pecan Street Brewing myself.

The bar and restaurant Armadillo World Headquarters is one of the most famous in Austin partially because Janis Joplin played informally here. While working at the Armadillo, owners Tim and Patty Elliott met and developed their love of good beer. They opened Pecan Street in 2011 after renovating the old Blanco County Supply building in Johnson City, which was built in the 1950s. It is located right next to the 1890s county jail and that became the origin of the name for their most popular beer, County Jail Pale Ale.

Their son and brewmaster, Sean Elliott, discovered craft beer in 2000 while living in Fort Collins, Colorado. After five years of homebrewing he traveled to England to attend Brewlab in Sunderland and achieved the Certificate of Practical Brewing. He also volunteered to assist in a local English brewery to further develop his skills. Now, all of their beers are based on his previous homebrew recipes. They plan to sell about 350 barrels this year.

I too found their beers to be very good. The pale ale is clear, clean and crisp. The straw-colored body is topped by a fine white head. The late addition hops combined with aggressive dry hopping lead to a remarkable, intense hop nose. The magnum hops provide a smooth bitterness that more than balances the rich maltiness.

Pecan Street Brewing Company’s County Jail Pale Ale clone

(5 gallons/19 L, extract with grains)
OG = 1.050 FG = 1.010 IBU = 40 SRM = 10 ABV = 5.2%


3.3 lbs. (1.5 kg) Coopers light, unhopped, malt extract
1.5 lbs. (0.68 kg) dried malt extract
8 oz. (0.22 kg) 2-row pale malt
22 oz. (0.62 kg) rye malt
10 oz. (0.28 kg) crystal malt (60 °L)
5 oz. (0.14 kg) Carapils dextrin malt
7 AAU Magnum hops (60 min.)
(0.5 oz./14 g of 14 % alpha acid)
6.5 AAU Cascade hops (10 min.)
(1.0 oz /28 g of 6.5% alpha acid)
6.5 AAU Cascade hops (5 min.)
(1.0 oz /28 g of 6.5% alpha acid)
10 AAU Willamette hops (0 min.)
(2 oz./57 g of 5% alpha acid)
6.5 AAU Cascade hops (dry hopped) (1.0 oz./28 g of 6.5% alpha acid)
4.6 AAU Crystal hops (dry hopped)
(1.25 oz./35 g of 3.65% alpha acid)
½ Tsp. yeast nutrient (last 15 minutes of the boil)
½ Tsp. Irish moss (last 30 minutes of the boil)
White Labs WLP 001 (American Ale) or Wyeast 1056 (American Ale) yeast
0.75 cup (150 g) of corn sugar for priming (if bottling)

Step by Step

Steep the crushed grain in 2 gallons (7.6 L) of water at 152 ºF (67 ºC) for 30 minutes. Remove grains from the wort and rinse with 2 quarts (1.8 L) of hot water. Add the liquid and dry malt extracts and boil for 60 minutes. While boiling, add the hops, Irish moss and yeast nutrient as per the schedule. Add the wort to 2 gallons (7.6 L) of cold water in a fermenter and top off with cold water up to 5 gallons (19 L).

Cool the wort to 75 ºF (24 ºC). Pitch your yeast and aerate the wort heavily. Allow the beer to cool to 68 ºF (20 ºC). Hold at that temperature until fermentation is complete. Transfer to a carboy, avoiding any splashing to prevent aerating the beer and add the Cascade and Crystal dry hops. Allow the beer to condition for one week and then bottle or keg. Allow the beer to carbonate and age for two weeks and enjoy your County Jail Pale Ale clone.
All-grain option:
This is a single step infusion mash using an additional 3 lbs. (1.36 kg) 2-row pale malt and 3.5 lbs. (1.58 kg) of Maris Otter pale malt to replace the liquid and dried malt extracts. Mix the crushed grains with 3.7 gallons (14 L) of 172 °F (78 °C) water to stabilize at 152 ºF (67 ºC) for 60 minutes. Sparge slowly with 175 ºF (79 ºC) water. Collect approximately 6 gallons (23 L) of wort runoff to boil for 60 minutes. Reduce the 60 minute hop addition to 0.4 oz. (11 g) Magnum hop pellets (5.6 AAU) to allow for the higher utilization factor of a full wort boil. The remainder of this recipe and procedures are the same as the extract with grains recipe. Note: Sean recommends a 75-minute boil for an all-grain batch to further caramelize the wort.

Issue: May-June 2012