Baltimore’s Heavy Seas Gold Ale

I came across this beer one night quite by accident. I was out to dinner with Colleen and Michelle Nugent (an awesome human being and artist at MICA whose recent work explores the intersection of geographically and economically disparate cultures through personal narratives and aesthetics – very cool, right?) at a tavern in Fells Point, and Michelle and I decided to have their burger and mystery beer combo. We were all so impressed with whatever brew they served us that we had to ask them to reveal its secret identity: Heavy Seas Gold Ale.

Heavy Seas is a Baltimore based brewery, but I’ve had a hard time locating this particular brew even in that city. I’ve found their other beers in New York, Boston, and elsewhere, but this one eludes me. Of course, there is a ready solution available to me – brew it!

I sent Heavy Seas an email asking what direction I should be headed in with a recipe, and they graciously shared the following with me:

Pale
Wheat
Caramalt

Warrior
French Strisselspalt
Cascade and Centennial

My local homebrew shop doesn’t carry “caramalt”, but it turns out that this is more or less a brand name for Crisp’s caramel/crystal malt. A low Lovibond crystal malt will make a perfectly acceptable substitute. Warrior hops are a high alpha acid hop with low cohumulone content, which as far as I can gather means that they have high bittering value but the bitterness is slightly less harsh in character. Cascade and Centennial hops are popular American hops that give many American IPAs their character of somewhat citrusy, floral flavor and bouquet. French Strisselpalt is a European hop that has a darker, currant-type character.

Since the Warrior hops are so bitter, I am wary of including them since I have no scale to measure my hops. I don’t trust myself to eye out a quarter ounce of hops, when just one tenth of an ounce in either direction can make a significant difference. My local homebrew shop also doesn’t currently have any Centennial hops, so I’m sticking to the Cascade as a bittering hop and the Strisselspalt as a flavor hop. I may reserve a little of the Cascade for later in the boil as well. Then my full recipe will be:

  • 5 lbs pilsen DME (mostly added late in boil)
  • 2.5 lb 2-row pale malt
  • 1 lb pale wheat malt
  • 0.5 lb caramel 20L
  • 1.5 oz Cascade @ 60 min
  • 1 oz French Strisselspalt @ 10 min
  • 0.5 oz Cascade @ flameout
  • Safale US-05 dry yeast

I am shooting for 1.045 OG (though it may go higher due to improved mash efficiency after realizing a mistake in my mashing). There’s no particular reason behind my choice of yeast other than I have a pack of it already. When I brewed Colleen’s Coffee Stout it took nearly 72 hours for the yeast to show signs of fermentation, and thinking it was possible that I had killed the yeast during rehydration, I decided to pick up another pack just in case. For future iterations I could imagine the strain of choice changing. I am hoping to brew this on Sunday, but it depends on being able to bottle the stout on Saturday, which may not be ready by then.

EDIT: Finally grabbed a sample of the stout. The SG is down to 1.019, putting it at 4.8% ABV right now. The smells out of the airlock since it started showing activity again have changed from a solvent type smell exhibited during the first fermentation to a strong fruity smell. The fermentation temperature during this time has been around 72 degrees F. The sample was rather astringent, with strong fruity esters. I can taste a little bit of hops if I go looking for it, but disappointingly little roast. Right now it’s quite unpleasant to drink given its astringency, and the esters are not suited to this style (and also quite unpleasant with the beer being flat and room temperature). I’m hoping that the beer will condition well on the yeast and that the coffee will steer the final product in the right direction. I’m delaying bottling and brewing until next week.

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3 thoughts on “Baltimore’s Heavy Seas Gold Ale

  1. Pingback: Brew To Bread: Gold Ale Clone | Pizza & Beer

  2. Pingback: Washing the Yeast | Pizza & Beer

  3. Pingback: Beer & Pizza Pairing: Seymour 9 A.M. IPA & Seitan “Sausage” Pizza | Pizza & Beer

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