The current selection of fall seasonal beers is dominated by Marzens (traditional for German Octoberfest) and pumpkin beers. While I like the occasional Octoberfest I tend to seek out alternatives, medium to heavy bodied beers that hold up to chilly autumn days, but fall outside these popular categories. One of my all time favorites was Magic Hat’s Roxy Rolles amber ale. This beer had a burst of fresh, floral hops on the nose, immediate hop flavors, but low bitterness and a solid caramel malt backbone. It was a great mix of hearty malt sweetness with citrus hop punch. Of course Magic Hat discontinued the beer a couple years ago, and since then it has been my mission to re-create the beer at home. I got some hints about hop and malt content online, experimented a little and came up with the following extract recipe:
Hoppy Boston Hoppy Fall Amber Ale (5 Gallon batch):
1 lb. CaraMunich II malt
1 lb. Victory malt
1 lb. Crystal 40L malt
3.3 lbs. Breiss Pilsen liquid light malt extract
3 lb. Briess Pilsen dry light malt extract
1 oz. Zythos hops (60 min)
0.5 oz. Simcoe (20 min)
1 tsp. Irish moss (15 min)
0.5 oz. Simcoe (5 min)
1.0 oz. Simcoe (0 min)
2.0 oz. Simcoe (dry hop in the secondary)
White Labs 002: English Ale yeast
Steep malts 30 min at 120-150 F. Add extracts and bring to a boil. Add hops at times shown. After 60 mimnutes at a boil cool to ~70 F to pitch the yeast.
Primary Fermentation: 7 days.
Secondary Fermentation: 14 days.
The CaraMunich, Victory and Crystal malts provide the malt backbone, all three add caramel and toffee flavors to the beer. After the initial hop addition (Zythos for bittering) I hold back, too many early hop additions and the beer will end up too bitter. To get the proper hop flavor I use plenty of Simcoe late in the boil, and more in the secondary containment to achieve that great citrus and pine aroma. Simcoe is quickly emerging as one of the most popular varieties of American hops. It adds a lot of flavor and a pungent aroma to a variety of hop-forward brews. I used a medium-attenuation English Ale yeast, this gives the beer moderate alcohol while keeping a little residual malt sweetness.
Hoppy Boston Hoppy Fall Amber Ale pours a reddish amber, clear with a sustained white head. The smell is all Simcoe hops, citrus, tropical fruit and pine. The first taste is mostly the hops, grapefruit, lemon, guava and a little resin. This is followed by the malt which is very present, adding toffee, caramel and baked bread flavors. There is enough bitterness to balance the beer, but it is clearly more of an amber than an IPA. Overall the beer is medium bodied, heavy enough to keep you warm on a chilly night without being over-bearing. If you are interested in brewing a good fall beer that balances American hop flavors with a solid malt backbone, this recipe is a good place to start.