Homebrewing: Ella Puppy Red Ale (EPR) 2010

July 1, 2007, turned out to be more than just an ordinary brew day. It was also the day my wife and I brought home our dog, Ella.

An early shot of the ever-puppyish Ella, from summer 2007.

We'd been planning to brew a red ale. Red ales, often associated with some Irish ales, get their characteristic color from a light toasting of malt (pale 2-row for our purposes). We'd planned to call the beer "Drop Spindle Red" in honor of Jodie's new love of spinning wool into yarn.

However, when we got Ella we realized some changes would be needed. (And no, it wasn't to include some real "hair of the dog" in the beer.)

Getting Ella was momentous — Jodie and I had chosen and adopted our first pet. (We already had a cat, Jasmine, but Jodie had gotten her years before I was ever in the picture.) The brew somehow needed to commemorate this relationship milestone.

Then we noticed.

Ella has some red notes in her coat.

We were brewing a red ale.

A hint from the brewing gods? Definitely.

So "Drop Spindle Red Ale" became "Ella Puppy Red Ale," or just "EPR".

It's been nearly 3 years since that most tasty red and momentous day, and I was excited to brew EPR again.

And as for Ella? Puppy has grown to dog (more or less — she's still very puppy-like in adorable ways), and is cuter, smarter and sweeter than I could have imagined a dog could be.

The beer's not too damn shabby either.

EPR Ella Puppy Red Ale 2010

It all starts with toasting.

1/2 lb. (225 g) toasted whole/cracked malted pale 2-row barley, ready to toast

Based off "No Sham Shamrock Irish Red Ale." Papazian, Charlie, The Complete Joy of Homebrewing. 3rd Edition. p. 173-174. Collins, HarperCollins Publishers, 2003. Papazian describes this red ale as “full of toasted malt flavor and aroma, yet truly awesome and drinkable.”


  • Brew Date: Mar. 9, 2010
  • Initial Gravity Reading (O.G.): Forgot to take reading, assuming O.G. lies within target rage of 1.042-1.046
  • Bottling Date: Apr. 5, 2010
  • Bottling Counts: 40
    • 22 oz.: 11
    • Flip-top: 1
    • 12 oz.: 28
  • Final Gravity Reading (F.G.): 1.010

Approximate Target Values

(per original recipe, may vary due to alterations)

  • Target Original Gravity: 1.042-1.046 (10.5-11.5)
  • Approx. Final Gravity: 1.010-1.014 (2.5-3.5)
  • IBU: Approx. 30
  • Approx. Color: 15 SRM (30 EBC)


  • 4 lbs. amber dried malt extract
  • 1 lb. (450 g) crystal malt
  • 1/2 lb. (225 g) toasted whole/cracked malted pale 2-row barley (see “Toast grain” below)
  • @60 minute boil, 5/8 oz. Perle hops (8.2 HBU)
  • @60 minute boil, 1/4 oz. Zeus hops (16.4 HBU)
  • @15 minute boil, 1/2 tsp. Irish moss
  • @1 minute boil/aroma, 1/2 oz. (28 g) Zeus hops (16.4 HBU)
  • @yeast: dry packet, Danstar Nottingham Brewing Yeast (Jim’s tag described it as: English strain, rapid fermentation, excellent flavor profile, superb floculation). Yeast is product of Denmark, Lot # 1007117102. www.danyeast.com
  • @ bottling: 1-1/4c. dried malt extract

Brewing & Fermentation

Barley post-toast. Note some reddish tones; a few more minutes of toasting may have provided a more even color

Toast grain (for red color, per instructions on p. 173 for Palilalia India Pale Ale): Preheat oven to 350ºF. Spread 1/2 lb. whole/cracked malted barley grain (not crystal malt, just barley) on a cookie sheet. Within 7-10 minutes a wonderful aroma will emanate from your oven and the malted barley will have turned a slight reddish color. Remove the grain at this time (toasting grain longer than this will lead to darker brown color and more roasted flavors). The nutty malt aromatics of a 10-minute toast are desired for this recipe.

Place crushed grains in 2 gallons of 150-160ºF water. Steep for 30 minutes. Strain out and sparge with ~2 quarts hot water. Bring to a boil, while adding malt extract and 60-minute hops.

Clean/sanitize carboy and other equipment during this time. Add 1 gallon cold water to sanitized carboy. At 45 minute mark, add Irish moss. At 1 minute mark, add aroma hops.

Remove from heat and cool wort to 90-100ºF.

Strain wort into carboy, sparging through hops. Add cold water until total amount of liquid in carboy is 5 gallons. Shake to aerate. Take a sample for initial gravity reading.

When wort temperature is between 68-76ºF, pitch yeast. Cap carboy, set in warm, quiet place.

Ferment at approx. 72 degrees F for 3-30 days. Bottle with DME solution. Age one month.



3/2/10 Recipe as-written calls for 1 oz. Northern Brewer for boiling hops and 1oz. Santiam or Tettnanger for aroma hops. Since I have Perle and Zeus on hand, however, I’m going to use 1 oz. Perle (similar to Northern Brewer) for boiling and 1/2 oz. Zeus for aroma.

3/9/10 Brew Day! Once I measured out hops, I modified recipe accordingly. Used up remaining Zeus and Perle hops, which is great, they needed using up. Modified amounts are listed in ingredients. Brew went great, I enjoy toasting malt and may try that in general in some other future brews. Got to remember to aerate, THEN TAKE A SAMPLE FOR GRAVITY READING AND INITIAL TASTING, then pitch yeast. After setting up carboy, I didn’t insert blowoff tube deep enough, and it popped out, spilling jar of sanitized water. We got everything cleaned up, refilled and resanitized; I reapplied tube much deeper. We should be ok, I don’t think we’re at risk of infection. Dry yeast had clumped and not yet distributed; that should be a matter of time. Initial temp ~66-68ºF. Left pellet stove on overnight to aid in warming.

3/10/10 As of 6 a.m., fermentation is beginning. Temp. had increased to 68-70ºF. As of 5 p.m., good krausen and fermentation. Temp. 70-72ºF.

3/11/10 As of 6 a.m. ferm much stronger, very thick krausen taking up most carboy space.

4/5/10 Bottle day! Good malty flavor. In tasting glass and hydrometer, not as red as I wanted, but color and flavor are overall promising.


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