Brewday Blog: Zesty Monk White Grapefruit Pale Ale

My housemate Andrei and I started brewing beer in January 2015, just over a year ago. Since then we have made three different beers; two IPA’s and a black IPA. Our black IPA, Black Monk, won the University of Exeter Real Ale Society Homebrew Competition in November 2015 – a proud moment. For our fourth attempt, we decided we wanted to try and create a fruity and juice pale ale. I’ve grown extremely fond of grapefruit flavours in beers of late, so we settled on a grapefruit pale ale, aiming to create a sessionable and more-ish beer.

All our ingredients

We ordered our ingredients online off The Homebrew Shop . Our malt bill was fairly straightforward, being made up almost entirely of Marris Otter Pale malt, with a little Vienna thrown in for good measure (For full specifications see the bottom of this post). We used Wyeast for the first time in November and were extremely pleased with the results. Unfortunately our chosen strain (American Ale yeast) was out of stock, so we plumped for the 1187 Ringwood Ale strain instead. Citra and Amarillo were our hops of choice, and we purchased 100g of pellets of each variety. I was very impressed with the speed of delivery and service from The Homebrew Shop and would definitely recommend them. Finally, we also bought three white grapefruits (the pink ones were out of stock!) from the supermarket to zest and add to the beer at the boil.

Ouch! 😦

Brewday commenced at around 4pm. This usually means quite a late finish but being students we prefer this to starting early in the morning! After all the usual sanitation malarkey we got down to work. Andrei and I use a brew in a bag method to brew as we don’t own a mash-tun yet, so our first task was to bring 25 litres of water in my 33l stainless steel brewpot (One of my more bizarre birthday presents) to 67 degrees. Once this was done, we added and stirred in our malt and set to work zesting the grapefruits. Unfortunately this was a somewhat slow and frustrating process for quite a small reward. I was also thanked for my efforts with a nasty cut on my thumb. If I made this beer again I’m not sure I’d bother with the grapefruit – although we are yet to taste the beer so don’t know what it has added in terms of flavour.

Not too much mess thankfully

After a 90 minute mash, with regular checks on the temperature, it was time to take out our bag with the spent malt in it. This is usually the trickiest part of the brew in a bag method as five kilos of wet malt tends to be quite heavy! Luckily we managed to get the bag out and onto our make-shift grill without too much spillage. After a quick sparge with boiling water from the kettle, we moved the bag to one side and began heating the wort to boiling point. At this point we also activated our liquid yeast. As an aside, the spent malt smelt delicious, but tasted less so.

Next it was hopping time. The full hop schedule is laid out at the bottom of this post, but broadly speaking we tried to keep hop quantities fairly low and added them towards the end of the boil, not wanting to introduce too much bitterness in the flavour of the finished product. Pellets were significantly less hassle than whole hops when it came to cleaning the pot at the end and hence I would definitely use them again in the future, although I was surprised by the violent green colour they turned the beer when added! We also saved some of both the hops to use for dry-hopping after around 10 days of fermentation.

Some delicious looking Amarillo pellets

Of course, brewing good beer also requires drinking good beer, and this session was no exception. I opted for Siren & Surley’s Rainbow Project collaboration Blue Sky Blue Sea – a Seaweed and Cloudberry Gose, and a bottle of Dark Star Critical Mass – a 10% Imperial Stout aged in Oak Whisky casks. Both were stunning and very very different styles of beer, and I would recommend them equally. Andrei went with Beavertown’s Holy Cowbell India Stout.

Once we’d completed our hop additions and chucked in the grapefruit zest, it was time to cool the beer. Our preferred method is simply to run a cold bath and place the pot in there, which involves a very awkward journey up the stairs with 20 litres of boiling beer. The joys of living in a student house…

Siphoning into the fermenting bucket

When the beer reached around 20 degrees or thereabouts (after around two hours in the tub), all that was left to do was siphon the beer into our fermentation bucket and pitch the now very active yeast. Then it was up to the airing cupboard for our precious cargo, where it will ferment for around two weeks before bottling. Finally, we needed a name. Our homebrew project has always gone by the name Priory Brewing Company (after the road we live on), and all of our beers thus far have had a religious theme. Hence, we settled on ‘Zesty Monk’ – a nod to the grapefruit zest that also continues the evangelical theme. I’m personally very excited to see what this beer tastes like, and have high expectations for it. Check back in a few weeks time to hear my thoughts!

Priory Brewing Company Zesty Monk White Grapefruit Pale Ale
Recipe Specifications
Batch Size: 5.00 gal
Estimated OG: 1.052
Estimated FG: 1.014
Estimated IBU: 53.88
Estimated ABV: 5.0%
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

4.5kg Pale Malt UK (Maris Otter)
0.5kg Vienna Malt Germany

15g Amarillo Pellets USA 2015 [9.60 %] (60 mins)
15g Amarillo Pellets USA 2015 [9.60 %] (15 mins)
15g Citra Pellets USA 2014 [12.00 %] (15 mins)
15g Amarillo Pellets USA 2015 [9.60 %] (5 mins)
30g Citra Pellets USA 2014 [12.00 %] (5 mins)
15g Citra Pellets USA 2014 [12.00 %] (0 mins)
Zest from 3 White Grapefruits (0 mins)

128g Wyeast 1187 Ringwood Ale

40g Citra Pellets USA 2014 [12.00 %] (Dry Hop 10 days)
55g Amarillo Pellets USA 2014 [9.60 %] (Dry Hop 10 days)


One thought on “Brewday Blog: Zesty Monk White Grapefruit Pale Ale

  1. Nice brew day pics! Also, the recipe looks solid; Amarillo/Citra blend was a good choice for a grapefruit forward beer. Best luck with the Ringwood yeast; I’ve heard it can be a bit tricky. Looking forward to the tasting notes. Cheers!

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