Articles & Recipes

How to Homebrew your Own California Blonde

July 12, 2018

Seeking something new to do this summer? How about setting up your very own home-brewing system! May we suggest trying a:

California Blonde

Hoppy blonde ales are favorite summertime quaffs in West Coast brewpubs. There's something about that bite of the hop that makes you want to take another sip. If you want a less citrusy, more floral finish to the beer, use Liberty, Mt. Hood, Tradition or Vanguard hops for the aroma hops rather than the ones specified here, says home-brewing expert, and author of The Complete Homebrew Beer Book, George Hummel.


Makes 5 US gal (19 L)

Estimated Original Gravity: 1.059



            brew kettle

            fermentation gear


If you are a first-time brewer, read pages 8 to 36 thoroughly before you begin. Consult the summaries on pages 37 to 39 for details on preparing chlorinated water for brewing, preventing boil-overs, sanitizing fermentation gear, using the hydrometer, preparing and using the cooling bath, racking, checking fermentation, and priming, bottling and conditioning your beer.


5.5 US gal            brewing water             21 L

Malt Extract

8 lbs            Alexander's Sun Country Pale Malt Extract, divided in half            3.6 kg

Bittering Hops

12 to 14 AAUs            high-alpha American hops (such as             12 to 14 AAUs

            Amarillo, Centennial, Chinook or Columbus)

Later Additions

1 tsp            Irish moss            5 mL

1 tsp            yeast nutrient            5 mL

Aroma Hops

2 oz            citrusy American hops (such as Ahtanum,             56 g

            Amarillo, Cascade or Williamette)


1 pack            Fermentis S-05 American ale (if not available,            

            select any clean-fermenting ale yeast) 1 pack


            1.            In a brew kettle, bring at least 3 US gal (11 L) brewing water to a boil. Remove from the heat, add half of the malt extract and stir until dissolved completely. Do not allow the extract to settle and scorch.

            2.            Return kettle to the burner and increase the heat until the liquid (wort) begins to boil. Using a spoon, clear any foam to one side. Do not allow it to seal the boil. Reduce the heat until a rolling boil can be maintained without foam buildup.

            3.            Add the bittering hops, stirring to combine. Boil for 45 minutes, uncovered. Monitor to prevent boiling over.

            4.            Meanwhile, prepare the fermentation gear (see page 37) and cooling bath (see page 38) or wort chiller.

            5.            After 45 minutes, remove the kettle from the heat and add remaining half of malt extract, Irish moss and yeast nutrient. Stir to combine and dissolve yeast nutrient. Return the kettle to the burner and bring back to a rolling boil. Boil for 15 minutes; stir in the aroma hops, turn off the heat and cover.

            6.            To cool the brew, place the covered kettle in the prepared cooling tub or use a wort chiller according to directions. Cool to yeast-pitching temperature, 75°F (24°C), within 30 to 45 minutes.

            7.            While the wort is cooling, clean and sanitize the brewing spoon. When the wort has cooled, move the kettle to a counter and stir wort briskly in one direction for about 5 minutes. After stirring, cover and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes; the hops and trub should form a cone in the bottom of the kettle.

            8.            Using a racking cane and siphon, rack as much wort as possible into the sanitized primary fermenter. Using the sanitized funnel and straining screen, strain the rest of the wort into the fermenter. Top off with brewing water to bring the volume to around 5.5 US gal (21 L). Using the hydrometer (see page 38), take a reading of the specific gravity and record it in your brewing journal. Aerate well by stirring vigorously with a sanitized spoon.

            9.            Sprinkle the yeast over the surface; vigorously stir with a sanitized spoon, distributing it well throughout the liquid. Seal the fermenter with lid, stopper and airlock. Keep the fermenter at room temperature (68 to 72°F/20 to 22°C) during primary fermentation (which typically lasts 1 to 4 days after fermentation begins), in a dark place or under a lightproof cover if using a glass carboy.

            10.            When the kräusen (brownish foam on top of the wort) has peaked and begun to fall (you'll see a ring around the inside of the bucket), rack the beer into the secondary fermenter gently to avoid aerating it, leaving most of the sediment behind. Seal and keep at room temperature, covered or in a dark place, to allow fermentation to continue.

            11.            Once the bubbling in the airlock has slowed, confirm completion of fermentation by using the hydrometer to take final gravity readings. (Hydrometer readings should be the same for several days in a row.)

            12.            Prime, bottle and condition the beer (see page 39).


Brewer's Tips

Instead of removing the kettle from the heat, use a medium saucepan to scoop out some of the wort (about 6 cups/1.5 L) and add the later additions to the wort in the saucepan. Stir until the extract and nutrient are dissolved and return to the wort in the kettle. Stir to disperse.

During the first 12 hours, check that fermentation has begun, and continue occasional aeration with a sanitized spoon if it has not. If fermentation has not begun within 24 hours, re-pitch the yeast and aerate.





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