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  • The Narrows

    January 01, 2018 6 min read

    The Narrows

    Beer of the Month Program

    January – The Narrows Winter Ale 

    One of the best parts about making beer (aside from drinking it) is the social aspect. Brewers love to swap recipes, discuss what well or horribly wrong in their brews. We thought it would be a fun idea to start a beer conversation here. We’re going to make a beer every month here and encourage other brewers to make it as well. In the end, we’re hoping we can share our opinions and experiences with the recipe and crowd-source some improvements. The recipes will be easy to make and we will gladly assist new home brewers in the production of these beers. They will all be 5.5 gallons in size. We find that after fermenting and racking a 5.5 gallon batch turns into a standard 5 gallon batch pretty quickly.

    At the start of every month we will post the recipe in store, as well as on our websiteFacebookInstagram, and Twitter. We will also have a set price for the recipe that will include a discount of up to 25%!

    The Narrows

    Winter Ale – 5.5 Gal – OG 1.061 – FG 1.015 – ABV 6% – IBU 26 – SRM 18

    The Narrows is where the land between North Vancouver and Stanley Park are closest across open water. This location was chosen for the 1st Narrows Bridge, otherwise known as Lions Gate Bridge. This Winter Ale recipe is paying homage to the famous Lions Winter Ale beer made by Granville Island Brewing.

    We did our best to mimic the smooth vanilla notes from GIB’s beer, but we also wanted to make it different in some ways. The end result is a bit boozier, darker, and heavier than GIB’s. The secret to this beer is the additions of molasses in the boil, along with vanilla and white chocolate in secondary. We add them like a dry hop. In the end, the beer is easy drinking and its vanilla smoothness complements a cold dark snowy night, which is something Vancouverites wouldn’t know much about (except when they are out snowboarding on one of their many mountains).

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    Ingredients (Purchase the Ingredients Here)

    • Maris Otter x 7.5lbs
    • Vienna x 1lb
    • Munich Type 1 x 1lb
    • Crystal Light x 0.8lbs
    • Crystal Medium x 0.5lbs
    • Crystal Dark x 0.4lbs
    • Chocolate Malt x 0.2lbs
    • Carafoam x 0.25lb
    • Molasses x 4oz (sold separately) *Add in final 5 minutes of boil*
    • Willamette (4.75% A.A.) – 1.0oz @ 60min
    • Cascade (5.5% A.A.) – 0.5oz @ 60 minutes
    • Saaz (3.75% A.A.) – 0.5oz @ 10 minutes
    • US-05
    • White Chocolate (2oz at Secondary)
    • Vanilla Extract (1.5oz at Secondary)
    • Irish Moss (1 tsp for last 15 minutes of boil)
    • Dry Malt Extract (150-170g for priming at bottling)


    We’re going to be producing this beer with the Brew-in-a-Bag (BIAB) method. We believe it is an easy, and cost effective way to make great all grain beer. These instructions are also catered to novice brewers. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

    Mashing -> converting the grain into a fermentable liquid.

    • Bring 6 gallons of water in your brew pot to 155°F. This is our strike temperature. Turn off the heat to the pot.
    • Wrap the muslin/nylon bag around the brew pot and slowly pour all the milled grains into the bag. Stir them in while adding to prevent clumps. The addition of grain should drop the temperature down to 150-155°F.
    • We want to mash the grain at 154°F for 60 minutes. It is very important to hold the temperature at 154°F. If the temperature rises above 155°F it hurts the fermentation, or if it dips below 149°F it can lead to a thinner tasting beer.
      1. The first 15-30 minutes are essential for the success of your brew. The temperature HAS TO BE IN THE RANGE OF 150-155°F. Sometimes adding the grain to the strike water does not lower the temperature enough, in this case add a little bit of cold water to bring the temperature down. Cover the pot with your lid and let it sit.
      2. Most brew pots will be able to maintain 154°F without adding heat for 20 minutes, we recommend checking the temperature every 15 minutes, and if it drops add more heat to bring it up. We recommend opening the lid and using a thermometer in the liquid.
    • After 60 minutes, bring the temperature of the mashing grain up to 170°F and hold for 10 minutes. This is our mash out.
    • Time to remove the grain. Lift the bag full of grain out of the brew pot. Let the liquid in the bag dribble into your wort. Once that is done, put the bag inside of a brewing pail, or another empty pot. There will be about 4 gallons of wort in the brewpot, we need to get it to 6 gallons before we can begin the next stage.
    • Run warm water through the grains in the bag, aim for 170°f – let it run through the grains and add to the brewpot. Add until you reach 6 gallons.
      1. PSA: It is natural to think that the grains need to be squeezed to get all of the liquid out of them, DO NOT DO THIS. Aggressively squeezing the grains will lead to tannin extraction and a doughy taste in your beer. Lightly pressing the bag is fine, but do not try to squeeze every last drop out.

    Boiling -> Hop addition time

    • Bring 6 gallons of your wort to a rolling boil, and let it boil for 5 minutes, this is called the hot break.
    • Add 1oz of Willamette hops and 0.5oz of Cascade and set a timer for 60 minutes, keep the wort boiling (212°f) and uncovered.
    • With 15 minutes left in the timer add the Irish Moss, and if you’re using a wort chiller add that too.
    • With 10 minutes left in the timer, add 0.5oz of Saaz, and then with 5 minutes left, add 4oz of Molasses
    • When your timer goes off, turn off the heat, and proceed to the cooling stage.
    • Now it’s time to cool the beer down to 75°f (20-25°c) as quickly as possible.
      1. We love using a wort chiller for this, it can get the beer down to temperature in 20-30 minutes. Otherwise, you can immerse the brew pot in an ice bath or wait it out. The longer it takes, the greater the risk of infection

    Fermentation -> Turning the wort into beer

    • After the boil is done it is time to be extra careful in regard to sanitation. We recommend using a no-rinse sanitizer called Starsan. Mix ¼ tsp of it with water in a 500ml spray bottle. Before we touch any part of the beer, we spray it with Starsan.
    • Transfer the cooled wort into your fermenting pail or carboy. Run it though a strainer to catch any hop or grain residue.
      1. It is also an important time to take a hydrometer reading. It should be around 1.061 give or take a few points.
    • Your choice of fermentation vessel is important. During primary fermentation, it will bubble up quite a bit, you want to be sure there is airspace for it to work away. Otherwise the pressure of it will push out the airlock.
    • Make sure the wort has been cooled to at least 25c!!! Adding yeast at a higher temperature will likely kill it.
    • Once the beer is in the fermenter, pour in the 11.5g sachet of US-05 yeast
    • Put the bung and airlock in the hole (make sure there is water filled up to the line in the airlock). If using a pail, make sure the lid is sealed tight. Put the pail in a room that is in the range of 18-22°c.
    • White Chocolate & Vanilla Addition: Seven days into fermentation, it is time to add the white chocolate and vanilla. First, break up the white chocolate into little chunks. Then, remove the airlock and bung and pour in the chocolate and vanilla. Try to do this very quickly as we don’t want to lose the CO2 inside the fermenter.
      1. One sure fire way to ensure that no oxidization occurs is to add a 100g of boiled dextrose water solution along with the chocolate and vanilla. This will prompt a bit of fermentation which will create more CO2 in the vessel.
    • 3-5 days later it is time to bottle, open the lid and take a hydrometer reading. It should be somewhere between 1.012-1.018.
    • Lately, we have been of the opinion that secondary is an unnecessary step. Unless you are kegging, we recommend proceeding to the bottling stage. Clarification can occur in the bottle rather than in a carboy, and the risk of oxidization is greatly reduced.

    Bottling -> We’re getting close to Beer Time now.

    • Rack the now fermented beer into a bucket.
    • At the same time, mix the priming sugar with 300ml of boiling water and add to the beer. Stir it in VERY gently.
      1. Make sure to check out a priming calculator to verify the correct amount of sugar. Too much sugar and your beer will end up foamy, or even start blowing the caps off! Too little and the beer won’t be fully carbonated.
    • Rack the beer into your bottles or growlers. Then, let them sit for 2-3 weeks at room temperature. Chill and enjoy!