Homebrewing: Black Dog Ale Clone

For my next batch of homebrew I wanted to accomplish a few objectives. First, I wanted to brew a batch where I could re-pitch the yeast for the next batch, which I already determined to be a nut brown ale. Next, I wanted to find a recipe that would utilize the hops that I’m growing: Cascade, Willamette, Mt. Hood, and/or Zeus. Finally, I wanted something fairly simple that I could use as a basis for something more experimental like using lavender instead of aroma hops.

Black Dog Ale Clone boiling wort

I was flipping through my copy of North American Clone Brews [Amazon] when I came across a recipe for Black Dog Ale, on page 81, from Spanish Peaks Brewing. It seemed to be the perfect recipe for what I wanted and it was a beer that I have not had in ages and have not seen in the stores for a long time.


When I got to the homebrew shop, they were out of Mt. Hood whole hops so I substituted with Vanguard whole hops. The following is a modified version of the recipe from North American Clone Brews. The main differences are the Vangaurd hops substitution, addition of Whirlfloc, substituted crystal 50 with 40 and 60, and the amount of dry malt extract that I used.

  • 5 lbs. light dry malt extract
  • 0.5 lbs. Crystal Malt 40
  • 0.5 lbs. Crystal Malt 60
  • 12 oz. white wheat malt
  • 4.5 AAU Willamette whole hops (60 minutes)
  • 4.5 AAU Vanguard whole hops (15 minutes)
  • Whirlfloc wort clarifier (15 minues)

This recipe has a starting gravity of about 1.055 and a target final gravity of 1.012.

Vanguard whole hops.

I started this batch using the counter-top partial mash method that was described in an article by Chris Colby in the October 2006 issue of Brew Your Own magazine [Amazon]. I have a 2 gallon water cooler and a large grain bag that I use for the partial-mash. In this recipe I mashed the grains with a few quarts of water at 158°F for 45 minutes. I sparged with 168°F water for 5 minutes. I collected the wort and added it to boiling water. Next time I plan on using more grains since the water cooler can accomodate more.

Water cooler partial mash

One of the most exciting parts of this homebrewing session was using my brand new 8 gallon brew pot and 60,000 BTU burner. I was able to perform a full wort boil but having not done a full wort boil before, I didn’t know how much more than 5 gallons of water I needed and at the end of the 60 minute boil, I only had 4 gallons of wort. The other new thing that I tried was adding the dry malt extract as a late addition to cut down on caramelization.

8 gallon brew kettle and 60k BTU burner

As I do for every batch, I created a 1000 mL yeast starter with 5 oz. of dry malt extract. In the past I had problems with fermentation lagging to long or not finishing. That all stopped after I added a yeast starter to my brewing process. Within 6 hours fermentation had taken off. The pictures below were taken about 8 hours after pitching the yeast.

After 10 days in the primary fermenter, I transferred the beer into the secondary fermenter and I used that opportunity to take a gravity reading and sample the beer. The gravity was very close to the target at 1.015. The beer tasted very good, albeit flat and room temperature, with a pilsner like quality in the hops bouquet, probably due to the Vanguard hops. I can’t wait to get this into the keg because I think this will be a great summertime beer.

Black Dog Ale in the fermenter

Black Dog Ale fermenting

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About David Jensen

David is a craft beer and photography enthusiast.
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