Besides having the pleasure of watching him make a perfect batch of beer (he hit his target gravity spot on), he put us on the fast track to designing our own beers, and even gave us a copy of the most incredible beer creation book ever, Designing Great Beers by Ray Daniels.
Using this book, we managed to cook up what we think will be a passable pale ale. Well, that's not quite true. It should taste like a pale - the gravity and malt styles are pale-ale like - but the color is quite a bit darker than we anticipated. Oh well, it will be glorious.
The recipe is as follows:
Target gravity: 1.050
Target bitterness: 30 IBUs
Target color: We didn't really care.
We made a 5.5 gallon batch.
75% 2-row malt
15% 40L crystal
5% 135L crystal
5% malted wheat
Boiling (60 minute): 1/2 ounce Centennial20 IBU worth (the aroma and flavouring account for the other 10)
Flavoring (20 minute): 1/2 ounce Cascade (for 5.5 gallons)
Aroma (5 minute): 1/2 ounce Centennial (for 5.5 gallons)
We also added two teaspoons of Irish Moss at the 20 minute mark to improve the clarity of the final product. The wheat we added for a little extra mouthfeel. We wanted to use 120L crystal, but the place where we bought our grain was out. This was probably one factor that contributed to the darker color.
The entire brew went off without incident... until the boil. Out of the grain bed, we hit our target gravity within .002 (1.048). Then we boiled. After the boil, we noticed that we had very little liquid -- much less that the 5.5 gallons we anticipated. We measured the gravity and came up with an astonishingly high 1.060. We had failed (miserably) to account for the boil off.
At this point, we should have done a quick calculation and added the appropriate amount of water. Instead, we just eyeballed the H2O measurement... probably not the best idea. In fact, as a result, we have no idea what our original gravity for this beer is. It should turn out all right regardless, but it's still a little unfortunate. In the future, we'll compensate for boil-off by adding water before the boil. We'll assume 10% boil off per hour, which means if we want to end up with 5.5 gallons (and we start with 5.5), we'll need to add (5.5 / .90) - 5.5 = .61 gallons. In reality, we saw more water loss than just a half gallon, but this will be a good place to start.