To brew a mid-strength, Californian-style pale ale to be served on keg. It must be juicy, rather than crisp, with a snappy, clean hop smack and an underlying roundness.
(This might sound easy, and I know a few who would find it so, but it isn't, not for me anyway....)
Juicy: chilled, carbonated beer tends towards the crisp, so the malt bill will have to counter this, and there are hop varieties that will help.
Snappy: the hops will have to be as fresh as possible, which in itself is a challenge these days as demand is super high for some varieties.
Clean: we've chosen hop varieties carefully, to avoid the dank and the savoury, and we'll ferment on the cool side.
Hop smack: less is more - it's easy to chuck in ever increasing amounts of hops in a bid to make a bigger impression, but it doesn't work, it's more nuanced than that. Timing and technique is critical.
Underlying roundness: bitterness is balance-crucial in this; the perfect level is incalculable, there's no formula but experience.
So we're blending a little crystal malt with Marris Otter Pale in the mash tun, and first wort hopping with Cascade. Two late additions of Cascade and EKG precede a cool primary fermentation and two dry hop stages using Centennials. That's it.
It ought to good to drink by the 13th January - let's see how close to the bulls eye we get.