Recipe: Donner Pass American Pale Ale

Longtime pro brewer Jeremy Myers shares this homebrew recipe for a throwback American pale ale inspired by a true classic.

Jeremy Myers Jul 23, 2021 - 3 min read

Recipe: Donner Pass American Pale Ale Primary Image

Photo: Matt Graves/

Besides being the founder and former head brewer at Neshaminy Creek Brewing in Croydon, Pennsylvania, Jeremy Myers is currently head of production at Bachs Biermanufaktur in Neunkirchen, Germany. While at Neshaminy Creek, he developed the brewery’s popular pale ale J.A.W.N.—aka, Juicy Ale with Nugget.

This is his own recipe, shared with Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine®, and it’s inspired a bit more directly by a classic example. The name refers to the famous pass in the Sierra Nevada mountains, about 120 miles southeast of Chico, California. The pass itself is named after the Donner Party—so is this a sly reference to the cannibalization of pale ales as a style? “The name is certainly a reference to Sierra Nevada,” Myers says, “and it’s not so much pale ales cannibalizing themselves as much as how hoppy beers have done that—and sometimes something a bit more stripped down makes more sense.”

For more on brewing this foundational style, see Josh Weikert’s Balancing Act: The Classic American Pale Ale in a Changing World.



Batch size: 5 gallons (19 liters)
Brewhouse efficiency: 82%
OG: 1.051
FG: 1.010
IBUs: 35
ABV: 5.3%

5.5 lb (2.5 kg) two-row pale
2.5 lb (1.1 kg) Weyermann Carahell
12 oz (340 g) Carapils

0.5 oz (14 g) Columbus at 60 minutes [27 IBUs]
0.1 oz (3 g) Centennial at 30 minutes [3 IBUs]
0.2 oz (6 g) Cascade at flameout/whirlpool [2 IBUs]
0.2 oz (6 g) Centennial at flameout/whirlpool [3 IBUs]
0.6 oz (17 g) Centennial at dry hop
0.3 oz (9 g) Cascade at dry hop

White Labs WLP001 California Ale, Fermentis SafAle US-05 American Ale, or similar Chico strain

Mill the grains and mash at 152°F (67°C) for 60 minutes. Vorlauf until the runnings are clear, then run off into the kettle. Sparge with 172°F (78°C) water and top up as necessary to get about 6 gallons (23 liters) of wort—or more, depending on your evaporation rate. Boil for 60 minutes, adding hops according to the schedule, including the hops at flameout. Stir wort for 15 minutes to conduct a whirlpool, then allow 15 minutes for it to settle. Chill to 66°F (19°C), aerate well, and pitch the yeast. Ferment at 68°F (20°C). Dry hop either 2 days into primary fermentation or for 5 to 7 days once fermentation is complete, depending on preference. After fermentation and dry hopping, crash and keep cold for 5 days, then package, carbonate to about 2.65 volumes, and enjoy.