Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Real Ale


Lately I've been on another low abv kick. I like to drink multiple beers, I'm not a 1 or 2 and done sort of guy. This causes a couple problems of course. One is inebriation, the other is weight gain. My average homebrew runs around 6-6.5% abv which can land around 250-300 calories a bottle. That's significant when you're drinking 4,5,6789 of them.

My experience with English Ales

The above has lead me to researching English ales, more specifically real ales. I've made plenty of porters, stouts and even English Barleywine but only one ESB in the past that turned out far too malty. So I made another attempt but this time an Ordinary Bitter. This was a pretty well balanced beer but it lacked the firm bitterness of the style. I think I did three things wrong.

  1. I used an even ratio of calcium chloride to sulfate with RO water. I should have used 3:1 sulfate to calcium chloride like I would for an American IPA
  2. I used an intentionally low BU:GU ratio because I'm not a huge fan of super bitter beers. I used .63 instead of .83. I'll adjust for this next time
  3. I used too much crystal malt. 7% c15 and 7% c55. I should have kept the total of both to less than 10%. In the future I plan to use 1 crystal malt, a darker variety, and keep it to 7% of the grist. I think that will help lean the balance toward bitterness.

The new recipe: Trimmed Down Bitter

Batch Size 5.5gal
OG = 1.032
ABV 3.3%
IBUs 27.6
SRM 9.8
BU:GU .864

  • 8.5 gal total RO water
  • 3/4 tsp gypsum (about 8g)
  • 1/4 tsp calcium chloride (about 3g)
  • 1/8 tsp epsom (about 1.5g)
  • 92% Thomas Fawcett floor malted maris otter
  • 7% Bairds British 135/165 crystal
  • 13.3 IBUs Challenger @ 60min
  • 10.3 IBUs EKG @ 25min
  • 3.9 IBUs EKG @ 5min
  • 2oz EKG @ flameout (in place of  cask hopping)
  • 1 pkg London Ale III
  1. Mash grains with 3 gallons of RO water and salt additions for 60 minutes
  2. Batch sparge / mash out with remaining water @ 170 for 10 minutes 
  3. vorlauf
  4. Slowly sparge into kettle. Should take about another 10 minutes to collect full volume. The 10 minute mash out and slow sparge improved efficiency for batch sparging.
  5. Boil for 60 mins, cool and transfer to fermenter, aerate, then pitch yeast.
The final method I'm going to use to improve and make my english ales more authentic is to cask them when I have an event I can share them and get rid of it quickly enough . So I spent way too much money on my homebrewing hobby and bought a pin cask.

Since I've never casked a beer, I brewed a porter to practice with before using it for my homebrew club's next meeting. Tonight I move the still fermenting porter into the cask. I checked it last night and it was about 75% through fermentation so it will go into the cask with finings and a fresh 200ml of wort to naturally carbonate it in the cask.

I'm also stealing this idea and building a cask jockey box this weekend.