Experimental: Throwback Burton Ale

Discussion in 'Recipes for Feedback' started by Altbier bitte, Aug 19, 2012.

  1. Altbier bitte

    Altbier bitte New Member

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    This is a crazy idea I'm working on. The idea is a 'preindustrial' Burton Ale, in other words similar to what might have been brewed before coke fired kilns made pale malt possible. This recipe is a work in progress. It's for a 5 gallon batch with a bit to spare for what's left in the lb + of hops and the mash tun. If I can fit the final version in our keggle mash tun using a separate steep for the specialty grains I'll expand to a larger batch. More below the grist and hop schedule.
    18 #s Maris otter
    1.5 #s brown malt
    1.5 #s 40L caramel
    1.25 #s 120 L caramel
    1.25 #s brown sugar
    .75 # amber Malt
    1.25 # Smoked malt
    The brown malt is for the lightly roasted flavor, plus it is probably the closest modern malt to the brown malt that this would have been brewed with. The light caramel is for the residual sweetness ( it was supposed to have been very strong, bittersweet, very malty, with a lot of body), the darker caramel is for the burnt sugar caramelized taste that would have been achieved by very long boils - I read about a more recent example that was boiled for 12 hours. The brown sugar is for more of the same, plus a little more alcohol oomph and a bit of a drying effect as a little drinkability insurance. I was going to use dark candi syrup, but it jacked the color up too far - I'm shooting for a medium dark color. The smoked malt will probably just be Weyerman Rauchmalt - not at all authentic, I know, but all malts in those days would likely have had a smoky flavor from the wood fired kilning. The MO and amber are for maltiness and character. The boatload of EKG and the dry hop are about the only thing in the recipe that might have actually been used in a B-Ale back around 1790 - I understand that most B-Ales, way back when and in the 20th century, were dry hopped. I thought I would just use Notty for yeast; I don't know what English ale yeast would hold up to the alcohol, plus I figure there is plenty going on flavor wise without the estery funk that admittedly would be more authentic. Not 100% sure on that yet. Burton water would be true to the idea of what I'm doing, so I might use distilled and build it up. Appreciate any feedback, even if it's to tell me I'm crazy. I'd particularly like to hear from anyone who has uses smoked malt - I want a HINT of smokiness, but not an overwhelming amount. The recipe builder has this one with OG just over 1100, finishing at 1026, abv ~10.5. Thanks for the help.
     
  2. Altbier bitte

    Altbier bitte New Member

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    Oh, forgot the hops: 5 oz. Challenger @ 90 min, 13 oz EKG @ 15 min, 3 oz. EKG, dry hop.
     
  3. LarryBrewer

    LarryBrewer Active Member

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    Looks great! Yeah, lots of EKG, yum.

    I'd jack up the mineral levels, especially the Ca, Cl, and SO4 to match whatever the source water was back then.
     
  4. Altbier bitte

    Altbier bitte New Member

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    Yeah, I'm leaning towards Burtonization. I've read about and seen a video of beers based on an article in Zymurgy using just MO and chocolate malt. To me, that just doesn't seem like a very authentic Burton ale reproduction. There could actually be more than one legit BA though; they kept making them and eventually used pale malt, apparently until the 1960s. To be honest, some of the descriptors I had in mind are associated with special release beers that Ballantine used to put out, which is sort of a ridiculous mash up time wise,but hey, it's just beer (sorry about that) - if nothing else it should be an interesting Barleywine. The name is provisional - I'm open to suggestion if anyone can think of something more clever.
    Have you ever used Rauchmalt, LB?
     
  5. LarryBrewer

    LarryBrewer Active Member

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    Negative on the Rauchmalt. I tried a Rauch Beer one time, couldn't get through it. It was like liquid smoke + cough syrup... I'd say go sparingly with this stuff.
     
  6. Altbier bitte

    Altbier bitte New Member

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    That helps. I understand that some recipes use it for a substantial part of the grist, so if I limit it to a pound or so it should give the taste I'm looking for. It would be tough to overwhelm this giant frakkin beer with that amount, I think.
     
  7. JAMC

    JAMC Member

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    This is a crazy, yet wonderful idea.

    The main obstacle I see to realising it isn't the recipe, its the use of highly-modified modern malts.

    If you really wanted to find out how pre-industrial beers tasted, I think you'd need to malt the grain yourself over a wood fire, and then just try to brew with whatever came out the end of the malting process.
     
  8. Altbier bitte

    Altbier bitte New Member

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    Well, maybe I don't want it to be quite that authentic - I would like to be able to drink it. Plus, all grain brewing is enough work. I love beer but I'm lazy. I guess that might be worth a small scale experiment some day, but right now I don't even know where I could do something like that. One thing that got me interested in this idea is a video I saw on you-tube. These people found a few bottles of Burton ale from the eighteen hundreds that had been brewed special for an Arctic expedition. They did drink it, didn't throw up; don't know if it actually had any beer flavor left. Even that beer had probably been made with coke kilned pale malt. The EKG is the only ingredient that was around in 1800.
    My buddy and I brewed a 'historical' IPA recently which was basically ripped off from a kit NB sells - I'll have to get the brewing notes (it was his idea and we used Beersmith) from him and post it if it turns out.
    I'm curious; have you sampled any English beers that you liked a lot?
     
  9. sbaclimber

    sbaclimber Well-Known Member

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    Not to derail the thread....but you obviously didn't try the *best* Rauchbier. ;)
    [​IMG]

    In all seriousness though, even here in Germany (at least of all the people I know), there are very few who actually like Rauchbier....and none who are ambivalent. It seems to be either a 'love it' or 'hate it' type beer.
     
  10. JAMC

    JAMC Member

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    Yeah, I appreciate it's not the most practical way to brew! If the shoe was on the other foot I wouldn't have a clue how to go about it either. It's difficult enough to control temperature with a PID and electric elements, let alone with a set of bellows and a temperature probe (at least I imagine that's how you'd have to do it...).

    I'd have to research it to be sure, but I think you're right about the 19th century kilning process, it would have been at the full height of the industrial revolution. Somewhere in the house I have "the science of brewing" which I picked up from the local book trader a few months ago - I think it dates back to the late 1930s. I'll try and dig it out and see what, if anything, it says about industrial and pre-industrial processes.

    I also have a vague memory of reading somewhere that Fuggle is one of the oldest hop varieties and would have been available pre-industrialisation.

    Oh yes, hundreds! The British tradition of small, local breweries took a knock between the 1970s and 1990s with the emergence of mass produced lager, but it's now regaining ground and enjoying something of a renaissance. An Englishman's thirst for beer is never quenched, as shown by this map which attempts to plot all the operational breweries in the country (even then I doubt they've got them all!).

    The appreciation of good English beer is probably worthy of it's own thread.
     
  11. Altbier bitte

    Altbier bitte New Member

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    The Fuggle hop was propagated in Kent by Mr Richard Fuggle of Brenchley in 1875, the plant having first been noticed in about 1861, growing at Horsmonden. ww.horsmonden.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=26&Itemid=38
    I can't confirm this, but I've seen the story in several places. We used fuggle in our 'historic' IPA we brewed a couple of weeks ago, so I guess it's a post 1861 beer. Of course, we also used Maris Otter which was introduced in the 1960s. I guess I'd rather have delicious beer than historically accurate beer.
    I guess I misunderstood you JAMC; I was under the impression that you were an ex-pat American. you were talking about the CAMRA movement, right? I think their original intentions were/are good, but some of their ideas are a little extreme - they object to the use of CO2 in serving cask ale. They should take a look at the inroads American craft beer has made in American bars - quality beer doesn't necessarily have to be cask conditioned or strictly served with air. I guess I can understand how an English beer lover might get a little defensive over BMC type beers driving one of the world's great culinary traditions out of the pub.
     
  12. JAMC

    JAMC Member

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    Yep, I'm a Brit. Irony, marmite and a life devoid of optimism. It's fun over here!

    CAMRA did (and continue to) play a big part in fighting back the domination of mass-produced lager that was threatening the survival of the smaller traditional ale producers over here. I think the reason for the militant stance on CO2 use is due to a desire to remain faithful to the traditional taste of cask ale. Having been around long before pressurised CO2 was widely available, the casking process contributes a certain level of oxidation into the overall flavour that CAMRA and others consider a vital part of the genuine experience. And in fairness, I kind of understand why. I'm lucky enough to live near a pub that serves Marston's Pedigree on cask, which is one of the few beers still produced a) in Burton-on-Trent and b) fermented in the Burton Union system of interlinked wooden barrels. That's a drinking experience and a half.

    CAMRA's rigid rules are all well and good if you're running a pub and sell out a cask in a couple of days or less, but it's not really practical for home brewers IMO. I bottle my batches at the moment, but if I were to move into dispensing from a tap, you can be sure I'd want a means of purging and pressurising the cask or keg with CO2 to prevent oxidation and keep the beer properly carbonated over extended periods.

    CAMRA are slowly coming to terms with the fact that a lot of the new microbreweries here shift a large chunk of their output in bottles instead of selling casks to pubs (in practice most will do both). They've agreed recently that bottle conditioned beers that rely exclusively on CO2 produced by yeast can be called "real ale".
     
  13. Altbier bitte

    Altbier bitte New Member

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    "CAMRA are slowly coming to terms with the fact that a lot of the new microbreweries here shift a large chunk of their output in bottles instead of selling casks to pubs (in practice most will do both). They've agreed recently that bottle conditioned beers that rely exclusively on CO2 produced by yeast can be called "real ale"."
    I've seen a couple of those CAMRA approved bottle conditioned beers - didn't know that was a new thing. I don't drink BMC (in case you didn't know, that stands for Bud-Miller-Coors, i.e, watery lager), haven't for years, but I do have a crude taste for over-carbed beer - I generally bottle with an oz of sugar/gallon.
    My favorite commercial IPA, Firestone Walker Union Jack, is brewed using a Burton-Union Style setup. All American hops though.
     
  14. JAMC

    JAMC Member

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    As a fellow fan of decent carb levels, I'd say your ratio is bang on. It's roughly what I used to carb my latest batch. I find a decent quantity of carbonic acid gives many beer styles the right level of "bite".

    I'm guessing that's a fairly unusual brewing setup in the US?
     
  15. Altbier bitte

    Altbier bitte New Member

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    Yeah, the only one I've heard of. It's ridiculously awesome beer. I guess it ought to be for $10.99 /six pack 12 OZ bottles.
     

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