Despite its rich brewing tradition, beers from England often seem to be overlooked with all of the frenzy surrounding Belgian and American breweries. Even German and Czech lagers seem to be regaining some cachet after the initial backlash against lagers. I think part of the problem is that some of England's best beer styles are low alcohol and best at their freshest (unlike many other beers that are shelf stable for at least a few months). Most of the American craft beer movement was built on English styles (adapted to American tastes and ingredients) IPAs, Brown Ales, Porters, and Imperial Stouts are all rooted in the British tradition. Maybe that is the problem, are we overly familiar with the flavors, always looking for what's next?
I have the same problem, while I love drinking a great mild or bitter when it is put in front of me, they aren’t the sort of beers that I tend to get really excited about. The ideal English session ale has a relatively simple flavor that doesn’t fatigue the palate (unlike my low-alcohol IPA). Brewers strive to use a light hand with assertive specialty malts and hops, letting the base malt and yeast strain play lead roles. I’m the sort of person who tends to order samples when I'm at a bar, and I almost never orders a second glass of the same beer (what’s next?).
However, there are some English breweries deviating from tradition and brewing really interesting beers. I think Thornbridge is producing some of the best beers of this young group. Jaipur IPA is crisp, minerally, and bright (on tap and the fresher the better), and unlike many other English "IPAs" it is not just a bitter. Thornbridge Bracia is an almost gruit-like imperial stout with peat smoked malt, chestnut honey, and licorice. I wish they were getting the sort of hype that BrewDog does because their beers are certainly better. Williams Brothers is also sending some interesting casks to America. I thoroughly enjoyed a glass of New Beginnings, which is a golden bitter lightly hopped with Amarillo Nelson Sauvin on cask.
To straddle the line between these two divergent English brewing identities, my friend Nate and I decided to employ a traditional English technique, parti-gyle mashing. I’ve mentioned it before, but parti-gyle simply refers to running off multiple beers from a single mash. In this case, the mash was composed of traditional enough ingredients: bready Maris Otter, light-coffee brown malt, slightly burnt chocolate malt, a variety of caramel toned crystal malts, and a healthy dose of chewy oats.
Chewy Brown Porters
Batch Size (Gal): 5.50
Total Grain (Lbs): 21.50
Big OG: 1.078
Small OG: 1.045
Big IBUs: 21.0
Small IBUs: 17.9
Brewhouse Efficiency: 83% (total)
Wort Boil Time: 105 minutes
69.8% - 15.00 lbs. Maris Otter
9.3% - 2.00 lbs. Brown Malt
9.3% - 2.00 lbs. Quick Oats
4.7% - 1.00 lbs. Crystal 80L
4.7% - 1.00 lbs. CaraMunich Malt
2.3% - 0.50 lbs. Chocolate Malt
Big: 1.25 oz. Styrian Goldings (Pellet, 5.00% AA) @ 75 min.
Small .75 oz Crystal (Whole, 6.00% AA) @ 60 min
.5 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 15 min.
.5 Whirlfloc @ 15 min.
White Labs WLP037 Yorkshire Square Ale
Profile: Washington DC
Sacch Rest I - 60 min @ 154 F
Sacch Rest II - 15 min @ 160 F
Brewed 1/28/12 with Nate
Quick oats from Whole Foods. Two kinds of brown malt, 1.5 lbs were the darker variety.
Filtered DC water, no adjustments.
7.25 gallons of first runnings @ 1.066
Sparged with 7 gallons of 170 F water, collected the same back @1.030
Took 3 qrts of the first runnings a put them into the second runnings, 2 qrts back the other way.
Boiled first runnings for 30 min, then added 1.25 oz of Styrian Golding pellets.
Small beer got .75 oz of Crystal @ 6% AA @ 60 min for ~18 IBUs.
Chilled both beers to ~67 F, strained, shook to aerate. Yeast cake from 3.5% Vienna IPA thing. 4 oz for the big half, 3 oz for the small half.
Good fermentation on both by 18 hours.
2/13/12 Moved downstairs ~55 F to help clear the beers before bottling.
2/18/12 Bottled the 4.5 gallons of smaller beer (1.009) with 3 1/8 oz of table sugar, and the 5 gallons of the big beer (1.015) with 3 1/2 oz of table sugar. Aiming for about 2.3 volumes of CO2 for both.
6/9/12 Despite the reasonable target carbonation target the beer quickly became over-carbonated, with both halves drying out a few more points after bottling. Not sure what caused it. Full tasting notes, pretty happy with how the beer turned out otherwise.