Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Brew Day: Winter Warmer

One of the problems with brewing English styled beer here in the States, is that there often isn't much to take inspiration from. Unlike our trans Atlantic cousins whom have every form and flavor of British beer at their literal doorsteps, over here, it is nigh impossible to find anything on tap that might be considered true to its origins. And if you do find something, chances are it is a straight-jacket interpretation of one or two styles; a bitter or maybe if you are lucky, a porter. The cumulative effect of this lack of diversity in British beer (over here) is that we have formed a very narrow view of what "British" beer is and what it can be. I am guilty of it too. Bitters are pale to coppery colored, brewed with Maris Otter, EKG, and a flavorful yeast. Rinse and repeat to make the other styles. Obviously, this isn't the case. The variety of flavors found in British beer are as diverse as those brewed elsewhere, including Belgium.

With that said, this is a beer I really needed to brew. Something that is different enough from the norm of what I typically brew, yet still familiar. In the end, I decided to brew a winter warmer of sorts. I got the idea from a suggestion that I might consider brewing Gale's HSB, a darker colored special bitter that features Bramling Cross hops and various brewing sugars in the recipe. Reading about the history of the Gale's brewery, now owned by Fullers, I noticed they once produced a (vatted) old ale and used some of it for blending. Intrigued by this, I decided to try and combine an ESB style bitter with that of an old ale or winter warmer, focusing less on the bright caramel and floral hop flavors in favor of the dark caramel and earthy/woodsy ones.

Recipe wise, to ensure this beer is rich and chewy, I used a sizable amount crystal malt and further supported it with a large addition of brewers invert syrup. I made the invert syrup from demerara sugar and a small amount of molasses, reduced it for two hours at 240F until it was nearly black in color and tasted of port and licorice. I would have liked to use Bramling Cross hops - which have a wonderful mix of earthy blackcurrant and lemon flavor - but I figured Northern Brewer and UK Fuggles would be an acceptable substitute. They should pair nicely with the bready-minerally-oaky character of the yeast.

Old Pretender : Winter Warmer

Recipe Specifics: 
Batch Size (Gal): 4.5
Total Grain (Lbs): 10.00
Anticipated OG: 1.058
Anticipated FG: 1.014
Anticipated SRM: 20
Anticipated IBU: 38
Efficiency: 70%
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

75.0% - 7.50 lbs. Golden Promise
10.0% - 1.00 lbs. Medium Crystal (55L)
5.0%  - 0.50 lbs. Torrified Wheat
2.5%  - 0.25 lbs. Pale Chocolate
7.5%  - 0.75 lbs. Invert Syrup, No. 3

1.00 oz. Northern Brewer @ 60 min for 33 IBU
0.50 oz. UK Fuggle @ 20 min for 5 IBU
1.00 oz. UK Fuggle @ flameout

Yeast: Wyeast 1028 London Ale
Mash 154F for 60 min
Brewed on 14 January

1 comment:

  1. Glad you're having a go at a winter warmer. It was quite common for the local breweries to produce something over Christmas. I'll have to try brewing an Gales HSB myself. In the day i think we thought it was perhaps on the strong side, seems ridiculous now over here that at 4.8% we thought it too strong but then again the average bitter that we were used to probably ran about 3.5%. Still trying to come up with a golden IPA recipe from my youth for summer that was at 1.038, brewery now sadly closed down after 150 yrs.
    HSB on cask is very nice if you get the chance, probably more common in the south.


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