Saturday, November 5, 2011

New beer

It all started with a desire to brew something new. It's been a while since I have brewed something that wasn't based on my standard set of recipes. Sometimes I switch up the hop profile a little or even try out a new yeast strain with one of my tried and true beers, but most of what I keep around tend to be the same basic styles of beer. I usually keep an ordinary bitter, an IPA, maybe a stout, etc... a good variety, I assure you, and one that prevents me from buying much beer at all, but man cannot live on the standard flight of beers alone.

This week, in my normal online perusal of the writings of others, I came across a recipe for a traditional Scottish ale. 1868 traditional, to be more precise. The recipe is an attempt to duplicate a Youngers 120 shilling ale from around 1868. It looks pretty cool and should lend some different flavors from what I generally keep around. It is also a 120 shilling ale, so it will be perfect as cooler weather sets in. I usually will only use others' recipes as inspiration for concocting my own, but this time I decided to make an exception and brew the recipe as written. So I jotted down the ingredient list and headed to the homebrew store, full of anticipation.

The recipe calls for scottish pale malt and continental pale malt. At the homebrew store, they didn't have any scottish malt, and they suggested german malt as the continental malt. Their suggestion was to use Maris Otter as my base in place of the scottish. This beer was starting to sound like my bitters, where Maris Otter is my base. So I opted for the English pale malt in its stead.

As far as hops, the recipe calls for bittering with fuggle and finishing with some obscure Polish hops; obscure in middle TN, anyway. I picked up my fuggle hops, but had to settle for what the recipe called the closest replacement for the Polish hops, some Czech Saaz hops. I actually also picked up some Sterling hops, which are also supposed to be a close match. My plan is to finish with the Sterling hops and dry hop with some Saaz.

So in the end, my attempt to brew the Younger's reproduction won't really be a Younger's reproduction at all. I am using the yeast they suggest, which is a Wyeast London III yeast. I have never used Wyeast before, so I'm interested in the results of this one, in both the flavor and attenuation (though the recipe calls for a high final gravity). Assuming I get good results, the beer probably won't be too far off of an ESB, except that the German malt and different hops should provide some varied flavors, and the added strength should give it a good malty body. Sounds like a good winter warmer to me.

So the only downside of brewing something out of the norm is added cost. Because I am using hops that I don't ordinarily use, I had to buy them retail instead of using hops from my bulk-purchased supply freezer. In addition, it is very unlikely that I will end up re-using my yeast (mainly from lack of time/beer storage space for another batch right now). So this batch soaks up the total cost of the premium liquid yeast. Total cost of this batch:$38 (including tax). Still cheaper than buying anything better than PBR or Keystone at the beer store. (I guess that doesn't include other costs such as propane, water, and the beer I drink during the brewing process.)

And a brief update of my brewing in the last few months....

I brewed a bunch of beer in the late spring so that I could take the summer off from brewing for travel and because I'm not a fan of hanging outside in the 100 degree weather. I also don't drink as much beer in the summer (due to the heat) so my supply lasted the duration (and I am still working on a couple of the kegs now). Current tapped beers include ordinary bitter, summer stout, milk stout, Inglewood pale ale, and an IPA. The milk stout is actually a small beer created from the second runnings of an imperial stout I brewed in September and which is still sitting in the secondary. The Inglewood pale is my IPA malt bill hopped solely with fresh hops grown about 1/4 mile from my house by my friend Greg, whose hop vines have been growing about ten years now. Every year he gets a healthy crop, and I was the lucky recipent of most of this year's harvest. The IPA is loaded up with a bunch of Columbus, Willamette, and Crystal hops from last year's harvest that I needed to go ahead and use. It rivals about any commercially available highly hopped beer in its hoppiness, but like to think it's a bit smoother drinking than most of the others.