Make Your Best, cont’d

Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine - - The Mash -

Soon, a cer­tain style of re­ally-for-fall-but-it’s-al­ready-out beer will hit the shelves. I’m not go­ing to tell you how to make one, but if I did, the base style would be this North­ern English Brown ale.

Style: North­ern English Brown ale is not even a proper “brown” ale. My ver­sion is lighter in color than my mild, com­ing in more at medium-am­ber! But the name in­di­cates that it’s sim­ply darker than bit­ters but not as dark as porters. As a style, there’s a lot of room for in­ter­pre­ta­tion here. The key is a fun­da­men­tal drink­a­bil­ity.

This beer re­lies on malt char­ac­ter but at the same time isn’t par­tic­u­larly malty: you should taste a good amount of medium-crys­tal fla­vor (caramel, tof­fee), but it should have a nice bal­anc­ing bit­ter­ness to it. It should also taste fairly “light,” both in terms of mouth­feel and al­co­hol. De­spite be­ing a darker beer, it typ­i­cally has no more al­co­hol than an English bit­ter.

In­gre­di­ents: The key to this beer is good-qual­ity in­gre­di­ents that shine through. Our grist is com­posed of one of each class of malt: Base—8 lb (3.6 kg) Maris Ot­ter; Crys­tal—1 lb (454 g) Bri­tish Medium Crys­tal (65L); and Choco­late—0.25 lb (113 g) Bri­tish Pale Choco­late (220L).

Some like to add flaked maize, tor­ri­fied wheat, or flaked bar­ley to smooth out the tex­ture, and if I hap­pen to have some flaked bar­ley on hand, 0.50 lb (227 g) might find its way into the mash. The im­por­tant thing about this grist is that you end up with a pre­dom­i­nately caramel/ bread fla­vor pro­file, with a touch of tof­fee and some slight dry­ing roast, all for about 48 grav­ity points that yield an ABV of about 4.8 per­cent. If you no­tice a cof­fee fla­vor in the fin­ished beer, in­crease your crys­tal malt ad­di­tion and back off your roast ad­di­tion un­til it goes away!

Hopping is, like­wise, pretty sim­ple. One oz (28 g) East Kent Gold­ings at 60 min­utes will im­part about 25 IBUS, and 1 oz (28 g) Fug­gles at flame-out will give you that great, earthy, “I love the smell of Eng­land in the morn­ing” aroma.

For yeast, I pre­fer Wyeast 1028 (Lon­don Ale). It’s one more back­stop against an overly sweet beer.

Process: Start fer­men­ta­tion rel­a­tively low in the ale tem­per­a­ture range (65°F/18°C) and in­crease through­out fer­men­ta­tion to pro­mote at­ten­u­a­tion and hold off/clean up di­acetyl. Wyeast 1028 is a great at­ten­u­a­tor and isn’t par­tic­u­larly prone to di­acetyl, but it’s still good prac­tice. Re­sist the urge to over-car­bon­ate this beer. It’s ter­rific at cask pres­sure (about one vol­ume of CO2)— the malt fla­vors are won­der­fully del­i­cate. If you want to make a beer-that-shall-notbe-named-while-it’s-still-sum­mer, I like to cut and roast my gourd ma­te­rial and add it to the mash, then add my other ground-up spe­cial in­gre­di­ents post-fer­men­ta­tion, to taste. Use a light hand with both and you’ll get a beer that is rem­i­nis­cent of the sea­son but that leaves peo­ple to won­der if you’ve re­ally made a sea­sonal squash-based fer­mented bev­er­age at all.

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