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Old 10-21-2012, 07:51 PM   #1
Jul 2012
Baltimore, MD
Posts: 23
Liked 6 Times on 4 Posts

Inspired by the chapter "Dulce Domun" in The Wind in the Willows, I'd like to
make an Old Burton ale. The good folks at Shut Up About Barclay Perkins
have a pretty simple recipe for a 1935 "Fuller's Old Burton Extra" which I've
modified just slightly to round out the weights.


I'd be interested in any input by anyone who has made an Old Burton. I
realize a perfect version is impossible, so I'm more interested in getting into
the general neighborhood.

For a 5 Gallon Batch (values copied from the website, not checked to see if
things like ABV are actually reasonable)

English pale malt 5.25 lb
American 6-row 5.25 lb
Flaked Maize 1.83 lb (29 oz)
White sugar 0.37 lb (6 oz)
Caramel colorant 0.08 lb

Goldings 4.5% 90min 3 oz
Goldings 4.5% 30min 1.5 oz
Goldings 4.5% dry hop 2 oz

Ferment 68F
Nottingham ale yeast / WLP002 English Ale Yeast / WY 1968

Mash [email protected]
Boil 1.5 hours

OG 1.067
FG 1.014
ABV 7.13
SRM 17

Water: The sticky in the Brew Science section


recommends adding to soft water (like mine) 2 teaspoons gypsum and 2 tsp
calcium chloride for Burton ale. Is this a reasonable figure? I've read all of
the posts warning like crazy never alter your water by one single ppm until
you know exactly what you're after, but given water soft like mine, and a
target as hard as Burton water, it seems crazy to get obsessive about this,
especially when there are plenty of other variables that I'll never control --
I'd rather hit a decent approximation and leave it at that.

Caramel coloring: It's evidently hard to find. This thread includes a post


recommending making your own out of sugar, water and cream of tartar.
Any idea how much of this would equal the amount in the recipe? I assume
it's OK to just add it at bottling time, considering it's a very small amount and
presumably has a small impact on flavor, and it will be easier to adjust at
that time.

Mash: I do brew in a bag. Any idea if I need to modify the mash time or
temp (or anything else)? I assume not, but I typically do a 1 hour mash and
want to make sure there isn't some issue to watch out for with the longer
mash besides the usual temp control.

Yeast: The recipe calls for either Nottingham or WLP002 / WY 1968. The
dry and the liquids don't seem to be equivalent -- any idea which is
preferable (leaving out the endless debate of dry v. wet) -- I'm thinking
strictly in terms of appropriate for Old Burton. If Nottingham's not the right
dry, is there a better alternative?

Anything Else: Any other comments on this recipe, or Old Burton in general?

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Old 10-22-2012, 03:43 AM   #2
Aug 2008
, New York
Posts: 1,567
Liked 134 Times on 83 Posts

First, I applaud you for wanting to brew a 'historical' Burton and, of course, The Wind in the Willows reference. Great book!

As for your water, I wouldn't worry too much about replicating a true Burton profile. What they have listed as "Burton Water" is probably more bollocks than anything else and beers made with that much sulfate taste like crap. You would be much better off aiming for something more middle of the road than adding a ton of salts just for the sake of historical accuracy. If you know what your water profile currently is, check out "Bru'n Water" and plug everything in from there. If you don't know what your water is exactly, it is still worth using as you'll get a better idea of what 2tsp of sulfate and CaCl2 is going to do. I would be much more concerned about achieving a proper mash and sparge ph than mirroring a set water profile. Regardless, I'd stick with less than 350ppm sulfate no matter what you decide to do. Not that 2tsp would necessarily put you over that.

As for the caramel colorant, it would work out to be around 1.25 oz by weight. This can be added during the boil or fermentation or whenever. I haven't made colorant, but I do make English brewers syrup quite often and the process is very much the same and easy to do. Honestly though, I would probably just drop the caramel and instead use a few ounces of a debittered black malt or something similar for color adjustment. The beer historians will forgive you and there is so much other stuff going on no one would ever notice.

Per the mash, I don't BIAB, but unless you have a very thin mash and can't get the maize to convert, there shouldn't be much to worry about. I've brewed with 6-row malt in historical beers and again, don't feel bad for subbing it out with a cheap 2-row if you want. It's not going to make a huge difference, besides from conversion issues (if there are any).

Lastly, for the yeast, I would certainly not use Nottingham. It ferments out soo dry, you'll never get the beer to attenuate to where you want it. Wy1968 would be a fine choice, as would wy1028, 1318, and 1469. Most Burtons were rather big bodied beers, so you want something that's not going to get 80+% attenuation. If you are planning to bottle this beer, I would avoid 1968 as it can have issues with over carbonating. Actually, 1318 London III would be a great yeast for a beer like this, as it lends a slight candy-sweetness to the beer which will do very well with both the low mash temp and all the adjuncts that are going to ferment out. Hope I helped. Good luck with the brew.

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Old 10-22-2012, 02:09 PM   #3
Jul 2012
Baltimore, MD
Posts: 23
Liked 6 Times on 4 Posts

Thanks for the detailed reply. I share your sentiment about not getting too uptight about the water -- I've read a bit about the extreme hardness of Burton water, and then finally saw an interesting piece somewhere that said when you heat it up for the mash (or maybe it was during the boil) large amounts of the minerals end up precipitating and getting left behind anyway, and I believe the sticky I linked to was trying to replicate the water after it was heated. At any rate, I think it's a good idea to dial things back on the first try and bump up if necessary if I do a future batch, so I think I'll add a modest amount of junk to the water this time around.

As far as caramel coloring, if I had another use for the leftovers I might go that route, but right now I think you're right that a few ounces of dark is probably the way to go. Thanks also for the yeast input, I'll see what's available where I shop.

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Old 10-18-2013, 12:35 PM   #4
Apr 2005
Posts: 252
Liked 37 Times on 26 Posts

Fuller's at the time used their own well water which was low in sulphates. You can find an analysis of their type of water here:


It's the one called Thames Valley deep well (London).

Though it's called a Burton Ale, the water wasn't burtonised. The water treatment was pretty simple: 1 ounce of salt per barrel and one twentieth of a pint of S.S.C.C. No idea what that is, I'm afraid.

Fuller's did burtonise the water for their Bitters, adding 9 ounces of gypsum per barrel.

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