English Ales - What's your favorite recipe?

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cire

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Question for folks conditioning in casks/firkins/pins/polypins

After racking to the serving vessel, do you condition it at warm temperature for a week or so to carbonate? or do you immediately drop to celler temp (55F) and allow it to carbonate/condition very slowly?

I've been doing a ton of internet searching on this and found many inconsistent answers, and even seen comments from some professional brewers claiming that 55F at 1atm of pressure gives you the proper carbonation level (which is patently false), so curious what you all think.
Section 8 in this item gives the details. A vessel sealed at atmospheric pressure and left at cellar temperature will provide the correct carbonation.

Typically the yeast is cropped as gravity tends to final gravity and the wort cooled to bring fermentation to a virtual stop at about 2 degrees above FG. After a suitable stand the beer is casked with finings and sealed. Sufficient yeast remains in the cask to ferment the remaining sugars and adequately condition the beer at cellar temperature. The rest is up to the cellarman to tap and dispense the beer when it is ready.

If the vessel is spiled and left open to the atmosphere at cellar temperature, the beer will normally last only a few days. If fermentation is allowed to continue at, or near to, FG, it will be necessary to prime the cask.
 

cyberbackpacker

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@TheMadKing to be honest, I have not gotten consistent results with my polypins/cubitainers and I have tried both methods-- carb at 65 and drop to 55, and carb at 55 and wait. I've had some success with both methods, but not great with either, and not real consistent with either.

But, I keep trying!
 

TheMadKing

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Section 8 in this item gives the details. A vessel sealed at atmospheric pressure and left at cellar temperature will provide the correct carbonation.
This will result in less than 1 volume of CO2 in solution per the carbonation chart, and most sources I've seen recommend between 1.1 -1.5 for english ales. So either the pressure is increasing in the cask to higher than atmospheric pressure, or this concept isn't correct.
 

TheMadKing

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@TheMadKing to be honest, I have not gotten consistent results with my polypins/cubitainers and I have tried both methods-- carb at 65 and drop to 55, and carb at 55 and wait. I've had some success with both methods, but not great with either, and not real consistent with either.

But, I keep trying!
Do you fill them with the exact same amount each time? Because these containers are flexible, the amount they are filled will have a huge impact on the pressure inside, and thus on the carbonation.
 

cyberbackpacker

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Do you fill them with the exact same amount each time? Because these containers are flexible, the amount they are filled will have a huge impact on the pressure inside, and thus on the carbonation.
@TheMadKing yes, I have marks on my cubitainers I've filled to consistently. With this last batch though, I basically filled to the very edge of the start of the threads and gambled the cubitainer would hold. That said, the condition was on point with this batch (the Extra Stout pic I posted is from the cubitainer).
 

lowtones84

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I've always left it warm for a few days then got it to cellar temp, personally, but not sure there's a right answer here.
 

cire

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This will result in less than 1 volume of CO2 in solution per the carbonation chart, and most sources I've seen recommend between 1.1 -1.5 for english ales. So either the pressure is increasing in the cask to higher than atmospheric pressure, or this concept isn't correct.
Did you take into account the CO2 already in the fermenting wort which is then cooled up to the point it is casked? It works and is what they do in commercial breweries and I do here. The most needed is 1.5 volumes.

More sugars are needed for flexible vessels. All mine are rigid plastic or SS.

Edit: Just reread the post and quote above. Of course the pressure increases above atmosheric in the cask as the remaining sugars are fermented. The surplus pressure is released when the cask is spiled and at cellar temperature the correct amount of CO2 remains in the beer. It shouldn't be fizzy.
 
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cire

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Sorry about the mess, but the picture does show a SS firkin sat on my fermentation bench. The tap is seen behind the swan neck of the beer engine driven into the plastic keystone. The barrel is inclined as its contents were low. Even so, the beer can be seen to still be live. At the top and middle of the barrel can be seen a hard wood spile driven into a shive. Being solid it reduces CO2 loss between sessions if driven home. A porous soft spile can be fitted if the beer is too lively to slowly vent excess CO2.

A cask is placed on stillage to allow yeast and finings to settle. When thought ready, a spile is hammered into the shive, releasing excess pressure. A lively cask can be given more time or fitted with a soft spile. The tap is knocked into the keystone and beer sampled. If the beer isn't ready a hard spile is fitted until it is. To serve, the spile is slackened or removed, the tap opened and the beer drawn through by a beer engine. A beer engine is essential to enjoy ale at its best.


IMG-20200326-WA0005.jpeg
 

TheMadKing

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Sorry about the mess, but the picture does show a SS firkin sat on my fermentation bench. The tap is seen behind the swan neck of the beer engine driven into the plastic keystone. The barrel is inclined as its contents were low. Even so, the beer can be seen to still be live. At the top and middle of the barrel can be seen a hard wood spile driven into a shive. Being solid it reduces CO2 loss between sessions if driven home. A porous soft spile can be fitted if the beer is too lively to slowly vent excess CO2.

A cask is placed on stillage to allow yeast and finings to settle. When thought ready, a spile is hammered into the shive, releasing excess pressure. A lively cask can be given more time or fitted with a soft spile. The tap is knocked into the keystone and beer sampled. If the beer isn't ready a hard spile is fitted until it is. To serve, the spile is slackened or removed, the tap opened and the beer drawn through by a beer engine. A beer engine is essential to enjoy ale at its best.


View attachment 673533
That’s a nice setup! I’m planning to build a beer engine in the future when I can get the wife to agree to one more piece of brewing gear.

On the carbonation, I just reread your original post and understand it A little better now but still getting my head around it.

So you’re saying that the yeast will indeed be active enough at 55F to ferment the last 2 degrees plato and carbonate the beer?

As far as the carbonation level being correct at 55F at ambient pressure (after the cask is tapped), I still don’t understand that. I get that it will gain carbonation while the cask is sealed and some pressure is allowed to build up, but The carbonation in the beer will reach equilibrium with ambient temperature and pressure once the cask is vented. So at 1 atm and 55F the carbonation will equilibrate at less than 1 volume, which isn’t enough even for cask ale.

Edit: Also, how much time do you normally allow for conditioning? Are we talking a week, two weeks, or a month or more?
 
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cire

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That’s a nice setup! I’m planning to build a beer engine in the future when I can get the wife to agree to one more piece of brewing gear.
Beer engines are very expensive in US in comparison to here in UK. The cost to post an engine from UK to US is also rather prohibitive.

On the carbonation, I just reread your original post and understand it A little better now but still getting my head around it.

So you’re saying that the yeast will indeed be active enough at 55F to ferment the last 2 degrees plato and carbonate the beer?
Put simply, yes, but different yeasts act at differing rates and for differing durations, Some will continue fermenting at cellar temperature for several months, ultimately taking gravity down many more points than than the 2 or 3 expected. Others, especially those known to be high attenuators, do not act for as long. For example Nottingham attenuates more than Windsor, but such beers would be found to have near similar gravities if left in casks for 6 months. However, if they were tapped after, say, 1 month, that with Windsor would last longer, that with Nottingham losing carbonation first.

As far as the carbonation level being correct at 55F at ambient pressure (after the cask is tapped), I still don’t understand that. I get that it will gain carbonation while the cask is sealed and some pressure is allowed to build up, but The carbonation in the beer will reach equilibrium with ambient temperature and pressure once the cask is vented. So at 1 atm and 55F the carbonation will equilibrate at less than 1 volume, which isn’t enough even for cask ale.
The carbonation chart gave a figure of 1.1 for CO2 at equilibrium at 55F. I have no comparative chart and cannot dispute its accuracy other than to say that beer has been like this in UK for vastly more than a century and would be so in US in previous times on others even today from what I read. Beer served flat it would be refused and sent back and while that might occasionally happen, I cannot remember when I might have done that and it will be very rare in a decent pub.

How long does it take for CO2 to reach equilibrium? Might it be that by the time the hard spile is returned for CO2 pressure to build up, that equilibrium had not been reached and carbonation was at all times higher than the chart suggested? Also British brewery yeasts will have been somewhat different to equivalents marketed by White Labs and Wyeast. Cellarmanship is an art in itself and such British beers are called "Cask Conditioned" for good reason. Some other reading here.
 

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I have an authenticate beer engine that I brought back from London when I lived there in the 90's. Now that I have my brewery and bar set up, I have also now set up my cask system. I seriously considered the box wine method (cubitainers), but in the end became a heretic and set up an ultra-low pressure CO2 system with a 3rd stage (propane) regulator. I package in a 2.5 gallon keg, then force carbonate to 1.5 vols. and store cold (this process is exactly the same as for most kegged beers). A few hours before "bar nite" I set out the keg to warm up to about 53F, and then it is ready to go. Easy to keep the beer fresh (it goes back into my conditioning fridge afterwards), and never allows O2 enter. Yeah, probably not approved by cask purists, but it gets to the same end point, works extremely well and can keep the beer good for a long time!
 

kmarkstevens

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Sorry about the mess, but the picture does show a SS firkin sat on my fermentation bench. The tap is seen behind the swan neck of the beer engine driven into the plastic keystone. The barrel is inclined as its contents were low. Even so, the beer can be seen to still be live. At the top and middle of the barrel can be seen a hard wood spile driven into a shive. Being solid it reduces CO2 loss between sessions if driven home. A porous soft spile can be fitted if the beer is too lively to slowly vent excess CO2.

A cask is placed on stillage to allow yeast and finings to settle. When thought ready, a spile is hammered into the shive, releasing excess pressure. A lively cask can be given more time or fitted with a soft spile. The tap is knocked into the keystone and beer sampled. If the beer isn't ready a hard spile is fitted until it is. To serve, the spile is slackened or removed, the tap opened and the beer drawn through by a beer engine. A beer engine is essential to enjoy ale at its best.
Not only does that look great, but your post is about the most impressive piece of jargon I have ever seen.
:bravo:
PS. I listened to Jamil Zainishef on the brewing network podcast covering casks. Otherwise, I would have no idea what the above is rabbiting on about.
 

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My favorite English Ale recipe is my Dark Chocolate Ale which uses real chocolate. I am not giving that recipe up. LOL. Recently did an Old Peculiar clone and that came out awesome and I got a lot of compliments. I posted up the recipe on the Northern Brewer forum. I could dig it back up and post it here if people are interested. I make a lot of English Ales. If you do decide to make a chocolate ale it is important to rouse the chocolate when fermentation takes off by sticking a sanitized racking cane in there and giving it a good stir. Just do it once and you will be fine.
 

TheMadKing

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The carbonation chart gave a figure of 1.1 for CO2 at equilibrium at 55F. I have no comparative chart and cannot dispute its accuracy other than to say that beer has been like this in UK for vastly more than a century and would be so in US in previous times on others even today from what I read. Beer served flat it would be refused and sent back and while that might occasionally happen, I cannot remember when I might have done that and it will be very rare in a decent pub.

How long does it take for CO2 to reach equilibrium? Might it be that by the time the hard spile is returned for CO2 pressure to build up, that equilibrium had not been reached and carbonation was at all times higher than the chart suggested? Also British brewery yeasts will have been somewhat different to equivalents marketed by White Labs and Wyeast. Cellarmanship is an art in itself and such British beers are called "Cask Conditioned" for good reason. Some other reading here.
Thank you for the notes and the reading, they are very much appreciated. As for the carbonation chart, just one minor clarification, that the units across the top are PSIG not atmospheres, so that 1.1 volumes is at a pressure of 1 PSI in earths gravity (roughly 15.5 PSI in comparison to a vacuum). This chart is also based on the laws of physics and gas diffusion, so it is indeed accurate.

However your last point of the time needed to reach equilibrium is probably the answer. CO2 diffuses into solution and out of solution at a rate proportional to the partial pressure of the headspace and ambient temperature. So if you think of it in reverse terms, if I was intending to force carbonate a beer with 0 CO2 in solution by keeping it at 55F at 1 PSI, then it might take a couple weeks, so that is likely the same speed as the CO2 coming out of solution.

I can also say that you can achieve a very similar creaminess and head from a beer poured without a beer engine by cheating, i.e. using a syringe to suck up about 20mL of beer and then forcing it out again at high pressure. It works just like a widget in imported cans of Boddingtons or Guinness.

I’m currently enjoying a pint (a proper 16oz pint) of my best bitter with lunch, carbonated to ~1.1 volumes in a polypin by priming it with corn sugar and keeping it at 68F. On the next batch I will cold crash and then package earlier in hopes of avoiding the need to prime them, and as you suggest store them at 55F until they are properly carbonated.

Thanks very much for all the discuss, very helpful to us in the States who don’t have easy access to the great knowledge resources and pubs that you all have.

Cheers
 

cire

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Thanks for that, just another clarification. In UK a pint is 20 oz, as is the glass in my picture.

Cheers.
 

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Slight diversion, but I just racked my 1850's Truman IPA to secondary with Brett C. On its 4 month "voyage to India" now in a dark closet with temp control! Sample tasted good (though very bitter at the moment), and bottled about a gallon left over with no Brett.
20200401_195956.jpg
 

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Question for folks conditioning in casks/firkins/pins/polypins

After racking to the serving vessel, do you condition it at warm temperature for a week or so to carbonate? or do you immediately drop to celler temp (55F) and allow it to carbonate/condition very slowly?

I've been doing a ton of internet searching on this and found many inconsistent answers, and even seen comments from some professional brewers claiming that 55F at 1atm of pressure gives you the proper carbonation level (which is patently false), so curious what you all think.
How Do MadKing ,
That temp`s wrong , 53 - 54 Fahrenheit is, the Ideal Pub Cellar temperature for Cask Beers.
As to the stand period after Racking to a Draught container / Cask is a bit more tricky to manage ; It depends on Style , Gravity , Primings used all sorts of little details , but it`s best approached on a recipe by recipe basis ; and , bear in mind the brewery`s House Style and the expected attenuation after Racking to draught / service containers .ew questions on a beer by beer basis,
Hope that`s of some help ,
Edd
Happy to help with historic UK brew advice
 

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I’m pretty new to brewing English styles, but have been enjoying brewing lower abv bitters lately.

How do these age - non cask versions specifically. Im thinking about brewing a bitter around 1.045 to age for about 6 months? Does that sound ok, or are these beers better fresh?
 

lowtones84

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I definitely think they're better fresh, personally. Do you keg, bottle, or condition otherwise somehow? If brewed well I really like to let them primary only 3-5 days, transfer to keg, and let them finish in there for 2-3 more. Then I get them cold and starting to carb.
 

bwible

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Beer engines are very expensive in US in comparison to here in UK. The cost to post an engine from UK to US is also rather prohibitive.
Check out these guys. They are in Lancaster, PA. They sell beer engines, casks, firkins, and all the parts and supplies. At least that could help with shipping.

https://www.ukbrewing.com/
 
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bwible

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I’m pretty new to brewing English styles, but have been enjoying brewing lower abv bitters lately.

How do these age - non cask versions specifically. Im thinking about brewing a bitter around 1.045 to age for about 6 months? Does that sound ok, or are these beers better fresh?
These beers of lower gravity are meant to be consumed fresh and rather quickly. These are really not meant to be aged for 6 months before drinking. I would imagine if it took you 6 months to drink an entire bottled batch that wouldn’t be awful if the bottles were stored properly. But the last ones are not going to be as good.
 

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I just brewed a Scottish Export 1.047 using a new recipe. I'll let you know how it turns out and if it's good I'll share. New recipes generally need tweaking.
 

TheMadKing

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How Do MadKing ,
That temp`s wrong , 53 - 54 Fahrenheit is, the Ideal Pub Cellar temperature for Cask Beers.
As to the stand period after Racking to a Draught container / Cask is a bit more tricky to manage ; It depends on Style , Gravity , Primings used all sorts of little details , but it`s best approached on a recipe by recipe basis ; and , bear in mind the brewery`s House Style and the expected attenuation after Racking to draught / service containers .ew questions on a beer by beer basis,
Hope that`s of some help ,
Edd
Happy to help with historic UK brew advice

Hi Edd,

thanks for the correction on the temperature. So am I correct in your implication that there is no stand period at warmer temperatures after racking, and it goes straight to the celler at 54F for conditioning?
 

bwible

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Proper Scrummy (3 gallons)
Best Bitter

5.5 lb Fawcett Golden Promise
.5 lb Flaked Barley
.25 lb Crystal Malt 40L
.25 lb Light Brown Sugar
.25 lb Cane Sugar

Challenger 7.5% .5 oz 60 min
First Gold 6.8% .5 oz 30 min
First Gold 6.8% .5 oz 5 min

Wyeast 1968 London ESB Yeast

1.045
1.012
9.5 SRM
4.3%
34 IBU
 

lowtones84

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So, a bit of sacrilege here but I've been fiddling with NEIPA techniques on bitters. First two attempts didn't really cut it because the first I wasn't kegging yet, then the second I didn't really have equipment for a no o2 transfer.

This one finally worked. "Training Camp" Best Bitter is Fawcett MO, Crisp Pale Malt, 10% oats and 10% Invert #1. Challenger bittering (just a bit thrown in at FO and dryhop too, actually), Then loads of Bramling Cross and EKG. OG 1.042, FG 1.004 (lower than planned), 40ish IBUs. Whirlpool, only one dryhop.

Someday I'll have a proper handpull, but I just built a keezer and got kegging equipment a few months ago so give me some time! I at least conditioned it naturally in the keg...

20200424_124654.jpg
 

cyberbackpacker

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New bitter recipe that turned out very nicely...

48% Warminster MO, 13% white wheat malt, 11% Crisp light Crystal, 2% acid malt, 26% Invert #2, 30ibu Willamette at 40 minutes, 3/8 oz Fuggles at 5 minutes. WY1469. Dry hop Fuggles at 1g per liter of beer for 6 days. OG 1.039 FG 1.009 34 ibus 3.9%abv

Packaged ~1 gallon in to a cubitainer and hooked it up to the Angram on Saturday. Finished the cubitainer yesterday evening (by myself- quite a feat for me, considering I normally only drink 4-5 beer per week!).

I had to serve a bit earlier than desired because I discovered a hairline crack in the cubitainer, but this will be brewed again. Loads of tannic character from the hops, a nice dry lingering finish, slightly sweet/fruity esters... this turned out fantastic, and I think it will be a good base to swap in your favorite British (or New World for that matter) hops. Next batch I might sub Fuggles for some Target or Styrian Goldings.
 

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lowtones84

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New bitter recipe that turned out very nicely...

48% Warminster MO, 13% white wheat malt, 11% Crisp light Crystal, 2% acid malt, 26% Invert #2, 30ibu Willamette at 40 minutes, 3/8 oz Fuggles at 5 minutes. WY1469. Dry hop Fuggles at 1g per liter of beer for 6 days. OG 1.039 FG 1.009 34 ibus 3.9%abv
Yes, I used to use Willamette in English beers to good effect. I bought a pound because I like the hop and it was on sale, and when you're only brewing 3 gallon batches that stretches quite a ways!

How was the Fuggles dryhop? I don't see a lot of that in the historical literature (though I'm sure it was done). Seems like they mostly used Fuggles early in the boil or not even in pale, hoppy beer oftentimes. I like Fuggles, but I have some friends who hate that taste when it's prominent.
 

cyberbackpacker

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@lowtones84 I have been going through 3 pounds of Fuggles in leaf form, so I have been using them a good bit for dry hopping. I know based on my reading of Ron Pattinson and Edd Mather, that typically pale ales/bitters would more typically use the "finer" EKG, whereas Fuggles were more inline to use in Mild and porter/stouts.

That said, like your friend, I know there are some people that really dislike Fuggles, I do not (I really enjoy them actually). I realy like their earthy character in the dry hop.
 
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lowtones84

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Yes, no particular reason though. Just haven't been brewing with it otherwise and have enough other English hops.
 

Hanglow

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Adnams excellent Southwold bitter is late hopped and dry hopped with fuggles. They also did an all and relatively heavily hopped seasonal all fuggles ale that I really really liked , called Extra. You do need good quality fuggles though, too many times I've got bad quality fuggles.
 

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And for those in the UK, Brewers Select are obviously nervous about their stocks given what's happening in the pub market, so have 50% off Ragus #1 down to £18.68 ex VAT (US$22.92) for 25kg (55lb). Add on £12 delivery from Peterborough unless you're local.

Bako can do #1, #2, #3 for £62/25kg inc VAT (but I think they are one of those that mess around with prices based on cookies so watch that)

BS can also do you 15kg of 2015 Admiral for £15...
 

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Those are on sale but seem really pricey. Have you tried these? Is it worth getting say #3 to know what #3 should be like?

I've made a couple batches of invert using the stove method. However, I'm not quite sure what the end product should be like. Wondering if it would help to actually get some #2 and #3....
I haven't tried these yet but most likely will.
That was my thought exactly.

I too have made homemade invert via the stove method and always wondered if it was the real deal or not.

I'll buy some Invert 1 and brew SUABP 1954 Gold Label for the second time just to try it out. Great beer it was.
 

kmarkstevens

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I've bought invert #1 but don't think that really adds to the flavor. Ditto with Lyle's Golden Syrup. Black Treacle and Molasses definitely add to the taste but not my favorite taste. With homemade, I'm not quite sure what the end result is, and really not sure if I can reliably recreate it.

I am trying to dial in on a Mild (Reaper's Dark Mild and Orfy's Mild are both pretty good). Machine House microbrew in Seattle has an ambrosial Mild, that I'm trying to at least get close to.

Net net, I think I at least want to get to a repeatable Mild that is close to Machine House using specialty grains first. Then maybe play around with inverts to get to the same result.
 
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