English Ales - What's your favorite recipe?

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duncan_disorderly

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The Point is that it tastes British.
I think it's a spectrum. It has American Chinook, Cascade and Willamette hops in it! And I think you can tell. But it's not overtly American, it's a very English kind of beer, especially on cask. This is what I mean, there are English beers using American hops that are not really out of style. There are others where the American hop character is more pronounced.
 

duncan_disorderly

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I guess I’m somewhat a traditionalist, though not to the levels of CAMRA, etc. I would never even think of putting American hops into British beer. And there are so many new hops out of Australia and such now that nobody can keep up. The hops are a big part of what makes Bitter and Pale what they are. Using American hops just turns it into American Pale Ale, which is something completely different. I guess it goes to show people always want what they can’t have.
I like cask pales served in England that contain hops from USA, NZ and Aus, but I also love traditional English bitters and golden ales etc. I like beers that mix English and imported hops.

Personal taste. I like variety. I like the balance of English cask ales. Even where US hops are used, they are not used the way they are in craft IPAs, they are used like they are in English bitters, pretty much, and you get a really nice balance of hops, malts and yeast in a cask conditioned context. Amarillo has proved really successful in the format, for one. Plenty of others obviously. Cascade of course, which started the trend here.
 

D.B.Moody

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Here's a memory of mine about variety, cask ale, and personal taste:
In 1988, on our first trip to the UK, I was falling in love with the house bitters in each of the pubs we visited each night. One evening the tour bus driver came into the pub and I bought him a pint. He ordered a "bitter and light." I inquired about what that was. He explained that no place could brew a truly good ale outside his local area, so he had to cut the house bitters with a national. :p I don't recall where he called home.
 

InspectorJon

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I'll guess that this is a good place to ask this question. I have been itching to brew an English Ale. I have read a bunch of Ron Pattinson's Shut Up About blog and find "Enzymic Malt" to be a common ingredient. A google search turns up minimal and conflicting information about this malt. Some say it is acidulated malt used to lower mash pH and others say it is malt high in enzyme content. Both are presumably intended to improve mash efficiency. Is there any definitive answer to this or will this simply be a continuation of different opinions? It is used in such small quantities I wonder if it makes any significant difference. For what it is worth to the conversation, my local water is very soft, almost like RO water with virtually no alkalinity.
 

DBhomebrew

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I'll guess that this is a good place to ask this question. I have been itching to brew an English Ale. I have read a bunch of Ron Pattinson's Shut Up About blog and find "Enzymic Malt" to be a common ingredient. A google search turns up minimal and conflicting information about this malt. Some say it is acidulated malt used to lower mash pH and others say it is malt high in enzyme content. Both are presumably intended to improve mash efficiency. Is there any definitive answer to this or will this simply be a continuation of different opinions? It is used in such small quantities I wonder if it makes any significant difference. For what it is worth to the conversation, my local water is very soft, almost like RO water with virtually no alkalinity.

Either way, it's an adjustment tool. To be used as needed. With modern malt there's no need for extra enzymes and you need to adjust pH to your water anyway.

For a British approach to water adjustment and mineralization, check out this very recent thread.


FWIW, I've got extremely soft water too. Budweiser water, it's right up the road. This is what I've got going for the 1939 Fullers OBE I'm boiling right now. To get it, I used zero acid and reserved some of the salts for the kettle.

Source
Ca 27.7
Mg 6.75
Na 5.15
Cl 12.4
SO4 37.4
HCO3 71.7

Target
Ca 166
Mg 7
Na 34
Cl 136
SO4 263
HCO3 18
Mash pH 5.45
 

Northern_Brewer

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I'll guess that this is a good place to ask this question. I have been itching to brew an English Ale. I have read a bunch of Ron Pattinson's Shut Up About blog and find "Enzymic Malt" to be a common ingredient. A google search turns up minimal and conflicting information about this malt. Some say it is acidulated malt used to lower mash pH and others say it is malt high in enzyme content.

Sometimes known as Dixon's Patent Malt - the earliest patent seems to be from 1929 and the idea seems to have been to use acid to release the contents of the seed to give a higher yield of fermentables and enzyme. So you can understand the confusion, although they seem to have later done a patent specifically for acid malt for the German market. There was a bit of a fad for using Dixon's malt in smaller British breweries in the mid 20th century.


But Ron's general advice seems to be to just ignore it and replace with pale malt.
 

Miraculix

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I think it's a spectrum. It has American Chinook, Cascade and Willamette hops in it! And I think you can tell. But it's not overtly American, it's a very English kind of beer, especially on cask. This is what I mean, there are English beers using American hops that are not really out of style. There are others where the American hop character is more pronounced.
I agree. I also didn't want to say that American hops shouldn't be used at all in British beers. But it should be in a way that complements the beer, rather than overtaking the whole thing.

If the American hop character is too strong, the beer becomes an American pale in my head. It just lost it's Britishness, if such a thing exists. Camden pale ale is on the edge of this for example, but I really like it. All the Beavertown beers are not British to me anymore, but I like them. Brewdog... There are more, but I forgot the names. I'm trying to figure out this one brewery, the name sounds Indian or something like that... Jaipur, jalipur.... What was it?
 

duncan_disorderly

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I agree. I also didn't want to say that American hops shouldn't be used at all in British beers. But it should be in a way that complements the beer, rather than overtaking the whole thing.

If the American hop character is too strong, the beer becomes an American pale in my head. It just lost it's Britishness, if such a thing exists. Camden pale ale is on the edge of this for example, but I really like it. All the Beavertown beers are not British to me anymore, but I like them. Brewdog... There are more, but I forgot the names. I'm trying to figure out this one brewery, the name sounds Indian or something like that... Jaipur, jalipur.... What was it?
I really like cask. Some cask ales use American hops in a subtle way and that is good. Others use them less subtly and that is also good, and can be a revelation. English yeast and malts, fruity hops, cask conditioning. When it's done well it's lush.

Camden pale is not English in style. Modelled on SNPA, surely. Jaipur really isn't English In style. It's crossover, I'd say, with a big American influence.
 

Miraculix

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I really like cask. Some cask ales use American hops in a subtle way and that is good. Others use them less subtly and that is also good, and can be a revelation. English yeast and malts, fruity hops, cask conditioning. When it's done well it's lush.

Camden pale is not English in style. Modelled on SNPA, surely. Jaipur really isn't English In style. It's crossover, I'd say, with a big American influence.
I like cask ales, but all the ones that I had that used a lot of American hops were not tasting right to me. The malt was gone and overshadowed with fruity hops. No balance, just tasted like a sweeter American pale with almost no carbonation. Doesn't even sound appealing does it? Maybe I haven't got a good example yet.

Although, I remember one beer in a pub in st Albans, that could have been it actually. But don't remember the beer Adams also not the brewery :(
 

Northern_Brewer

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Jaipur really isn't English In style. It's crossover, I'd say, with a big American influence.

In that its hops are entirely USian - Cascade, Chinook, Ahtanum, and Simcoe.

I think I've posted these links before, which try to get at what made Jaipur a pioneer, but also a bit of a one-off :

As usual, Jeff nails it :
As these streams have come together, they’ve created a third approach rooted in British tradition, but which borrows a few tricks from America. Squeezing more from fruity hop varieties (even some from the England), breweries are making a new range of sessionable cask ales. They have a definite quality of juiciness, yet retain the rich flavors of local malts, the character of house yeasts, and the balance critical in pub beers. On cask, these qualities blossom in astonishing ways that Americans have just never been able to grasp or appreciate....

Cask shuffles the elements a bit, smoothing the hops, accentuating the orange a bit more than the fir. It’s jammier and sweeter. One becomes aware that, yes, there is a bit of malt down there underneath, with the sweetness of scone. I even find some yeast flavors filling in the gaps. It’s a different presentation—softer, sweeter, and yes, juicier.
 

apisgallus

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I'm new to home brew (sort-of) as a brit in the US I miss english/british beer.I am going to try brewing a Brains bitter ASAP (I spent 3 years in Cardiff). No local breweries will brew a bitter, though they do brew ambers, pales etc. Will also try a Shepherd Neame (3 years in North Kent). Trying these because they are as close to a SMaSH recipe as I can get, Will let you know.
 

monkeymath

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I'm aware of the fact that I'm about to be crucified for saying this, but are "American hops" really so fundamentally different? I recently made a "Timothy Taylor Landlord"-inspired English Pale Ale that used a generous amount of Celeia (or Styrian Golding) in the whirlpool: that stuff is quite citrusy. Maybe even juicy.

Sure, Celeia doesn't come close to hops like Citra, but it's not like those newer varieties came about when a hop plant had intercourse with a pineapple. Many "classical" hop varieties share these aromatics, to some extent, and their expression is often a matter of dosage. This is supported by some of the "Hop Chronicles" posts on brulosophy, where a Pale Ale hopped to oblivion with a classical variety will come out as, well, a Pale Ale, with citrus and tropical fruits.

So, yeah, I'll stick to the more classic varieties if I want to make an English Ale, but most of all I'll shoot for balance of the various components.
 

shoreman

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Question for you guys - I was eying this 2.25%abv stout on Ron’s blog :


is there a cutoff to being too low in alcohol that the beer can lose it’s storability from a health standpoint?

Ive heard a few of the NA brewers talk on podcasts about nailing the PH on those .5%abv beers - if they don’t it can be a serious health risk bc of the low abv.

I haven’t been plowing through my beers that quickly and thinking about this 2% (if you nail your numbers) beer sitting in the keg for a bit.

Would bottle conditioning be any different?

Any thoughts?

edit: don’t have a ph meter either
 
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Hanglow

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The boil kills everything then the low pH inhibits any spores that could become problematic down the line. I think any pH below 4.5 means your beer should be good from a health standpoint. I am not aware of any ale yeast that would struggle to manage that, some lager yeasts might. Most british yeasts will produce beers between about 3.9 and 4.1 pH so they are too acidic for harmful bacteria. Alcohol also helps, but i think it has to be above about 3 percent .

It may still spoil though, but you would not get sick.

I also doubt it would keep as well as stronger beer, but it should be good for a few months. I try and drink any bitter in the 4% range in 3 months from brewing. I would try and do the same for that beer too.

I'll be interested to hear how that beer turns out, looks good
 

Miraculix

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The boil kills everything then the low pH inhibits any spores that could become problematic down the line. I think any pH below 4.5 means your beer should be good from a health standpoint. I am not aware of any ale yeast that would struggle to manage that, some lager yeasts might. Most british yeasts will produce beers between about 3.9 and 4.1 pH so they are too acidic for harmful bacteria. Alcohol also helps, but i think it has to be above about 3 percent .

It may still spoil though, but you would not get sick.

I also doubt it would keep as well as stronger beer, but it should be good for a few months. I try and drink any bitter in the 4% range in 3 months from brewing. I would try and do the same for that beer too.

I'll be interested to hear how that beer turns out, looks good
I 2nd that. My sub 4% milds are souring a bit with time. Low hops, low alcohol. I think your 2% beer should be good for one or two months, depending on the hopping rate.
 

cire

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I'm aware of the fact that I'm about to be crucified for saying this, but are "American hops" really so fundamentally different? I recently made a "Timothy Taylor Landlord"-inspired English Pale Ale that used a generous amount of Celeia (or Styrian Golding) in the whirlpool: that stuff is quite citrusy. Maybe even juicy.

Sure, Celeia doesn't come close to hops like Citra, but it's not like those newer varieties came about when a hop plant had intercourse with a pineapple. Many "classical" hop varieties share these aromatics, to some extent, and their expression is often a matter of dosage. This is supported by some of the "Hop Chronicles" posts on brulosophy, where a Pale Ale hopped to oblivion with a classical variety will come out as, well, a Pale Ale, with citrus and tropical fruits.

So, yeah, I'll stick to the more classic varieties if I want to make an English Ale, but most of all I'll shoot for balance of the various components.

Not all American hops are fundamentally different, but those that are can be quite off-putting to some British drinkers. Liberty is a lovely hop that comfortably fits into an English style beer, but some American hops raise the hairs on the back of my neck while numbing my taste buds for the rest of that drinking session. There are however many British who like such beers, look out for them and are disappointed when they are not available and are not equally turned on by something finished with Styrian Goldings.

Citra is a good example for discussion as it is used, often exclusively, in a number of British beers that attract a substantial following. Few, if any, of those could be classed as a British style and some people, including myself, buy and drink them only to confirm they still don't rank amongst better loved beers. I think it is from this point there might be a divide between British and American beer trends as it seems likely homebrewers in America influence trends than than in UK.

Probably the majority of beers in both Britain and America are likely very similar, filtered, pasteurize, carbonated and at temperatures to reduce an already low tasting beer that offers little but thirst quenching and inebriating qualities. Cask beer (real ale) still popular in UK, is live and unfiltered at temperature and carbonation levels that don't impair human taste sensors, providing flavors that demand savoring. Offerings on this forum prove how influential American homebrewers have been on world beers in recent times, including Pale Ales hopped to oblivion. However, while those remain Pale ales, they are American Pale Ales and many British breweries have responded by brewing those as an extra to their range. How long this might continue remains to be seen. There is demand on the eastern side of the Atlantic for American styles, but those using 3 times as many hops that are already 3 times more expensive could in time prove too expensive for some brewers and drinkers alike.

Meanwhile, quite a lot of hazy beers are also being produced by some of the newer micro breweries in UK, and they have a following. I feel those will likely be short lived as prices are higher than for traditional cask ale and I'm not sure what proportion of those brewers know how to brew a clear beer.

As you some up, a balanced beer will always find its way to a drinker.
 

The_Antikveik

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Where have I heard that before?
Probably any one of several future projections for the ‘craft‘ brewing market, where most organic growth appears to be pushing profits towards non- and low-alcoholic beverages. The relatively costly behaviour of suspending one’s senses by drinking hops rather than beer wasn’t ever going to catch on beyond a tiny niche of wannabe-different fanboys. The vast majority of beer drinkers (an aging population, apparently) are content with traditional beer. Personally, I’m very open-minded when it comes to food and drink. I’ll try anything. What I don’t like is how very expensive, hazy excessively-hopped beverages (I don’t consider them to be IPAs) remind me of a time during my childhood when I ate too many Refreshers sweets and subsequently vomited them back up.
05B7EE9D-3293-4278-AFBB-9A2470D3C4F6.jpeg
 
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Erik the Anglophile

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Anybody got any input on water for an ale I got coming, it is sorta inspired by Shepherd Neames Christmas Ale, but I am also thinking a little historical XXK or KK vibe to it.
MO as base
15% homemade invert #3 (50/50 mix of demerara/light muscovado invert)
6% Crisp amber
2% Crisp brown

90 min boil with Challenger at 60min for bittering, then 1g/L @15min of First Gold, followed by 1g/L each of First Gold and EKG for a 20min/80c hopstand.
OG 1.075 FG well, we'll see
IBU 50
Plan on bottling and cellar them for at least 4 months after they are carbed up.

I've been eyeing the Graham Wheeler water profiles and tried the bitter one for my last bitter, very pleased and feel confident in applying UK levels of salts to the mash now.
As both Shepheard Neames and historical KK type ales had/have both a little malt sweetness but a subtle bitter bite to them, I plan on going with the sweet pale ale profile, ie a good amount of NA and Cl but a little balanced towards So4.
Am I thinking right around this.
 

Miraculix

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Anybody got any input on water for an ale I got coming, it is sorta inspired by Shepherd Neames Christmas Ale, but I am also thinking a little historical XXK or KK vibe to it.
MO as base
15% homemade invert #3 (50/50 mix of demerara/light muscovado invert)
6% Crisp amber
2% Crisp brown

90 min boil with Challenger at 60min for bittering, then 1g/L @15min of First Gold, followed by 1g/L each of First Gold and EKG for a 20min/80c hopstand.
OG 1.075 FG well, we'll see
IBU 50
Plan on bottling and cellar them for at least 4 months after they are carbed up.

I've been eyeing the Graham Wheeler water profiles and tried the bitter one for my last bitter, very pleased and feel confident in applying UK levels of salts to the mash now.
As both Shepheard Neames and historical KK type ales had/have both a little malt sweetness but a subtle bitter bite to them, I plan on going with the sweet pale ale profile, ie a good amount of NA and Cl but a little balanced towards So4.
Am I thinking right around this.

Is that a thing in english non-dark ales to use amber and brown malts? I think I have never seen that, but obviously doesn't mean that it is not used that way sometimes. I use 50 Ibus for my barley wines and that works well, but my barley wine has an OG above 1.1, so based on my own taste that's a bit too much for my liking. I would probably go with 40 Ibus. Maybe also add 3-5% medium dark crystal, to complement the brown and amber malt. With 15% simple sugars, the beer can take it.
 

DBhomebrew

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Is that a thing in english non-dark ales to use amber and brown malts?

Erik's been doing some reading in his Pattinson library. There's some really tasty looking recipes in the ~35yrs between 1880 and WWI. A Fullers XXK is in my queue, 1.080/90IBU! Pale ale malt, invert sugar, brown malt. Another of their XXK recipes of the same era swaps the brown for crystal.

So, yes, light roasted malts and relatively high IBUs are precedented.

@Erik the Anglophile, you've seen the recent Fullers water treatment thread started by Protos?
 
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Erik the Anglophile

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Erik's been doing some reading in his Pattinson library. There's some really tasty looking recipes in the ~35yrs between 1880 and WWI. A Fullers XXK is in my queue, 1.080/90IBU! Pale ale malt, invert sugar, brown malt. Another of their XXK recipes of the same era swaps the brown for crystal.

So, yes, light roasted malts and relatively high IBUs are precedented.

@Erik the Anglophile, you've seen the recent Fullers water treatment thread started by Protos?
I certainly have, this is more of a modern strong ale though, but with a bit of inspiration from the historical predecessor.
I looked up that thread, and think I will try the sweet pale ale profile, if I am pleased with the recipe I might do one batch using a bitter profile to ser wich comes out best.
 

cire

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Crisp advise up to 5% for both Amber and Brown Malts. As those are quite similar, a 5% combined limit might be worth a consideration, although 4 month cellaring in a stronger beer should ease their impact.

Shepherd Neame use the local aquifer for their brewing liquor. Water can be quite varied in Kent, but it's likely from the chalk aquifer with similar ion distribution to that shown in Figure 5.2.

Calcium will likely be close to 100 ppm, magnesium 3 ppm, sodium 30, sulphate and chloride both around 40 ppm with alkalinity about 280 as HCO3. Little doubt they would treat their water with mineral acid to reduce alkalinity to a suitable level, then add calcium salts to adjust the desired levels of chloride and sulphate level and raise calcium content, much like Graham Wheeler does in his calculator
 

Erik the Anglophile

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I remembered a little wrong, Amber and Brown were 4 and 2% respectively, so it sorta falls within the 5% ballpark. Altough I think many maltsters are a bit conservative with their recomended max amounts for many specialty malts.
I decided to go with Graham Wheelers sweet pale ale (pale beer if you want to follow Pattinsons idea of what the proper style definition is), for this and my traquair house ale approximation.

So the water will be in the ballpark of Na at 56mg/L as this is my tapwater baseline, Cl 153mg/L, So4 205mg/L and Ca at 160mg/L.
Mash pH at 5.3
This should give me a rather well rounded, hoppy strong ale with a little body and malt sweetness but also a little bite and a fresh finish.
Sort of as I envision these types of beer whould have been like.
Wish me luck.
 

eshea3

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Crisp advise up to 5% for both Amber and Brown Malts. As those are quite similar, a 5% combined limit might be worth a consideration, although 4 month cellaring in a stronger beer should ease their impact.
Do 11% Brown in my Porter with no problems
 

Miraculix

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Erik's been doing some reading in his Pattinson library. There's some really tasty looking recipes in the ~35yrs between 1880 and WWI. A Fullers XXK is in my queue, 1.080/90IBU! Pale ale malt, invert sugar, brown malt. Another of their XXK recipes of the same era swaps the brown for crystal.

So, yes, light roasted malts and relatively high IBUs are precedented.

@Erik the Anglophile, you've seen the recent Fullers water treatment thread started by Protos?
Do you think the ibus are correct? I read somewhere that there might be bigdiscrepancies between nowadays quoted ibus based on old recipes and what they actually got back in the days. Mainly two factors are problematic, first one is the higher protein contents of the malt back in the days. The higher the protein amount in the wort, the lower the alpha acid utilization. You can really taste this when using chevallier for example. The same theoretical amount of hops for certain amount of ibus that works with more modern malts does not provide the same bittering when Chevallier is the base. The second possible factor is the lower alpha content that hops had back in the days. I think we mainly have the weight of the hops used, don't we? this means we have to guestimate the ibus these hops had and we might guestimate a bit to ambitious. They didn't have propper hop storage possibilities and the yield of alpha acid was likely lower as well.
 

DBhomebrew

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Do you think the ibus are correct?

No way to tell, is there? I do know Ron takes hop age and cold/warm storage into account when formulating his recipes. I believe I recall him stating AA% is fairly unchanged*, would have to find the reference.

The XXK would have been vatted for nearly a year, plenty of time for elevated bittering to cool off. I also hope to be into a sack of Chevalier for this beer.

*Comparing EKG to EKG, Fuggle to Fuggle. Not average 21st century to avg Victorian.
 
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kmarkstevens

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Mainly two factors are problematic, first one is the higher protein contents of the malt back in the days. The higher the protein amount in the wort, the lower the alpha acid utilization. You can really taste this when using chevallier for example. The same theoretical amount of hops for certain amount of ibus that works with more modern malts does not provide the same bittering when Chevallier is the base.

I have gotten my hands on some Chevallier.
1. First SMASH has a BU:GU ratio of 0.80 using Pub. The brew crew at the LHBS were completely flummoxed trying to guess the malt bill, and were gobsmacked when I explained it was a single malt.
2. Second try is an 8% with IBU ~80 and Essex Ale yeast still in the fermenter
3. Third try is an English porter with Chevallier and West Yorkie instead of the usual crystal additions. This is keg conditioning at the moment. Didn't take notes on the IBU's
 

patto1ro

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No way to tell, is there? I do know Ron takes hop age and cold/warm storage into account when formulating his recipes. I believe I recall him stating AA% is fairly unchanged*, would have to find the reference.

The XXK would have been vatted for nearly a year, plenty of time for elevated bittering to cool off. I also hope to be into a sack of Chevalier for this beer.

*Comparing EKG to EKG, Fuggle to Fuggle. Not average 21st century to avg Victorian.
I've analyses of Fuggles and Goldings from the 1920s or 1930s. One sample of Goldings has over 7% alpha acid. Doesn't look to me like the alpha acid content of English hops has been increasing.

I almost never use the quantity based on a straight calculation from the brewing record. Mostly I reduce it by 15% to 20% if any older hops are present. That's based on the same interwar analyses which also show how alpha acid content declibed over time, both cold and warm stored. In cold stored hops the deterioration was mininal over the first 12 to 18 months.
 

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Has anyone (well, anyone reading this) tried First Gold in their ESB? I wondered if it really gave some orange notes, without getting too funky or off course in other ways.

And on the ESB hop subject... I haven't used Target yet but I've smushed some pellets in my fingers and they kind of smell like... curry to me. So I haven't been brave enough to use them. But since they are the boil hops - maybe that smell goes away?

I'm using Fuller's as a starting point, but not trying to clone it. Hoping to tweak it towards a fruit direction, berry or orange.
 

kmarkstevens

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I use First Gold a lot. It's always on sale at one of the standard websites in the US. So much so that it was only recently that I bought a pound of real EKG. I don't detect marmalade myself. Not even in conjunction with Pub, but I suck at describing flavors. At the LHBS, one guy is really good, and when he describes it, I am always like "ya, that's it."

I am kinda morphing to using First Gold as the bittering hop, and then EKG/BMX/Fuggles as the flavoring additions. First Gold has a higher alpha content, and seems to complement well to my palate. YMMV
 

cire

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First Gold can have a slight orange aroma and taste, but it won't dominate any stronger flavor and it does fade.

Target is a popular hop in many commercial breweries for bittering, probably for cost purposes. I've found it alright to provide a limited proportion of desired bitterness. I've also read of it being used as a late hop, again in small quantities, but I've no desire to test that.
 

duncan_disorderly

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Fuller's uses Target as both a bittering hop and a late hop.

First Gold provides a hint of marmalade but it's not in your face and batches vary. I think it's an excellent all purpose hop. One of the best English varieties. And very English. Widely used by English breweries.
 
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