How do I get that "real ale" taste?

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badmajon

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If you have lived or are currently living in the UK, you know what I mean. Bombardier, Badger, London Pride, Adnams, Batemans'... it's this taste, that I don't know how to recapture. I studied there for college and I can't reproduce it. I don't even know where to start.

I know they use these differerent kind of keg systems, hand pulled ales, aside from that I do not know. Does anyone know where I can learn how to make these beers?

It's not too carbonated, very bitter, awesomely complex flavors and usually a color like Georgia clay... sometimes even tasting kind of "pongey" as the bartender put it once. Perhaps some UK home brewers could help me out?

How do I brew a camra-certified style real ale?
 

robtotten

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Not to be a smart ass, but have you tried any clone recipes? There are a lot floating around for London Pride. I've always had great results with AHS, and they have a London Pride kit available. I'm on a quest to create my perfect house brown, and I started off using the AHS Mild kit which I change a little on every go round.
 

mullenite

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There is a good thread about reproducing cask ale at home somewhere that has a lot of info in it. Its more in the delivery than the berr. (Bombadier is a good example. It's decent in the bottle and spectacular on cask.)
 

ajf

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Start with English pale malt. My favourite is Maris Otter, but that is the only one I can get in bulk at my LHBS.
Add 5 - 10% English crystal 55L. My favourite is Muntons, but that is the only one I can get at the LHBS.
Use English hops EKG if possible, but I haven't found anybody selling fresh EKG in reasonable quantities, at a reasonable price. The US Goldings are a reasonable substitute, but not quite the same. Willamette is also good for the early additions, but for any additions boiled for less than 15 minutes, you want to use Goldings if possible.
Use an English yeast. My favourites are WLP002 or WY1968, but they both accentuate the malt flavour, and this can sometimes be excessive with an all malt brew. Other suitable yeasts for a bitter are WLP005, WY1098 or WY1275, which are not quite as extreme as the 002/1968. There may be other suitable yeasts, but I have not tried them. If you use liquid yeast, you will need to make a starter. If you use dried yeast then S-04 is the best one you can get, but I find this to be a very poor substitute for the liquid yeasts. Whatever you do, don't use Nottingham or Windsor. They are totally out of character.
For the mash, mash thick and cool (1 US qt water per lb grain, and no higher than 152F), and make sure your water profile is suitable. (Ca 50 - 100 ppm, SO4 100 - 200 ppm, and chloride 20 - 30 ppm)
For an example, see https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f64/alans-special-bitter-76478/
The hops were not right for the style, but the recipe was developed at the height of the hop shortage, when the right hops were not available.
The link also specifies no carbonation. The brew was kegged, and stored and dispensed at 4 PSI. This would be pretty horrible for a bottled beer, but for an English special bitter, it is just perfect.

If you find that the beer is too malty, you can add a small amount of turbinado sugar (Sugar in the raw) or flaked corn to dilute the maltiness. I don't mind the sugar, but I find the corn adds an unpleasant flavor to the beer. Did you notice the American "flavor" added by the corn, as opposed to the good "flavours" added by the other ingredients?

Hope this helps

-a.
 

Champurrado

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Alf:

Many thanks for your thorough and comprehensive reply. Makes me want to brew something like the pints I had in Manchester long ago with Granddad at the Klondike.
 

Fatgodzilla

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There are so many real ales around that each is very different, so no one answer will work for all circumstances. I suggest looking at caramalising some wort to add sweetish flavour and colour. Try to get as authentic a liquid yeast as you can, use authentic hops if possible. Low carbonation (buy a beer engine). water profiles will help too.

How long is a piece of string? Good luck.
 

spiny_norman

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I'm a Brit and I know exactly what you mean, although I've never tried to brew a batch of real ale (mainly because I'm a snob: it needs to be casked, naturally carbonated and properly dispensed).

Brewstrong interviewed Fuller's head brewer. I would definitely check that out as it's extremely informative. He goes into a lot of detail about their process, temps, %age of base malt, lovibond, etc.

If it was me, I'd also consider using Burton salts if I was doing an English bitter or IPA.
 

japhroaig

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Heh, spiny_Norman: Dinsdale!

Anyway, from the recipes I've done from the Protz and Wheeler books the key to controlling maltiness is a mash at 151-152, add some sucrose to increase yer OG, and serve young. Go smaller than larger in regard to OG, fine if you want, and keg after 6 days.
 

ghack

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I agree with the 151-152 mash temp. These beers need to finish fairly dry.
 
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badmajon

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hmm interesting replies here, I see that it would really cost a ton of money and skill to do it right. I think I'll stick to regular homebrew for now.

And if you do live in the UK, please go the the Great British Beer festival and enjoy one or ten pints for the rest of us! It's like the heaven of beer, and with freshly fried pork scratchings and meat pies and... okay I must stop now.
 

japhroaig

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It really doesn't cost a ton of money to do it right. The biggest improvement for me was the Rocket pump ($28), and unlearning a few rules (young beer doesn't mean bad beer). A lot of the flavor of real ale comes from low levels of CO2--CO2 lends a sour, spicy flavor to beverages--and while they are usually malty they are almost never sweet. This simple AG recipe for a Newcastle clone that I got out of Brewing Classic European Beers at Home produces a wonderful real ale when dispensed out of a Rocket pump.

* 12 lbs Pale malt
* 2.5 lbs Crystal malt (use ~100 lovibond, not the pale stuff)
* 24 ounces white sugar
* 2.5 ounces Chocolate malt
* 1 ounce Nugget hops
* 1.5 ounces Northern Brewer hops
 
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