Ordinary Bitter Miraculix Easy AK (light bitter)

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Miraculix

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Recipe Type
All Grain
Yeast
Verdant IPA (Lallemand)
Yeast Starter
No
Additional Yeast or Yeast Starter
No
Original Gravity
1.044
Final Gravity
1.08
Boiling Time (Minutes)
30
IBU
22
Primary Fermentation (# of Days & Temp)
20 days @ room temperature or 18 C° if temp controll is available
Secondary Fermentation (# of Days & Temp)
No
Good evening,

In my search for a flavourfull beer with a quick turnaround, I happened to stumble across the old English beer type called AK. Nobody really knows what AK actually stands for, you can have a look at Ron Pattinsons blog (shutupaboutbarclayperkins) and have a read there, if you want to dig deeper into the world of historic AKs and more. He also wrote a whole book about this beer type, I can recommend it, I have it here on my bookshelf.

Long story short, AK is a type of light bitter. It is intended to be drunk relatively quickly after brewing. In this case, 3 weeks after brewing the beer is really nice and after 5 weeks it's taste is on it's peak.

AKs are simple beers, some are base malt only beers, some have adjuncts in there, mostly flaked maize or unmalted barley. Quite often there is 5-20% invert sugar involved as well. AKs are usually hopped on the lighter side (with the odd exception of course), as they are intended to be drunk quickly, so there is no need for hoppy preservation, also more hops tend to take more maturation time in the cask or bottle. I tried to get a good aproximation of this style with modern malts and after some attempts this is the result which I am most pleased with:

Title: Easy AK (Light Bitter)

Brew Method: All Grain
Style Name: AK
Boil Time: 30 min
Boil Gravity: 1.044

STATS:
Original Gravity: 1.044
Final Gravity: 1.008
ABV (standard): 4.73%
IBU (tinseth): 22.01
SRM (morey): 9.85
Mash pH: 5.51

FERMENTABLES:
Pale Ale (65%)
Munich Type I (25%)
Home Made Invert Syrup - medium (10%) (you can leave this one out, it enhances the fruityness but is not 100% necessary. Another option is to use 10% flaked corn, instead of the invert, different taste, but still great.)

HOPS:
East Kent Golding's or similar noble hops, 30 min. boil time for 22 IBUs

YEAST:
Lallemand - Verdant IPA
Starter: No
Form: Dry

Mash:
Single step @ 65°C for 60 minutes or longer.

PRIMING:
low carbonation, think of ordinary bitter carbonation, on the low side.

Ferment at room temperature or 18°C if temp controll is available.

This beer pours nicely golden with loads of fruity esters from the yeast and the invert. If you want, you can reduce the invert a bit, or even leave it out. I make my own invert sugar syrup by heating organic raw cane sugar (slightly golden, not the dark brown stuff!) with a dash of lemon juice and a bit of water while mashing and boiling the wort, until the sugar syrup has the right colour. It goes into the wort at the end of the boil. Dilute it a bit in the pot before throwing it in, otherwise it won't mix well and might distort your gravity readings a bit.

Let me know what you think and when you brew it!

Cheers!
 
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cyberbackpacker

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Miraculix, nice looking recipe.

Just to provide a counterpoint and context to others possibly coming to this recipe and AK beers for the first time.

AK beers initially started out as "light bitters" and only after time and gravity cuts (mainly WWI and later WWII) did they fall in strength below "modern milds" and started to be denoted as "pale milds". That said, AK had an average OG of closer to 1.035 when sold under the designation as a pale mild.

So, to quibble just a bit, at the OG of this recipe being almost 10 points higher than that designation, and at 22 ibus, I might hazzard to say it is fairer to classify this AK as a pale bitter, as it would seem to fit better with regards to it's actual parameters.

For anyone interested in further reading, Boak and Bailey, Martyn Cornell, and especially Ron Pattinson have done loads of research and writing on this particular beer style.
 
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Miraculix

Miraculix

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Miraculix, nice looking recipe.

Just to provide a counterpoint and context to others possibly coming to this recipe and AK beers for the first time.

AK beers initially started out as "light bitters" and only after time and gravity cuts (mainly WWI and later WWII) did they fall in strength below "modern milds" and started to be denoted as "pale milds". That said, AK had an average OG of closer to 1.035 when sold under the designation as a pale mild.

So, to quibble just a bit, at the OG of this recipe being almost 10 points higher than that designation, and at 22 ibus, I might hazzard to say it is fairer to classify this AK as a pale bitter, as it would seem to fit better with regards to it's actual parameters.

For anyone interested in further reading, Boak and Bailey, Martyn Cornell, and especially Ron Pattinson have done loads of research and writing on this particular beer style.
It seems like you are mixing up historic and modern definitions. "Mild" was just a term to indicate that this beer was not aged. It has nothing to do with gravity. You will find strong and weak milds throughout history, only in recent times, mild became synonymous for lower gravity beer.

What these AKs had in common was that they were intended to be drunk fresh and not aged, so it was not really a bitter. Also the ibus were mostly lower.

But at the end there are multiple historic ones that were crossing these borders, so it is not really possible to say this is truely a bitter or truely a mild. An AK sits comfortably somewhere in this region and the reader can decide for himself. Not even Ron Pattinson came to a real conclusion what an AK actually is, pale bitter or mild.

At the end I tend to use the classic definitions, and that is why I call it a mild ale as it is intended to be drunk fairly quickly after brewing.
 
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cyberbackpacker

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Nope, not mixing it up at all. I am quite well aware of historic X-ales ("mild ales" referencing they were not kept but consumed young) and K-ales (keeping ales that were generally vatted and aged for at least 6 months).

True the designation for AK is still not concretely known, but you are right in that the general agreement is this was drunk young.

However, what I am referencing is that from it's earliest mention in historic record in the mid 19th century, until WWI*, AK was advertised, and would have been known at pubs, as a light bitter, or pale bitter. It was not referenced or indicated in advertisements or in breweries own records as "mild" even if it was consumed young.

Mild only started to really be affixed to AK after gravity drops forced AK to fall in gravity to a historic 5d price point, whereas a London Mild was 6d. Since the price category, based on OG of the beer, had fallen below London Mild, that it is seen in the historic record to be used with the term mild.

There is a ton of research out there, and plenty still left undiscovered, with regards to AK ales. But based on the best research to date (specific articles are linked in my first post to Martyn and Ron related to this) it is true that historically AK ales were advertised/known as pale bitters, not pale milds, until the early 20th century.

*I never state anything is done 100% as there are always exceptions, and further research might show otherwise. But until then, the above holds true.
 
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Miraculix

Miraculix

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Nope, not mixing it up at all. I am quite well aware of historic X-ales ("mild ales" referencing they were not kept but consumed young) and K-ales (keeping ales that were generally vatted and aged for at least 6 months).

True the designation for AK is still not concretely known, but you are right in that the general agreement is this was drunk young.

However, what I am referencing is that from it's earliest mention in historic record until WWI* AK was advertised, and would have been known at pubs, as a light bitter, or pale bitter. It was not referenced or indicated in advertisements or in breweries own records as "mild" even if it was consumed young.

Mild only started to really be affixed to AK after gravity drops forced AK to fall in gravity to a historic 5d price point, whereas a London Mild was 6d. Since the price category, based on OG of the beer, had fallen below London Mild, that it is seen in the historic recipe to be used with the term mild.

There is a ton of research out there, and plenty still left undiscovered, with regards to AK ales. But based on the best research to date (specific articles are linked in my first post to Martyn and Ron related to this) it is true that historically AK ales were advertised/known as pale bitters, not pale milds, until the early 20th century.
Yes. But where is the benefit of this historic (pre-) recategorization?

Mild Ale = consumed young. AKs = consumed young. AKs= Mild Ales = consumed young.

Let´s not overcomplicate things further.
 

cyberbackpacker

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Not looking to over complicate, just refine, give clarity, and place context for those interested in the AK style.


I think it is safe to say that you and I are both fans of the style and want more people to learn about, brew, and enjoy this style!
 
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Miraculix

Miraculix

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Not looking to over complicate, just refine, give clarity, and place context for those interested in the AK style.


I think it is safe to say that you and I are both fans of the style and want more people to learn about, brew, and enjoy this style!
English beers in general are kind of overcomplicated, when it comes to finding the right category. Shifting over time, from region to region and then brewers from all over the world put their own ideas into it as well ( I'm guilty as charged). I mean only have a look at stout and porter. And then mild and bitter.... Ipa............ Now we even got "artificial" British styles that actually never existed, like ESB or wee heavy.

I try to keep things a bit simple while still being correct in terms of the naming, that is why I am intentionally calling it a mild ale. Now that you are saying it, I remember reading articles about it on Rons blog and in his AK book, saying that it was also advertised differently in a certain period, but what stuck in my head is that it is intentionally drunk fairly quickly after brewing, that makes it a mild for me. Also the average IBUs are lower than in the bitter from the same brewery... I know not always, but on average. As I said... British beer categories... a minefield :D
 

patto1ro

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It seems like you are mixing up historic and modern definitions. "Mild" was just a term to indicate that this beer was not aged. It has nothing to do with gravity. You will find strong and weak milds throughout history, only in recent times, mild became synonymous for lower gravity beer.

What these AKs had in common was that they were intended to be drunk fresh and not aged, so it was not really a bitter. Also the ibus were mostly lower.

But at the end there are multiple historic ones that were crossing these borders, so it is not really possible to say this is truely a bitter or truely a mild. An AK sits comfortably somewhere in this region and the reader can decide for himself. Not even Ron Pattinson came to a real conclusion what an AK actually is, pale bitter or mild.

At the end I tend to use the classic definitions, and that is why I call it a mild ale as it is intended to be drunk fairly quickly after brewing.
I have come to a conclusion about AK. It was a Light Bitter. McMullens is the only brewery to have ever called AK a Light Mild. I've no idea why they did.
 
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Miraculix

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I have come to a conclusion about AK. It was a Light Bitter. McMullens is the only brewery to have ever called AK a Light Mild. I've no idea why they did.
OK then it's settled. Cheers mate!

What do you think about this recipe?
 
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Gusso

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Inspired by this thread, I made my variation. I used 10# MO, 1# flaked maize, and 1# of homemade invert syrup. Used Verdant and fermentation is nicely underway. Yeah, my OG was on the high side but that's how I roll! I did burn my syrup the first time around but the second time was a charm. Looked (and tasted) just like Lyle's Golden Syrup.
 
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Miraculix

Miraculix

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Inspired by this thread, I made my variation. I used 10# MO, 1# flaked maize, and 1# of homemade invert syrup. Used Verdant and fermentation is nicely underway. Yeah, my OG was on the high side but that's how I roll! I did burn my syrup the first time around but the second time was a charm. Looked (and tasted) just like Lyle's Golden Syrup.
That sounds good! Let me know how it goes!
 

madscientist451

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Nobody really knows what AK actually stands for,
1636452894799.png


The above (from 1870) seems to indicate that A.K. actually was "keeping ale" and that the gravity and hopping rate was just below IPA.
I'm wondering if it was a "keeping ale", why didn't they call it "K.A"?
Source:
 
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Miraculix

Miraculix

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View attachment 748402

The above (from 1870) seems to indicate that A.K. actually was "keeping ale" and that the gravity and hopping rate was just below IPA.
I'm wondering if it was a "keeping ale", why didn't they call it "K.A"?
Source:
Some sources say that, yes. Others daty something different. Especially interesting as aks were not kept (aged) but drunk relatively fresh according to what I have read. Maybe @patto1ro can shed some light on this question?
 

madscientist451

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Was the above reference mentioned in Pattinson's book?
Also is it possible that the 1870 version changed over the years because of taxation and war shortages but the AK label was retained?
 
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Miraculix

Miraculix

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Was the above reference mentioned in Pattinson's book?
Also is it possible that the 1870 version changed over the years because of taxation and war shortages but the AK label was retained?
No, he refers to price lists and says that it stands for "Ale keeping". He says that it is a bit ironic as ak was the classic running beer.
 

madscientist451

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OK, so if AK means Ale, Keeping , why are you making the assertion (above) that it was meant to drank quickly after brewing?
 
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Miraculix

Miraculix

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OK, so if AK means Ale, Keeping , why are you making the assertion (above) that it was meant to drank quickly after brewing?
Because it was like this, according to the sources of Ron. Also written about in his books. That's the ironic part of the naming.
 

Northern_Brewer

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OK, so if AK means Ale, Keeping , why are you making the assertion (above) that it was meant to drank quickly after brewing?

Because all the sources describe it as a "light bitter ale" or similar, which is not the sort of thing you would keep. Trust me, this is one of those things that is highly resistant to simple explanations - I'd gently suggest that if Martyn Cornell has had a couple of goes at it without coming to a firm conclusion, then you're not going to (read the comments as well) :
 

madscientist451

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The source I quoted doesn't say light bitter ale, or did I miss something? Also, if the recipe in my post were converted to modern home brew quantities, how much hops should be added? It says 12-18 lbs, but for how much beer? I'm thinking the gravity target should be 1.049.
 

Gusso

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Looks like my version of an AK is about done fermenting. I'm not in a rush to keg since I'll probably just dump new wort in the fermenter but what is the target carbonation level?
 
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Miraculix

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Looks like my version of an AK is about done fermenting. I'm not in a rush to keg since I'll probably just dump new wort in the fermenter but what is the target carbonation level?
Low, low, low, ordinary bitter carbonation level.
 

D.B.Moody

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Title: Easy AK (Light Bitter)
. . . I make my own invert sugar syrup by heating organic raw cane sugar (slightly golden, not the dark brown stuff!) with a dash of lemon juice and a bit of water while mashing and boiling the wort, until the sugar syrup has the right colour.
What color are you looking for here? Are you shooting for some particular temperature?
 
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Miraculix

Miraculix

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What color are you looking for here? Are you shooting for some particular temperature?
No. This is cooking. The scientific approach is not necessary here. Add the ingredients, get a feeling for it, how much water is necessary for it to dissolve, how little should be in there so that colour starts changing, taste it from time to time, when taste is to your liking, it's done!
 
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