Another Brewing Update

Yes this is another post about beer. I’d apologize but I really enjoy brewing and I like sharing my hobby with others.

I have two brewing things to cover today: an update on my SMaSH best bitter and a new batch of old ale I hope will be ready for the Christmas holiday.

SMaSH update

I wrote the last post at bottling time. I had tasted a sample before bottling but was still in the “hopeful” stage of the batch. It typically takes two to three weeks for a bottle conditioned beer to fully carbonate, but I am always impatient. I started trying bottles before a full week was up.

The first bottle was undercarbonated, and while it generally tasted OK there was noticeable diacetyl. Ben had experienced a similar effect on a few of his brews but this was my first experience with it. I was a little worried but Ben had explained that it went away over time. The next few bottles improved slowly but surely, and by two full weeks into the process it was essentially gone. Good news!

The end result is one of my favorite beers to date. I worried that the extreme simplicity of the recipe would lead to a result with no complexity. But in fact the simple ingredients and low alcohol simply made a nice beer that actually showcases the inherent complexity in the ingredients and process. It’s a very different result than I got with my overly complicated pale ale. That batch is quite drinkable, but is confused and muddied. This batch is pleasing and lovely.

Old Ale

So my simple English bitter turned out well and I have almost two cases left. Along with that I have a case of my farmhouse ale and another case of pale ale. That seems like plenty of beer to be getting on with.

But of course I still want to brew. This seemed like an ideal time to make a strong beer that is meant to age. Last year I made a fairly strong, sweet Porter for the winter and it was a really excellent idea. Another strong beer like that seemed perfect. I could brew in August and have several months to condition a batch before the holidays.

The style of choice this year is an old ale. I won’t be able to age it for a year or more like some have described, but that’s OK. I based the general recipe on Dry Dock’s HMS Bounty Old Ale with my own changes and substitutions as always. Like the rest of my recipes this is something of an experiment. I used an English yeast I am not familiar with and a new type of hops. I honestly don’t know what this will end up tasting like in a few months. But I am excited to find out.

The brew day was completely uneventful and I came close to my recipe targets for color and original gravity. The beer has been fermenting for about 5 days now and has already slowed down considerably. I’m going to hold off checking how things are going until at least a full week has passed. I doubt I’ll have issues with stuck fermentation but I’ll check to be sure.

The recipe




Mash (Single infusion, 157F)

Expected characteristics

Measurement Batch Reference
OG 1.081 1.060 – 1.090
FG 1.022 1.015 – 1.022
ABV 7.9% 6 – 9%
IBUs 43 30 – 60
SRM 21 10 – 22

— Steve

Posted on 15 August 2013