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Style of the Week: Olde Ales

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October 31, 2014 by fhsteinbart


Gales Prize Old Ale

This is the beer that best exemplifies the style as it exists today. I think you’ll relish it as much as I do!

One of my most favorite beers to imbibe when the weather gets colder are those jolly old ales of England. The one I cherish most is the Gale’s Prize Old Ale. This beer will transport you to a time and place reminiscent of Dickens’ England, when Old, or Stock Ales were of significant strength and incredible flavor and aroma. Unfortunately, many of today’s Old Ales are there in flavor, but not in fact. The lower level of alcohol makes them more like pale versions of their glorious past. Below is a recipe of mine that makes a reasonable facsimile of the more traditional version of the style. In fact I’ll be brewing this beer on Saturday, November 1st, at Learn to Homebrew Day inside of F. H. Steinbart Co. back garage area of the warehouse. Also, I will be flavoring them with some fresh hops that we packaged up not too long ago. While the recipe below won’t mention the fresh hops per se, they will be under the moniker of flavor, and aroma hops. What better way to enjoy the holiday season this year than that?

Extract version:

OG: 1.080 TG: 1.020

9 lbs. Light DME

¾ lb. Crystal 150

¼ lb. Black Patent Malt

1 oz. Simcoe hops for 60~90 minutes

1 oz. Centennial hops for 30 minutes

1 oz. Cascade hops at 15 minutes

1 oz. Crystal hops at 7 minutes

1 Whirlfloc Tablet or ½ tsp. Irish Moss at last 20 minutes

¾ gm. Burton Water Salts per gallon (~3.75 gms. or 1 level tsp.)

Wyeast 1968, WLP002, or S-04 yeast

Procedure:

  • Heat 2-5 gallons of water to 165°F.
  • Add steeping grains to kettle and steep for 30 minutes.
  • Turn off heat and add malt extract, stirring until fully dissolved.
  • Return to Heat, bring to boil for 5 min. then add bittering hops.
  • At 30 minutes add the flavor hops.
  • At 20 minutes add Whirlfloc tablet or Irish moss.
  • At 15 minutes add the aroma hops.
  • At 7 minutes add the second charge of aroma hops.
  • At knockout (0 minutes), turn off the heat, then cool the mixture by placing kettle in an ice bath or use a wort chiller.
  • Add the mixture to the fermenter, removing the hops, and bring total volume to 5 gallons using distilled, bottled, or filtered tap water.
  • Aerate unfermented wort (shaking works well).
  • Pitch yeast and ferment at 65°F to 69°F. for up to two weeks, allowing to age an additional two weeks before packaging up as usual.

All Grain version:

OG: 1.080 FG: 1.020

14 lbs. Gambrinus ESB Malt

¾ lb. Crystal 150

¼ lb. Black Patent Malt

1 oz. Simcoe hops for 60~90 minutes

1 oz. Centennial hops for 30 minutes

1 oz. Cascade hops at 15 minutes

1 oz. Crystal hops at 7 minutes

1 Whirlfloc Tablet or ½ tsp. Irish Moss at last 20 minutes

¾ gm. Burton Water Salts per gallon (~3.75 gms. or 1 level tsp.) in both mash and boil

Wyeast 1968, WLP002, or S-04 yeast

Procedure:

  • Infusion mash at 152°F for 90 min with the Brewing Salts.
  • Sparge until 6~6½ gal wort has been obtained.
  • Add the rest of the Burton Water Salts after the boil commences.
  • Boil for 1 to 1½ hours.
  • Then add the bittering hops after 15 minutes boiling and continue to boil for 60 more minutes.
  • Add the flavor hops at 30 minutes remaining.
  • Add Whirlfloc or Irish Moss at last 20 minutes.
  • Add the aroma hops at 15 minutes remaining to the boil.
  • Add the second charge of aroma hops at 7 minutes remaining in the boil.
  • Gravity may vary depending on system efficiency, so adjust accordingly.

Package up as usual; bottled versions should use 113.5 gms. corn sugar (approx. ¾ cup), or kegged to 20 psig, and allow two weeks to come into condition. Serve at 50~55°F in a 8 oz. Thistle glass, share and enjoy! This beer will continue to evolve and change over the coming months and years, so keep some for the future to enjoy as it ages.

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