Personally i have got to admit the answer to this one is a no, to date i have tried and failed a couple of times to brew one and the some of the ones I have tasted have just missed the mark. I don’t mean ones that are drinkable, I mean ones that are flawless, a totally clean fermentation, a good hit of fruitiness from British hops and a decent level of IBU’s all brought into balance by a nice biscuity malt flavour and just enough colour from a small amount of darker malt. And no more than 3.8% abv, so it’s a true session beer – 8 pints and you can still hold a conversation and then walk home.
My 3 favourite examples of the style being Coniston Brewery’s Bluebird, Timothy Taylors Landlord and St Austell’s Tribute, although I do get the feeling that Landlord is not a good as it used to be, Bluebird and Tribute are however outstanding .
Back in 2014 I had a conversation via twitter with the owner of Coniston Brewery and he indicated I was on the right lines with the recipe I had for Bluebird (it did not take much deducing it’s pretty much on the website). The recipe is basically Marris Otter, a dash of crystal and lots of Challenger hops. The water at the brewery is very soft and they then treat (im guessing here) according to Murphys water analysis adjustments for an English Pale ale. Which (info from the brewery) equates to 2kg of liquor treatment per 400 gallons again I would guess DWB by Murphys would be the treatment used. My plan will be to use the water profile outlined in the book Water for a English pale ale ensuring I hit the right mash pH which should get me in the right ball park.
The Coniston brewery yeast strain is available from BrewLabs (if you email and ask) so can be easily sourced but it does require it to be grown up from a slant. The yeast from what I have been told is a British strain and from drinking a fair amount of Bluebird is very neutral, and if anything it accentuates the hops and does not promote a malty flavour. There is no hint of diacetyl, and from seeing the brewery the yeast is also a top cropper.
So a neutral British yeast strain that’s clean and flocculates well – WLP007, only problem is it may attenuate a little to well, this can be resolved by mashing a little warmer. So your probably asking why not get the yeast from BrewLab’s which is a good point, but to be honest I have never had great results from the yeast I have gotten from them in the past (this is most likely due to a lack of knowledge when I first started brewing and growing up yeast), so just going to go with yeast I know well and again is about right.
Here is what I have come up with for the Bluebird clone, 50L batch 85%mash efficiency, mashing at 68degC for 60min with a 60min boil–
|Est Original Gravity: 1.038 SG|
|Est Final Gravity: 1.010 SG|
|Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 3.7 %|
|Bitterness: 33.4 IBUs|
|Est Color: 11.1 EBC|
And chances the beer brewed this will be entered into the 2015 UKHNC so will see how well I can brew a English pale ale, and to get feedback for future improvements.