Have you ever tasted a great example of a homebrewed English Pale Ale?

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–


Amt Name Type # %/IBU
7.54 kg Pale Malt, Maris Otter (4.0 EBC) Grain 1 95.0 %
0.40 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt – 60L (150.0 EBC) Grain 2 5.0 %
40.00 g Challenger [9.40 %] – Boil 60.0 min Hop 3 20.4 IBUs
60.00 g Challenger [9.40 %] – Boil 10.0 min Hop 4 6.1 IBUs
100.00 g Challenger, Hop Back [7.50 %] – Boil 1.0 min Hop 5 6.8 IBUs
1.0 pkg Dry English Ale (White Labs #WLP007) [35.49 ml] Yeast 6

Beer Profile

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.



Next Barrel Project – Dark Sour aged in a second use bourbon barrel

Curvee de Tomme is one of my favourite dark sour beer, unfortunately it’s a little difficult and a little expensive to get a hold of over here in the UK. So I am hoping to brew a dark base beer, ferment it with WLP530 in stainless, then age it in a second use bourbon barrel with Wyeast 3278 Belgian Lambic blend for between 6-12 months. Previous to this the barrel held a Belgian quad, which turned out well so fingers crossed.

The barrel will then have approx 100L drawn off from it and this beer will be aged on sour cherries in a stainless vessel (100L keg) for a further 6 months or so. The beer removed will be replaced by more off the same base beer.

The base beer will be brewed using a recipe from Wild Brews which as the author says – may or may not be inspired by Curvee de Tomme, the recipe is given below it will be brewed as 2 x 130L batches working on 70% mash efficiency and mashing at 67deg C and a 90min boil:


Amt Name Type # %/IBU
34.83 kg Pilsner (2 Row) Bel (3.9 EBC) Grain 1 66.0 %
3.17 kg Aromatic Malt (51.2 EBC) Grain 2 6.0 %
3.17 kg Caramunich Malt (110.3 EBC) Grain 3 6.0 %
3.17 kg Munich Malt (17.7 EBC) Grain 4 6.0 %
3.17 kg Wheat Malt, Bel (3.9 EBC) Grain 5 6.0 %
1.06 kg Chocolate Malt (689.5 EBC) Grain 6 2.0 %
1.06 kg Special B Malt (354.6 EBC) Grain 7 2.0 %
3.17 kg Cane (Beet) Sugar (0.0 EBC) Sugar 8 6.0 %
160.00 g Challenger [7.50 %] – Boil 90.0 min Hop 9 25.4 IBUs
200.00 g Styrian Goldings [5.40 %] – Boil 2.0 min Hop 10 3.8 IBUs
lots Abbey Ale (White Labs #WLP530) [35.49 ml] Yeast 11

Beer Profile

Est Original Gravity: 1.087 SG
Est Final Gravity: 1.014 SG
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 9.8 % before souring
Bitterness: 29.2 IBUs
Est Color: 47.1 EBC

Will post a brewday blog when it happens