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Recipe Formulation - American Style Nut Brown Ale
In my opinion, most beer styles of English origin have been
vastly improved by "new world" brewers (there are obvious exceptions). By which I mean, 'Merica is better. It should be said that, in almost all cases,
the English examples that I have sampled and am basing this opinion on are mass
marketed beers by macro English breweries.
I've never been to England and there are very few, if any, English craft
breweries that distribute to Western Washington. I can only assume that the English craft
breweries make much better products than those I'm used to seeing and drinking. But, I still think it's safe to say that Americanized
versions are much less boring in comparison, mostly due to the types of hops
that American brewers have available to them.
Old world hops are often much more subdued in alpha content and
aromatics. I also have a feeling that
American brewers have a vaster array of yeast strains and specialty grains
available to them but that is a wild assumption.
I get that a lot of English ales are designed to be what we
now call in America "session beers".
That's all well and good. I like
sessionable beers just fine, but I like them to have flavor. This is
possible. A near humorous example is the
English style dubbed "mild". There it
is, right in the name. I don't see how I
could get excited about anything called a mild, beer or not. Just so that I'm not completely bashing the
Brits, I will say that they get a ton of respect from me for making it
tradition to serve beers at a warmer temperature that what is considered
standard in America. It's a scientific
fact that ice cold beer numbs the taste buds.
So, I've decided to create a brown ale recipe. This is, traditionally, a British style. I guess, at this point, it goes without
saying that I don't want it to be like a traditional British brown. I'm not trying to go high alcohol and I don't
even want it to be super hop forward, but I do want it to be robust and
flavorful. I want it to have a smooth
mouthfeel and I want it to have a complex malt profile full of nut and biscuit
According to a lot of recipes I've seen, the BJCP Style
Guidelines, and the fantastic book Designing Great Beer
by Ray Daniels,
it's pretty much standard that the majority of brown ales get their color from
a variety of crystal malts and a small amount of chocolate malt. I'm happy with that, but I don't plan to stop
there. I want to go heavy on the
biscuit/toasted malts and use a good portion of Munich. I'm essentially going to make a pretty
simplistic style not so simplistic.
I want to keep my base grains at or around 80% of the total
mash to minimize astringency. Of that I'll
use about 75% British Pale
since it has a bit more color and malt flavor
than American 2-row
and 25% Munich.
For specialty grains I want to pretty much use every grain
available to me that has any semblance of nuttiness. This turns out to be victory
, special roast
, and British brown
. Beyond that, I want to achieve a SRM between
20 and 30. I'm fine with using chocolate
to some degree, so I'll go with the darkest chocolate
malt I can find. Since crystal malts are also used in a large
majority of brown ale recipes, and I still need to get my color up, I'll use
some crystal rye
and special b
It worked out that, in order to fit all 7 (!) of these specialty grains
into 20% of the entire grain bill I can do equal parts of each (which amounts
to 4oz each) in a 5 gallon batch.
Another variation on brown ales that came to mind is honey
brown. I thought about putting some honey
malt or actual honey into this beer, simply for added complexity,
but that seemed too normal. This beer is
anything but normal so I decided to try agave nectar instead of honey. As I mentioned before, I don't want this beer
to be extremely boozy, so I'm only going to add 8oz of agave at flame out. This may not even come through in the flavor,
considering the plethora of bold specialty grains, but I've wanted to try it in
a recipe for a while now so...there it is.
Excluding the agave, I have a total of 10 pounds of grain in
this recipe (5 gallon). That will put my
O.G. at 1.057. I'll be using Wyeast
American Ale II for my yeast since it also contributes a nutty flavor. American Ale II has 74% attenuation. That, coupled with the specialty grains I'm
using, should give me a final gravity around 1.015 which is about perfect in my
opinion. I'd be happy with anything
between 1.012 and 1.016. I'll also plan
to mash high - around 154/156 degrees.
Like I said, I want this beer to have some legitimate body and residual
sweetness. This will be a desert of a
brown ale. It might even resemble a
lightly colored old ale in more ways than one.
This is a malt forward beer so the hops are almost not worth
contemplating. I've decided to use crystal
leaf simply because I have a ton of them right now. I'll just do two additions of this 3.5% alpha
hop and shoot for an IBU in the low 20s.
1.5 oz at 60 minutes and 1 oz at 10 minutes gives me 23.1 IBUs. Done.