Monday, November 4, 2019

Brew Day: Welcome as You Are (British Strong Ale)

On the heels of discovering that my brown ale was infected my homebrew pipeline was suddenly empty. At least two of my kegs are getting low; an emergency brew day is in order! Winter is also approaching and I am going to want some malt-forward beers to enjoy.

Compared to American "Winter Warmers" that use Christmas spices like clove, ginger and nutmeg, British winter warmers like Winter Welcome use none. Instead British winter warmers are more like Best Bitters just turned up a notch. The British Strong Ale category as defined by the BJCP is a bit of a catch-all for any British beer that is stronger than everyday beers like bitters or porters, but isn't as strong as British Barley Wine or Imperial Stout.

Perfection in a bottle.

Samuel Smith's Winter Welcome is a beer I look for every winter. Last winter I was lucky enough to find it on draught twice in addition to finding bottles in the store. I have played around with creating my own clone recipe but never finalized anything or planned any brews. Then this month's Brew Your Own magazine they published a ($) clone!

I plugged the recipe into BeerSmith and I couldn't make the numbers in BeerSmith match what was in the recipe. The final gravity in the published recipe felt low to me to begin with. I bumped up the amount of base malt to boost the gravity while finishing at 6% ABV. Then I had to increase the amount of hops to compensate for the additional gravity.

I always keep one of these exactly for last-minute
brew days like today.

The recipe called for a highly-attenuative English yeast. As this was an emergency brew day I didn't have time to make a liquid yeast starter, so dry yeast it was. I had a sachet of Safale S-04 English Ale yeast. S-04 doesn't attenuate quite as much as say Nottingham, so I lowered my mash temperature a bit.

Still reeling from all of my contaminated batches, I haven't had a chance to get new sanitizer. Instead I made sure my equipment was soaked in bleach. Well, a bleach solution anyeay. I let everything drip dry to make sure the solution was in contact long enough to sanitize everything that touched the beer. A bleach solution requires at least 15 minutes of contact time.

The wort was so clear I barely had to vorlauf. 

Beautiful copper color going into my fermenter.

As I have been planning my brews and thinking about what I want to brew, I have been going back in my mind to the classic British styles. For whatever reason these styles aren't appreciated in the market. I have some theories as to why, but that can be a rant for another day. I am looking forward to make even more British-style beers in the coming weeks and months.

I can't wait to tap this brew on Black Friday. The wort coming out of the mash tun, and later going into the fermenter looked and smelled absolutely gorgeous. This will be a great beer to bottle off and bring to holiday gatherings.

View the recipe here

In an earlier version of the post the beer was called Come as you Are. I should have known not to name a beer after any popular song or lyric from the 90s. Anyway, I gave the beer a unique name because I think I made enough changes to the published recipe that the beer is unique and not a clone. 

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