Brew Day: Trans-Atlantic Ale (Strong Bitter)

A few months back I placed my first order with MoreBeer!. MoreBeer! has facilities in Pennsylvania and California, which means they can ship to Massachusetts in two days. When I needed parts ASAP for my Jockey Box the week of Ales for ALS, and didn’t have time to buy locally, they were the natural choice. They also offer free shipping on orders over $59. To get over the limit I purchased their American Amber Ale extract kit.

When the kit arrived I was very impressed with how it was packaged. Instead of cans or plastic bottles of malt extract, it arrived in a sealed foil bag. Looking at their site, they sell their extract in these pouches in one pound increments ranging from three to nine pounds, as opposed to just a three or six-pound container. Being able to order exactly how much extract you need is convenient and cost-effective.

I added the kit to my virtual cart without reading the description, “A rich Amber Ale. An American variation of an English Pale Ale (bitter). Features Willamette hops for flavor and aroma. The combination of the darker Crystal malts with Willamette hops provides for a flavor that is distinctly different than our American Pale Ale. Higher in alcohol with a creamy mouth feel”. The suggested yeast was Chico. The recipe sounds like an interesting contrast to an English bitter, but it wasn’t exactly what I had in mind when I ordered it.

I started to contemplate ways to utilize the ingredients in a recipe of my own. I strongly considered using the 1084 Irish Ale I harvested from BeerSmith’s Dry Irish Stout to brew an Irish Red Ale, but I also had a packet of Windsor Ale yeast that was expiring this month. Having never used this strain, it seemed like as good of a time as any to give it a try. Windsor sounds like a classic English strain that would be perfect for an actual bitter.

The malts are all American. The beer won’t have the biscuit flavor of a Fullers ESB, but the yeast and Willamette hops will make it appropriate for the style; Willamette can be used interchangeably with English Fuggle hops. I made a few other minor adjustments to the original recipe. I added a small amount of Caramel 120 to add color and more pronounced malt flavor. I also added corn sugar and a very small amount of chocolate malt to dry the beer out. Employing only a partial boil on my electric stove, sweetness from kettle caramelization (where the sugars in the wort literally caramelize) is always a concern. The sugar will also lighten the body a little bit.

I plan to bring a keg of this beer along with BeerSmith’s Dry Irish Stout to a party next month. When I made my adjustments to the recipe I had drinkability in mind.

See the full recipe here

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