Brew Day: Dundalk Irish Heavy (British Strong Ale)

At Homebrew Con Northern Brewer, being the largest homebrew supplier in the country had a huge setup. They had a ton of swag they were giving away, were running daily raffles, and were giving away recipe kits. When we stopped by their booth on Friday they had three of their Big Mouth Bubbler fermenters set up in a row, and were giving away kits to anyone who could throw three consecutive rubber bungs in into the fermenters.

When it was my turn I sank my first bung, and barely missed with my next two tosses. Somewhat disappointed, I took a look at the huge stack of kits to see exactly what I had missed out on. I saw it was their Dundalk Irish Heavy, I told one of the reps working the booth, “Ahh the Dundalk, I really wanted to try that one”. That was true by the way. I had seen the kit on their website and thought the recipe was interesting. Without saying a word the rep smiled and handed me the box.

This occurred in the middle of the afternoon. Not wanting to leave the convention center I carried around that box all day. I managed to just fit it inside one of those drawstring backpacks I had gotten from the BeerSmith booth. After awhile the the box became increasingly awkward and heavy. A small price to pay for five gallons of free beer.

“Irish Heavy” isn’t a style. I rigorously researched for several minutes to see if it was perhaps a rare of obscure style that wasn’t included in the latest BJCP Guidelines. Looking at the recipe closely it sounded a lot like an English Winter Warmer which falls into the British Strong Ale category. In contrast to American beers with the “winter warmer” moniker like Harpoon’s version, English winter beers are not spiced. Samuel Smith’s Winter Welcome is one of my favorites, and locally Shipyard Prelude and Geary’s HSA are solid examples of the style.

While the grist is essentially a scaled up Irish Red, the instructions call for English Yeast. Specifically it calls for White Labs WLP002 or Wyeast 1968, both of which are rumored to be the Fullers strain. I would have used the suggested yeast, but I was able to get some expired Wyeast 1187 Ringwood Ale yeast for free. Expired yeast is perfectly good, it just requires building a bigger yeast starter. Other than the malt extract I used to make my starter wort, this entire batch didn’t cost me a dime.

Like WLP002, Ringwood Ale is “highly flocculent and rapidly fermenting”. I also harvested some extra yeast from my starter for future use. I think I might try another batch of Alan’s Stepchild. I might also try it in my next batch of Pugnacious Pete’s.

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I took advantage of the easy extract brew day to catch up on a few other beer related tasks. I made and bottled another three gallons of starter wort. I used some of the starter wort to make a yeast starter for the 2016 version of Pa’s Lager.

I also finally racked Dawson’s Kreik onto the cherry puree. I was waiting to buy a new siphon and tubing so I would have separate equipment for sour beer and for clean beer. I used my six gallon glass carboy that had been holding Dawson’s Kreik to ferment the Dundalk. I soaked it with a PBW solution, brushed it, examined it, brushed the tiny spots I missed the first time, rinsed it, and sanitized it three times to be as sure as I possibly could be that none of the bugs from Dawson’s Kreik made it into the Dundalk.



After pitching my starter fermentation took off quickly, before lagging after a couple of days. I looked at the temperature on my fermenter and it was down to 64F.  After swirling the carboy to bring some of the yeast back into suspension, and moving the carboy to a warmer location in my apartment the airlock started to bubble steadily again.

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