Here are some images of my great brewing day yesterday with Iain McOustra of Amsterdam Brewery’s team down at the Brewhouse on Toronto’s Harbourfront. Cody, Jeff, and Mike were brewing at different times and I participated throughout.
The brewery is set in a glassed-in room alongside the large vaulted Amsterdam Brewhouse restaurant. It’s a prime location right on the water.
We did an AK, of the pale ale family, from the era of 1870. OG was 1050 with final abv likely 5-5.3% abv. I mentioned on the tweets that one malt was used, as typical of the day. We elected floor-malted Maris Otter from Crisp. This was after tasting a number of pale malts including Crisps’ non-floor malted Maris Otter.
The floor malt was cracker-like and fresh, tasted from the drained mash it was almost like a toasty oatmeal: if you added sugar and milk the similarity would seemed marked, I think. The non-floor-malted Maris Otter when tasted raw earlier was less cracker-like, more mealy perhaps. If I could choose an analogy, the floor version was like whole-grain bread; the other, like a high quality bread from regular flour.
Both seemed deeper in character than standard North American 2-row malt.
Two hops were used, from Charles Faram, Golding and Fuggle, both in leaf form. The hops went in at different times with Fuggles in this case having the say for aroma. Most will be kegged but we hope to do a few casks, and if the casks are dry-hopped we will use one of the two leafs. Any dry-hopping for kegged beer will be with pellets added at tank stage.
The Golding was floral and lemony, the Fuggle like an arbor, leafy and fresh-woodsy.
These hops come in heat-reflecting tight paks flushed with nitrogen, and are stored cold until use. E.g., one was harvested 18 months ago but smelled fresh and sweet, its expiration date was still one-and-a-half years away. We decided on 3 lbs per finished barrel of beer (36 Imp. gal.), with 1 lb more/bbl if dry-hopping used (will depend on tasting later). The IBU estimate was 45.
This level of hopping – no shrinking violet – was typical of the period for this class of beer. Yet for IPA, similar in character to AK but stronger, the hop levels only went up…
We elected two hops on the idea of boosting complexity and all-English character. Some beers of the pale ale family back then must have used two hops, even if the norm was one. Anyway it seemed right.
We chose an American yeast of relatively neutral character. We wanted to ensure the English character of the malt and hops would shine through. Still, we hope to get some estery development from fermentation temperature and a few weeks of relatively warm storage. Beer should be ready in about 30 days.
Obviously we used modern fermenters and pure culture yeast. There was no atmospheric exposure once beer ran from heat exchanger to fermenter blended with the yeast drawn from a sealed keg. Metal vessels were used all-through, no wooden mashing or fermenting vessels. Together with a high degree of sanitation and modern pumping and powering technology, the brewhouse did not outwardly resemble a brewery of the 1800s; few today do.
But still we hope to attain a character that people of that era would recognize as their own, hopefully a very high example of their own.
I should add: water was Burtonized – made hard to match the profile of some gypsum-laden waters classically used for Burton pale ale.
The wort from the (relatively short) boil was candy-sweet but very bitter. It carried a striking russet colour the brewers said was unusual in their experience and must have derived from the single malt and the type of malt it was.